BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Janna Townsend – President/Chairman
Academic Excellence, Marketing & Fundraising, Finance, and Governance & Policy Committees
Janna Townsend is an educator with 40 years of experience. She taught children in the classroom, and instructed teachers on the strategies of teaching and learning by modeling them in a classroom setting. Always interested in teaching struggling learners, she began as an art teacher, using a blackboard and colored chalk as a major teaching tool. Janna became a specialist in ‘learning abilities’ and mediation, which helped her to build collaborative educational settings where general and special educational students are taught together. A teaching model mandated by law, also 40 years old.
Building inclusive programs in NYC elementary and middle schools, she provided professional development training and taught college courses on collaborative team teaching, cooperative learning, behavior management and peer mediation. Janna developed a Principal’s Academy, where school principals were required to learn key concepts of collaborative education and how to support its use prior to embracing the techniques within their schools. This action led the way to delivering direct support to northern district schools to create team teaching classrooms that strategically and effectively taught students with special needs alongside their general ed peers.
Presently retired, Janna now lives in Maine where she and her family have been vacationing for over 30 years. Here, she became involved in her community, offering her time and skills to numerous community efforts. Janna tutors and directs programs for Literacy Volunteers –Waterville Area, where she sits as President of the Board of Directors. With an eye on those with special needs, Janna also sits on the Maine Arts Advisory Board, and serves as Treasurer of Friends of Messalonskee, where she is committed to creating a LakeSmart community and fiddling in her garden.
Carl Steidel – Vice-President/Chairman
Associate Dean of Students for Student Support and Community Standards, Bates College
Carl Steidel serves as the Associate Dean of Students for Student Support and Community Standards at Bates College in Lewiston, ME. In this role, Carl collaboratively develops programs that support students in all aspects of their college lives, and that connect the college’s academic and co-curricular missions. He also oversees the community-standards and conflict-resolution processes that, while considering student development and community interests, address violations of the Bates Code of Student Conduct. He is coordinator of the Bates Intervention Team and a member of the Title IX Team.
Carl is a member of the Maine Music Society Chorale and Chamber Singers and also sings with local acapella group, Vocal Solution. He is actively involved as a member of Calvary United Methodist Church in Lewiston, serving as Treasurer for the Trustees and as a member of the Finance Committee.
Carl received his undergraduate degree in music education from Susquehanna University and has a master’s degree in higher education management from the University of Pennsylvania. Previously, he worked in residence life at Elmira College and in the West Campus House System at Cornell University. He came to Bates in July 2011.
Academic Excellence Chair, Finance Committee
Sherry Gilbert is a graduate of the Northern Conservatory of Music with advance study at Hartt School of Music. She is certified by the Voice Care Network and studied Early Childhood Music Education with Dr. John Feierabend. She is a past member of the Maine Education Association (MEA), National Education Association (NEA), Music Educators National Conference, Maine Music Educators Association, and American Choral Directors Association. She taught K-12 vocal, general and instrumental music in the public schools for 38 years. She has taught in both New York and Maine with select groups performing internationally, for State music organizations, regional venues, and on local and national television. One of her select groups was the first a cappella group to open the Maine State Legislative Session. Many of her students have attended the Western Maine Music Festival, Kennebec Valley Music Festival, District IV Music Festival, All State Music Festival, and All Eastern Music Festival. Her leadership experience covers a number of other areas. She chaired the Maine Music Educators Association District IV for over 8 years; also for more than 12 years she was active in her local association in grievance arbitration and bargaining. She continued to serve her local association as president for 7 years. Under her leadership her association received the MEA’s John H. Marvin award for leadership, integrity, and tenacity and was recognized by NEA president, at the time, Reg Weaver. Sherry is active as a church organist and choir director and has served on the church Parish Council for 5 years. She is on the Oakland Budget & Advisory Committee and has been diligent for citizens in the local area by urging a more in-depth oversight for the RSU 18 school budget.
Government & Policy Committee
Mike Thorne is an advocate, mentor, and consultant for small businesses, non-profits, and people who are interested in providing access and resources to underserved communities. His company Ask Inside, LLC specializes in community development, environmental advocacy, and business/economic development. His personal passion is helping people and organizations amplify their missions and finds innovative solutions to seemingly intractable challenges related to these topics.
After serving 20+ years as a senior executive and/or President with organizations like Yankee Candle, Russell Athletic, and Easton Diamond Sports he stepped off the corporate stage. Mike is focused on helping our future leaders through the
Arts/Sports/Culinary, especially our youth in Maine. Finding innovators to work with on this area is what makes Ask Inside, LLC unique.
He is a former college athlete, current triathlete, and resident of Saco Maine. He serves on the board of the National Council for Adoption and is their Vice Chairman of the Foster Care committee. Mike is also a Score.org Certified mentor for small businesses and non-profits and is married to his best friend Maggie and has 3 adult daughters (1 Special Ed teacher, 1 social worker, and 1 pre-school teacher).
Executive Vice President for Vitsab International AB, Malmö, Sweden
Jeffrey Desrosiers is Executive Vice President for Swedish base Vitsab International AB where he manages business operations globally. Since Jeff was charged with worldwide growth for the research and development firm Vitsab, they quickly emerged as a comprehensive resource for regulation authorities and industry alike. Committed to working hand in hand with regulators to develop time/temperature shipping requirements for perishable items, Jeff enlists the help of private businesses to ensure regulation not only enhances public safety but is also achievable by industry. Jeff has
presented Vitsab’s research and development accomplishments in Europe, Asia, North America, and South America. He has over 30 years of senior level global experience within the technology, pharmaceutical, and seafood industries.
Jeff is actively involved with Kennebec Valley Baptist Church and is currently serving in his third term on their Board of Directors. Jeff enjoys volunteering as a High School Girls’ Varsity Assistant Basketball Coach. He meets Saturday mornings with a group of local civic leaders to determine how they can give back to their community. Jeff has mentored many local business professionals by helping them navigate the challenges associated with becoming a lucrative small business in Central Maine. Jeff and his wife Paula love hosting high school foreign exchange students, helping them learn the culture while enjoy the benefits of a robust United States education. He served over the last 10- years on the Board of Directors at Temple Academy of Waterville, Maine where he helped them become accredited through New England Association of Schools and Colleges, develop a thriving foreign exchange student program, plus achieve over 150% student body increase. Accomplishing his goals with that educational institution, Jeff was searching for his next opportunity to contribute to our children through local
education. Jeff was thrilled to join the Board of Directors at Maine Arts Academy in October of 2018.