Staff

A longtime Vashon resident, Allison Reid brings more than 25-years of career experience in the non-profit sector to her role as VCA’s Executive Director. An avid supporter of the arts and education, Reid began her career as Founder and Director of Seattle’s award-winning performing arts organization, AHA! Theatre. On Vashon, she has served as VCA’s Interim Executive Director, as both Director of Development and Director of Advancement at Harbor School, as Principal of the event planning and fundraising consulting group, FortunaLux, and as a board member for several island non-profits. Her talents in development, event management, marketing and communications, and volunteer engagement are outmatched only by her dedication to the arts, education and the community of Vashon Island. She is a graduate of The Evergreen State College where she received her Bachelor of Arts degree.

Email Allison at allisonr@vashoncenterforthearts.org

Crissy Baker

Registrar

Crissy attended both the University of Washington and Central Washington University, graduating with degrees in Psychology and Human Resources. She brings with her the experience and benefits from leading teams at large corporations such as Microsoft and Starbucks headquarters. After some time in the corporate world, Crissy was ultimately drawn to the fantastic arts environment at Vashon Center for the Arts. Coupling Crissy’s passion for the arts, with being one of the most tenured staff members at VCA, she seemingly has had engagement in many of the program areas that VCA offers- class registrations and dance instruction, event production and management, and program director. She provides a great look into the past, present, and future of Vashon Center for the Arts. If you see her around town and want to know more about VCA, she welcomes the opportunity to discuss classes, programs, events and more.

Email Crissy: crissyb@vashoncenterforthearts.org

Erika Carleton

Development Director

Erika has been a member of the Vashon community since 2010. Many islanders may know her from her time as Development Director at the Vashon Maury Island Land Trust where she spent 5 years connecting with donors and volunteers in a variety of conservation efforts. Most recently, Erika served as Annual Giving Officer with FareStart, a non-profit based in Seattle, WA. She brings over 18 years of development experience to VCA. She holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from McGill University in Montreal. Erika has a passionate interest in the arts that began at an early age learning to play the flute and piano, as well as a fondness for dance having taken ballet lessons for years as a child.

Jill Venturi

Director of Development Communications

Jill returned to Vashon Center for the Arts in 2018 after 2½ years championing the Island’s senior population fundraising for the Vashon Community Care Foundation. She previously served for six years in a development role at Vashon Center for the Arts for the campaign to build the Katherine L White Hall. Before moving to Vashon Island in 2005, Jill spent eleven years as creative manager for advancement communications at Pepperdine University in Malibu, CA for the $300 million Challenged to Lead capital campaign. She holds a bachelor’s degree in graphic communication from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.
Email Jill: JillV@vashoncenterforthearts.org

Joseph PanzettaJoseph Panzetta

Marketing Director

Joseph joined VCA in December of 2017 after 20 years of multi-media design in the technology industry, including 8 years as Creative Director and then VP of Creative for Atigeo, and 5 years at Microsoft as Executive Presentation Designer. He has resided on Vashon since 2011 and is active in the local music scene as a singer-songwriter and member of the band, Saint Ophelia. Many moons ago, he received a BA in Theater from Marquette University. He is a life-time advocate of the arts, and proud to be a part of VCA.

Email Joseph: josephp@vashoncenterforthearts.org

Lynann Politte

Gallery Director

Lynann Politte has been a promoter, director, producer, CoHousing community member, business coach, mother, grandmother, sister, activist, feminist, and marketing strategist. She produced and directed The Vagina Monologues on Vashon in 2002 and 2003 to sold-out audiences. Lynann has an MBA and her work experience includes launching a women’s jewelry line, working in the fashion industry, being a international corporate planner, producing a syndicated radio show, managing internationally tours, and leading conference workshops. She’s lived on and loved Vashon since 2000.

Email Lynann at: lynannp@vashoncenterforthearts.org

Michael is a graduate of Tisch School of the Arts and brings over 25 years of production experience to VCA.  Locally, Michael previously served as Technical Director for the Capitol Hill Arts Center and Production Manager/Technical Director for Hugo House.

He has extensive experience in lighting design, audio engineering and as electrics lead for companies such as Seattle Children’s Theatre, Village Theater, and NY Harlem Productions.  In addition he has applied his talents to large festivals and corporate events when working with Live Sound and Stage and Bold Hat Productions.  Ask him about his massive project helping to build out the Old Rainier Brewery!  Michael is a most welcomed addition to the Vashon Community!

