Serena Wright is Senior Director of Alumni Relations. She is familiar to many from her years as "events director extraordinaire" for CEHD and General College, and is known for her high energy, enthusiasm, love of the University and CEHD, and for reminding us always to "Represent!" With her rich conceptual and organizational prowess at hand she is working with the CEHD Alumni Society Board to strengthen the cohesion, commitment, and inclusiveness of the college's amazing web of human potential.
Wright grew up in Plainfield, New Jersey, and attended Fisk and Rutgers universities, training for a career in teaching before entering the world of textiles and fashion. She was vice president of marketing and operations for Creative Intellectual Properties, Inc. before joining the University staff in 2002 and completing her B.A. in psychology. She is a former member of the African American Leadership Forum and has served on the board of the Givens Foundation of African American Literature.
She is ecstatic by her most recent appointment as president to the newly minted board of the New Dawn Theatre. She plays tennis, is a patron of the arts, loves jazz & old school music, cooking, and traveling with her husband, professor of African American and African studies, John Wright, who recruited her to Minnesota and who remains entranced by what he calls the gift of her "ceremonial imagination."
Harry Chalmiers' broad musical skill set is a result of his formal training in music composition and classical guitar, his experience growing up as a rock guitarist, and his career as a composer, performer, educator, and arts leader for over thirty years. After teaching music for many years at Berklee and the University of Massachusetts, Harry added institutional leadership to his repertoire by becoming the Executive Director of Indian Hill Music Center, the Director of MacPhail Center for Music, Vice President for Academic Affairs at Berklee, and, finally, serving as President of McNally Smith College of Music. As an executive leader Harry earned a reputation for using innovation and collaboration to manage complex organizations and forge a culture based on shared values and goals. His expertise includes building partnerships, strategic planning, labor negotiations, and friend and fund raising.
As a classical guitarist, Harry performed as soloist with symphony orchestras and as a concert artist often premiering works composed for him as well as his own compositions. Returning to his roots, he played lead guitar and sang with The Born Bluezers, a Boston-area blues band that included Danny Klein, bassist with the J. Geils Band. Harry has recorded and performed many of his original works as a singer/songwriter and continues to enjoy writing and performing music of many styles.
Amateur and professional artists (singers, dancers, musicians, actors, painters/sketch artists) along with educators, community volunteers, civic activists and philanthropists are in Travelle Evans-Vann's family history to present day. An active volunteer and financial supporter since youth, he has served and continues to serve non-profit organizations in many capacities as volunteer and professional. Examples of service include: board advisor; board of director chair, vice-chair; executive committee member; event/special event chair. After ten-years of successive entry/middle/senior level positions in the state government (legislative, executive and semi-state branches), another ten-year tenure in non-profit management and administration followed.
Areas of expertise were in institutional advancement including holding three Mini MBAs (Development & Fund-Raising; Major & Planned Gifts; Capital Campaigns) from the University of Saint Thomas's [what is now] Executive Education department, Opus College of Business.
In addition to New Dawn Theater Company, Travelle is currently a ten-year museum guide and gallery interpreter volunteer for the Minnesota Historical Society at Minnesota History Center. Formerly an elite level volleyball player, he is a certified professional volleyball official and is the Co-Director of Rules and Head Official for the Saint Paul Catholic Athletic Association. It is the state's largest/country's fourth largest Catholic youth athletic association.
2015-16 McKnight Theater Artist Fellowship Award Winner, City Pages Best Actress of 2015, Aimee K. Bryant has been performing in the Twin Cities for the last 20 years. Some of the highlights of her career include Beneatha in A Raisin in the Sun, Ensemble Member in For Colored Girls, Ensemble member in Black Nativity at PENUMBRA THEATRE; Cobalt in No Distance Between Us, Queen Elizabeth in Two Weeks with the Queen, & Aimee in How Come Ain't No White People in the Show? at ILLUSION THEATRE; Esther in Intimate Apparel, Elaria in Emperor of the Moon, Rosabella in The Most Happy Fella, Sarah in Ragtime, Celia in As You Like It & Marian the Librarian in The Music Man with TEN THOUSAND THINGS; Amy in Oh Shit, I'm Turning into My Mother with THEATRE LATTE DA; Sour Kangaroo in Suessical the Musical, Shaneequa in Splash Hatch on the E Going Down, and Everyone in Seedfolks at CHILDREN'S THEATRE COMPANY; Blues Speak Woman in Spunk, and Knowledge of Good in Deep Azure with CONGO SQUARE THEATRE COMPANY; Soprano in 8 Track: Sounds of the 70's at the ORDWAY CENTER for PERFORMING ARTS; Ghetto Superstar in Snapshots at HISTORY THEATRE; Ida B. Wells in Constant Star & Celie in The Color Purple at PARK SQAURE THEATRE; The Moon in Caroline or Change at the GUTHRIE THEATER, Shun in In the Red and Brown Water and in Marcus; or the Secret of Sweet, and Martha, Officer Pilate, Miriam, Ida. B. Wells, and Mrs. Thomas in The Gospel of Lovingkindness with PILLSBURY HOUSE THEATRE. She is also a teaching artist as well as a vocalist and songwriter. Her original music can be heard on her debut CD "Becoming."
Ann Viitala has operated Viitala Law Office for twenty-five years. During that time she has focused on the areas of estate planning and family law, as well as serving as general legal counsel for numerous businesses and non-profits. Ann has advised hundreds of clients to assist them in protecting their families, pursuing opportunities and resolving disputes, building a wealth of knowledge and experience along the way.
Awarded the August Wilson Fellowship to study Dramaturgy and Literary Criticism, Faye Price received her graduate degree from the University of Minnesota. Faye has served as the co-producer of PILLSBURY HOUSE THEATRE mainstage productions since 2000. As an actress, she most recently appeared in the PILLSBURY HOUSE THEATER productions of The Story, Bel Canto, Boesman and Lena and [sic] and served as co-director of the PHT production of Mr. Bundy. Faye has also worked extensively at the GUTHRIE THEATER, PENUMBRA, MIXED BLOOD THEATER, and ILLUSION THEATER. Nationally, some of the many stages on which Faye has appeared include: CIRCLE IN THE SQUARE in NYC, CENTER SATGE in Baltimore, and the OREGON SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL. Faye is an alumnus of the Salzburg Seminar. She has also served as a panelist for the McKnight Fellowships for Theater Artists and as a literary reviewer for the NEA/TCG Theater Residency Program for Playwrights in 1997. From 1995 through 1999, she served as dramaturg for the GUTHRIE THEATER working on over a dozen productions including Crowns directed by Tim Bond, Summer and Smoke directed by David Esbjornson, The Magic Fire directed by Libby Appel, and Thunder Knocking on the Door, directed by Marion McClinton.
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