Meet Our Team
Arts Alive! has a strong board of directors, representing various art forms, local institutions, arts philanthropists, and town government. The board are strong advocates for Arts Alive! in the community. Transparency is a key principal of the organization, below are links to our strategic plan, board meeting materials and board documents.
Staff & Volunteers
Board of Directors
Co-Chair Eric Weisenberger, Colonial Theatre
Vice Chair Andy Oram, PC Connection
Treasurer Kathy Hodgkins, CPA, HoganCamp
Secretary Camellia Sousa, NH Institute of Art's Sharon Arts Center
Danya Landis, Machina Arts
Eric Russell, The Dublin School
Jessica Gelter is a dedicated nonprofit leader with over ten years of experience in community outreach, team leadership, event management, and program development and evaluation. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Boston University’s theater conservatory program, and a Certificate in Arts Management from the University of Massachusetts. In her spare time she practices her art - as a musician, playwright, actress, and theater director, and was featured recently on the National Endowment for the Arts website. She lives in Brattleboro, Vermont with her husband James and daughter Evelyn.
Matthew Leese is a conductor, baritone, educator and stage director. He engages in various collaborative projects which stimulate our community. He manages the Arts Alive! Twitter and Instagram handles, sharing community news and events with our followers.
I warmly remember my mother taking me to the Art Institute of Chicago in the morning followed by a Chicago Symphony matinee across the avenue at Orchestra Hall. I was hooked on the arts; still am. After flirting with a variety of musical instruments, I settled into lifelong relationships with Bass (Precision and upright), tenor banjo, and singing. I have performed professionally with a variety of groups: everything from rock, to bluegrass; country to contra dance; and church’s to choruses; all of these are thriving in the Monadnock Region. Arts Alive! lets me combine my interests in the arts and community. I have served on community and church boards, and for several years was a volunteer chef at the Community Kitchen. I am currently entering my third term as a member of the Keene City Council. The arts are an important element in growing and sustaining the region’s economic vitality; both in arts events directly, and in attracting tourists who come for arts and cultural events then spend on hospitality and other products. Our community is incredibly generous in its support of arts and culture. We cherish our heritage while creatively building our future. Arts Alive! is a way to be a part of all that good.
Your current job and title: Office Administrator, Grant Writer, Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music. I am also fundraising chair for The Keene Chorale and serve on the board of Raylynmor Opera.
Town you live in: Keene
What brought you to the Monadnock Region? I was in outside sales, selling grinding wheels and living in the Midwest, and got a new job covering the New England territory. We could've lived anywhere, but Bill and I fell in love with Keene the first time we drove through, and here we are. It's not far from my parents and friends in central Massachusetts, and that played a role.
Why are you passionate about Arts Alive!? I have always valued the arts as part of my life, by attending the Worcester Art Museum where I grew up, or singing in shows and choruses, or playing the piano. My parents always took my sister and me to one of the performances of the annual Worcester Music Festival, and The Nutcracker Suite was a highlight when we attended. To have an organization such as Arts Alive! with the stated mission of advancing the arts in the Monadnock region so as to enhance quality of life is indeed a blessing, and I enjoy being on the board and helping enrich our community through our efforts.
How do you enjoy experiencing the arts? By participating--I sing with The Keene Chorale, and by partaking of all this area has to offer in the form of cultural experiences. It's even more fun now that I know many people in the area and can support them by attending their performances, shows, and exhibitions.
What is your vision for arts and culture in the Monadnock Region? I see a community with a tapestry of arts, business, and culture intricately interwoven and seamlessly providing the highest quality of life possible, available to all regardless of socioeconomic standing.
What’s the best advice that you’ve received? Never let your boss be blind sided by information you should have told her. She can't help you out of a jam if she doesn't know you're in one.
Fun fact about yourself: My ninth great grandmother on my mother's side, Anna Maria von Ludwig Conrad, was the last person tried for heresy (witchcraft) in Kleinheubach, Bavaria, Germany. The German opera, Der Frerschutz, by von Weber was based on the story of Maria's brother, Georg von Ludwig, and is considered to be the first German romantic opera. And, I can cook lamb 12 different ways.
Give a shout out! Yay! for Dita Englund. She is indefatigable in her efforts to advance arts in the region, and it was at her suggestion I join the board of Arts Alive!