Ronly Blau

Patron Services

Bio coming soon.

Email Ronly: ronlyb@vashoncenterforthearts.org

Stephanie Johnson Blomgren

VAIS Program Manager

Stephanie joined the VCA staff in 2016 as a helper in the Late Start Arts program, gradually joining the broader Arts Education department. She is mom to two dancer-artist dynamo kids.

Email Stephanie: stephanie@vashoncenterforthearts.org

Tami Brown

Finance Managere

Bio coming…

Email Tami: tamib@vashoncenterforthearts.org

Wendy Finkleman

Blue Heron Education Center Director

Wendy joined VCA in 2010, after working in the field of education for over 15 years. Wendy worked in student services for University of Cincinnati, Western Washington University and the Art Institute of Seattle and spent a decade at Antioch University Seattle as an academic advisor and part-time adjunct faculty. In addition to being an accomplished photographer and running a portrait photography business, Wendy likes to explore different art mediums; her current favorites are felting, mosaic and encaustics.

Email Wendy: wendyf@vashoncenterforthearts.org

Our Mission: Vashon Center for the Arts, a collaborative and community-based organization, provides a center for the arts on Vashon Island, initiates quality arts experiences for all ages and creates opportunities for artists to perform and exhibit their work.

The Board

John de Groen is a small business owner interested in the arts. He has performed with the Vashon Chorale, Opera and Drama Dock. John and his wife Beth support all the various arts as well as other not for profit organizations. He looks forward to helping VCA and its board in the future.

Cathy and her husband have been Vashon residents for over 15 years. She is an alumnus of the University of Washington School of Business and her professional experience includes public accounting consulting (KPMG), mortgage banking, and real estate appraisal. Together with their elementary-age twins, she and her husband especially appreciate all of the activities and arts education opportunities available for children and families on Vashon. VCA is a huge part of what makes Vashon Island such a unique and amazing community and a big part of why they enjoy living here. Cathy is a new member of the board and looks forward to contributing to VCA in the years to come.

For the past three decades Kevin McMurdo has worked for and with professional service firms in the areas of marketing, business development, communications and client service. He has been a member of the Oregon State Bar Association since 1986. He retired from his consulting practice in July 2019. A Vashon neighbor since 1997, he has served two earlier terms on the VCA Board, from 2000-2002 and from 2011-2013.

Eric Walker is a long-time islander bringing career-long non-profit financial management experience to the board.

Marcia Bruya is an experienced business executive and has been an avid supporter of VCA for many years. She is a Senior Associate at Point B and has been successful in numerous roles including executive coaching, business process redesign, change management, operational support, technical project leadership and software implementations.

David Armstrong is an American stage director, writer, producer, lecturer, and choreographer. He is best known for his work at The 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle where from 2000 to 2018 he served as the Producing Artistic Director and Executive Producer, and where he is currently Artistic Director Emeritus.

Britt Freda is a professional working artist whose work focuses on environmental impact, climate and social justice art activism.  Britt teaches in Vashon Schools as an artist in residence creating public murals and environmental activism art as well as working with women’s studies class on creating visual narratives and at-risk youth on the personal and neurological benefits present in the creation of art.  Britt is currently working on multiple public art projects:  a mural of Endangered Birds of Vashon with Audubon, A collaborative sculptural installation for Save our Salmon with Vashon Center for the Arts, Vashon Nature Center and VAIS, and a third installation with Vashon Youth and Family Services on trauma education and community resilience.

Britt studied painting, drawing and photography at Lorenzo de’ Medici Institute of Art in Florence, Italy and by invitation for intensive residency at La Cipressaia in Montagnana, Italy under internationally acclaimed South African artists Rose Shakinovsky and Claire Gavronsky. After working in the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the Business School at the University of Washington, Britt researched and reviewed early stage bio tech, sustainable energy, tech and lifestyle companies for a local venture catalyst firm.  She co-founded her company, Grace’s Kitchen, before having children and returning to painting full time.  Britt’s paintings can be found in private collections, museum collections and exhibitions, galleries and publications nationally and internationally.

Bruce is a returning member of VCA Board after serving during the design and construction of the new Arts Center. Bruce has engaged in several recent projects for VCA including: the large wood and pencil installation in the lobby, gallery show of Children’s book pencil illustrations, a show of 54 watercolor paintings from his cross-country bicycle ride, Artist in Schools -“4th Grade Birds “, Historic Mural on the outdoor breezeway wall, etc.

