Staff & Board
With a B.A. in Human Ecology from College of the Atlantic, a PC in Documentary Filmmaking from Rockport College, and certified as a Building Analyst through The Building Performance Institute, Jessie’s professional life has been as varied as her academic study. Joining the Strand team in the spring of 2014, Jessie was excited to return to the cultural arts fold, after a very full seven year stint as new mother AND energy efficiency engineer with Evergreen Home Performance. Before the birth of her daughter, Jessie was the manager, programmer, projectionist, popcorn maker, and chief ticket taker at the Bayview Street Cinema in Camden, Maine. In May 2007, while selling tickets for a 7pm showing of AVENUE MONTAIGNE, her water broke. After starting the show, and re-focusing the film on her way out the door, Jessie birthed her way in to retirement from the Bayview.
Today, Jessie and her family – Dan, Scout, and dog Flash – love the ready access of Rockland living – from sea and sand to park and playground, and, of course, having the Strand Theatre just a few blocks from home!
House Manager Liz McLeod has been around show business in one form or another all her life. She spoke her first lines before an audience at the age of four, saw the inside of her first projection booth at the age of five, and began learning the technical ropes of theatre work at fourteen. She spent the first fifteen years of her adult working life in broadcasting, as a performer, a writer, a news reporter, and an editor, while at the same time developing a side career as a respected historian of American radio, whom you may have seen or heard at one time or another on PBS television, NPR radio, and the BBC. Joining the Strand in 2006, she’s combined all phases of her career experience under our marquee – serving as the theatre’s chief projectionist and operations manager, as well as the writer/producer/director/editor/lead actress for our “Strand On The Air” radio feature, and the author of a popular blog dealing both with Strand life and her travails with the imperious Miss Carol T. Cat. On the side she continues to write extensively about American radio and show-business history, in books, magazines, CD liner notes, and on the Web, and between 1997 and 2021 wrote over 3000 scripts for the CBS radio network feature “Sound*Bytes.” She lives, with her feline supervisor, in a little house in the North End, with a clothesline in the back and a patch of unmowed grass out front.
Anna earned a B.A. in Anthropology from Temple University, and a fashion design degree from FIT. Anna hailed from Philadelphia before she moved with her cat, first to the woods in Maine and most recently to Rockland. While based in Philadelphia, she took on many roles in and around the arts. She is an oil painter, costume designer, and award winning production designer who has worked on feature films, original plays, and music videos. She has been a model, a showgirl, and part of a cabaret that toured on a historic tall ship. She has lectured on burlesque and the history of women in American theater at Widener, Penn State Brandywine, and as a guest on WHYY/NPR’s “Radio Times with Marty Moss Coane.” She has also taught sewing techniques at the MADE institute and in various workshops. Her commissions are open for pet (or human) portraits or the new pink new gorilla suit you have always wanted! Photo credit: Lori Foxworth
Dave was born in Camden and raised in Rockland. He spent 13 years working in the photography industry, from Thuss Photo in Rockland to Sharpshooter Spectrum Imaging at their Disneyland Venue in Anaheim. and finally the labs at Maine Coast Photo in Camden for almost a decade. He was page layout designer for The Camden Herald and Graphic Designer at Village soup for several years. At the Strand Dave is the graphic designer, social & digital media manager, and onscreen advertising. Outside of the Strand you can find him creating dance music under the name PlanetYes.
Jana worked in the film and theater industry for 10 years, at Compass Light Film Productions, the Camden Opera House, and the Camden International Film Festival, before joining the Strand Theatre’s administrative team.
She grew up in the Midwest, where she received a B.A. in Advertising from the University of Kentucky and began a career in video production. Eventually she “heard the call of the sea” and went sailing for 10 years, finally throwing out the anchor in Maine and returning to the community relations work that she loves. Jana also is also part of the PechaKucha Midcoast Maine team, and has served on the Library and Planning Boards in the town of Searsmont, where she lives with her husband.
