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Our Team

Meet Our Administrators

The unparalleled commitment that GSA has to Kentucky’s next generation of young artists is impassioned all year long through the administration.

The GSA administration invests in Kentucky’s young artists every day in the management of fall prep workshops, the application and audition process, the hiring of summer faculty and staff and multiple alumni showcases and activities.

Based out of Kentucky Performing Arts in Louisville, but with a state-wide focus, GSA Administration is glad to answer any questions you have and address your concerns and ideas about GSA throughout the year.

Nick Covault


(502) 566-5218

[email protected]


Nick is an alumnus of GSA’s 2002 Vocal Music program.  He holds a BM in Vocal Music Performance and a BA in Arts Administration from the University of Kentucky.  Prior to joining GSA as Director, he was the Programming & Community Engagement Manager for The Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts. Nick currently serves on the Steering Committee for the Kentucky Rural-Urban Exchange. His professional journey has included participation in the SouthArts Dance Touring Initiative, the Emerging Leader Institute of the Association of Performing Arts Presenters, and the Global Fellowship Program of the International Society for the Performing Arts.  He was listed as one of Business First of Louisville’s 2016 Forty Under 40 Honorees, and has been named a Compassion Laureate by Compassionate Louisville.


Erica Rust Pennington


(502) 566-5229

[email protected]


Erica is an arts manager with a passion for mentoring students. She is a proud first-generation college graduate and holds a BA in Vocal Music and a minor in German from the University of Louisville. Her expertise in alumni relations and the summer program stems from her previous work as GSA's Program and Alumni Coordinator as well as being a GSA Residential Life staff veteran. Erica is also an alumna of GSA's 2011 Vocal Music program. Her favorite part of her work is connecting with young Kentucky artists all year long across our beautiful Commonwealth. In her free time, Erica is an avid volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kentuckiana and can be seen serving up aces on the tennis court.


Austin Desjardins


(502) 566-5169

[email protected]


Austin is an arts administrator born and raised in Kentucky. He is a classically trained musician and received a BS of Music from Murray State University (Go Racers!). After finishing his undergraduate, Austin worked in theatre and choral administration, event planning and fundraising in St. Louis, Missouri. Having worked for the Kentucky Governor’s School for the Arts four years prior, Austin is thrilled to be back in Kentucky working for the organization that sparked his desire for arts administration. Austin is honored to work for an organization that empowers the next generation of Kentucky artists.

Samantha Jo Watzek


(502) 566-5147

[email protected]


Samantha Jo Watzek (Sammy Jo) is 2009 Drama Alumna from The Kentucky Governor’s School for the Arts. After GSA, she attended a pre-collegiate theatre program at Northwestern University, received her Bachelors of Fine Arts in Acting at The Theatre at DePaul University in Chicago, and moved to Los Angeles where she worked several years with non-profits and entrepreneurs with brand consultation, graphic creation, and media management. When she is not working - she is writing screenplays, doing yoga, running her podcast - “The Art of Opening,” and taking photos. She is thrilled to be back with the GSA family to help foster the art of Kentucky’s next generation of young artists. “Go forth and make great art!”

Meet Our Faculty & Staff

GSA faculty are master artists and educators whose work maintains a sense of relevancy and immediacy demanded within their craft. Nationally and internationally acclaimed, these artists are chosen for their skills as educators, personal artistic development and their ability to act as positive role models for young artists.

All GSA faculty members are professional artists working in their field. GSA faculty act as mentors to the students, providing insights into the professional world of the arts, art careers and advanced arts education and training.

GSA students are additionally guided through summer program by a counselor and  also an artist in residence.



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Covid-19 Coronavirus

Following Governor Andy Beshear’s executive order outlining specific steps all public-facing businesses should take to contain and limit the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), all Kentucky Performing Arts venues are temporarily closed.