Originally from New England, Bruce moved to Vashon with his wife Juli in 1987. He’s an internationally recognized freelance illustrator, known for detailed images in publications ranging from National Geographic to The Wall Street Journal. Bruce has taught Drawing and Creativity locally at Cornish College of the Arts, School of Visual Concepts, and the Art Institute of Seattle. Bruce earned an MFA in Painting from the University of Wash, and a BA from Colgate Univ.

Bruce is the creator of Vashon’s Passport to Pain bicycle event, and is a long-time rower with our Island’s crew team.

Elba Ocasio brings 25 years of experience in design textiles and fashion and has worked for industry brands such as Pottery Barn, Tommy Hilfiger, US Polo and others. She currently serves on the leadership board of the SureFit Home Décor Company. When asked what makes art meaningful to you, Elba responded that it is “Design, Dance, Artist, Community, the youth…local and diversity.” Elba added that she is “working towards building a world class, all-inclusive space and organization for youth and community.”

Heather Newman, Ph.D., is new to the Vashon community and to the board of the VCA. She and her husband, Eric, enjoy exploring the island with their teenage daughters and their dog. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, the University of Texas, and the University of Washington, Heather has been a teacher, instructional coach, writer, researcher, and university instructor. She currently serves as the Director of Early and Elementary Education for the Tukwila School District. Heather is excited to be joining the board of the VCA, and she is looking forward to supporting the arts and arts education on the island.

Jordan Balcom brings an array of leadership experience in finance and marketing with Goldman Sachs and PepsiCo and as non-profit leader with Junior Achievement. A native of Tacoma and a graduate of University of Arizona, she is currently a stay-at-home mom of a one- and three-year old. Jordan believes that “we need art in all forms today and in the future.” ”Helping people exude joy and happiness and bring out the inner artist,” is one of Jordan’s goals on the board.

Kim Jacksonis a recent Vashon Island resident who relocated from Dallas, TX where she was an active member of many arts organizations including Shakespeare Dallas, the Nasher Sculpture Garden and Dallas Black Dance Theater.  Her true passion is overseeing the new Make Art with Purpose Sylvia Hougland Emerging Artist Fund named for her mother. The scholarship helps young emerging artists age 35 or under with a $1500 grant for project-based work that addresses a social or environmental theme. The first scholarship was awarded in March to Arnoldo Hurtado to create murals in Fort Worth that celebrate immigration. Kim is graduate of St. Lawrence University and of the year-long Dallas Business Council for the Arts’ Leadership program where she learned the business and cultural side of arts leadership. Her day job is as a consultant with Jacobs Engineering specifically in the areas of communication, marketing and organizational change management.

Margo Tantau blends a life-long passion for art and design with a first-hand understanding of small town living and community. Margo has been described as “Fairy Good-Mother to Artists Everywhere” and loves to live into that personality. It is this passion that guides her creative spirit, as she works with artists and companies to develop unique products the world over. Her son Cooper is involved in VCA’s musical theatre and directly benefits from the Arts in the Schools program.

Natalie Abel is a Vashon native who grew up benefitting from Vashon Arts Alliance (now the VCA) programming. She attributes her brief ballet career to the Blue Heron. “I spent many of my elementary school years in Drama Dock or at art camps.” Natalie is a teacher with a master’s degree in special education and is currently teaching in a fully remote school environment. Natalie served on the Harbor School Board of Directors for nearly three years and is serving on the Harbor School’s technology committee to “make the remote learning and teaching experience the best it can be.”

Rachel began in the arts as a child, modeling, competitive dancing, and professional acting, always expecting to pursue a career on the stage. She found the special missing link with her love for math and science in design and received her bachelor degree in interior design from Washington State University in 2005. In 2012, she went back to school for an MBA in Marketing and launched Waldron Designs in 2013. She hasn’t been back to the stage since her childhood, but still dances like no one is watching whenever she gets a chance!

Ron Thomas is president emeritus of the University of Puget Sound and has had a home here for the last 12 years with his wife, Mary Thomas. Ron understands the transformative power of arts and literature in the lives of individuals and communities. After 34 years as an award-winning administrator, scholar, teacher and writer at UPS, Harvard, the University of Chicago and Trinity College, he looks forward to supporting VCA.