SMAC Board of Directors
Term expires 12/2023
Janine Teske of Clinton is a grateful patron of the arts since being involved at Willmar Community College and The Barn Theatre in Willmar in the early 80s and at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall. She was also involved in college choir and was a member of the long standing women’s singing group “Showstoppers” in the Twin Cities before returning to Clinton to live. As a former Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley School Board member and other organizations in Big Stone County, she enjoys seeing the opportunities that SMAC has been able to help support.
Georgette Jones of Watson teaches English at Lac qui Parle Valley High School, where she is also the fall play director and a speech coach. She was a founding member of the Montevideo Music Boosters and is a board member for Lac qui Parle Players. She has also been involved with the Marshall Area Stage Company as an actor and director.
Term expires 12/2021
Anna is a fiber artist who invented the concept of using 3D glasses and certain colors of fabrics to create 3D quilts and wall hangings. Her work has been featured in many exhibits, including four solo shows. Anna has been a teacher for 42 years and started the art program at the Alternative Learning Center in Windom. Anna says becoming a SMAC board member will be an exciting, new experience where she can expand her horizons, meet new people, help people, and gain new perspectives. She has had experience applying for, and receiving, a SMAC grant to take her ALC students on a field trip to the Minneapolis Institute of Art, after which they held a community art show. She says, “I remember the excitement of it all and want to help others as I was, to give my students new experiences and culture.”
Term Expires 12/2021
Kristen is a musician, actor, and writer. In the past year since returning to Jackson, she has spent time volunteering for various community projects and organizations, especially at Jackson Center for the Arts. She is a freelance organist/pianist/vocalist for many area churches and enjoys connecting with people of all ages. She says she has a “desire to see a larger presence of the arts in Jackson County” and is “not afraid to reach out to artists and organizations who could benefit from working with SMAC.”
Term Expires 12/2022
Cherri is the Production Coordinator at the Willmar Community Theatre/The Barn Theatre and is an arts advocate and supporter. She has served on grant review panels for SMAC for many years, attended many MN Arts Advocacy days at the capitol in St. Paul, communicated information about our grants to her communities, supported many annual SMAC fundraisers and attended many arts events hosted by SMAC. When asked why she was interested in serving on the board, Cherri said “working at the theatre gives me the opportunity to continue to raise awareness, opportunity and support of the arts bringing balance and harmony to a community in many aspects. The SMAC board and its staff have been tremendous in educating and supporting me, the theatre and all of our region. I find serving on panels provides an opportunity for me to give back to this organization and to grow, support, mentor and learn with veterans and first time panelists, through the grant applications and discussions.”
Lac qui Parle
If you are interested in becoming the Lac qui Parle county representative on the SMAC board, please visit: https://swmnarts.org/about/become-a-board-member/
Term expires 12/2021
Mark has served 23 years on the Lake Benton Opera House Board of Directors and is currently the president of their board as well as the Artistic Director for the Opera House. He has also worked as a newspaper editor since 1997 in Lincoln county and is currently managing editor for the Tyler, Lake Benton and Hendricks newspapers. Wilmes has been honored multiple times by the Minnesota Newspaper Association in the areas of ad creation, photography and as a columnist. When asked why he was interested in serving on the SMAC board of directors he said, “I am a strong believer in SMAC’s mission and would like to ensure Lincoln County is represented. SMAC has been a great benefit to our organization over the years and I would like to give back in a small way by helping other small groups benefit in the same way.”
Michele enjoys drawing, making crop art and using iron pours. She has participated in multiple Marshal Area Stage Company (MASC) performances, plays a variety of musical instruments and is experienced in traditional American Indian style dancing. Michele says that through her work with the “Access, Opportunity, and Success” program at Southwest Minnesota State University, she has had the opportunity to work with artists from many backgrounds and cultures who work in many mediums, as well as experience with a wealth of diverse performance based programming.
If you are interested in becoming the McLeod county representative on the SMAC board, please visit: https://swmnarts.org/about/become-a-board-member/
Term expires 12/2022
Darlene Kotelnicki has served as board chair and secretary for numerous boards, including the Greater Litchfield Opera House, the Litchfield Public Library, Litchfield Public Schools, Litchfield Community Theatre and more! When asked why she was interested in serving on the SMAC board she said, “I feel we need to promote the arts in Litchfield and Meeker County. I am willing to work to do this. There is much that can be done in our county.”
