Billy Booker holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Behavioral Science and Psychology from Shaw University in Raleigh, NC, graduating Summa Cum Laude and holds a Master’s Degree in Psychology and Counseling from NC A&T State University. Upon receiving his Master’s Degree from NC A&T, Billy taught Psychology at Shaw University and served as Vice President of the Board of Advisors at Shaw University. Beyond his Master’s Degree, Mr. Booker has studied schizophrenia and depression at Columbia University Medical School in New York, Violence and the Brain at Wake Forest University, and holds a Certification in Anger Management from the Leonard Ingram Institute in Chicago. Some of his accomplishments include:
Selected by the National Urban League to serve as Visiting Professor at Jackson State University School of Business.
Completed Crisis Management Training in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Served as Secretary of the Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals (NC/TX)
Served on YMCA Student Achievers Advisory Committee.
Served on Mayor’s Violence Prevention Task Force (Winston-Salem, NC).
Yvonne Booker has served in executive leadership positions for more than twenty-five years. As a leader, driven by excellence, she is committed to ensuring that outcomes are reached and desired goals are attained. Having served as a community advocate in both a volunteer and professional capacity, she is committed to her community and a strong volunteer.
Yvonne served as Chair of Collin County United Way Board of Directors, member of the United Way of Metro-Dallas Board of Directors, and served two terms as Housing Commissioner for the City of McKinney. She has served as member of many grant allocations committees for United Way of both Collin and Dallas counties, and the CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) committee for the city of McKinney. She has chaired the Destination Graduation committee charged with allocating monies and developing strategies to support student’s high school success, and is currently serving as a member of TX CAN-North Texas, a collaboration community leaders addressing high school success and college entrance.
Yvonne holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Sociology and Psychology.
Walteria Caldwell (Executive Director) is a professionally trained mezzo-soprano and music educator who tours around the country and abroad. In college, Walteria played professional piano gigs, sang roles in opera scenes, and performed as a lead soloist in the US premiere of "Changed My Name", as well as being one of the soloists for her alma mater's Chancellor's Installation Service. After receiving a Bachelor of Music Performance degree at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (one of the leading music universities in the US), Walteria became a music educator and continued as a church pianist while harvesting a performance career. With successful teaching experience for over 15 years, her voice and piano students have branched off into their own careers performing professionally from throughout the country, winning auditions, roles, and talent competitions in the US with other accolades in under her instruction. Walteria later received music graduate studies from Mercer University and received extensive knowledge on how the "first" instrument works in the body which involves vocal pedagogy. Exposure to different piano techniques from church to popular music has also served Walteria well in training students and executing performances.
Performing in the United States and Europe, Walteria has traveled as a frequent concert soloist with various choirs/orchestras for oratorio works such as Handel's Messiah, Mozart's Mass in C Minor, Bach's Christmas Oratorio Weihnachts-Oratorium, Théodore Dubois' Seven Last Words of Christ, Beethoven's Choral Fantasy, and John Rutter's Feel The Spirit. In the field of opera, Walteria has been in several productions as the Mother in Amahl and the Night Visitors as well as Hansel and the Gingerbread Witch from Hansel and Gretel. In Bizet's opera Carmen, Walteria has performed the full role of Mercedes on stage and Carmen in concert. From Verdi's repertoire, Walteria has sung Ulrica in Un ballo in maschera, Quickly and Meg Page from Falstaff, and Azucena in scenes from Il trovatore. She debuted the role of Sylvia in the opera Wading Home, composed by Mary Alice Rich which is based off of the successful novel by Rosalyn Story. As a Rossini bel canto singer, Walteria has performed in opera scenes as Rosina from Il barbiere di Siviglia, and Hedwige from Guilaume Tell. From scenes in Mozart's operas, she has been featured as Cherubino and Marcellina in Le Nozze di Figaro, Dorabella from Cosi fan tutte, as Zerlina from Don Giovanni, and 3rd Lady and 3rd Spirit in Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute). Other roles include scenes as Prince Orlofsky from Strauss' Die Fledermaus, Augusta from The Ballad of Baby Doe, Dido from Purcell's Dido and Aeneas, Zita from Gianni Schicchi.