Your job: Senior Sales Manager PC Connection been there 19 years.
Town you live in: Keene
What brought you to the Monadnock Region? I came to Keene for the first time in about 1983 to open a business, “Neighbors, Great Meals and Groceries”. We built our first store at 341 West Street the building which is now the “Suds Bucket” Laundry.
Why are you passionate about Arts Alive!? From the earliest age art was an important part of my life. My family house was full of various kinds of art work, we made things together and separately, and my mother in particular focused on creating beauty in the quotidian practices of the home. So appreciation of beauty and the desire to create beauty as part of my environment is deeply ingrained. While not directly art this encouraged an artistic sensibility and a desire for aesthetic experience of life.
How do you enjoy experiencing the arts? I enjoy visual and aural art especially and I’m drawn to architecture. So I’m drawn to art wherever I find it be it a show, or simply lingering over the murals in a bank, the great streetscapes of Keene, or a slow walk appreciating the architectural details that abound throughout our neighborhoods. I love concerts of many kinds and in many venues. I enjoy a broad range from classical, to folk, to pop, to modern. I particularly like small venues. I had two friends in my house recently playing their guitars and singing together. My home is about at midpoint for them so I offered it up as a venue and had a really fine evening listening to them. Win-Win!
What is your vision for arts and culture in the Monadnock Region? Art adds beauty, texture, detail, and meaningful connection wherever it is practiced and used in life. I want to live in a place that is always striving to live a better life on this level constantly refining and redefining creative expression in all that we do. My vision for arts and culture in the Monadnock region is creating an environment that invites, encourages, and supports broad based experience in and of the arts. Where there are opportunities for anyone who wants to create or experience art to easily get involved.
What’s the best advice that you’ve received? There are two that are equal in my mind. 1) Failure is not predictive. Just because something didn’t work out doesn’t mean the next attempt won’t succeed. 2) Time is usually better spent leveraging strengths rather than trying to correct or change weaknesses.
Fun fact about yourself: I’ve ridden a bicycle over the Alps 4 or 5 times.
Give a shout out!: I really like Eric Weisenberger’s “touch” in handling things. Whether he is putting the “arm” on me to support The Colonial or making a point at a board meeting it always feels like he’s on everybody’s side and it makes it much easier to keep moving forward in a productive way. That we come from the same general part of the hinterland and can easily mock each other’s accents makes it all the more amusing as well.
Your job: Director, Redfern Arts Center at Keene State College
Town you live in: Part time in Keene, family lives in the Boston area
What brought you to the Monadnock Region? Getting hired at Keene State College
Why are you passionate about Arts Alive!? I love the commitment Arts Alive has to advocating for the arts in the greater Monadnock region, and all the events and opportunities we provide for the community to promote the arts and providing professional development for artists. I’m especially proud that Arts Alive was chosen to host NEFA’s Creative Communities Exchange in 2015!
How do you enjoy experiencing the arts? I love being able to take off my presenter hat and just enjoy the diversity of the arts in our region, nationally and internationally. I especially love being able to provide opportunities for emerging artists to showcase their work at the Redfern, and to bring arts engagement to our community through our programming.
What is your vision for arts and culture in the Monadnock Region? The region is rich in arts and culture, and my vision is to harness this creativity and expand awareness of all the activities that take place in our various communities. I want the Monadnock Region to grow as a cultural destination,and what better place than our beautiful corner of the world!
What’s the best advice that you’ve received? That art can be made anywhere.
Fun fact about yourself: I play roller derby and I once was an assistant casting director for the soap The Guiding Light, I got to cast a lot of my friends, even my mother!
Give a shout out! Shout out to Jessica Gelter for all of her hard work of making Arts Alive a strong organization, and to the Redfern Staff for providing a wonderful experience for our artists and audiences!
Your job: Hotel/Restaurant/Marketing Consultant
Town you live in: Greenfield, NH
What brought you to the Monadnock Region? Originally bought a home on Zephyr Lake for weekend getaways and fell in love with the people, culture and natural playground that Southern NH has to offer. The proximity to major cities was very important at the beginning, but we have found over time, that life can be highly fulfilling in our rural location!