Term expires 12/2023
Jessica Welu has been a member of the Minnesota Valley Chorale, the Southwest Minnesota State University Choirs and the Al Opland Singers of Pipestone. She has a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing with a focus in poetry from the Minnesota State University in Mankato and also taught creative writing there as a Teaching Assistant. Welu also brings her knowledge working with boards and board member responsibilities through her work at Southwest Regional Development Commission, as well as her understanding of the development work within the southwest region and communities. When asked why she was interested in a board position with SMAC, she said “Art has the ability of helping to create more vibrant communities, helps to build connections, and helps attract tourism and development–as an RDC staff, these are areas that drive my work, but art is also something I’m personally passionate about. As a creative writer and art enthusiast, I would like to see arts opportunities grow in the region. I believe that art is a community need and I want to be an advocate for the growth of arts opportunities in the region.”
Term expires 12/2023
Avenel-Navara is a retired educator from Higher Education and currently substitutes in Middle and High School classes in all disciplines. She said she is not an artist herself, but is a strong advocate for arts and artists of all disciplines and a dedicated consumer of art. She is the current chair of the Worthington Public Arts Commission and has served as a grant writer and committee member for the Worthington International Festival Committee, as well as been a grant review panelist for SMAC on many occasions. When asked why she was interested in serving on the SMAC board she replied that she had spoken to the past board representative for Nobles county about the responsibilities of being a board member and thought she could “bring a consumer’s perspective” to the board and that she’s interested in promoting the arts in Worthington and Nobles county and “making art available to all of our communities”.
Term Expires 12/2021
Erica is the Executive Director for the Pipestone Area Chamber of Commerce. She has a liberal arts education as well as a law degree and is a board member for many organizations in the Pipestone and surrounding area. When asked why she was interested in representing Pipestone county for the SMAC board, Erica replied, “I would like to help enhance the quality of life in southwest Minnesota to include exposure to and experiences with a wide variety of arts for all ages. One’s exposure to quality artistic performances, exhibits, and events should not be dependent upon either geography or income.” She also added that she has a great interest in public art and the arts as “economic development drivers to create beautiful spaces to live, work, and play” and that she is personally greatly inspired by the arts, both through attending and organizing events of all types.
Term Expires 12/2020
David has been awarded two SMAC Individual Artist grants in the past for developing into an experienced screen printer. He has a BA in graphic design, experience in electronic music and hip hop DJ-ing, sound board operation, experienced in film post production editing, and has written and self published the book, “New York City Record Stores: A Pocket Guide.” David holds public “printing parties,” events that are free, with the goal of increasing the public’s awareness of local arts and artists. David says, “I hope I can be a progressive, active voice on the board. I desire to bring my expirience and alternative approaches to promoting the arts in the area.”
O’Keefe-Jackson is the Human Resources Director at Jackpot Junction Casino. She is a Dakota from the Lower Sioux Community, enjoys beading and quill work, and her art background includes an art history minor from Augsburg College (Mpls, MN).
Shawn is the Executive Director for the Palace Theatre in Luverne. He also has experience as the Vice President of Green Earth Players Community Theatre, a board member of Luverne Street Music and Artistic Director for the Luverne High School Theater. Shawn is highly involved both on-stage and back-stage for theater and musical productions in Luverne. Previously Shawn has written, recorded and performed music in a touring band for seven years. When asked why he was interested in serving on the SMAC Board as a representative for Rock County, he said, “I have lived in Luverne most of my life. I have watched my hometown grow and thrive in ways that I never thought it could, and much of that is thanks to the arts. The arts in Luverne are able to thrive thanks in part to SMAC. Helping SMAC continue to support the arts in towns all across southwest Minnesota is a good way to continue that growth.” Thanks Shawn!
Louella Voigt enjoys singing in her community and Church choir and is on the board for the Blue Mound Area Theatre, which manages the Palace Theatre in Luverne. In serving that position on the board, she has “hands on” experience running the theater as well as assisting the board in aspects of program management, grant writing, volunteer coordinating and organizational planning. When asked why she was interested in a SMAC board position, she said, “I believe my contributions have been an asset on the local level and I would also be able to offer support on the regional level as well. Since my retirement I have been able to devote my time and attention to volunteer efforts in areas dear to my heart. I have been most appreciative of the resources SMAC has provided to many organizations in my local community. I would like to ensure that the mission of SMAC continues. As a SMAC board member I would best be able to advocate among arts people and organizations in Rock County and encourage them to utilize the support and resources Minnesota has to offer.” Thanks Louella!
