Meet the 2023 AFO Fellows


Natalie Dourte

(Painter) With over a decade of experience working in watercolor, Natalie Brooks Dourte shares her love of nature through painting. Born and raised in Florida, her imagination has been captured by the coasts and the lush world between. Her work seeks a rhythm of breathing in nature and exhaling with paint, honoring her source of inspiration, and inviting others to join her in the practice of wonder. Natalie believes that art can change the way we see the world and enjoys teaching watercolor workshops and classes in Winter Park and Orlando. Natalie is a member of the Central Florida Watercolor Society, wife to the brilliant green thumb behind many of her painting subjects, and mom to their three kids (who keep growing up- no matter how many times she tells them to slow down).

Vashti Goracke-Thede

(Choreographer) For over ten years Vashti has enjoyed a diverse career in the entertainment industry as a professional dancer, choreographer, director, instructor, and dance film producer. Her professional work includes working for companies such as the United Ballet Theatre, Continental Ballet, Twin Cities Ballet, Delta Airlines, Best Buy, AMC Theaters, Shop HQ, MAC, Dillards, Farmer's Insurance, and more. She is the founder of VG Talent & Services LLC, where she helps creatives digitally manage, package, and present their skills so they can monetize their talents and turn their passions into profits. Vashti is a native of Kansas City, KS, and is married to her husband, Jake Thede.

Karina Hornberger

(Painter) is an American-Colombian artist with a deep passion for the arts. She grew up in Orlando, FL and recently graduated from Rollins College with a double major in English and Studio Art. Her first exhibition, Prograde & Retrograde, at the Rollins' Museum of Art showcased her technical ability in watercolor painting, where three of her pieces were purchased. Two of these paintings now permanently reside in the Rollins College Olin Library. Karina's faith was deepened throughout college as she was, and still is, greatly involved in InterVarsity Christian Fellowship where she acted within the organization as a student co- president for the Rollins chapter, a campus ministry staff intern at FSU and a current volunteer staff at Rollins College. With a love for writing and illustration, she is passionate about telling stories through her art, and this has culminated into a desire to share a narrative about the intricacies of her faith through her artwork.

Jake Thede

(Operatic tenor) has sung with renowned choirs and opera companies throughout the United States and beyond including Orlando Opera, Minnesota Opera, Minnesota Chorale, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Des Moines Metro Opera, Eutiner Festspiele (Germany), Lawrence Opera Theater, Kantorei of Kansas City, and Deo Cantamus. Jake received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the University of Kansas where he studied vocal performance under the direction of Dr. John Stephens. Above all, Jake loves to lift his voice to God in worship singing at churches and worship events throughout the country. Jake is a native of Urbandale, Iowa, and has been married to his wife Vashti for six years.

Lauren Theriault

(Choreographer) is an Orlando-based artist and performer. She grew up immersed in the arts,and began her dance training at the age of 13 in ballet, modern, and jazz. Lauren attended Palm Beach Atlantic University and has degrees in Graphic Design and Dance Performance & Choreography. While she was there, she trained in ballet under the direction of Eileen Hebron (former Corps member with American Ballet Theatre), as well as Jin Hanley, Ivy Platt, and other internationally known modern and ballet dancers. Lauren has international dance experience as well as several awards,and enjoys both performing and choreographing in professional dance companies in the Orlando area. She has just recently received her Masters Degree in mental health counseling from Reformed Theological Seminary. She has enjoyed exploring the intersection of all these areas, always finding new ways to tell a story, bring new perspective, and point others to the ultimate Creator, God.
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Dan Crosby

(Sculptor) Dan has been an artist since a young age, spending hours a day with clay, pencil, or brush in hand. While attending college in Orlando, he married Rebekah, and in 2006 they moved to Boston so that Dan could study fine art at Massachusetts College of Art and Design. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in sculpture and worked for a local bronze foundry until 2010, when he moved back to Orlando with his young family to become a model-maker. For several years, Dan helped to design and create aerospace replicas for notable museums, including the Kennedy Space Center and the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. In 2015, Dan partnered with a fellow craftsman to start a custom woodworking and furniture business, Grit & Grain Co., while continuing to create both personal and commissioned artwork. A narrative artist who enjoys telling stories through the use of a variety of materials and mediums, Dan is intrigued by the pursuit of deeper truth woven throughout humanity and motivated by a desire to see the Creator’s hand in the most insignificant places and objects. He lives in Winter Springs with wife Rebekah and their two daughters.

Our Partners

Our Team


Lisa Brockman

Lisa is a writer, speaker, published author and elder with First Pres. She is a graduate of the Renovaré Institute for Christian Spiritual Formation. She has worked with Cru for 30 years, where she currently serves as a writer and spiritual director to creatives--helping them integrate their faith and art.

Matt Guilford

Matt has been in full time vocational ministry with Cru for past 25 years. He was the first staff member with Mako Fujimura in NYC where he helped launch the Int’l Arts movement. His focus is bringing the gospel to the domains of arts, media and entertainment. He’s led multiple arts in residency programs and has discipled more than 30 creatives across the country.
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Karen Thigpen

Karen spent several decades in the world of dance as a professional choreographer, performer and instructor. She has also held various executive leadership roles in both for-profit and non-profit sectors. Currently, she is pursuing her MA at Reformed Theological Seminary Orlando.