Kristen Chesak, Executive Director
Kristen joined the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo in June 2016. Prior to this appointment, Kristen had a 22-year career at the Kalamazoo Civic Theatre – serving in the positions of Intern, Carpenter, Lighting Designer, Production Manager, and most recently as its Executive Director – a position she held for the past 10 years. Originally from Seattle, Washington, Kristen has also had the pleasure of working for the Group Theatre, The Alice B., and the Annex Theatre. A graduate of both Kalamazoo College and Western Michigan University, Kristen holds a B.A. in Theatre Arts and Communication and an M.F.A. in Performing Arts Administration.
Kristen has been a strong advocate of the arts in her previous roles and was presented with the Robert A. McKenna Award by the Community Theatre Association of Michigan in recognition for her contributions to community theatre at the local, state, and national levels. She has also served as a committee member for the American Association of Community Theatre and volunteers locally as a member of Rotary. She serves as a commission member on the Kalamazoo County Public Art Commission, an advisory council member of the KNAC, and a committee member on the Kalamazoo Chapter of Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation’s Narrative Change committee.
Kristen is also an accomplished lighting designer and still offers her skills to area theatres and programs as time permits.
Jinli Feng, Staff Account
Jinli Feng joined the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo in December 2021 as Staff Accountant. In her role she oversees daily financial records management and reports to the Finance Director. Prior to joining the group, Jinli spent over two years as bookkeeper at the Kalamazoo Chinese Academy and she continues in the capacity of co-program director for Kalamazoo Chinese Academy STARTALK Institute. Jinli received her B.S., with a major in accounting, from Zhongnan University of Economics and Law, China. Her outside interests include playing the piano and dancing. Her interest in dance led to performances of Chinese folk dance for Chinese New Year at the Chenery Auditorium in 2019 and 2020.
Ty Hicks, Marketing Director
As the Director of Marketing at ACGK, Ty collaborates with the Executive Director to develop an overall branding and communications strategy for the organization. Ty’s professional experience includes marketing management positions in Fortune 500 corporations including Ralston Purina, Gerber Products Company, and Kellogg Company as well as nonprofit organizations including The Henry Ford and Detroit Zoological Society. Prior to joining the ACGK, he was Executive Producer of Motorcycle Mecca, Inc. Ty earned a Bachelor of Science in Graphics Technology from Florida A&M University. He joined the ACGK in the fall of 2021.
Carrie McFerrin, Administrative Assistant
Carrie is well-known to the Kalamazoo area arts community as a singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist. She has twice been awarded ACGK grants and has been featured at Art Hop and other local venues. As an independent music professional, she has a wide range of experience spanning areas of management, scheduling, planning, finance, public relations, customer service, and administration. Carrie also has professional experience as an Enrollment Advisor at the University of Phoenix and as an Advertising Account Executive at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. She joined the ACGK as administrative assistant in the fall of 2021.
Jacob Miller, Associate, Kalamazoo Community Box Office
Jacob joined the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo in January 2022 as a Community Box Office Associate. A local from Vicksburg, Jacob has always had a passion for the arts, particularly theatre. Jacob attended Grand Valley State University where he completed a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and History with a double minor in music. While at GVSU, Jacob was given the opportunity to perform in the Dominican Republic and study in Scotland. Since graduating in 2020, Jacob joined the Kalamazoo Civic Theatre as a Teaching Artist, ranging from improvisation to Shakespeare. Jacob has had two technical internships: one at the Croswell Opera House and the other at Vicksburg High School. Outside of school, Jacob has been in productions at the Kalamazoo Civic Theatre and Three Rivers Community Players.
Eric Oliphant, Operations Manager/Membership Director
Eric joined the Arts Council in August 2020 as Office Coordinator and was promoted to Operations Manager/Membership Director in the fall of 2021. In his new role he continues to support the activities of the Arts Council’s daily operations but will be much more involved in the shape and direction of the membership program and member benefits offered by ACGK.
Prior to joining the ACGK, Eric was the sales coordinator at Western Michigan University’s Miller Auditorium, where he worked alongside an incredible team to bring touring Broadway shows, comedy acts, and performances of all kinds to Kalamazoo. He had a brief cameo as the choir director/accompanist for the “Sister’s Christmas Catechism” performance. Eric also previously served as the auditorium’s office coordinator.
Eric is a percussion educator and has taught privately throughout southwestern Michigan at various high schools since 2008 and as an adjunct faculty member at Southwestern Michigan College since 2016. He has performed professionally as a percussionist, guitarist, and keyboardist in various ensembles including orchestras, pit orchestras, jazz big bands, and original music acts. Some of the notable ensembles include the Andrews University Symphony Orchestra, Lake Effect Jazz Big Band, Ed Bagatini Musical Groups, Elephant Rescue, and the Andrew Fisher Quartet.
