After studying at Eastern Illinois University, Challis began her career in regional musical theater. Her stage credits include Side by Side by Sondheim and South Pacific at New York City Opera.
Challis performed frequently at such New York clubs as Don't Tell Mama, The Metropolitan Room, and Feinstein's at Loews Regency, as well as the Royal Room in Palm Beach and the Playhouse on the Green in Bridgeport. She was the recipient of a Backstage Bistro Award Outstanding Female Vocalist.
In addition, she was a professional voice teacher in New York City and primarily taught Broadway theater professionals. She also served as a vocal technician for organizations such as Disney Productions and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. In addition, Challis was an Associate Professor of Vocal Studies at the University of Hartford's Hartt School and served as a consultant for their musical theater department.
She is survived by her husband, Frank Root, her children, Lonnie and Abby, her father and her sister. There will be a memorial service at 1:30pm on Sunday, September 2 at the Southport Congregational Church in Southport, Connecticut, and a memorial service in New York City is being planned for a later date.