Board & Staff
Board of Directors
Los Angeles, CAKevin Bright is one of the original executive producers behind the Emmy Award–winning television series Friends (1994–2004) and is the Vice President and Founding Director of Emerson College Los Angeles. Early in Bright’s career, he produced numerous specials for Johnny Cash and David Copperfield. In 1986, he produced the Cable ACE Award-winning series The History of White People in America, as well as HBO specials starring Robin Williams, Harry Shearer, and Paul Shaffer. In 1989, he received his first Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series as supervising producer on Fox’s In Living Color. In 1992, Bright won a Cable ACE Award for Best Comedy Series as executive producer of Dream On. Bright directed more than 50 episodes of Friends, including the season finale each year. The NBC series received the 2002 Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series as well as winning the People’s Choice Award for Favorite Comedy Series for 10 consecutive years. Bright lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Claudia. They have twin sons, Justin and Zachary.
Vice Chairman | Saratoga Springs, NY
Eric is the Chief Investment Officer of Congress Park Capital, an Investment Management Firm he founded in 2009. Eric has worked as a Financial Advisor at both Merrill Lynch and UBS Wealth Management. Prior to these positions Eric worked for an investment banking boutique in NYC concentrating on Mergers and Acquisitions and at a Leveraged Buyout firm in Greenwich, CT. He was instrumental in creating one of the fastest 50 growing companies in CT from 1998 to 2000. An entrepreneur at heart, Eric started Saratoga Horse and Carriage Company with his father after graduating from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Economics degree. At the age of three, Eric began studying violin with the Suzuki Method. He was one of the youngest members of the Empire State Youth Orchestra. He is committed to helping to preserve the tradition and excellence of Caffè Lena.
Philadelphia, PA | Saratoga Springs, NY
Albany, NYMichael is publicist for Proctors, Capital Repertory Theatre and Universal Preservation Hall; assistant producer of The Music Haven Concert Series; board member of the Capital Region NY Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America; and a member of the Hudson Valley Community College Advisory Committee for Fine Arts, Theatre Arts and Broadcast Communications. A former public radio producer, Eck is also a nationally recognized arts reporter and cultural critic, having written locally for the Times Union for almost 30 years. Additionally, he is a singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, painter and roots scholar, with a deep love of historic American music. He has been performing at Caffè Lena for over 25 years and, as Caffè board member, works with the director on producing, hosting and marketing fundraising concerts.
Schenectady, NYWanda has hosted WAMC’s folk music program “The Hudson River Sampler” since 1982. She is also a singer and has released one recording of her own, called, of course, “Singing Along with the radio.” She began her radio career in 1975 as a volunteer at community radio station WCUW in Worcester, Massachusetts. She was raised in a musical family–her dad was a close friend of the legendary Carter Family in southwestern Virginia. A native of the Boston area, she moved to the Capital District in 1979 with her husband, Bill, who is also a singer and musician. She is retired from a long career in marketing and public relations and also plays tennis competitively. She and Bill have two children and four grandchildren.
Mechanicville, NYDavid Hayes is a graduate of Siena College in Loudonville with a degree in Marketing. Following graduation David launched a career in Hospitality starting with the Sagamore Resort. His 27 year career has taken him and his family to many great locations across the USA. Currently, David is Regional Director of Operations for United Capital Corporation and is responsible for the oversight of their 10 hotels.
A true lover of music David has performed in bands locally and in Northern California. After spending several years at a concert resort in the Bay Area, David returned to Northern Vermont to Jay Peak Resort where he helped establish a small amphitheater and a concert series that included acts such as Bruce Hornsby, Son Volt, Widespread Panic, Warren Haynes, and many others.
Saratoga Springs, NYPeter is the current Director of Marketing and Communications for Saratoga Hospital. Music brought Peter to Saratoga Springs in the late ’70s when he joined the summer staff at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center to promote special events concerts. He left SPAC eight years later as the director of communications. He is deeply immersed in the community, having raised three musical sons in the local school system. Peter is a graduate of St. Lawrence University and holds a master’s degree from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School. An avid fan of vinyl and live music, he lives on Saratoga Lake.
