Kevin Rathunde



Kevin Rathunde is a Professor in the Department of Family and Consumer Studies at the University of Utah. His research explores the positive impact of intrinsically motivated experiences like “flow” (a state of deep absorption), interest, and play, and how these experiences can be enhanced by family, school, and natural (outdoor) environments. He is co-author of the award-winning and widely cited book Talented Teenagers (Cambridge University Press) and has published more than 55 book chapters and journal articles during his academic career.

Kevin also brings to the ThroughPlay program his experience and lifelong passion as a musician. Before receiving his Ph.D. in Human Development from the University of Chicago and accepting an appointment at the University of Utah, he studied guitar improvisation at the Bloom School of Jazz and with Chicago jazz icon Frank Dawson. He performed across the United States in the early 80's with a pop-rock group that opened for a number of headlining artists. With the backing of Paul Anka Productions and the assistance of acclaimed producer David Foster, Kevin also had the opportunity to record original music at the legendary Sound City Studios in Los Angeles. 

Russ Isabella



Russ Isabella is an Associate Professor in the Department of Family and Consumer Studies at the University of Utah. Most of his research has focused on social and emotional development during infancy and childhood, children’s relationships with their parents, and parent-child interaction. Recently, Russ and colleagues from Biology, Theatre, Physics and Psychology,  were awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation to develop and implement an intervention-based strategy for helping science-disenfranchised populations develop an appreciation for the potential for science in their lives. Russ’s excellence in the classroom has been recognized through his receipt of both the Superior Teaching Award from the College of Social and Behavioral Science, and the University of Utah’s Distinguished Teaching Award.

Dr. Isabella also brings to the ThroughPlay program his vision as a professional photographer. Russ has carried a camera with him from as long ago as he can remember, and some 15 years ago devoted his passion for photography to developing skills as a sports photographer. For the past 10 years he has worked as a freelance sports photographer, covering both professional and college sports. His photos have been published in a variety of sports magazines and websites. Next time you’re at a Jazz game (or watching on TV), look for Russ sitting along the baseline!


Conor Provenzano


Conor Provenzano is a photographer, filmmaker and theater projectionist who graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in Film and Media Arts in 2011. Shortly thereafter, he began researching the healing/spiritual implications of concentration, which led to the development of a documentary film, FOCUSED LIFE. Conor is deeply committed to making personal and provocative films that explore themes of internal awareness, human development and self-mastery.

Ashley Anderson


Ashley Anderson is a choreographer based in Salt Lake City who holds degrees in English and Dance from Hollins University as well as an MFA in Dance from Hollins/the American Dance Festival. Alongside the production of her creative work, she directs community programs (“loveDANCEmore”) through her non-profit, “ashley anderson dances.” Ashley is also a teaching artist at many universities, high schools and community centers. She brings to The ThroughPlay project her experience teaching in Early Childhood and K-12 settings through the Pennsylvania Artist Roster, the Tanner Dance Program at the University of Utah, and dancing with her two children, age 4 and 2. 

Chris Howard


Chris Howard is a freelance artist, designer, and filmmaker.  He has worked on film, web, and design projects for Salt Lake City and the Salt Lake International Airport for the 2002 Winter Olympics, KSL-TV, Spy Hop Productions, KRCL Community Radio, NOW International Dance Company, The Human Rights Education Center of Utah, and Novell.  In 2008, he helped produce the feature-length documentary film entitled Natural Family Values.  He has won an Addy Award for his web design work and several Telly Awards for his television work.  Chris is an avid film lover, music devotee, and adorer of video games (especially retro, whimsical, and toy-like sandbox games).  Chris strongly believes in the value of humor, curiosity, and the positive power of play. 

Jamie Gadette


Jamie is a writer, editor, and strategist with a M.A. and B.A. in English from the University of Utah.  She's continually trying to strike the right balance of work, family, and play.  For her, parent-child play with her 2-year-old son involves weekly hikes, visits to public parks, trips to the Marmalade Library, reading, and stacking blocks.  She taps into her own enjoyable concentration by running, swimming, curating music playlists, reading, and long walks with friends.