Why are you passionate about Arts Alive!? It did not take long for me to realize that the Arts are a huge component of the culture and way of life in the Region. The area stimulates and ultimately engages the artist in all of us. Hence, so many individual artists have settled in the area and find the creative stimulation that drives them. From film makers, to musicians to visual artists, this area allows artists to grow with their craft while supported by the surrounding community. As an artist at heart, I wanted to contribute to the wellbeing of artists while stimulating the economy. I found that opportunity with Arts Alive, whose mission is to be the resource and catalyst of growth for individual artists, art organizations and the conduit of art in business. Here is a place where I can make a difference and found that to be true as a Board Member.
How do you enjoy experiencing the arts? My enjoyment comes from being an audience member at various performance locations, galleries and theatres. Most of all, I get gratification being a part of the support system for artists that allow for the growth and life well-being for the area. As a Board Member of Arts Alive, Monadnock International Film Festival, Advisory Board Member of Sharon Arts/NHIA, NHPBS and marketing consulting with Peterborough Players, Monadnock Music and The Void keeps my efforts relevant to the needs of the community.
What is your vision for arts and culture in the Monadnock Region? Arts and Culture are the distinct driver of the lifestyle, tourism and wellness of the Region. For too long, Art has been the quiet generator of the growth of the area. Now with the efforts of many organizations, specifically, Arts Alive, the Arts & Culture are becoming the voice and the unique offering of the Region. The goal is to be known nationally as the destination for the Arts in New England.
What’s the best advice that you’ve received? Hard to identify just one! The most important aspect of creating is to listen, absorb and collaborate. Not one person or organization can stand alone, by networking and collaborating, "we can move mountains!”
Fun fact about yourself: Fun is key to maintaining my energy, focus and endurance in our very busy world. No matter what I do, there has to be a continual element of fun, otherwise why do it? So, I try to approach life with a smile, a laugh and an effort not to take everything too seriously. After all, fun is contagious, allows for individuals to connect and promotes friendships which can last a lifetime!
Town you live in: Fitzwilliam
What brought you to Monadnock region? We are back home, really, after living in Maine for more than thirty years. My family has been coming to the Monadnock region seasonally for generations. My husband’s family is located in the Monadnock region and we are both Keene State “kids”.
Why are you passionate about Arts Alive!? The arts have played a significant role in my life and I am excited that there is an organization here that is dedicated to supporting and promoting the arts in this region.
How do you enjoy experiencing the arts? Music has always been my favorite…both as an audience member and through participation.
What is your vision for arts and culture in the Monadnock region? To have our regional venues and our arts events be what first comes to mind when people talk about the Monadnock region.
Best advice ever received: Be positive!
Fun fact about yourself: My maternal grandmother was born in China, my mother grew up in China and my daughter is a Mandarin speaker and works using Mandarin daily.
Give a shout out: To Gail and Jessica for welcoming me and to my firm, Hogancamp, PC, for supporting involvement in the community.
Your Job: Co-Owner of Machina Arts
Town you live in: Keene, NH
What brought you to the Monadnock Region: In 2013 I was living in Queens, NY working for sculptor, Wendy Klemperer. Wendy’s family has a summer home in Nelson, NH - and needed help. I came to spend a week in Nelson with her and in the first night I met so many amazing people including my business partner, and my now husband. My week here turned quickly into 6 months, and I realized this is where I wanted to be. I took the leap and moved to Peterborough, NH. It was the best choice I’ve ever made!
Why are you passionate about Arts Alive!: I have a BFA in Sculpture from The Maine College Of Art - I am a metal sculptor and have been a welder for 13 years. Art run deep in my veins - and I believe in community. Arts Alive supports not only artists in the journey to grow their businesses but established businesses in building valuable relationships and connections. I believe that art and culture is the heart and soul of any region. Making sure these ties are strong keeps us building and growing our arts community.
How do you enjoy experiencing the arts? I LOVE visiting museums, galleries, and sculpture parks! This gives me the opportunity to be inspired and learn about new artists! Some of my favorite places are; Mass MOCA, PS1, Storm King Art Center, The MoMA, and the Hirshhorn Museum. I also love teaching steel sculpture at The Carving Studio in Rutland VT, and having deep conversations about art theory, craft, and design.