Saratoga Springs, NY
Tom is Vice President and General Counsel of Stat Staff Professionals, Inc., a Joint Commission certified health care staffing and technology organization headquartered in Saratoga Springs, New York that offers contingent workforce solutions to hospitals located throughout New York State. In this capacity, Tom collaborates with the Company’s CEO on strategic planning initiatives and oversees all of the Company’s legal and regulatory affairs. Prior to joining Stat Staff, Tom was engaged full-time in the private practice of law for ten years, representing business and individual clients in a wide array of transactional and litigated matters. Before entering private practice, Tom completed a two-year clerkship on the Central Legal Research and Writing Staff of the New York Court of Appeals, the State’s highest appellate court. Tom received his J.D., summa cum laude, from Albany Law School in 2003 and his B.A. from Bard College in 2000, majoring in Psychology. Tom resides in Malta, New York with his wife, Renee, and two school age sons. Tom appreciates Caffè Lena’s rich history and culture and is committed to safeguarding its legacy and advancing its mission.
Treasurer | Saratoga Springs, NY
Kira is the CFO/COO of Newport Festivals Foundation, which produces Newport Folk Festival, Newport Jazz Festival and music education programs throughout the year around the country. In 2015, Albany Business Review named Kira one of their “40 Under 40” business leaders in the Capital Region. In the same year, SmartCEO Magazine awarded her an Executive Management Award as CFO for Fingerpaint. Kira is a graduate of Boston University’s School of Management. She is an avid equestrian and lover of folk music.
Secretary | Saratoga Spring
Peter currently serves as Commissioner of Public Safety of Saratoga Springs. Previously he served as a Supervisor for Saratoga Springs on the County Board of Supervisors and as Saratoga County Clerk. For 25 years he worked for the Ayco Company LP, a Goldman Sachs Company, where he was Senior Vice President and General Counsel. Peter also serves on the boards of directors of the Arthritis Foundation’s Northeast United States Region (where he is immediate past chairman) and the national Arthritis Foundation, Inc. Peter and his wife, Chris, have enjoyed the music of Caffè Lena since moving to the capital district over 30 years ago.
Chairman | Saratoga Springs, NYJim is an entrepreneur and business owner with more than 20 years of experience in the affordable housing industry concentrating on information technology. Overseeing a staff of 21, Jim’s organization helps more than 2500 families achieve better outcomes by providing safe, sanitary and decent housing in 40 different communities spanning nine counties. In his musical life Jim is a multi-instrumentalist, performer, songwriter, producer and engineer who maintains a recording studio in his home. Jim has released two CDs of original music, gigs frequently in Saratoga, and is the music contributor for The Saratoga Social magazine. Jim holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and Music from Hobart College, a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Cornell University, in 2008 was recognized as one of the “40 under 40” business leaders by the Capital District Business Review, and in 2014 graduated from the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce “Leadership Saratoga” leadership program.
Saratoga Springs, NYMargo Olson is the Executive Director of Wilton Wildlife Preserve & Park. She began her professional career in environmental education when she worked as an Interpretive Ranger for the National Park Service. She developed environmental programming, exhibits and curricula as Director of Education at the Junior Museum in Troy, which has become the Children’s Museum of Science and Technology. She was the Curator of Education at the National Museum of Racing and worked at Skidmore College in the Office of Campus Life. She has served on several community boards including Planned Parenthood and Temple Sinai. Growing up in a house full of classical and folk music, she spent many happy hours of her high school years at the Eighth Step Coffee House and in helping to run the Bethlehem Coffeehouse. She plays the flute in the Cottage Street Players chamber music group and is excited to be at Caffe Lena, helping at a coffee house again!
Rexford, NYFolklorist, singer of traditional songs and songwriter, George first came to Caffè Lena the year it opened. He has been performer, audience and – since the Caffe incorporated – board member ever since. “Many small arts venues don’t outlive their founding visionaries,” he says. “The Caffe has. That’s our ongoing trust and challenge.”
Joanne Dittes Yepsen
Saratoga Springs, NYJoanne recently completed 12 consecutive years in elected public office for Saratoga Springs including four terms as County Supervsior and two terms as Mayor. Her tenure was marked by a humanitarian approach to public service and bringing in new funding for the Capital District non-profit community. Prior to holding public office Joanne held senior positions in Skidmore College’s Development Office. Her own business, COLTIVARE, assists non-profit organizations in the areas of capital and annual campaign planning, board development, internal and external assessment, strategic planning and grant fund raising. She has served on the Boards of Saratoga PLAN (Preserving Land and Nature), Saratoga County Arts Council, the Presbyterian New England Congregational Church, and the Saratoga Care Foundation. She resides on Saratoga Lake in Saratoga Springs, NY and has three adult children.