Eric is married to his beautiful wife, Lindsey. The couple has two cats together. Eric and Lindsey have lived in the vibrant Kalamazoo area since 2016 and are looking forward to many more. Eric brings a passion for music and the inherent value of art in modern society into his work at the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo.
Nicki Poer, Associate, Kalamazoo Community Box Office
In her role as Box Office Associate, Nicki supports the operations of the new Community Box Office located on the first floor of the Epic Center. The Community Box Office currently sells event tickets and services for The Gilmore Piano Festival, Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, Kalamazoo Ballet Arts, Wellspring/Cori Terry & Dancers, and Fontana Chamber Arts. Prior to joining the ACGK in the fall of 2021, Nicki served as Executive Director of local youth literacy nonprofit, Read and Write Kalamazoo (RAWK). Prior to RAWK, she was the Kalamazoo Civic Theatre’s Director of Education and Outreach from 2008-2018 where she founded the Academy of Theatre Arts. She earned a Master of Fine Arts in Acting from the University of Montana and a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre with a music minor from Millikin University.
Miriam Thomas, Temporary Programs Director
Miriam will fill the role of ACGK Programs Director while Bianca Washington Ciungan is on a temporary leave through March 2022. She will be the point person for ACGK programs including Art Hop, Art on the Mall, Concerts in the Park, and Blue Skies Busking as well as serve as the oversight for performance space rental of the Jolliffe Theatre and the Haymarket Plaza. Thomas earned her Ph.D. in Theatre from Bowling Green State University and has a professional background as a theatre historian, dramaturg, and educator. She previously served as a visiting Assistant Professor and Adjunct Professor of Theatre at Kennesaw State University, Ball State University, and Wofford College, teaching courses in dramaturgy, theatre history and literature, acting, and directing.
Craig Vaughan, Finance Director
Craig joined the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo in May, 2017. A Grand Rapids native, Craig relocated to Kalamazoo after meeting his wife in 2011. He’s spent the bulk of his business career in office management for small professional firms with overall responsibility for financial reporting, human resources, technology, and facilities management. In addition, during his consulting career he performed audit preparation service for the Community Media Center in Grand Rapids.
Craig’s art experience is heavily geared toward the world of music. He started programming at WYCE, 88.1 FM in Grand Rapids in 2005, which continues to afford him a platform to imprint his musical proclivities on an unsuspecting radio audience. Craig also serves as the Finance Manager for Discover Kalamazoo, on a part-time basis.
Craig received his B.S. in Accounting from Grand Valley State University.
Mindee Waltz, Tessitura Database Administrator
Mindee Waltz joined the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo in January 2019 as the Tessitura Systems Specialist, continuing in a role she originated for the Kalamazoo Arts asnd Cultural Consortium in 2015. Although her Bachelor’s degree is in Communication, her earlier career spanned the legal, pharmaceutical, and technology industries.
Mindee grew up in Dublin, Ohio but has felt at home in Kalamazoo since moving here with her family in 2012. She enjoys theater and music and finds it gratifying to play a part in supporting the local arts community.
Bianca Washington Ciungan, Programs Director/Theatre Manager
Bianca joined the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo in October of 2019. She has been teaching at the collegiate level for seven years and has been an educator of young people for more than ten years. She has taught theater both at Kalamazoo College and Western Michigan University and is also a theater teaching artist at Education for the Arts where she taught drama to K-12.
Bianca studied abroad in London, South Africa, and Toronto, performing and engaging in master classes and research. She is one of the founding members of her theater company FACE OFF, which focuses on producing and supporting artists of color and their stories in Kalamazoo and other local communities.
As a trained actress, Bianca has performed and traveled with her uncle’s company, “Washington Productions,” for more than ten years. Bianca comes from broad family of artists to theater performers, skilled orators, and visual artists, and she believes her father is an art curator at heart.
Along with her teaching and training, Bianca has had the pleasure of working with Health Promotion and Education at Western Michigan University where she served as coordinator of Theatre for Community Health that seeks to inform students of the importance of health resources on campus.
Bianca received her B.A. from Western Michigan University and her M.F.A. at The Pennsylvania State University. She lives in Kalamazoo and is honored to be a team member of the Arts Council.
Nicole Weber, Associate, Kalamazoo Community Box Office
In her role as Box Office Associate, Nicole supports the operations of the new Community Box Office located on the first floor of the Epic Center. The Community Box Office currently sells event tickets and services for The Gilmore Piano Festival, Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, Kalamazoo Ballet Arts, Wellspring/Cori Terry & Dancers, and Fontana Chamber Arts. As a native of Portage, Mich., Nicole grew up with a strong appreciation of the arts in the greater Kalamazoo area. She earned an Associate Degree in Digital Media from Ferris State University.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
The Arts Council is seeking board members! Email firstname.lastname@example.org with interest to discuss this volunteer opportunity with a current board member.
Angelita Aguilar, President
John Oliver, Vice President
Eric Johnson, Treasurer
Marissa Harrington, Secretary