The Arts Northwest Staff is dedicated to the success of our members.
Sam Calhoun has been with Arts Northwest since 2010. She comes from San Diego, California and was a pastry chef with a background in dietetics. After moving to the North Olympic Peninsula in 2002, she involved herself broadly in the community as the owner/manager of a general contracting business, and as the volunteer coordinator and board member for the Juan de Fuca Festival of the Arts. She is an award-winning sculptor and is recognized by all in her community as being an avid supporter of the local arts scene.
Jeanette joined Arts Northwest in 2015. She moved to Port Angeles, Washington in 1995 from Homer, Alaska. In Homer she was involved in both the dance and fine arts community, and was a long-time member of the cooperative art gallery, Ptarmigan Arts. In Port Angeles, Jeanette owned a vintage home decorating store, along with a design and upholstery business. In 2008 she relocated to Santa Barbara, California, where she ran a vintage retail store, a clothing design business and was a member of "Art on the Beach", the weekly art show held on the Santa Barbara waterfront. In 2012 she moved back to Port Angeles and returned to school to pursue her degree, focusing on Art. During this period, she worked at a local art venue, Studio Bob. Her responsibilities included booking the monthly art and music shows, dance classes, and hosting the weekly events.
The Arts Northwest Board of Directors are Arts Northwest members. They represent the best and brightest from the field of presenting and touring.
Kristine Bretall has been with the Sun Valley Center for the Arts since 2000 and is The Center’s Marketing and Performing Arts Director. Originally from Northern California, Bretall is a graduate of Middlebury College in Political Science and Spanish and earned a Master’s Degree in Education from Harvard University. She taught Spanish at the Colorado Rocky Mountain School for four years before moving to Sun Valley, Idaho 16 years ago. The Sun Valley Center for the Arts is a multidisciplinary arts organization with programming in the visual arts, performing arts, education and humanities and serves over 35,000 people a year. "As someone who lives far from any city, Arts Northwest provides me and my organization with a connection to performers and colleagues that would otherwise be out of reach. I’m interested in serving on the Board of Arts Northwest because I value and want to help sustain the resource Arts Northwest provides to our region and to the work of bringing the arts to the region."
Jill is the Executive Director of the Washington Center for the Performing Arts in Olympia, WA. She has worked for over a dozen years for arts organizations, including: The Idaho Falls Arts Council, John Michael Kohler Arts Center, and Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company. She received a Masters in Arts Administration from Boston University and has a BA in Music (vocal performance) from the University of Utah. “I am honored to be on the board of Arts Northwest. ANW is a valuable resource for organizations of all sizes to be educated, network, and plan for successful seasons. I have made significant professional contacts through ANW and lifelong friendships.”
Laura Forbes has been the Arts Education Program Director at the Alaska State Council on the Arts (ASCA) since fall of 2011. Laura’s duties at ASCA include administering grants, the development of networks, facilitation of Alaska Poetry Out loud, supporting the field of presenting and touring performing arts and visual art exhibition, and technical services for artists, educators, arts organizations and all Alaska’s citizens. Laura graduated from the University of Alaska, Anchorage with a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre. She worked throughout Alaska and in Chicago, Illinois as a teaching artist, director, designer, and administrator for community arts organizations, with a focus and special interest in Theatre for Young Audiences/Youth Theatre. Laura has worked with such organizations as Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Vittum Theatre (now Adventure Stage Chicago), and a variety of Chicago’s storefront theaters. Returning to Alaska in 2007, Laura became the Director of Programs and Exhibits at the Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center, and in earned an M.Ed. in Integrated Teaching through the Arts from Lesley University. Currently, Laura serves on the Arts Education Working Group for the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, Arts Education Managers and as an Advisory Board Member for the Alaska Arts Education Consortium.
Brandi Newton was born and raised in Idaho Falls, Idaho. After graduating from the University of Idaho, with a degree in Accounting, she landed in Washington at high-end fishing rod manufacturer G. Loomis, starting in accounting and progressing to Order Fulfillment Manager before starting a family. Newton and her family relocated back to Idaho Falls in 2007. She began working for the Idaho Falls Arts Council as the part-time accountant in 2010 and was the ARTitorium on Broadway project manager, before becoming the Executive Director in July 2013. When not participating in Arts Council events, Brandi can be found wrangling her son, Garrett and identical twin daughters, Isabelle and AnnaKate, between swim, choir, cheer, and horses.