Brittany is an artist and educator who focuses on making theatre and music for family audiences. After having performed on the Strand stage with several family productions and the glitter-filled Rocky Horror Show, she joined the administrative team to help further the education initiatives of the organization. She has a decade of experience in making and performing work for family audiences, as well as developing arts education programs for young people. Originally from Florida, Brittany has made her way up the East Coast, performing in New York City for six years before moving to Maine in 2014. These days, she performs most often through her pop-rock band for young audiences, Bee Parks and the Hornets. She lives in Rockport with her husband, Peter, and their cat, Daisy. Photo credit: Marti Stone
Anne’s career has been dedicated to working with and for non-profit organizations in small communities, delving into education, administration, and development. An ardent supporter of the arts and education, Anne worked with the Historic Homestake Opera House, Boys & Girls Clubs, and Northern Hills Alliance for Children in advocacy and fundraising. After a 15 year sojourn to the Black Hills of South Dakota, Anne is happy to be back in New England. Anne holds an AB from Kenyon College. Most at home behind the scenes, she works tucked away in the Strand office – laughing at her own jokes, drinking strong coffee, and turning the nuts and bolts of membership and donations. Anne lives with her family outside of Rockland, where they can often be found exploring mountain trails and sea paths with their enthusiastic puppy and witty toddler.
Ryan Jackson is a born and raised Mid-Coast Maine teaching artist who has performed all across Maine for over 25 years. A 2012 graduate from the University of Maine with his BFA in Theatre, Ryan has worked professionally regionally as well as with many community organizations; starting at Dorman’s Dairy Dream at the age of 15 to working at Rock City Coffee for the past 11 years. Ryan performed Off-Broadway in NYC as apart of the first ever New York City Children’s Theatre Festival in the Production of the Velveteen Rabbit. In addition to being a company member of Everyman Repertory Theatre, Ryan is the site coordinator for Afterschool Programming at RSU 13 for Oceanside Middle School. Ryan is thrilled to be joining such a rich and prestigious organization such as the Strand, and is eager to cement himself even further in this beautiful community.
FRIENDS OF THE STRAND THEATRE - BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Ellen Seidman lives in Spruce Head and Portland. Following a long career in the federal government and with community development financial institutions, she is currently a Non-Resident Fellow at the Urban Institute, a Washington DC think tank. She is on the Board and Treasurer of Maine Initiatives and of Luminato Condominium Association, and after Board service at CEI, she is currently on the Policy Committee. She is also on the Board of the Financial Health Network. She enjoys cycling, gardening, and traveling—and is making a serious effort to learn Italian. Seidman is a graduate of Radcliffe College (AB), Georgetown Law Center (JD) and George Washington University (MBA).
Candace Shedd Vancko
Candace Shedd Vancko is a resident of St. George. Prior to retiring as President of the State University of New York (SUNY) at Delhi, she spent forty-three years in higher education as a faculty member, administrator and consultant to more than thirty colleges nation-wide. She has served as President of the Board of Trustees of the First Universalist Church in Rockland and currently serves on the Area Interfaith Outreach Food and Energy Assistance Board. She received her B.A. and M.A. in Speech from The Pennsylvania State University and her Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration from Ohio University. She has three children and eight grandchildren, three of whom live in Maine.
Norman Thomas consults part time for the Office of Naval Research and the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, DC. A career Naval Officer he graduated from Princeton University in 1963 with a degree in Electrical Engineering and the Naval Postgraduate School in 1967 with an MSEE; he also has a certificate in Management from the University of Virginia. After retiring from the Navy he has worked for Western Union, Norden Systems and Northrop Grumman developing electronic systems for the military.
Norman married Susan Allen in Rockland in 1964, and after 45 years they built a house in Owls Head and returned to her home. They have been active in local government and community affairs wherever they’ve lived and are continuing that service on the Mid-Coast. They have seen and enjoyed the Strand through its many lives as the entertainment heart of Rockland, and are especially pleased to see both returned to their original glory.
