Meet the Candidates
I’ve been a professional musician/vocalist/songwriter
composer/producer/recording engineer for the last 35 years. I’ve also had extensive non-profit experience, having been on the executive board for the Mayfest Organization in Mt. Pleasant for several years (late 80’s-early 90’s), and co-founding Big Water Creative Arts, a music education/arts 501c3 back in 2016 (currently serving as president on the board). I’ve also had extensive concert production experience, having been stage manager for Mayfest for several years, as well as acting as production director and talent buyer for Boyne Mountain’s concert series in 2008 (Gin Blossoms/Randy Travis/David Grisman/Greensky Bluegrass/etc).
I believe there’s room for improvement in organization and execution for the main event itself, plus, I believe that Blissfest’s educational outreach could be broadened and serve the community better. I’d personally like to see this part of Blissfest grow and become a bigger “feather” in Blissfest’s cap.
A broad range of experience, from concert production, logistics and booking, to educational programming and curriculum.
Challenges: 1) staying solvent financially, given the Covid situation, and 2) expanding Blissfest’s educational reach and programming year-round Opportunities: 1) deepening community bonds/relationships through expanding local educational programming, and 2) continue to broaden the main event musically (genre-wise) in order to garner a more diverse and possibly a younger fan base.
Mayfest, Secretary/Executive Board
Boyne Mountain, Production Director/Talent Buyer
Big Water Creative Arts, Inc., Co-Founder/President
Big Water Creative Arts, Inc. currently has an executive board of 6 people. Aside from being co-founder and President, I’m also the head of the Curriculum Committe, which oversees all programming for our various programs for seniors, middle school children, and developmentally challenged adults and kids. I also stump for donor dollars, and co-coordinate our fundraising activities. The most enjoyable aspect, for me, is bringing music to people who need it in their lives; kids whose schools dropped music/arts from their curriculum, seniors in assisted living facilities that aren’t able to experience live music or music education outside their living situation, etc. The most challenging, is finding funding for all of this. More and more organizations have their arms outstretched for donor dollars, and the competition grant-wise (MCACA, etc.) is fierce, especially since Covid hit. But the work is worth it; the impact we have on people’s lives through music is immeasurable and the impact is lifelong.
Fundraising is, honestly, one of my least favorite things about non-profit work. My skills, talents and experience are much stronger in other arenas. However, it’s a necessary part of any 501c3, and I’ve done my share over the years. But again, I’d prefer to concentrate on and utilize my strengths in other areas.
I have lived a life with a blend of music, art, and business. As a young man, I lived in Southern California, where I wrote and performed live music, and made documentaries and music videos. My love of Northern Michigan was hard to shake, so in my thirties I moved back to start a family and help my brothers run our family’s campground, Mackinaw Mill Creek Camping. My experience running the resort has led me to develop a diverse set of skills from finance, marketing, drinking & wastewater systems, forest management, HR, insurance, risk management, permitting process and hosting large events.
Having grown up in a campground setting, I love being part of a team that is creating an environment where the public can come and enjoy themselves, learn, relax and enjoy music . . . sounds perfect!
Having performed on stage and managed a large park where thousands come to unwind, I feel as though I understand both the needs of the artist and the basic nuts and bolts of providing a safe, clean, enjoyable atmosphere that is financially secured, supports the community and the community supports.
1. Covid – restricting the gathering of crowds. I have experience in establishing programs and policies at my work and on the Boards that I serve that allowed these entities to remain open all the while keeping the staff, students and the general public safe over the last 18 months. 2. Loss of revenues – Blissfest has an opportunity to look towards diversifying streams of income and work towards building it’s rainy day fund for times of uncertainty
Camp Michigan (144 campground members), Currently Board President
Mackinaw Public School Board, School Board President
Star Line Ferry, Board Member and Board Treasurer
Mackinaw Area Ski Club, Driver, instructor, fund raiser, pizza runner
Camp Michigan (aka ARVCMichigan) where I currently serve as the Board President represents private campgrounds in Michigan. I enjoy getting to know a large number of individuals working in the camping industry and the vast knowledge and help we each can share with each other. Our most recent challenge was with Lansing officials, lobbyist and EGLE to provide campground owners the necessary information to safely open and operate their camps all the while keeping their guests and staff safe. I currently serve as the Board President of the Mackinaw City Public School, a small northern Michigan school averaging around 150 students K thru 12. I enjoyed serving on the Board while my two daughters were in school. I felt like it gave me an extra window into a big part of their daily lives, their friends, coaches, and teachers. The school’s biggest challenge recently was turning around a $500,000 budget deficit into a budget surplus and providing in-person learning during the covid pandemic.