What is your vision for arts and culture in the Monadnock Region? As I mentioned before art and culture is the heart and soul of any region. I believe in helping to build a vibrate arts community full with places for artists, musicians, and performers to show work, build networks, sell work, learn, and grow together.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? Never give up!
A fun fact about myself: I am a stilt walker! I first learned when I was 12 years old. I have even walked a few runways for fashion shows in my stilts!
Give a shout out! My shout out is to Walker Landis! Walker is a supportive, helpful, and kind husband - Owner of Machina Arts, and Owner of Landis Carpentry. He does it all and more! Thank you Walker!
Your Job: I am the owner of Jillian Miner Wellness. I’m a wellness and weight loss coach specializing in customizing solutions for those stuck in their routine and not knowing where to turn to feel better, lose fat, gain more energy, sleep through the night and eliminate stress in their lives.
Town you live in: My husband and I just bought our first home in Harrisville, where we run an award winning maple sugaring operation and produce maple syrup, maple cream, maple candy, customized wedding favors, corporate gifts and other specialty orders.
What brought you to the Monadnock Region: Speaking of my husband, he is what brought me to the Monadnock Region. I met him as a senior at UNH in 2010. He grew up in this area, Dublin & Harrisville to be exact, and has deep family ties to this region.
Why are you passionate about Arts Alive!: I was first involved with Arts Alive! developing the Artist to Artist Program when I worked at the Hannah Grimes Center for Entrepreneurship. I believe artists need the support of those involved in business. It’s not just about creating beautiful work, but marketing, branding and the back office/accounting mumbo jumbo that makes you want to rip your hair out to become a successful business owner. By offering these workshops, and other programs to help creative folk wrap their heads around running a business, AA! is investing in the longterm success of our local artists and their businesses.
How do you enjoy experiencing the arts: Art has always been a part of my life - I minored in Studio Art at university - ceramics, woodworking, drawing and glass blowing - and have always loved to create. I bring creativity to my life currently through crafting, writing and gardening.
What is your vision for arts and culture in the Monadnock Region: Working in the health industry, I am interested in the effectiveness of healing arts. I am all about preventative care and would love to see an investment from our local arts organizations combined with health care providers for an innovative solution.
What’s the best advice that you’ve received: The best advice I ever received was from my father, to make like I own the place. Not so much in the literal sense, but to have confidence that I belong here, that I am working well here, and that I want to continue to invest here to make this region a wonderful place to live and grow a family.
Fun fact about yourself: I am a bee keeper. I studied Zoology at UNH and continue to apply the chemistry and biology that I learned to my wellness and weight loss business, but also to the maple farm, the bee hives and the garden. I am also the President of the local Keene Toastmasters Club - a public speaking organization with the purpose of creating better communicators; not just when it comes to public speaking, but in all aspects of communicating throughout our everyday lives.
Give a shout out! I’d like to give a shout out to Carl Jacobs. He pursued me to join the AA! board and continues to guide us all with passion and experience. He is well invested in this community and I think many can learn a thing or two from him. I seem to pick up a wise tidbit or two whenever we converse :)
Your job: MFA Program Director, Visual Arts. NH Institute of Arts, Manchester, NH
Town you live in: Keene
What brought you to the Monadnock Region? I first came here to attend Antioch NE Graduate School, 1988. M. Ed. in Elementary Education.
Why are you passionate about Arts Alive!? As someone who educates/prepares adults for sustainable careers as artists I am profoundly aware of the need for viable local art communities. Arts Alive! is instrumental in promoting this vision.
How do you enjoy experiencing the arts? I attend concerts, films, art exhibits regularly.
What is your vision for arts and culture in the Monadnock Region? I envision high quality art and local art co-existing with pride and mutual support.
What’s the best advice that you’ve received? As a young artist you need to form a small and supportive community of fellows, more important than pursuing pipe dreams.
Fun fact about yourself: I worked in a bubble gum factory.
Give a shout out! I'd like to recognize Elm City Rotary, a club I've been a member in since 2002, as an outstanding example of engaged and effective volunteerism.