Norman and Susan have two daughters and four granddaughters who all share their love of Maine.
William C. Black
After first practicing law in Camden in the late 1970s, Bill Black moved to Portland, and practiced public-interest law in Augusta and Hallowell. He retired after 30 years of serving as General Counsel and Deputy Public Advocate in the Public Advocate Office. Bill is a long-time board member of Pine Tree Legal Assistance, and serves as co-chair of the annual Edmund H. Muskie Award Dinner, which raises funds for Maine’s six legal-aid organizations. Bill also serves on the boards of Bay Chamber Concerts & Music School, and the board of Palaver Strings, a young musician-led string ensemble, based in Portland, which performs 50 concerts a year in Maine and Massachusetts, and which also operates a string-music school for elementary-school children in Portland. Before moving to Maine, Bill graduated from Stanford University, received an M.A.T. from Reed College, and graduated from the Boston University School of Law.
Bill lives in Portland with his wife, Jackie Potter, and maintains his ties to family in Rockport and Lincolnville. He is proud to have watched two documentaries shown at the Strand that were produced by his son Sam.
Ariel Hall is a multi-disciplinary creative currently working in interior design. Pre-pandemic, Ariel and her partner, Jan Leth, owned and operated Rockland’s Periscope, a modern design shop focused on Scandinavian furniture and homewares. Prior to that Ariel consulted cross-departmentally at New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), helping lay the groundwork for what would become the museum’s Performance Department, thereby setting worldwide precedent for how to better execute performative and interactive artworks in museum galleries. Ariel also performed and activated artists’ work at MoMA. Ariel holds an interdisciplinary BA in art, psychology, and feminist theory, and an MA in Performance Studies, both from New York University.
Though Ariel didn’t think she would return home to Maine as an adult, she and Jan are quite happy to raise their daughter amidst the beauty of Camden and Spruce Head.
Fun fact: Ariel went on her first movie date at the Strand.
Elysa Rose Coster
Elysa Rose-Coster received a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts from Carnegie Mellon University. She worked as an art director in New York in advertising and promotion until she and her husband Paul moved to India and then Singapore. While in India, Elysa worked with battered women designing and producing patchwork quilts. The Coster family moved back from Asia in 2000 and spent 18 years in Lloyd Harbor, NY before relocating to Rockland in 2016.
While raising her two daughters, now adults pursuing their own lives, Elysa was active in her local community and worked with organizations that promote education, the arts, and healthy living. She currently works in her ceramics studio and writes.
Elisse B. Walter
Elisse was a Commissioner of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission from 2008 to 2013 and Chair of that body from 2012 to 2013. Prior to that, she served as Senior Executive Vice President, Regulatory Policy & Programs, for the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). She held the comparable position at NASD before its 2007 consolidation with NYSE Member Regulation. Elisse graduated from Yale University with a B.A., cum laude, in mathematics and received her J.D. degree, cum laude, from Harvard Law School.
Elisse was a member of the Board of Directors of Occidental Petroleum Corporation, the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board, the National Women’s Law Center and the FINRA Investor Education Foundation. She also served as a member of FINRA’s Board of Governors. Elisse resides in Owls Head and in Bethesda, MD with her husband, Ronald Alan Stern. She has two children and two grandchildren.
Awarded “Community Person of the Year” by the local Chamber of Commerce, Joanne Billington is well known for her volunteer work with the City of Rockland and Coastal Healthcare Alliance, the parent organization of Pen Bay Medical Center and Waldo County General Hospital. Joanne is former chair of the Pen Bay Waldo Healthcare Foundation and former board member of Coastal Healthcare Alliance. She chairs the City of Rockland’s personnel board.
As a commercial insurance producer with Allen Insurance and Financial of Camden, Joanne works with clients across Maine, specializing in insurance for municipalities, non-profits and technology-based businesses.