My wife and I have always played key roles in local organizations. One example – we rebooted the local Mackinaw area ski club and reached out and secured several large (and small) donations year after year that covered the cost of transportation, tickets, rental skis, lessons, and food to the underprivileged children of the community. From boots on the ground to annual contribution, my family and I understand the need to do our part.
Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Art, Minor in Marketing
Owner of Local Business Employing 25+ Year Round Employees
Lifetime Member, 5 Year Artist Coordinator Blissfest Music Organization
Well Spoken Devil’s Advocate Focused on the Big Picture
Efficient, Goal-Oriented Problem Solver
First recruited as a volunteer in 2016, the 40th annual Festival would have been my fifth as Artist Coordinator. This role required year round involvement and I consistently logged between 150 and 200 volunteer hours each year. Working so closely with the staff and board, I gained friendships that will last a lifetime, mentors I respect and a sense of community that I’ve never had before. I believe in preserving Jim Gillespie’s legacy and vision. The more time that has passed, the more apparent it has become that the organization would greatly benefit from involvement from the next generation.
Presenting the 40th Blissfest presents both a challenge and an opportunity for the organization. A challenge to successfully host a 3 day festival that closely resembles the send off celebration planned for 2020; and an opportunity to use everything we’ve learned and reflected on in the absence of the festival to put on the smoothest show yet. The campground also presents unique challenges and opportunities. An opportunity for the Festival Farm to generate reliable income for the Organization; and first-year challenges such as generating awareness and ensuring a positive camper experience. I believe the biggest struggle for 2021 will be to re-engage and recruit a sufficient number of volunteers and coordinators familiar with the inner workings of the Festival.
Blissfest Music Organization, Artist Logistics and Stage Gate Coordinator
I have not yet served on a nonprofit board.
I plan to donate time to the organization. This can absolutely include identifying potential donors and volunteers in the community that resonate with the mission of the BMO.
Joelle Drader Wilcox
I truly believe in and would support the mission of Blissfest. Although I would not call myself a musician personally, I have a deep appreciation and love of music and believe in both the transformative and uniting forces of music. I recently participated in a ukulele for Mindfulness class and really loved the experience of using music as a healing art. It is exciting to see how the Blissfest organization is evolving and I would be grateful to be a part of that process.
I honor my commitments and would fully contribute to the best of my ability. I think I would be helpful at Outreach because I am involved in the community in many different ways and circles both personally and professionally.
Opportunities (have to start with the positive!) 1. To reach a broader demographic of interests with expansion beyond music (family camping, Folkskool, classes) to have a comprehensive program to pass along the valued traditions of folk music and arts. 2. Our Covid year has helped us realize the value in being able to reach more people through virtual platforms. Even though I still believe live is best, and the importance of sharing space, the experience of this year has provided a learning opportunity. I know Mondays with May Erlewine were a lifeline for me! Challenges 1. Remaining true to the mission which can be challenging as organizations grow and change. Finding the balance between
PHSCAF, Scholarship Committee member
Child Abuse Prevention Education Council, Board Member
Concord Academy Petoskey, Board Member
The Concord Academy School Board was an eye opening experience for me as my first board experience in the area. At that time there were about 330 students. A major challenge we worked through was the transition of the founding leaders to a new administration. Looking back I now realize there was a grieving process of sorts for staff and families and a recalibration of the organization. It was also challenging because my children attended the school and I wanted to be aware of any potential conflicts of interest. CAPE Council board was rewarding as I could see a direct correlation with my work as a counselor helping children in our community. I firmly believed in the mission and the opportunities the organization supported in our area. The challenge for this board is that meetings were during the day during the work week and I was working full time.
I agree with this expectation as I see Board members as ambassadors for the organization they are serving. There is much more than just monthly meetings!