[WINNERS!] And the Dr. Kenny Scholarship Fund Recipients Are…

Because of the pandemic, I haven’t had the chance to give my dad a proper farewell.  There was no funeral, no memorial, and no celebration of his life.

Someday in 2021, God willing, I will honor his wishes and travel to his home country of India and scatter his ashes in the Ganges River. (My prayers are with our relatives in Mumbai as their battle with the virus rages on.)

Until then, I’ve got the next best thing to a celebration of his life . . . because nothing, absolutely nothing, made my dad happier than encouraging young people.

That’s why I started the “Dr. Kenny Encouragement Fund” and the “Dr. Kenny Scholarship”. I wanted my Dad’s spirit to continue to be able to say “GO FOR IT” to young people pursuing a career in the arts . . . especially when it’s more difficult than ever to get out of the gate.

I was overwhelmed by the number of high-quality applicants for our first year of this gift and boy oh boy, picking FINALISTS was harder than producing a Broadway show, never mind picking two winners!

But I did. And I am pleased to introduce them to you below.

Both of these Art-treprenurs will receive:

What they’ve agreed to do:

  • Ask questions along the way so we can help.
  • Keep us updated along their journey to success.
  • Honor my Dad’s name.
  • And kick some theatrical butt.

Please meet the inaugural recipients of the first annual Dr. Kenny Encouragement Fund Scholarship! Congrats both!  And know my dad is smiling HUGE today!

– – – – –

Marelisse Navarro-Sanabria
Student of the Arts

School: Cornish College of the Arts
Major: Theater with a Concentration in Acting
Year: Freshman

What makes her special as a theatermaker: Her teachers describe her as an energetic and enthusiastic leader who is a positive influence on those around her.

What are your long-term career goals/aspirations?:

“Only by telling our story do people see the real us. I have always considered acting to be storytelling and as an actor I recognize that I do serve as one of many bridges between the Hispanic community and American media. My goal as an actress is to accurately depict and share these stories in the best way I can. And to do that I must continue to strengthen and improve my acting skills. Education is fundamental.”


“The entertainment industry is constantly evolving to portray all walks of life. As a woman of color this award aids in getting my story told and I’m more than thankful. This has been a difficult time for everyone but, there are two constants in life that calm me. One, time will carry on. Two, art will always persevere. Art illuminates the hope in times of pain and struggling. Art shows us we’re not alone. Art is humanity. So to every artist, keep persevering and don’t let anything stop your story from being told.”


Germono Toussaint
Composer, Playwright and Producer

Recent works include:
Surviving Together (short musical, 2019)
• Created with Music Theater Factory (MTF) and performed at MTF’s High Five Celebration
Sonny’s Song (full-length two-act play, 2018)
• Read as part of the National Black Theater’s Keep Soul Alive reading series
• Developed at the Sheen Center as part of an artist residency
• Developed with Rhymes Over Beats as part of an artist residency
Divine Retribution (short play, 2017)
• Performed as part of the NY Madness play festival

What makes him special as a theatermaker: Despite facing setbacks related to the effects of the pandemic, he is currently developing three complex and deeply personal new works rooted in his African American culture and heritage.

What are your long-term career goals/aspirations?:

“My long-term goal is to make a living doing what fulfills me creatively and to put all of my energy into what I was put on this earth to do. It is my hope that what fulfills me creatively will also educate, uplift, challenge, transform, and possibly even heal others. I want to make a living by creating plays, musicals, movies, and music. I also make a great effort to remain a person of character, live an authentic life, and to seek truth in all that I do.”


“Three things I have learned as an independent artist in NYC:
1. Your gifts, your struggles, and your purpose, are all divinely connected.
2. What is for you, is for you.
3. You are here for a reason. The world needs what you have to give.”

– – – – – –

If you’d like to help with my Dad’s mission and support emerging artists and art-treprenuers, please click here, or email me.  The Fund’s 501c3 status is in process.


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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.