An active gardener, Joanne is a native of Long Island, NY and has lived in the midcoast since 1986. She and her husband Glenn live in Rockland and spend time with their three grandsons whenever they can.
Abby Simmons Walker
Abby Simmons Walker is native of Houston, Texas, but grew up spending her summers in Rockport – frequenting the Strand with her family over the years.
Abby began her career working in the film industry in New York City, but transitioned into the education sector to fulfill a passion for serving youth. She started in the classroom as a middle school English teacher before moving to support systems-level collaborations between communities and schools, first in the Bronx, NY, then in Houston where she currently serves as the Director of Community Engagement for Spring Branch Independent School District.
Abby has a B.A. in English from Connecticut College and a Masters in English Education from the University of Virginia. She and her husband Tim, a New England native, live in Houston with their three daughters and continue to call Mid-coast Maine a home away from home.
Alicia was born in Australia, where an inauspicious start as the creator of a failed high school film club led to a career of talking about movies on television. And after years of working for Australian TV, Alicia’s lifelong obsession with classic films inspired a move to Hollywood, where she began to appear as a film expert on a variety of American television channels.
In 2016 she was hired by Turner Classic Movies (TCM) to front their streaming service, FilmStruck. And in 2018, stepped up to become one of the hosts on the respected cable channel. She can currently be seen introducing classic films on TCM, hosting their foreign film series, TCM Imports, as well as appearing on the Criterion Channel and hosting Reel Destinations for Focus Features.
In late 2020, Alicia became one of “those people,” when, during COVID, she decided to ditch the bustle of Los Angeles for the immense beauty of mid-coast Maine. And ever since, she has been happily watching movies at The Strand.
Lynn is a Rockland native and currently lives in Portland. She works at Coastal Counties Workforce Inc, a non-profit organization that administers federal training and education grants to those in need of services to help them gain meaningful employment, and also serves on the Maine Board of Arbitration.
Lynn received a BA from Bowdoin College, a JD from Brooklyn Law School and an MPA from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. She practiced law in Maine for several years, before heading to Washington DC to work in politics and policy. She worked in the US Congress, including as Labor Counsel to the Workforce Protections Subcommittee at the House Committee on Education and Labor and spent nearly 10 years at the Department of Labor.
Lynn is the granddaughter of Ida and Joseph Dondis, the original owners of the Strand, and is the sister of Jo Dondis, a founding board member of Friends of the Strand.
Walter Reitz grew up in Northern Virginia and came to Maine for College at Bowdoin. He parlayed his Classics B.A. into a 45-year career in several high technology companies including Prime Computer, and EMC Corporation. He and his wife Barbara retired to South Thomaston in 2013. Since then, Walter has served on the Board of Trustees of the Center for Maine Contemporary Art, the Board of Directors of the Midcoast Music Academy and two terms on the South Thomaston Selectboard. In addition to his undergraduate degree Walter has an M.B.A. from Northeastern University. He and Barbara have two sons who live in Massachusetts.
Since he does not play golf, his favorite retirement activity has been relearning guitar and playing in an adult jam band.
Jo Dondis is Founding Chair of the Friends of the Strand Theatre (FOST) and led the effort to transition the Strand from a for-profit business to a non-profit organization in 2013. She served as board chair of FOST for its first seven years and guided the development of the new organization as it enlarged its board and grew its membership, grants and educational programs. Jo has also been a leader in crafting a sustainable and creative vision for the Strand as it moves forward into its second century of operation. She is a Rockland native and the granddaughter of Joseph and Ida Dondis who built the theater in 1923. Jo spent 24 years in Los Angeles working as a television news producer at CNN, ABC, CBS and KCET, a PBS station where she won a Peabody Award for her work on the program A Place of Our Own. She received her B.A. from Wellesley College and her M.S. in Communications from Boston University and has served on the boards of Emerge Maine and Adas Yoshuron Synagogue in Rockland. Currently Jo sits on the Maine Arts Commission board and the Advisory Board of the Maine Jewish Museum.