Term expires 12/2023
Alison Nelson is involved with many arts disciplines, including a studio art degree, music (piano and saxophone), writing a weekly column published in four local newspapers, dance throughout her life, as well as choreographing local musicals on occasion. When asked why she was interested in serving on the board, she said “I think it is important to have our county represented in the region and be up to date on SMAC offerings and activities, as well as have the inside track as to how grant dollars work to be able to utilize them to promote the arts in the region. We do ‘okay’, but we could always improve!”
Term expires 12/2022
Michele Huggins of Granite Falls is now co-representing Yellow Medicine County with Betsy Pardick on the Southwest Minnesota Arts Council Board! An admirer of self-expression through art, Huggins volunteers at the KK Berge, serves on the Granite Area Arts Council, and is also a member of the Artisan Grain Collaborative, participating in their Neighbor Loaves program in which she donates a dozen sourdough loaves to her local food shelf weekly. Since making the big move from the Twin Cities to Granite Falls, Huggins has opened a small business called Doughp Creations, focusing on providing her customers with quality organic fermented drinks and sourdough bread. She partners with local farmers for organic ancient grains, which she stone mills into flour. Previously, Huggins had careers in education and finance. She utilizes her skills from undergraduate work at UMCP (BA), graduate work at Cardinal Stritch University (MBA), and her Project Management Certification. You can follow her business on Instagram here: www.instagram.com/doughpcreations/
Term expires 12/2022
Betsy is a long-time musician and leads the bi-weekly “Open Mic” on Fridays (7pm) and weekly Sunday (4 pm) “Open Jam” sessions at the Bluenose Gopher Public House in Granite Falls. When explaining why she is part of our board she said, “I am happy to serve on the board for SMAC because it gives me an opportunity to help connect people within the region to the arts, and to share the different grants that are available with them. As someone who comes from the area, it is nice to see that there are outside resources that can be received through grant funding with SMAC on their side. This provides a way for individuals and organizations to create without so much financial restraints, because they may not have had the ability to do so otherwise.”
Nicole describes herself as a doer and a dreamer: an out of practice visual artist who believes everything can be renovated – including people. As the Executive Director of the Southwest Minnesota Arts Council, DeBoer enjoys meeting and helping artists and organizations who produce and support the arts. She has been at the arts council, which serves 18-counties and provides arts funding and services, for over a decade. There isn’t an artform she won’t try – but most of all prefers to see others succeed in sharing their art.
When not promoting the arts in rural MN, she enjoys DIY projects around her 1880s house and working on converting a century granary into a cabin. If she had a tattoo it would either say “If 2 Be/Up 2 Me” or “Stick to the Plan!”
If you are interested in consulting with Nicole on arts access for our region, schedule a meeting by clicking here.
Financial & Grants Administrator
Caroline Koska is originally from Marshall and has worked for SW MN Arts Council since 2011, first as Administrative Assistant and for the last several years as Financial/Grants Administrator. She has an arts background in music. With a degree in vocal performance, Caroline loves to sing and also plays piano, flute, and, as a new venture, harp. She has taught piano lessons, done music for church and community theater, and dabbled in acting in community theater productions as well. Caroline’s other hobbies include reading and sewing.
If you are interested in consulting with Caroline on on grant eligibility, using the application system, or reviewing a draft of a grant application, schedule a meeting by clicking here.
Marketing & Accessibility Coordinator
Krystl Louwagie grew up on a Minnesota farm. She graduated with a Studio Art degree with an emphasis in intaglio printmaking from Hamline University in St. Paul. She now lives in Marshall and works full-time for SMAC. On the side, she finds time to work as a commission artist, professional facepainter, petting zoo assistant, pet sitter, and receptionist at a local Spa.
Her interest in the arts began early through illustrated fairy tale books, super-hero comics, animated cartoons and a healthy appreciation of musicals, theatre and dance.
She’s also enthusiastic about reading, exercising, the outdoors, cooking, and animals (especially cats)! She believes strongly in equity and community-building in rural spaces.
You can follow her artistic journey on Facebook & Instagram. She mostly creates ink portraits (people & pets) and short autobiographical comics about her life. If you are interested in consulting with Krystl about marketing, artist promotion, or social media content, schedule a meeting by clicking here.
*All staff photos taken by Shay Photography: https://www.shayphotographymn.com/