Staff

Allison Reid was formerly the Director of Advancement at Harbor School, Vashon’s independent K-8 school. An avid supporter of arts and education, Allison has worked in the non-profit sector for more than 25 years using her talents in development, event management, marketing and communications to help organizations thrive and grow. She is a former VCA board member.

Email Allison at allisonr@vashoncenterforthearts.org

Crissy Baker

Registrar

Crissy started participating in VCA activities in the Fall Term of 2012 by first volunteering in the Nutcracker production doing stagehand help with props while her children attended the dance program. She had taken time off from work to be a stay at home mom before then, but with both children in full time school, it was time to go back to work. Having a degree in HR from Central Washington University, she has worked at both corporate Starbucks and Microsoft before having children. But now being located on Vashon and having her children so involved in the activities at VCA, she considered taking a different route when the opportunity for the Registrar position came available in Spring of 2013. It was the perfect fit being local and involved in the Arts with an organization she’d grown to love. She has always had a passion for dance and is also the Tap Instructor for VCA Center for Dance and continues to assist in the VCA Center for Dance productions.

Email Crissy: crissyb@vashoncenterforthearts.org

Ronly Blau

Patron Services

Email Ronly: ronlyb@vashoncenterforthearts.org

Lara McKnight

Finance Manager

Lara moved to Vashon at age 10. As a teenager, she developed two loves: theatre and math. She moved off-Island after graduating from VHS in 1994, and pursued theatre between college and ‘regular’ jobs. In 1999, she unexpectedly found herself working as a bookkeeper for a busy Seattle construction company, a job she fell in love with and dedicated 12 years to. She returned to Vashon in 2007, and in 2011, finally found a way to combine her original two loves, bookkeeping for VCA!

Email Lara: laram@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

Jay Masters

Facilities Coordinator

Email Jay: jaym@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

Kathi Ray

Groundskeeper

In May, VCA made the difficult decision to scale back our operations staff to a much leaner model in response to the Covid-19 crisis. Four full-time and six part-time staff members remain. Positions affected by the layoffs include: Associate Executive Director, Arts Ed Program Director, Dance Director, VAIS Program Manager, Technical Director, Arts Education Assistant, Production Assistant, Development Communications Director, Marketing Coordinator, Bookkeeper, Database Manager, and Assistant House Manager. When our programs are able to resume and our campus can re-open fully, we hope to welcome back our coworkers and continue the great work of bringing the arts to our community.

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.

Mary Margaret Pearson’s career path took her from managing her family’s farming business in Tennessee to fashion and corporate advertising at Nordstrom. Her involvement with VCA began in the early ‘90’s with the many programs her kids were a part of. She has served on the board of several island non-profits focused on supporting the island’s public education opportunities.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Mary O’Leary-Bryant has worked with children and run a small business, and has been 
active in the arts for years. She is pleased to expand her involvement with VCA at such an exciting time, to be part of an organization that brings together two of her passions: art and 
children.

Marilyn moved to Vashon in May 2019 to live full time on the property that has been in her family since 1917. She and her husband were in the ski industry for over 20 years manufacturing knitwear in Seattle. For the past 20 years she has lived in Montana where she worked in Healthcare managing volunteer and retail services. She also owned her own women’s clothing boutique called La Mer. She is excited to serve on the VCA board and share her previous non- profit board experience with this dedicated and talented group of people.

Co-founder of Scientific Explorer, Susan Rives and her husband grew their company into the most popular children’s science line in the U.S. Their science kits won national awards and are sold in stores across the country and internationally. A former VCA executive committee member, Rives is excited by the opportunities for the organization to expand its contributions to the artistic and educational life of the Vashon community.

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.

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.

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!