Your job: Director of Development, The Colonial Theatre
Town you live in: Keene
What brought you to the Monadnock Region? After living in Brattleboro, VT for 9 years, my job at The Colonial brought me to Keene and the Monadnock Region in January of 2012. So far… so incredible! There’s so much to offer from wonderful artists and musicians, to the mountain, lakes and streams for outdoor activities, to quality food and drink. I find myself discovering something new literally every week. Although, I must say, I do find myself heading over to Brattleboro from time-to-time to absorb its’ comparable laid-back, artistic vibes and hang out with family and friends.
Why are you passionate about Arts Alive!? I believe in it. It’s a wonderful organization that is doing amazing things for advocating and advancing arts and culture in the region. It’s serving as an anchor and an invaluable resource for many artists and arts organizations and is steadily growing in popularity. We have a strong Executive Director and a committed Board - one that I’m very pleased to be a part of!
How do you enjoy experiencing the arts? Experiencing visual and performing arts and meeting those who actually do it - really energizes me. Working at The Colonial has provided me that opportunity, has grown that appetite, and opened my eyes to the many genres of performing arts. Live music, particularly concerts, are my favorite. I’m also a graffiti and street art junkie. There’s not much around here, so, I seek it out every chance it get. Oh, and I’ve been attempting to master the art of home brewing for over 12 years now.
What is your vision for arts and culture in the Monadnock Region? My hope is that all artists and arts related organizations continue to flourish and collaborate even stronger than they already do, moving forward. The vibrant cultural health of the region can only grow, and organizations like Arts Alive! are poised to help make that happen.
What’s the best advice that you’ve received? The words ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ are culture specific. What is relative in your culture may not be so in another. So… relax, be patient, and listen.
Fun fact about yourself: I’m an (aspiring) adventurous eater. Snacking on crispy-deep-fried tarantulas in Cambodia was actually a tasty treat. I’ll try anything at least once!
Give a shout out! You can thank someone on the Board, or at your place of work, give props to someone at your organization, or recognize someone at some organization for the good work they do! Have fun with it: I’m going to take this opportunity to give a shout out to my core staff colleagues at The Colonial Theatre. Not only do we get a lot done in such a small shop, we do it with an unlimited supply of skill, grace and patience. Thanks a million to Alec, Barbara, Deborah, Greg, Holly and Vicky!
Your Job: Director, Thorne-Sagendorph Art Gallery at Keene State College
Town you live in: Keene...close enough to the Thorne to ride my bike to work most days.
What brought you to the Monadnock Region? The opportunity to build on the amazing base that my predecessor, my colleagues, and many campus and community supporters have built over these many years.
Why are you passionate about Arts Alive!? I cherish the opportunities I have to connect people to and through the arts, and this organization exists to help create those connections.
How do you enjoy experiencing the arts? There's no one answer to this question: I value quiet moments of contemplation, I crave regular doses of live (occasionally loud) music, I love watching people get inspired by performed and/or static artworks, and I feel extraordinarily lucky when I'm in the presence of committed artists and engaged audiences.
What is your vision for arts and culture in the Monadnock Region? The Monadnock Region is changing, rapidly, and arts and culture here and elsewhere are changing, too. My vision (I'm sure it's not unique) is of dynamic, diverse, disparate activities that connect various individuals and groups. I want to see artists, presenters, and audiences take chances on unfamiliar material while celebrating the perhaps more familiar (familiar to whom, I must ask) creative legacies we've inherited. Powerful connections -- to varied aspects of the past, to possible futures, and to people from all walks of life -- are possible and indeed critical if our artistic and cultural scenes are to flourish.
What’s the best advice that you’ve received? Bring spares.
Fun fact about yourself: My first museum job -- apart from graduate internships at several fine university art museums -- was at The Computer Museum, Boston, where (from 1989 to 1993) I helped organize a collection of computer hardware, software, documentation, and ephemera, and, in time, started a digital art exhibition series that taught me a lot about art, museums, artists, and audiences.
Give a shout out!: One of my go-to people is Kevin Dremel, who, from my first week here in Keene last summer, has been a fixture in my Keene culture-maven map. His DIY approach, his passion, his friendly and clear manner with artists, organizers, and audiences, and his generosity with knowledge, connections, and crackers, have all been valuable professionally and just fantastic personally.
Your job: Director of Sharon Arts Center at New Hampshire Institute of Art.
