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Board & Staff

Board of Directors

Pam Abrams

Saratoga Springs, NY

After a long media career in New York City, Pam retired from her day job and, with her husband, moved upstate and made Saratoga Springs home. Over the years, she held a handful of notable magazine jobs, as an editor at Harper’s, Parents, Child (as Editor-in-Chief), and editorial director at eToys.com and Scholastic. At the non-profit Cooney Center of Sesame Workshop she was director of strategic partnerships. Her non-profit work continued in the culinary world where she worked with chefs and restaurateurs to introduce NYC youth to the hospitality industry. Currently, Pam helps run the Culinary Arts program at SPAC, and is on the Advisory Board of the Belmont Child Care Association which serves backstretch families at all three NY racetracks. She curates the cookbook collection for Saratoga’s retail shop The Savory Pantry and writes about food. She is a past Board Secretary of Consumer Reports. Pam has two adult sons, and is married to Paul Kligfield, a retired cardiologist. The main thing they miss about living in NYC is Birdland. The main thing they love about Saratoga is Caffè Lena.

Kevin Bright

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.

Carl DeBrule

Saratoga Springs, NY

Carl has worked in Financial and  Health Care industries for over 30 years, with his most recent health care leadership role at Johnson & Johnson as Vice President in the Technology Services team.  Carl is currently executive vice president of client services and chief revenue officer of Digital Factory, a technology company headquartered in Chicago, IL. Carl is a native of Wilmington, DE. Married into a family passionate about Saratoga Springs as well as Skidmore College, Carl frequently visited Saratoga Springs with the family for over 30 years. With his wife, Terry, he made Saratoga Springs his home eight years ago. 

Michael Eck

Albany, NY

Michael is publicist for Breedlove Guitars; 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 Fischer

Schenectady, NY

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.

Eric Gordon

Saratoga Springs, NY

Eric, has served various roles in his 33 years with Ayco. Currently he is senior vice president and region head for Ayco Family Office.  Eric is a native of Troy, NY and grew up just outside of Woodstock, where music became an integral part of his life. He and his wife recently relocated to Saratoga Springs after 25 years in Pittsburgh PA, where he served as a Board member of Ronald McDonald House, helping to drive a major expansion of hospitality services to families of children undergoing medical treatment.

Kira Favro

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.

Peter Martin

Secretary | Saratoga Spring

Peter recently served as Commissioner of Public Safety for 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.

Jim Mastrianni

Chairman | 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.

Margo Olson

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!

Kevin Veitch

Greenfield, NY

Kevin Veitch, a life-long resident of Saratoga County, served as the Code Enforcement Officer for the City of Saratoga Springs for many years. He has given generously of his time to the Greenfield Zoning Board of Appeals and the city of Saratoga Springs Real Estate and Safety committees, as well as to Gateway House of Peace, a hospice facility in Ballston Spa. He recently completed a term of service as Executive Director of the Saratoga County Fairgrounds. As a musician, Kevin has brought essential skills as a bass player to Lena’s Wrecking Board, a fun-loving Caffe house band you’ll see from time to time at fundraising events.

George Ward

Rexford, NY

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.

Staff

Sarah Craig

Executive Director

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.

Joe Deuel

Sound

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.

Holly Mcgarry

Kitchen Supervisor and Volunteer Coordinator

Raised in rural Idaho, Holly grew up playing guitar and banjo in various local groups before attending Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA. At Berklee she studied Music Business and in her last semester of college began working at the historic folk music venue Club Passim. From 2015 to 2020 Holly did everything there from selling tickets or serving to running sound and managing shows. In 2020 Holly relocated to Ballston Spa, NY and now serves as the Caffe’s kitchen supervisor. She also makes up one half of the folk duo, Honeysuckle.

Joel Moss

Broadcast Sound and Camera Technician

In more than six decades of producing music, Joel has recorded albums for the likes of Little Richard, Ray Charles, The Beach Boys, Joe Cocker, Johnny Cash and Tony Bennett, in addition to work on films and Broadway. He has won an Academy Award and seven Grammys and been nominated for two Emmys. His life in music began in his hometown of Detroit in the late 1950s as a 12-year-old folk prodigy, leading a Hebrew folk quintet called The Hi-Liters that played Caffe Lena in the early ’60s. Since moving to Saratoga he produced “A Saratoga Christmas Wish,” a fundraising album for Make-A-Wish Northeast New York that raised $70,000.

Vivian Nesbitt

School of Music Coordinator

Vivian experienced the life saving effect of folk and roots music as a child listening to Judy Collins, Taj Mahal and Bill Staines on the family record player. A recent arrival in Saratoga Springs, Vivian and her husband John Dillon (who host and produce Art of the Song heard nationwide on public radio) chose their apartment because it was walking distance to Caffè Lena.  As an actress she’s worked in film, TV, and stage. Vivian loves to build opportunities for people to find, deepen and integrate creative expression into their lives through music, writing, and performance. 

Carolyn Shapiro

Marketing Manager

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.

Reese Fulmer

Community Outreach Coordinator

Reese 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.

Kristine Reynolds

Operations Manager & Volunteer Coordinator

Kristine 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.

Carol Graser

Poetry Events Coordinator

Carol started the Caffè Lena poetry reading series in the summer of 2003. The first night brought a deluge of poets and poetry fans from all over the Capital District and the series has been going strong ever since. The series has featured poets from around the country as well as our own talented local writers. Carol’s poetry has been published in many literary journals and she has performed her work at readings, rallies, fundraisers and weddings. A collection of her poetry, The Wild Twist of Their Stems, was published by Foothills Publishing in 2007. She cannot believe her good luck at being able to welcome poets to this legendary stage every month and to be a part of the wild and wonderful Caffè Lena community.

Lizzie Mehrtens

Baker

A 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.