Board & Staff

STAFF

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.

 

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.

 

Cammie Hunt, Digital Media Specialist

Cameron Hunt joined the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo in May 2022 as the Digital Media Specialist. During her part-time role she oversees all social media strategy and reports to the Marketing Director. Prior to joining the group, Cameron recently graduated from Illinois State University where she earned a degree in Interpersonal Communication. While at Illinois State, Cameron was a division-1 gymnast and competed all 4 years for the Redbirds. Cameron stays involved with the sport of gymnastics by coaching at a gym in Plainwell, MI.  She also serves as the Director of Communications for North Point Church, on a part-time basis. When Cameron is not in the office, she enjoys going out to eat, spending time with her husband, and trying to teach her cat how to walk on a leash. Cameron and her husband have one cat named Otis, and reside in Plainwell, MI.

 

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 the 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 to 2018 when 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.

 

Melita Terrentine-Wiener, Manager, Kalamazoo Community Box Office

Melita joined the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo as the Community Box Office Manager in January of 2022.  She has a long history of box office and management experience.  She served as the Box Office Manager at a community arts consortium in Fort Wayne, IN.  Here in Kalamazoo, she served as the Patron Services Manager and House Manager at the Kalamazoo Civic Theatre.

A native of Kalamazoo, Melita’s experiences with local arts organizations, helped reveal a passion for bringing BIPOC peoples into theatre and performance spaces, both as patrons and as participants.  She is excited about this opportunity to work with various artists and arts organizations.

 

Miriam Thomas, Associate Programs Director

Miriam continues to enjoy your job at the Arts Council full-time as she remains with the staff after filling for our Programs Director.  She works with Bianca on the 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.

 

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 Manager, 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 info@kalamazooarts.org with interest to discuss this volunteer opportunity with a current board member.

 

Angelita Aguilar, President

John OliverVice President

Eric JohnsonTreasurer

Marissa HarringtonSecretary

Zac Bauer

Lauren Carney

Cheryl Dickson

Thomas Hamann

Rebecca Hartzell

Tim Kilmartin

Matt Lager

Bob Miller

Simon Thalmann