UBU Project 501 (c)(3) BOARD OF DIRECTORS


Dr. Elizabeth Simmons-O'Neill, PhD: UBU Board Member and Curriculum Consultant

Dr. Elizabeth Simmons-O'Neill, PhD, is a faculty member at the University of Washington in Seattle, where she teaches medieval literature and community-based research and writing in the Social Sciences, Directs the Community Literacy Program in partnership with high needs K-12 public schools, and Coordinates the UW in the High Schools English Program, though which over 60 high school teachers across the state offer UW composition courses in their high school classrooms.

I support the UBU Project because it is an outstanding model for STEAM education for all students, integrating arts-based activities into content-area learning through projects which engage students as individuals and as members of learning communities. The UBU Project, co-led by professionals in the performing arts and in education, works closely with K-12 teachers and curricula to deepen students' content area knowledge, develop their creative skill and confidence, and build their self-esteem and ability to communicate with others through joyful learning experiences.


Julie Dauer Wright, M. Ed.: UBU Board Member and Curriculum Consultant

Julie received her Master’s Degree in Education (sum cum laude) from Roberts Wesleyan College in Rochester, NY. She was inspired to do so having raised a child (now adult) with high functioning autism. In addition she has completed extensive research on adolescents with executive functioning disorders. She has worked as a classroom teacher, tutor and academic coach for struggling learners including students with: ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Auditory Processing Disorder, Dyscalculia, Dyslexia, and Emotional Disabilities.

Additional Training and Certifications: Julie has earned an Arizona Professional Teacher’s Certification, K-12, Special Education with additional, extensive training in Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS). She also continues to develop and implement her own progressive and creative applications of educational strategies for students with executive functioning disorders through Mathematics and Writing Education.

In addition to serving as a board member and consultant for The UBU Project, Julie leads her own company, Endurance Tutoring LLC specializing in working with students across the full spectrum of educational experiences.


J. K. Simmons (Academy Award Winner): UBU Board Member and Arts & Entertainment Industry Consultant

J. K. Simmons (Academy Award Winner) began his career at The Bigfork Summer Playhouse during his college days at The University of Montana. There he had the opportunity to learn his craft while playing leading men, character parts, and the proverbial third guy from the left in the chorus. After 20 years in the theatre, culminating on Broadway, he began the transition to screen acting. TV roles include Tom Fontana’s OZ on HBO, Law and Order, The Closer, Growing Up Fisher, and currently, Counterpart on Starz. On the big screen he has appeared in Whiplash, Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy, almost every Jason Reitman movie, including the beloved Juno, and many other less memorable films.  Current plans include a return to the stage.  

My involvement in the UBU Project is motivated by my belief that arts education is crucial and capable of filling in some very important gaps in the lives of kids, whatever their specific needs and abilities may be.


Walt Versen: UBU Board Member and Arts & Entertainment Industry Consultant

Walt Versen;  Currently part of the management team for legendary Bay Area Soul Super-Stars Tower of Power,  Walt's career in the music industry reads like a who's who of classic rock royalty. In addition to his current gig Walt has provided security, management, support and guidance for REO Speedwagon, RATT, Heart, Genesis, Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins, Right Said Fred and many more. In fact, it can be said that the majority of the line-up for the very first "Live-Aid" mega-concert reads like Walt's early resume.

In addition to his work behind the scenes Walt has ventured onstage as both a featured vocalist and as an actor portraying FDR in the Arizona Broadway Theater Production of Annie (where he met UBU Project Founder and Creative Director David Simmons). The two men instantly struck up a deep and abiding friendship which criss-crosses the lines of colleagues, collaborators, friends and "twin brothers from different mothers."

It was Walt Versen who provided the foundational support and encouragement for David Simmons to create  The UBU Project. Walt's consistent (and, at times tenacious) commitment to, and belief in, the work of David and The UBU Project continues to be an integral part of the ongoing growth, success and life-saving impact of UBU.

UBU Ad-Hoc Advisory Group


Charles D. Atkinson MA, MSW, LCSW: UBU Childhood Trauma Advisor

Charles D. Atkinson MA, MSW, LCSW served as a professor at Rutgers the State University of New Jersey for thirty years. While there he researched, developed and lectured on the first academic course "Principles of Stress Management". His tenure included presentations, seminars, and clinics to both private and public organizations regarding the effects of stress on the well being of individuals. He was also instrumental in expanding the awareness of understanding earlier childhood trauma and its effects on individual and family dysfunctional behavior. He also developed his expertise into a professional psychotherapy private practice for two decades.

The UBU Project is an essential extension of my work. I whole heartily support the artistic and creative side initiated by David Simmons. He brings a much needed approach to children who are struggling with emotional and psychological issues. His unique style and experience provides a safe and supportive environment for children and youth to freely express themselves.