Gary Solomonson – Interim Chair
For the past 53 years, Gary has worked with many teams in the senior living industry to help create exceptional living environments, working in the areas of design, management, sales, marketing, life enrichment, fundraising and volunteerism throughout the US and UK, offering independent living, assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing. His leadership style has always been one of empowerment for all team members, helping them create tools to be successful in their work, careers and personal lives. During these decades, he has also developed volunteer programs and taught sustainable fundraising and resource development initiatives… Read more
Franz Hall – Vice Chairman
Franz Hall, is self-employed as an IT consultant, architectural photographer, and architectural consultant. Franz received his Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Minnesota. He served in the United States Air Force as a musician in the Strategic Air Command Band and has continued his music career as a professional trumpet player throughout the area. Franz has been a member of Minnesota Brass, Sheldon Theatre Brass Band, the University of Wisconsin University Band, various theatre production orchestras, and several community bands. He has been involved in theatre for many years as a set designer and actor, and has had considerable experience with set construction and all technical aspects of theatre.
John Grzybek – Treasurer
John Grzybek, Vermont Law School, J.D. cum laude; B.A. Central Connecticut State College; former Chair of Clean Water Action (501(c)(3)), Minnesota; former Chair, Sierra Club, North Star Chapter, Minnesota (501(c)(4)); former member of the Highland District Council (elected position) Saint Paul, Minnesota; former member of Saint Paul’s Energy Consortium ((501(c)(3)); testified before Congress, Minnesota State Legislature (Senate and House) on a variety of environmental and legal topics; appointed by the Saint Paul City Council as member of the Mississippi River Critical Area Task Force; appointed by Saint Paul School District Board as member of a Citizen Budget Review Committee; appointed by Saint Paul School District Board to chair Special Committee to examine school issues; former University of Minnesota Law School adjunct professor teaching appellate brief writing; Hamline University teaching litigation discovery process and procedures; co-author of law review articles; author of Minnesota’s Anti-SLAPP statute (Strategic Litigation against Public Participation) Minnesota Chapter 554.
Cassidy Hall – Secretary
Cassidy Hall graduated from the University of Wisconsin – River Falls, with degrees in Creative Writing, Music, and Musical Theatre. She has worked as the director for ACT Theater in the South Saint Paul Tri-District, as a writing tutor for UW-River Falls, and as a professional photographer. Cassidy has been actively involved with theatre for many years, performing with the Phipps Center for the Arts, CB Productions, Stillwater Community Theatre, Woodbury Community Theatre, and various companies in the Twin Cities. She is trained in acting, singing, and dance, including ballroom, jazz, contemporary, and tap. In addition to performing on stage, she has also worked backstage for many productions as stage manager, director’s assistant, deck captain, light/sound board operator, and prop master.
James F. Beck
Jim was born on a livestock and cropping farm in NW Ohio and is a graduate of Ohio State University majoring in the field of Agriculture. Jim achieved a 30 year corporate career in the Agricultural Seed Industry with Cargill Inc. (23 yrs.) and Novartis / Syngenta (7 yrs.). At the age of 51, Beck engaged in an entrepreneurial business in the area of Dairy Cow Management Software for 10 years. Beck was an innovator during his working career and has been issued as inventor a total of 8 patents during his business career.
Jim currently resides in Oak Park Heights MN. He has two daughters, both RN nurses that live in the Metro area. Jim is semi-retired sharing time with retirement activities, friends and family and the capturing of photographic images daily.
Beck is a recent addition to the Board of Trustees of the Zephyr Theatre Group of Stillwater MN and spends a portion of his time as a volunteer in support of the Zephyr Theatre. In 2018, he launched a photography business, Prescription Art Images. He is currently booking exhibitions of his photography in the greater St Croix Valley Area.
Dr. Gary Bird
Dr. Gary Bird, Retired Professor Emeritus of Music from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, received his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Wisconsin – River Falls (1968), Master of Music from University of North Texas (1971) and a Doctor of Music from Indiana University, Bloomington (1992). He is presently an adjunct Professor of Music at UW-River Falls. In his professional career he has been the conductor of the following Musical Theater productions: West Side Story, Jesus Christ Superstar, The Fantasticks, The Pirates of Penzance, Working, On the Town, My Fair Lady, Hair, Cabaret, Into the Woods, Kiss Me Kate, A New Brain, Candide, A Little Shop of Horrors, Guys and Dolls, Joseph and His Technicolor Dreamcoat, Gigi, Lady Be Good, and Jacob’s Ladder.
Elissa Cottle is a published poet, creative writing teacher at ArtReach St. Croix, freelance journalist, and professional writer and editor for businesses, nonprofits and individuals. Her website is www.ArtfulBusinessWriting.com. She curates the Valley Muses literary page for the Stillwater Gazette, and hosts literary readings. She volunteers for Family Tree Clinic in St. Paul, which provides free or low cost contraceptives, preventing unwanted pregnancy, preventing endangered children. She holds a master of fine arts in writing degree from Hamline University, and a bachelor’s degree with honors in journalism and political science from the University of Iowa. Elissa is her block captain in Stillwater, and a proud mom of award-winning actor, playwright and filmmaker Jesse LaVercombe and Lucas, gifted student at Stillwater Area High School.
Rachael Harvey is a real estate agent with Edina Realty and has her Bachelor of Science Degree from the University Of Minnesota Carlson School Of Business. Rachael was previously with Seagate Technology and Control Data selling hard drives to OEM manufacturers including Cray Research, Silicon Graphics and Gateway. She is an avid skier and has been on the National Ski Patrol for 48 years. She is on the Board of Bayport Marina, and an Ambassador for the Greater Stillwater Chamber of Commerce. She has volunteered her expertise to many organizations including Past Commander of the St. Paul Sail and Power Squadron and does vessel safety checks on the St. Croix River, the Board of Women’s Business Bridge and an Ambassador for Valley Outreach. Rachael has also acted at The Phipps and the Lowery Lab and volunteers at the Guthrie Theatre. Rachael is currently leading the volunteer efforts for The Zephyr Theatre.
Michael’s efforts to support the Zephyr stem from the cognitive benefits he sees the arts provide, while testing comfort zones of the individual. His creative interests were refined early through acrylic painting while attending Stillwater High School. In 2014 Michael began piano lessons revealing a hidden talent for improvisation, quickly composing many original pieces…even rewriting a Satie classic within five months and performing at the Phipps twice by invitation. He leads an innovation practice centered on civic issues, with ‘sustainability’ being the current focus.
Teary O’Hara received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Northern Colorado where he was an Honor Thespian. As an actor and dancer, he has played numerous roles, and worked with many theatre and dance companies, including the Colorado Springs Music Theatre and the San Francisco Children’s Theatre. Teary enjoys all aspects of theatre, but specializes in set design and construction. After settling in Stillwater and falling in love with its charm and people, he became the co-owner of the James Mulvey Inn, Bed and Breakfast for five years. His credits also include having produced the Stillwater Music Festival for ten years. Teary has performed in The Zephyr Theatre’s production of “A Midsummer Nights Dream” and “Twelfth Night”.