Susan Still (chair)
Susan has 44 years of experience in supporting the development of nonprofits as a volunteer, staff member, board member, and consultant. As director of outreach programs for an arts center in Maryland, she created visual and performing arts programs in public housing, schools, and social service organizations, serving as many as 45,000 people a year. Seeing systemic issues among organizations, she earned an M.S. at Johns Hopkins and an M.A. at Fielding Graduate University in organizational and human development was a Hopkins Fellow in Change Management. This led to a career in facilitating strategic planning and conflict resolution with federal agencies and more than 1000 nonprofits. Now retired, she is interested in building community through the arts.
Maryann McArdle (secretary)
A charter member of Main Street Arts, Maryann has been involved with the organization since its inception, previously serving as a member of the board in the 1990s. She performed regularly in MSA’s annual Christmas Revels, portrayed The Other Woman in MSA’s production of Trial By Jury, and was co-musical director with founder Mary Hepburn for MSA’s first production of Kiss Me Kate. Maryann has worked at Vermont Academy for over 30 years, serving in their advancement and communications offices, and currently as a college counselor. She lives with her husband, artist Mark Ragonese, in Bellows Falls. She is an avid gardener and plays jazz piano with Swing Low, and The Little Big Band.
Alan Fowler (treasurer)
A California native who has lived and studied in various states and countries over these many years, Alan has always been interested in community connected endeavors wherever I have settled. His lifelong connections with things technical since vacuum tube training in the Army have given him a knack of helping people relate to change in its various forms. Experience in business, both large and small, helps him relate to the challenges of organizations such as Main Street Arts. Alan and his wife Pat are the owners of Village Square Booksellers in Bellows Falls.
Catherine Despont (program chair)
Catherine Despont grew up in New York City where she was a founding program director at Pioneer Works, an art center in Brooklyn. She is passionate about the role of the arts in building strong communities, and was drawn to Saxtons River in part by MSA. She has worked as a writer, editor and publisher and has also organized several conferences on arts education both in NYC and in England. She has an MFA from Columbia University and is working on various writing projects. She loves learning with others and is excited to be part of this new chapter in the life of the village.
Rick Cowan has enjoyed minor roles in various MSA theatrical productions over the years. Most of his career has been devoted to independent schools. He held teaching and administrative positions at Choate Rosemary Hall, Pingree, and St. Paul's Schools and served as executive director of The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS) in Boston and Washington, D.C. Locally, he was head of The Grammar School (TGS), Director of Admission at The Putney School and Compass School before retiring in 2016. Rick lives in Cambridgeport and has two grown daughters. He serves on the Rockingham selectboard and the TGS board of directors.
Tom has lived in Vermont since 1971. He and his life partner, Kathy Leo are stewards of a piece of land that was once an old hill farm up on Thayer Road. As a young man he worked in Saxtons River at Tenney’s sawmill and after that he was a house carpenter. As his skills developed, he became interested in the "Timber Frame Revival", as the desire for this style of building spread throughout New England and eventually across the country. His career with Bensonwood Homes spanned almost 30 years. He studied at the Boston Architectural Center and eventually become a senior architectural designer with the company. Since retiring, his interest in woodworking has expanded to include turning wooden bowls and he has participated in the Putney Craft Tour for the past four seasons.
Sam Howard has partnered with MSA several times over the years in her role as Youth Services Librarian at the Rockingham Free Public Library. She has been active in the Southern New England theater community for decades as a director, writer, actor, graphic designer, and most recently as Artistic Director at World Under Wonder. Sam is looking forward to bringing her experience developing programs and services for the community, extensive successful grant writing and fund-raising background, technical expertise, and experience creating and nurturing partnerships to increase potential to Main Street Arts’ Board, as well as her belief that equitable access to the arts, and opportunities to create and share stories and expression, can transform communities. She lives in Bellows Falls along with two cranky senior cats and two exuberant beagles.
Recently located to Vermont, Rick spent most of his life in the Boston area. He worked in technology, leading diverse, global teams in creating digital experiences to help big companies market and sell lots of stuff. He is now an artist, creating simple, artistic experiences for the world to just enjoy. Rick is passionate about understanding the value of art, in all forms, and how it can transform how we see ourselves and how we see the world. He hosts the podcast, Eager To Know, exploring the minds and lives of other creative people. Rick is also an avid cook and fitness guy.