Ray is the Executive Director of the Tower Theatre Foundation, the nonprofit that owns and operates the historic theatre in downtown Bend, Oregon. The Foundation promotes, programs, raises funds for, and rents the renovated Art Deco Moderne landmark for a wide variety of events and organizations. Since moving to Bend from Southern California in April 2009, Ray has led the Tower in: establishing a four-month operating reserve fund; raising membership and volunteer numbers to record highs; increasing theatre usage and attendance to pre-recession levels. Solley has over three decades experience producing, developing, selling and fundraising – from PBS to performing arts, from Ed Asner to Cirque Ziva. Ray comments, "I am a firm believer in creative collaboration between artists, agents and presenters. That operating principle grows out of a life lived on all sides of the theatrical footlights: college and graduate degrees in theatre and telecommunications; stints as an actor and on-air talent; nearly three decades in Hollywood as a studio exec and agent; leading nonprofit performing arts foundations in Southern California and Oregon since 2005. I hope to bring Arts NW a fresh perspective and active involvement on the needs and value of historic, community-driven theatres and arts-related educational outreach."
Seattle, WA Actor/Comedian David Epley, aka Doktor Kaboom, grew up expecting to be a research physicist. Then a biomedical engineer. Then a mathematician, an astrophysicist, a chemical engineer, a marine biologist. So, of course, he became an actor. For almost 30 years David has written, directed, and performed original comedy shows throughout the US, and around the world. Outdoor festivals and street performance were his primary venues of choice, with an occasional stage show thrown in for good measure. In 2006 David decided to bring science, his first passion, back into his life. Blending science and theatre has been a dream come true, opened multiple doors, and led to the most fulfilling work of his life.Teaching, inspiring, and empowering the minds of our youth, and reminding their parents to be an active part of the equation. How could someone’s work be any more rewarding?
David is a veteran of the US Army, and a former Firefighter and EMT. He calls Seattle home, where he lives and loves with his wife and their two wonderful daughters.
Michelle Fujii, taiko artist and co-director of Unit Souzou, creates contemporary work through the art forms of taiko and Japanese folk dance, placing cultural art within the present. After graduating with a degree in ethnomusicology from UCLA, she was awarded a fellowship from the Japanese government to study with Japan’s foremost traditional folk dance troupe, Warabi-za, in Northern Japan. Michelle has been a guest artist and collaborator with numerous North American and international taiko groups, including San Jose Taiko, On Ensemble, Portland Taiko, TaikoArts Midwest and Kagemusha Taiko in the UK. In Portland, she serves on the resource council for New Expressive Works and is an active teaching artist with The Right Brain Initiative and Young Audiences of Oregon & SW Washington. She is a fellow at the Asian Pacific American Women's Leadership Institute (APAWLI) through the Center for Asian Pacific American Women. In 2014, Michelle with her partner Toru Watanabe, fused their unique skills to build Unit Souzou, a Portland-based taiko ensemble-driven to create an expressive blend of taiko and Japanese folk dance, forging new traditions for evolving communities.
John Zirkle is the Founding Director of the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center, an internationally-award winning composer, and a nationally-honored music educator. Under John’s leadership, WMPAC has hosted over 150 programs to more than 35,000 patrons in a town of less than 3,000 full-time residents. As the key development officer for WMPAC, John has raised over $5 million for the arts in Montana by establishing strong relationships with public funding entities, private foundations, and individual donors. In his tenure at WMPAC, John has served as an expert panelist for the Montana Arts Council, the Cultural and Aesthetics Projects Committee for the Montana State Legislature, the Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF), and the National Endowment for the Arts. He currently serves on the boards of the Arts Council of Big Sky, the Montana Performing Arts Consortium, and Arts Northwest.
From the chorus of Broadway National Tours and the lines of the Radio City Rockettes to the television sets of Los Angeles, Palmer Davis has worked in almost every venue imaginable. Palmer starred in the dance film “Stepping High” now streaming on YouTube and has written and performs her critically acclaimed solo show “Suburban Showgirl” around the United States. She also recurred as a defense attorney on CSI Las Vegas for over 10 seasons and guest starred in several television shows, films and commercials. A graduate of UCLA, Palmer majored in Dance, minored in Spanish and has choreographed for film, commercials, industrials, and over 2 dozen musicals. In the fitness industry, Palmer is a certified personal trainer and movement/ fitness specialist for athletes, special needs children, seniors and kids from 5-105 years old. Palmer created and currently still teaches her Theatre Works Kids after-school enrichment program in Los Angeles and gives master workshops internationally and at home. Palmer’s eldest daughter is studying animal sciences at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and son is a senior and ASB president at Providence Catholic High School in Burbank CA and is currently serving the 2018-19 year as the Providence High School Parent Board President herself. Palmer is eternally grateful to the presenters, artists, and staff here at Arts Northwest who have guided her through the conferences these past three years.