THEATER STAFF & BOARD

STRAND THEATER STAFF

Jessie Davis: Executive Director

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!

 

Liz McLeod: House Manager & Chief Projectionist

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.

 

Dave Dailey: Digital Media Manager & Advertising Sales

Dave was born in Camden and raised in Rockland. He spent 13 years working in the photography industry in the early 90's and moving on to California in 1998 where he became a manager for Sharpshooter Spectrum at their Disneyland Venue in Anaheim. Upon returning to Maine, he occupied the labs at Maine Coast Photo in Camden for almost a decade. Dave is now the digital media manager here at the Strand.

 

 

Jana Herbener: Marketing and Community Relations Manager

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 public 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 Parker: Education Program Manager

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 is excited to join 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. She served as Producing Artistic Director of the Barn Arts Collective in Bass Harbor for four years, and is delighted to be making a home here in the Midcoast area. She enjoys playing music with both of her bands – Bee Parks and the Hornets and the Blake Rosso Band – and is still learning about what types of snow you can and can’t walk on.

 

Anne Rogers-Popejoy: Development Associate & Membership Coordinator

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 in Camden, where they can often be found exploring trails and sea paths with their enthusiastic puppy and witty toddler.

 

FRIENDS OF THE STRAND THEATRE - BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Ellen Seidman: Board Chair        

Ellen Seidman is a resident of Spruce Head and Portland.  She is a Non-ResidentFellow at the Urban Institute, focusing on housing finance, community development and consumer finance.  From 1997 through 2001, she was the Director of the Treasury Department’s Office of Thrift Supervision, and concurrently served on the Board of Directors of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and as Chair of the Board for the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation. 

Ms. Seidman has also been a Visiting Scholar in the Community Development Department of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco (2012-14), held various senior positions at ShoreBank Corporation and its affiliates (2002-2010), served as Senior Counsel to the Democratic Staff, House Financial Services Committee (2001-02) and Special Assistant to the President for Economic Policy (1993-1997). From 2012 to 2016 she was a member of the inaugural Consumer Advisory Board of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  She serves on the boards of Maine Initiatives and of the Financial Health Network, and previously served on the board of Coastal Enterprises Inc. (CEI).  Ms. Seidman received her M.B.A. in Finance and Investments from George Washington University, her J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center, and her A.B. from Radcliffe College.

 

 Roy Hitchings, Jr.: Treasurer

Roy A. Hitchings, Jr. recently retired after a 30-year career in healthcare management. He served from 1998-2012 as the president and chief executive officer of Pen Bay Healthcare (PBH) and Pen Bay Medical Center (PBMC), a community not-for-profit healthcare system in Rockport, Maine. A 1969 cum laude graduate of Dartmouth College, Roy earned his Master of Business Administration at Harvard Business School.

Mr. Hitchings currently serves on the board of the Maine Health Access Foundation, is Chairman of the board of the Mid Coast Community Chorus, and is a member of the Rockland Rotary. He is  past chairman of Maine Hospital Association’s Board of Directors, was a founding board member of the Knox County Health Clinic, former member of the United Mid Coast Charities board and past president of George’s River Chapter of Trout Unlimited. 

Mr. Hitchings and his wife Debbi live in Camden and have two children and a grandson.  Roy enjoys fly-fishing, singing, kayaking and exercise and is active in his church.

 

Norman Thomas: Secretary

Norman Thomas does part time technical and management consulting with 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 both been active in local government and community affairs wherever they have lived and are continuing that service on the Mid-Coast.  They have seen and enjoyed the Strand as it has gone 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.

 

Jo Dondis

Jo Dondis is a Maine native and the granddaughter of Joseph and Ida Dondis who built the Strand Theatre in 1923. She holds a B.A. from Wellesley College and an M.S. in Communications from Boston University. Jo spent twenty-four 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 show A Place of Our Own. In 2010 she returned to her roots when she moved back to Maine with her husband and spearheaded the effort to transition the Strand to a non-profit.  Jo has also served on the boards of Emerge Maine and Adas Yoshuron Synagogue in Rockland.

She looks forward to the day when her grandson Nathaniel is old enough to see his first movie at the Strand. 

