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    Board & Staff

    Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo 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, as well as volunteering locally as a member of Rotary and an Advisory Council Member of Discover Kalamazoo.

    In addition to advocacy, Kristen has a proven track-record in fundraising and program development and is eager to be able to expand her role in the community as a connector between art, artists, and the community.

    Beth McCann, Deputy Director

    Beth McCann joined the Arts Council in August of 2009 as Director of Marketing and Community Relations, was promoted to Deputy Director in September of 2010, and served as Interim Executive Director from June 2015 to June 2016. Beth has over 20 years of marketing and public relations experience. Prior to joining the Arts Council Beth spent 12 years in healthcare marketing and administration overseeing physician focused marketing and advertising campaigns, website development, physician recruitment, customer service, policy development and program management working for the Heart Center for Excellence, Borgess Ambulatory Care and Bronson Healthcare Group. Beth has a strong background in event management, professionally as Marketing Coordinator for Downtown Kalamazoo Incorporated (1990-93) and as a community volunteer for various non-profit organizations.  She has served as a consultant to numerous non-profits in Southwest Michigan and the Midwest.  Beth received her Bachelor of Science from The University of Michigan and her MBA from Western Michigan University.

    Beth is an active community volunteer. She has served on many community Boards of Directors including Housing Resources, Kalamazoo Institute of Arts Corporate Giving Committee, the American Heart Association – Kalamazoo, AHA Heart Ball and Go Red for Women, Hospital Hospitality House and the Discover Kalamazoo Advisory Council. Currently, Beth is Chair of the Discover Kalamazoo Board of Directors, Vice Chair of the Branding and Engagement Committee at Downtown Kalamazoo Incorporated, President of Pretty Lake Camp Board of Directors and a Board Member of Glass Art Kalamazoo and Richmond Center for Visual Arts.  Beth has been a member of the Junior League of Kalamazoo for over 20 years, serving as its President in 1999-2000.

    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.

    Charlie Tomlinson, Program Coordinator

    Kalamazoo native Charlie Tomlinson’s career in the Arts spans more than 30 years.  A graduate of The University of Michigan with both Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees in String Bass Performance, Charlie spent his early career performing with the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra, the Michigan Opera Theatre Orchestra and the Spoleto Festival Orchestra among others. After moving to New York City, Charlie founded and served as Artistic and Executive Director of Positive Music, an organization dedicated to presenting quality chamber music concerts, providing performance and listening opportunities for musicians and audiences affected by HIV/Aids and exploring the relationship between performing/listening to music and health and healing.  He developed a broad freelance career playing music from the early Baroque to working with many living composers, performing in venues from the Knitting Factory to Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall including performing for 10 years as the principal bass of the New York Chamber Ensemble and with a particular highlight of being a guest artist with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in their “What Makes a New York City Composer” series. He also worked as Production Manager at BergerBrown Communications, a financial public relations firm.

    Charlie returned to Kalamazoo in 2008 and quickly became involved with local arts organizations.  He has served on the Boards of Directors of the Crescendo Academy of Music and Wellspring/Cori Terry & Dancers, and continues to serve on the Kalamazoo Junior Symphony Society board.  Most recently Charlie worked for the Arts Council in 2011 as a Special Events Coordinator for Make Music Kalamazoo, was the Production Coordinator at Fontana Chamber Arts and the transportation coordinator for the 2016 Gilmore International Keyboard Festival.

    Charlie is a graduate of the Kalamazoo Leadership Academy and the DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the Kennedy Center in Grand Rapids.  In addition to his present role as Program Coordinator at the Arts Council, Charlie serves as Instructor of String Bass at Kalamazoo College.

    Kitty A Mitchell, Office Coordinator

    Kitty joined the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo in September 2016, as the Office Coordinator.   Prior to joining the Arts Council, Kitty served as a Public school educator working with Alternative education students for more than 10 years in Calhoun County, helping them to overcome life’s challenges and find a path for success.  She taught English Literature and Computers with Battle Creek Public Schools and Marshall Public Schools at the Michigan Youth Challenge Academy, located at the Department of Military and Veteran Affairs in Battle Creek, MI.   Kitty received her Bachelor of Arts in Education and a Master of Arts in Educational Leadership both from Western Michigan University.  She has received several awards and recognition including the Excellence in Education Award in 2009 from Kellogg Community College Foundation and the Distinguished Service Medal in 2016, from the Department of Military and Veteran Affairs for her service in working with youth. 

    Prior to becoming an educator, Kitty worked in banking as a Branch Manager and Customer Service Representative.  

    Steve Curl, Curator

    Steve joined the Arts Council in January 2014 as an art handler for Art Hop, a job he formerly held with the Arts Council “many years ago”.   He is a popular Michigan artist known for his use of discarded metals like aluminum to create robots and other fun free-standing sculptures like Japathar, a popular attraction at the Kalamazoo Art Fair.  Steve is proud to say he is the only “second generation” artist in the KIA Art Fair.  

    Board of Directors

    Michael Ray Helms, President
    Retired, Van Buren ISD;Actor

    Jana Zollinger, Vice President
    Western Michigan University, Development & Alumni Relations

    Kurt SherwoodSecretary
    Attorney, Miller Canfield

    Nancy Schultz, Treasurer
    Retired, formerly Southwest Michigan First, Vice President

    Bryan Zocher, Past President
    Kalamazoo RESA – Education for the Arts, Director

    John Donaldson
    John F. Donaldson, CPA

    Nan Harrison
    Community Volunteer

    Carrie Heath
    Stryker Medical, Associate Product Manager

    Scott Irelan
     Western Michigan University, Associate Dean of Fine Arts

    Tim Kilmartin
     Manager in Middle Market Lending, Regional President and Alternate Group

    Laura Latiolais
    Hospice Care of SW Michigan

    Helen Osterwald
    Administrative Director, Retired
    KNI/Southwest Michigan Imaging Center
    Community Volunteer

    Diane Stafford-Vandenberg
    Retired, formerly Kalamazoo Valley Community College, Director of Student Services 


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