Bristol Riverside Theatre announced three new members to its board of trustees. The elected members bring a wealth of knowledge of local business, local community and arts experience.
New board members include Tammy Elfort, director of community relations, Juniper Village; Mandee Kuenzle Hammerstein, creative investment strategist and public relations director, MK Hammerstein; and Victoria Rae Sook, founder, Food of Love Productions.
“I look forward to working with our new board members as Bristol Riverside Theatre navigates the challenging landscape of the next season,” said Amy Kaissar, co-producing director of BRT. “The BRT board of trustees has been an example of leadership and collaboration in the last six months. With a 35-year history of being a theater at the center of a community and having community at the center of our theater, and with these three trustees joining our already stellar board team, we know that we are in good hands to weather these challenges.”
“I am thrilled that these three well qualified and energized individuals are willing to join the BRT board at this challenging time for the arts,” said board chair William Salerno.
“We are over-the-moon thrilled to have these candidates officially join our board of trustees,” added Jill Cohen, Governance Committee chair. “Each brings to the table her own unique skill set, experience and vision, but what they all have in common is their excellence. They have already hit the ground running and as a board, we look forward to collaborating together for the benefit of our beloved BRT.”
Elfort was originally introduced to BRT through her role at Juniper Village. She is also the owner of Pro CPR/AED Solutions, Inc. Prior to that, she was the director of corporate and nonprofit relationships for Jersey Flight Arena Football, the director of health and safety services at Team Life, and a health and safety manager at the American Red Cross of New Jersey.
“Theater, especially a theater that supports a community, is priceless,” said Elfort. “Being part of this board is an opportunity to inspire those, like me, who didn’t ever expect to be inspired by the arts. Everyone deserves an affordable opportunity to be exposed to theater and the arts and I’m delighted to be part of providing that.”
Kuenzle Hammerstein has been entrusted at MK Hammerstein with the responsibility to create strategic public relations and advertising programs to best introduce and emotionally connect high-profile and emerging organizations to the public, regionally and nationally. Through professional business communications, research and creative, strategic planning, MKH executes a unique blend of written and visual communications which compliment her original, three-dimensional, community programs and multi-tiered advertising campaigns and events. She has worked alongside award-winning Broadway talent, entrepreneurs and everyday kids. Her work has been seen in Wall Street Journal, Fox, NBC, ABC, CBS 3, CBS Radio, The Michael Smerconish Show, WHYY and more. Kuenzle Hammerstein has a BFA in visual arts and master’s degree in business communications from La Salle University. She is an advocate for the arts and charitable causes that contribute to enriching the lives of others.
“Before joining the board, I followed Amy and Ken Kaissar’s work – they attract, understand and contribute beautifully to both contemporary and classical theater – their energy and passion for BRT is super-contagious and just brings you to a great space when talking and working toward BRT’s very bright future,” she said. “I’m so proud to be part of this new chapter of BRT and I cannot wait to share this special space with my friends, family and colleagues.”
Sook is the founder and artistic director of of Food of Love Productions – a theater company that has been Drama Desk Award-nominated twice in the last two years, first for Shake & Bake: Love’s Labour’s Lost and, in 2019, for the co-production with Third Rail Projects, Midsummer: a Banquet. She has performed around the country and on television in such shows as Smash and Gossip Girl. Sook is a graduate of Interlochen Arts Academy and University of South Florida.
“I am looking forward to working with BRT. The second the pandemic hit they began looking for creative solutions to keep the arts alive. BRT never went ‘dark’ which is very important to me because the arts, and specifically theater, are my heart,” she said. “The arts are so important because they teach us not only how to feel, but also how to experience life in new ways.”
The board of trustees is currently led by Salerno, president Joseph Saniginiti, vice president Keith Spencer, treasurer Richard Sichel, and secretary Phil Freidenriech.