 

John Bird 

John Bird grew up in Rockland, Maine.  John received his A.B. degree from Bowdoin College (1959) and an M.A. from George Washington University (1965).  Following his marriage to Mary Alice Hocker in 1960, John began a 29- year career in independent education, the last 19 as the head of three different schools in Illinois, Oklahoma and Missouri respectively.  

In 1989 John joined the consulting firm of Educators' Collaborative, LLC (EC) and returned to Maine.  He served as the 10-member firm’s president from 2001 until he retired in 2007.  He now holds the title of president emeritus. John has also served as a trustee and board chair of several non-profit boards in the fields of education, health care (e.g., chaired both Pen Bay Healthcare and the Pen Bay Healthcare Foundation boards), the environment (e.g., chair emeritus of the Island Institute board), the arts (e.g., member of Farnsworth Art Museum board and, of course, the Strand), and religion and recently began a four-year term on the seven-member Maine Charter School Commission. He has been active in the Episcopal Church since 1970, including serving as senior warden of parishes in Oklahoma and St. Peter’s in Rockland.

John and Mary Alice have lived on Rackliff Island in Spruce Head, Maine, since 1990.  The Birds have three grown children (one of whom is an Episcopal priest) and six grandchildren.

 

William C. Black

After first practicing law in Camden in the late 1970s, Bill Black moved to Portland.  He has recently retired from thirty years of serving as General Counsel and Deputy Public Advocate in the Public Advocate Office.  Bill continues to represent public-interest concerns before public utilities commissions in northern New England and the Eastern Caribbean and is active on the Advisory Council to the Maine Telecommunications Relay Service.  He 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 six legal services organizations.  Before moving to Maine, Bill graduated from Stanford University, received an MAT 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 

Ariel Hall grew up in Hope. She left Maine at 16, returning in her early thirties after years in New York City. Ariel is a multi-disciplinary artist working mainly in performance and installation. She has shown her work at La MaMa, Panoply Performance Lab, the Culture Project, the Center for Maine Contemporary Art, the Steel House, and in the streets of New York City and São Paulo, among other locales and venues. In her last stint in New York, Ariel assisted curators at the Museum of Modern Art, helping them better execute performative and interactive artworks in the museum’s galleries; she also performed and facilitated the production of these artworks. Ariel holds a BA in art, psychology, and feminist theory, and an MA in Performance Studies, both from NYU. Most recently, Ariel opened Periscope, a modern design shop focused on interiors, with her partner, Jan Leth. They live in Spruce Head with their young daughter. 

 

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 and buying the co-working and making facility Steel House.

While raising her two daughters, who now are in college, Elysa was active in her local community and worked with organizations that promote education, the arts, and healthy living. She is currently teaching Iyengar Yoga and starting a pottery studio at Steel House South.

 

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 is 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 serves 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.

 

Joanne Billington

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 chair of the Pen Bay Waldo Healthcare Foundation and a board member of Coastal Healthcare Alliance. She also 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.
 
 

Candace Shedd Vancko

Candace Shedd Vancko moved to Maine in 2016 after more than forty-two years in higher education.  From 1999-2016 she served as President of The State University of New York (SUNY) at Delhi.  She holds a B.A. and M.A. in Speech from The Pennsylvania State University and a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration from Ohio University.  She also served as an enrollment management consultant to more than thirty colleges nation-wide. She has authored a number of professional articles and co-authored a book.

She currently serves as President of The Board of Trustees of The First Universalist Church in Rockland and President of HOA Board for the Village at Rockport.  She has three children and eight grandchildren and moved to Maine to be closer to her younger daughter’s family.  She is an avid reader and enjoys cooking, walking and singing in the church choir.

 

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. After the Strand closed its doors in 2001, her family purchased and restored the theater in 2004 as a way to ensure it would continue delivering high quality programming for the community for years to come.

Abby began her career as a production coordinator for independent film companies 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 designed to improve educational programs, first in the Bronx, NY, then in Houston where she currently serves as the Coordinator of Strategic Partnerships and Volunteer Programs 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 serves on the Business and Education Committees for both the Greater Houston Women's Chamber of Commerce and the Houston West Chamber of Commerce, and is a Trustee of Thrive Academy, a private school serving students with disabilities. 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.

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