Town you live in: Milford, New Hampshire
What brought you to the Monadnock Region? My husband Brian, who works in the non-profit sector, started working in Peterborough about a year before I did. I discovered the Sharon Arts Center one day when I came to Peterborough to have lunch with him. About a year later I applied for a job. 10 years later I’m still here and loving it. My husband has moved on to a job outside of the Peterborough area, so we find Milford both a wonderful place to live and a good middle ground for commuting.
Why are you passionate about Arts Alive!? In the effort to advance arts and culture in the region, one of the things that I think Arts Alive does tremendously well is bring people together in shared dialogues. There is a true understanding that it takes the collaboration of many individual artists and arts organizations to advance arts and culture in our region and that is why I am excited to be in involved.
How do you enjoy experiencing the arts? In recent years, I’ve been fortunate to do some traveling, and so I really enjoy when I can visit a new museum and have a new experience. Two of my recent favorites were the MFA in Montréal and The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh.
What is your vision for arts and culture in the Monadnock Region? As a member of the community, I want to be able to experience art that you wouldn’t expect to find in the small towns of New Hampshire. I’d like to see the region enhance its reputation as a destination for arts and culture.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? One piece of advice that that works well for many different situations comes from my Dad. For all my life, he has reminded me not to forget to stand up straight. This piece of advice is simple but is universally helpful. It helps me remind myself to focus on what I can control.
Fun fact about yourself: I am a huge baseball fan. Last year I decided I wanted to see a game at all 30 MLB stadiums. 4 down, 26 to go!
Give a shout out!: My shout out goes to Pelagia Vincent. I’d like to recognize her dedication to the many organizations that she volunteers her time to, including Arts Alive and NHIA. I also admire the positive energy and persistence she exhibits when she is working on something that is important to her. Lastly, she is a great person to call a friend and always quick to respond when I need her help or advice.
Your job: I am a retired elementary school educator and principal. I have a small wedding and special event floral design business called Posies by Trim which I have been the principal in for almost 30 years. Gardening and flowers are my passion, this is the medium I choose to practice my creativity.
Town you live in: Hillsborough and Peterborough
What brought you to the Monadnock Region? I came from London UK, to NH to be a camp counselor teaching art at Interlocken Camp here in Windsor NH in 1970. In 1972 I met my husband Steve and moved here in 1974. I have lived both full time and part time in the Region for almost 43 years.
Why are you passionate about Arts Alive!? I grew up in a family of artists in London. For several generations my family have been architects, painters, and designers. I have two struggling artists siblings, and one highly successful artist sibling. I understand the important role arts plays in developing strong communities. As a child of two passionate painters, I also understand the importance of supporting artists with the business and marketing part of being an artist
How do you enjoy experiencing the arts? As a child I spent weekends and vacations climbing on building sites with my grandfather and visiting exhibits all over London, something I did not enjoy at the time, but as an adult I have come to appreciate the gifts my relatives gave me as we interacted with many of the most famous contemporary artists of our time. Now I like to visit beautifully designed gardens, galleries and experience art in my daily life by creating gardens floral designs and pleasing spaces to live in.
What is your vision for arts and culture in the Monadnock Region: As a member of the Monadnock Branding Task Force I believe arts in the Monadnock Region play a vital role in the development of the region and is one of the reasons so many people choose to live, visit and summer here.
What’s the best advice that you’ve received? I used to give out a lot of advice as a principal! I like the following quote because being a teacher and being an artist are very similar in so many ways. " The teaching mission is complex and difficult, and yet so vital. Teachers can never put up a 'Mission Accomplished' banner, because they are the bridge, not the end point for boys and girls - and the young men and women who come into their lives." John Merrow. Like art, teaching is a process.
Fun fact about yourself: I did an A Level on embroidery at age 18. A Levels are advanced two year coursework and exams in all subjects. I grew up in a robust post war London Brahman community of artists of genres and professionals supporting the arts.
Give a shout out! You can thank someone on the Board, or at your place of work, give props to someone at your organization, or recognize someone at some organization for the good work they do! Have fun with it! Over the last two years I have sat with many on the AA board at Monadnock Branding Task Force meetings and have come to respect Carl, former board member for his pragmatic insight into the region. Jessica brings spirit, energy and excitement about AA to the committees and groups she interacts with.