In concert, Walteria has performed numbers from Handel's Rinaldo, as Marian Anderson for education promotion in history, and Voices Before Mine (tribute to African American women in classical music). Walteria recently performed as an alto soloist and chorister in Fort Worth's Porgy and Bess. As the Executive Director of the non-profit Diversita Opera Arts Company, Walteria assists in providing music scholarships to students and promotes diversity through concerts and opera in the United States. She also performs genres such as jazz, musical theatre, is a pianist, and is a member of the music fraternity, Mu Phi Epsilon.
Board of Directors
Carol Bailey is a native of Georgia. She's a graduate of Troy State University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Human Services, a Minor in Sociology and Psychology, and a Master's Degree in Educational Leadership from Trident University. She has taught at Head Start and kindergarten through 5th grade for a combine grade levels of 24 years. Carol has also studied theater and has performed in several stage productions in the United Sates. She now teaches middle school Social Studies in the Dallas Texas area and runs the drama department at ECI Academy in Rowlett. Carol serves as Diversitá Opera Arts Company's Treasurer and is an Education Consultant for our school shows in the Dallas/Fort Worth Texas area.
Courtney Suddreth (Consultant) has over 10 years of experience in the apparel industry with a special interest in apparel design, pattern making, and historic costume. She has served as a contract assistant costume designer, has extensive experience in the arts with an emphasis on drawing, and computer aided fine art/design. Courtney has combined her education and passion for the fine arts with apparel design to create textile products, as well as, various art pieces. She holds a Master of Science Degree (M.S.) in Consumer Apparel and Retail Studies, a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Art Design, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Textile Product Design from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
Some of Courtney's accolades include artistic works being featured in the Witherspoon Art Gallery and the McIver Gallery in North Carolina. Courtney currently serves as the historical costume advisor and character dress consultant for Diversitá Opera Arts Company's mainstage productions.
Diversita Opera Arts Company
Lori Ann Christian is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Ms. Christian holds degrees from Duquesne University and the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music where she is currently completing requirements for the Doctorate of Musical Arts Degree. She has served as an assistant professor of Music at Clark Atlanta University and has taught Applied Voice at Duquesne University and Spelman College. Ms. Christian has appeared in recitals, concerts and operas in the U.S. and abroad. She also has experience in producing and staging opera/musical theater productions.
As a concert artist, Ms. Christian has sung the title role of Zaide in the Pittsburgh premiere and toured as a featured soloist with the New Sigmund Romberg Orchestra. A versatile performer, she has been noted for exceptional performances in premieres of several contemporary works, including original urban jazz compositions with Opera Columbus. She has appeared in such oratorios as The Creation, Thereisenmesse, C Minor Mass, and The Messiah.
Operatic credits include principal roles in The Marriage of Figaro, Cosi Fan Tutte, and The Magic Flute. In Atlanta, Georgia, Ms. Christian has performed in the world premieres of the operas Zabette at the Rialto Center for Performing Arts, Woman at the Well, and La Roche as part of the National Black Arts Festival. Abroad, she has appeared as Adina in L’Elisir d’Amore and Gretel from Hansel and Gretel in Rome, Italy. Ms. Christian has been the recipient of many awards and fellowships such as the Minna Kaufmann Rudd Award, Leontyne Price Vocal Arts Award, and the Albert C. Yates Fellowship. She currently teaches voice and choral music in Atlanta.
Pianist Portia Shuler Hawkins holds degrees from Fisk University and Yale University School of Music. Her private piano teachers include: Geneva Handy Southall, Matthew and Anne Kennedy, Ward Davenny, Francis Whang and George Walker. Mrs. Hawkins has taught at Georgia Perimeter University, Spelman College, Clark Atlanta University, and Agnes Scott College. Her CD, “African American Sampler”, is heard on WABEFM radio in Atlanta, and several public radio stations throughout the country. Several years ago, she edited a piano collection of works by William Grant Still at the request of his daughter, Judith Still.
Presently, Portia performs collaborative concerts throughout the region, serves as an accompanist for opera companies, teaches privately in her Roswell studio, and frequently serves as a vocal and instrumental accompanist. She has served as an accompanist for singers of opera at Kennesaw State University, Spelman College, Georgia Perimeter College, and Agnes Scott College. Mrs. Hawkins is an adjudicator for and is an active member of the Georgia Music Teachers Association, The National Federation of Music Clubs, and Mu Phi Epsilon International Professional Fraternity.