Executive Group


Shirley Coen BA (Hons), FRSA  Principal and Chief Executive

Shirley Coen is the Principal and CEO of Bird College and a Trustee of the Doreen Bird Foundation, a registered charity. She joined the College in 1998 and was appointed an Executive Director by Doreen Bird, Founder, in 2002. In her former roles as Director of Finance, she has been responsible for all funding-related and commercial activities and has been proactive in the development of the Dance and Drama Award Scheme. She spent her early career gaining experience in business and finance, before working with different public sector and charitable institutions for 16 years.   Read moreDuring this time,she became an expert in managing, motivating and leading teams whilst successfully facing difficult commercial and financial challenges. Since joining Bird College, she has worked to support our artistic and educational vision, whilst developing the College’s financial affairs so that the College has a sound basis for further development.

Luis de Abreu AISTD, MA, PGCE  Deputy Principal and Deputy CEO

Luis trained at the Doreen Bird College of Performing Arts, under the direction of Doreen Bird, and then went on to train in Drama at the Poor School where his tutors included Paul Caister, Bardy Thomas, George Hall and John James. Other training has included a Script and Story Structure Course with Robert McKee, Approaches to Physical Theatre at Middlesex University a Mask Workshop with the Pleiades Company and Kasm Mask, and Commedia dell’Arte with Antonio Fava. He has also completed an MA in Physical Theatre at the University of Surrey and Royal Holloway University of London, and a PGCE at Canterbury Christ Church University College. Performing roles include Heinz in Today, Albert Parker in When We Are Married, Toby in Ways and Means, Mr Burnum in Hands Across the Sea, Gideon in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,   Read moreEnsemble in Sweet Charity and South Pacific, God Spell, Chitterlow in Half a Sixpence and Lucio in Measure for Measure. Luis was also one of the original Bird Theatre Company members. He joined the College as a Drama Tutor in 1996 and was later promoted to Head of Drama and Performance Studies. He was also Agency Manager for Bird Personnel Management from 1998 - 2005. He was appointed Deputy Principal & Artistic Director of Bird College in 2005. As a director, he has worked on Hands Across the Sea, Bouncers, Barnum, The Wiz, The Owl And The Pussycat, Line, Teechers, Infidelities!, Road, Habeas Corpus, Private Wars, Commedia dell’Arte, Children of Eden, The Life, I love you, You’re Perfect, Now Change, Fascinating Rhythms, Who Could Ask for Anything More?, Bat Boy, Kiss Me Kate, Songs for a New World, Legends, Icons and Idols, 42nd Street, Sweet Charity, Elegies, Noitamina, Crazy for You, Fame The Musical, Burlesque and Other Distractions, Hello Dolly, Footloose, Broadway Then and Now, West Side Story, Curtains, Hooray for Hollywood, Cabaret, Hot Mikado and Joie de Vivre. Other productions include choreography and direction for Dentro Da Minha Cabeça and choreography for Metamorphosis (Dance Theatre). Publications include A Career into Dance for CDET. Luis was part of an AHRB Innovation Research Project, 19th Century theatre rehearsal process, which was headed by Dr. G. Bush-Bailey & Dr. J. Bratton at Royal Holloway University of London. He wrote and designed the Foundation Degree in Creative Industries: Acting for Bird College which was successfully validated by University of Greenwich for five years as well as the Pre-Vocational Foundation programme in Dance and Musical Theatre. He was External Examiner for the BA (Hons) Physical Theatre programme at St Mary’s College, Surrey University from 2005 -2009. Luis was appointed an Executive Director and Trustee of Bird College in October 2008.

Julie Stanning BA (Hons), PGCE  Assistant Principal (Music Service)

Profile is currently being updated

Simon Smith BSc (Hons)  Assistant Principal (FE/HE Quality Assurance)

Simon joined Bird College in November 2016 from Glasgow Caledonian University’s London Campus, where he had been the Student and Learning Services Manager & Deputy Director since 2010. Simon is a graduate in Psychology and is also a qualified English Language teacher. He has over ten years’ experience as a teacher, working overseas for several of those years, and has also worked as an IELTS examiner for the British Council. Since 2007, Simon has managed student support services in Further and Higher Education Institutions, working in Student Experience, Quality Assurance and Feedback, supporting students with Disabilities, and managing the Wellbeing, Careers, Library, IT and English language support departments. Simon works closely with a number of colleagues, and attends meetings and workshops through the networks he’s involved with, in order to keep abreast of developments in the education sector.

Luisa Figuerola MSc, Cert.Ed, BA  Assistant Principal (Student Support)

Luisa trained at Escola Superior de Danca in Lisbon graduating with a BA in Choreography in 1993. She continued her studies at Laban where she obtained a Professional Diploma in Dance Studies and was part of Transitions Dance Company in 1996. As a professional dancer, Luisa worked with BI MA Dance Company, The Cholmondeleys, Protein Dance, Theatre En Corps and First Person Dance Company. Luisa also worked with the Cholmondeleys and The Featherstonehaughs in the role of Rehearsal Director for the revival of Anderson’s piece “Flesh and Blood”. Luisa began teaching at Bird College in 1997. She currently holds the positions of Technique Studies Coordinator on the BA and National Diploma programme and Head of Movement on the Foundation Degree programme. Luisa also has an MSc in Dance Science and is a qualified Pilates Matwork Teacher.