Executive DirectorSarah earned her BA in Psychology and Women’s Studies from the University of Vermont, where she developed organizing skills as an activist on campus and in Burlington. Before taking the reins at Caffè Lena in 1995, she served as a fundraiser then Executive Director for the Massachusetts state branch of Peace Action, a nationwide, grassroots citizen’s lobby. Sarah seeks to carry forward Lena Spencer’s dedication to community service through music, creating friendships, careers and harmonious connection. She has contributed articles to national music publications, freely offers herself as a mentor to emerging artists and presenters, and shares her experience as a panelist at conferences in the US and Canada. With her husband, Sarah raised twins in the rural setting of Shushan, NY where her family maintains a large organic garden and never turns away a stray cat. Her musical talents are limited to singing on pitch and playing (enthusiastically but not well) the trumpet, piano and euphonium.
House Manager & Marketing AssistantBorn and raised in Demarest, NJ Carolyn graduated from Skidmore College in 2015 with a concentration in political theory and environmental policy. She worked at libraries through her college and high school years and completed internships at the Saratoga Farmer’s Market and Green Table Farms (Hartford, NY) following graduation. Carolyn’s life course was set when she picked up a banjo during her senior year at Skidmore and started studying with John Kirk and Trish Miller. Her knowledge of American musical traditions keeps growing, and her work at Caffe Lena places her in the heart of what makes her happiest in the world–banjo music. Carolyn is the friendly face at the ticket counter, and the voice behind Caffe Lena’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.
Operations ManagerKristine Reynolds was born and raised in Glens Falls, NY. Through her father’s employment in Saratoga in the 1970’s she gained exposure to the town and developed a fondness for Lena Spencer and Caffè Lena. After attending Skidmore in the 1984, she became a resident of Saratoga eventually raising a family with her husband Philip. Although Kristine’s career path led her on a road to business acumen, her friendships and family life have always revolved around music, art and community. Working at Caffè Lena is a dream job where Kristine now marries her love for music and the Caffè with her background in business. As the Operations Manager, she thrives on the challenge of creating order within the walls of the venue while serving patrons through a kind voice on the telephone.
SoundA native of Saratoga, Joe first came to the Caffè as a curious high school student. His photographs of performances, life around the Caffè, and Lena herself, from the 1970s to today, form a substantial part of the 2013 book Caffè Lena: Inside America’s Legendary Folk Music Venue, and have been seen in numerous album jackets, gallery shows and national publications. In the 1980s he became an indispensable ally to Lena Spencer, helping her with every aspect of running the Caffè. After her sudden passing in 1989, he was part of the team that kept the Caffè going while it transitioned into a non-profit organization. He has served as the Caffè’s soundman for the better part of the past 30 years.
Kitchen Manager & Volunteer CoordinatorJulia was raised in a folk music-loving family and has been going to concerts and festivals around the Capital District for her whole life. With a BS from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Julia has helped the Caffe transition to a locally-sourced menu, serving vegetables, cheeses and breads produced on small area farms. She trains our food service volunteers, keeps everything flowing smoothly on busy nights in the kitchen, and hangs out after the show leading staff sing-alongs.
BakerA native of New Orleans, Lizzie arrived in Saratoga in 1976 and was paid $25 per week by Lena to clean the Caffè after every show. She’s a life-long baker, including a stint as the head baker for her commune at age eighteen. She’s been baking the Caffè’s desserts here in Lena’s kitchen every week since 1996.
Community Outreach CoordinatorReese spent his childhood listening to the crowd at Carnegie Hall sing in harmony with Pete Seeger, and learned to play clawhammer banjo to recreate Pete’s sound. He graduated from Skidmore College in 2018 and began volunteering at Caffe Lena during his senior year. Reese now serves as the Caffe’s swiss army knife – depending on the night, you might find him running the kitchen, managing the show, producing a video behind the scenes, coordinating Caffe Lena’s new community music program and artist development series, or playing a song or two on stage at the weekly open mic.