Board & Staff
Board of Directors
Los Angeles, CA
Kevin 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.
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. Eric plays with the Rich Clements Band in Saratoga Springs. He is committed to helping to preserve the tradition and excellence of Caffè Lena.
Michael 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.
Wanda 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.
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.
Saratoga Springs, NY
Kira is the Chief Financial Officer at Fingerpaint, a full-service marketing agency headquartered in Saratoga Springs, New York with additional office locations in Albany, New York; Scottsdale, Arizona; and Villanova, Pennsylvania. 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.
Saratoga Springs, NY
Peter currently serves as a Supervisor for Saratoga Springs on the County Board of Supervisors. Previously he served as Saratoga County Clerk, and 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.
Saratoga Springs, NY
Jim 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, NY
Stanley was chairman of the Caffè Lena Board of Directors during the successful 1998 campaign to purchase its building and resumed the chairmanship in 2008. He spent 30 years at Skidmore College in information technology and is a lifelong composer, writing music for chamber and jazz ensembles, choirs, and solo instruments. As a home builder in Washington County, Stanley’s enthusiasm for managing construction projects has been instrumental in driving the Caffè’s recent $1.5 million renovation.
Saratoga Springs, NY
Margo 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!
Recently retired, Bob was a Vice President of a major financial institution having worked 41 years with the same organization. He is an avid music fan who attends many concerts of various music genres. He has a deep appreciation for the history and the intimacy of the Caffè. Bob relocated from Staten Island to Saratoga Springs in 1976 and presently resides in Gansevoort. Bob has served both as a board member and president of multiple youth sports organizations in Saratoga Springs.
Averill Park, NY
Christopher Shaw was raised in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York and travelled the world as a folksinger sharing North Country songs and stories. For over ten years Shaw represented Taylor Guitars as a clinician demonstrating American Folk and country style guitar from Anchorage to Berlin. In addition to his trips for Taylor, he has performed at such highly respected venues as the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Smithsonian Institute, the National Portrait Gallery, the Philadelphia Folk Festival, the Old Songs Folk Festival, and the Chautauqua Institute, as well as music halls, festivals, and coffee houses across the US and Europe.
Since retiring from music in 2015, Chris has pursued a second career as the volunteer executive chef of the Welcome Table meal site in Albany’s South End, and the South End Children’s Cafe.
Greenfield Center, NY
Kevin Veitch recently retired from a 30 year career in public service, including 20 years with city government in Saratoga Springs. Most recently as Code Enforcement Officer, Kevin was tremendously effective in guarding public safety by bringing housing and buildings throughout the city into code compliance. He is an effective steward of Caffe Lena’s physical plant. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the Saratoga County Fair, and recently finished a term on the Board of Directors of Gateway House of Peace in Ballston Spa. And he’s a bass player.
Folklorist, 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, NY
Joanne 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.
Sarah 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 Assistant
Born 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.
A 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 Coordinator
Julia 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.