Board of Directors

Janna Townsend – President/Chairman
Academic Excellence, Marketing & Fundraising, Finance, and Governance & Policy Committees

Janna Townsend is an educator with 40 years of experience. She taught children in the classroom, and instructed teachers on the strategies of teaching and learning by modeling them in a classroom setting. Always interested in teaching struggling learners, she began as an art teacher, using a blackboard and colored chalk as a major teaching tool. Janna became a specialist in ‘learning abilities’ and mediation, which helped her to build collaborative educational settings where general and special educational students are taught together. A teaching model mandated by law, also 40 years old.

Building inclusive programs in NYC elementary and middle schools, she provided professional development training and taught college courses on collaborative team teaching, cooperative learning, behavior management and peer mediation.  Janna developed a Principal’s Academy, where school principals were required to learn key concepts of collaborative education and how to support its use prior to embracing the techniques within their schools. This action led the way to delivering direct support to northern district schools to create team teaching classrooms that strategically and effectively taught students with special needs alongside their general ed peers. 

Presently retired, Janna now lives in Maine where she and her family have been vacationing for over 30 years.  Here, she became involved in her community, offering her time and skills to numerous community efforts.  Janna tutors and directs programs for Literacy Volunteers –Waterville Area, where she sits as President of the Board of Directors.  With an eye on those with special needs, Janna also sits on the Snow Pond Arts Advisory Board, and serves as Treasurer of Friends of Messalonskee, where she is committed to creating a LakeSmart community and fiddling in her garden.


Carl Steidel – Vice-President/Chairman
Finance Committee

Associate Dean of Students for Student Support and Community Standards, Bates College

Carl Steidel serves as the Associate Dean of Students for Student Support and Community Standards at Bates College in Lewiston, ME. In this role, Carl collaboratively develops programs that support students in all aspects of their college lives, and that connect the college’s academic and co-curricular missions. He also oversees the community-standards and conflict-resolution processes that, while considering student development and community interests, address violations of the Bates Code of Student Conduct. He is coordinator of the Bates Intervention Team and a member of the Title IX Team.

Carl is a member of the Maine Music Society Chorale and Chamber Singers and also sings with local a cappella group, Vocal Solution. He is actively involved as a member of Calvary United Methodist Church in Lewiston, serving as Treasurer for the Trustees and as a member of the Finance Committee.

Carl received his undergraduate degree in music education from Susquehanna University and has a master’s degree in higher education management from the University of Pennsylvania. Previously, he worked in residence life at Elmira College and in the West Campus House System at Cornell University. He came to Bates in July 2011.

Julie Richard – Treasurer
Academic Excellence  Committee, Governance & Policy Chair
Executive Director, Maine Arts Commission

Julie Richard is currently the Executive Director of the Maine Arts Commission.  She most recently held the position of President & CEO of the West Valley Arts Council which operates in the West Valley of Greater Phoenix, Arizona. Julie earned BS degrees in Psychology and Music and a MA in Business from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  Previous positions include Managing Director of Tulsa Opera in Tulsa, Oklahoma; Managing Director of Syracuse Opera in Syracuse, New York; and Executive Director of the Cayuga Community College Foundation in Auburn, New York.  She is a member of the Snow Pond Arts Academy Board of Directors, the New England Foundation for the Arts Board of Directors, the Maine Film Commission, the Friends of the Blaine House Board and the Cultural Affairs Council.  She has held many positions on boards including national Board positions with Americans for the Arts and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Bolz Center for Arts Administration.  She has presented at numerous national conferences on topics such as board governance, strategic planning, fundraising, arts education programming, marketing the arts and more.

James “JJ”  Jurdak
Finance Committee Chair

JJ has a B.S. in Accounting, C W Post College, Brookville Long Island, and a M.A. in Public Administration, University of Maine, Orono. JJ is the head of the Finance Committee for Snow Pond Arts Academy. JJ is the owner of JJ Professional Consulting, Oakland, Maine. Over JJ’s 40 years of experience he has held the position of VP Administration & Finance, Good Will-Hinckley and acted as the Business Manager, City of Augusta, Department of Public Schools and as the Director of Business and Administrative Services for Maranacook Area Schools. JJ is currently the Treasure of the Kennebec Regional Development Authority and the Co-President of Friends of Messalonskee Lake. He is also an outstanding member of the Tri-Par Music & Drama Club and the Oakland, Maine Lions Club.

Sherry Gilbert, Oakland
Academic Excellence Chair, Finance Committee

Sherry Gilbert is a graduate of the Northern Conservatory of Music with advance study at Hartt School of Music. She is certified by the Voice Care Network and studied Early Childhood Music Education with Dr. John Feierabend. She is a past member of the Maine Education Association (MEA), National Education Association (NEA), Music Educators National Conference, Maine Music Educators Association, and American Choral Directors Association. She taught K-12 vocal, general and instrumental music in the public schools for 38 years. She has taught in both New York and Maine with select groups performing internationally, for State music organizations, regional venues, and on local and national television. One of her select groups was the first a cappella group to open the Maine State Legislative Session. Many of her students have attended the Western Maine Music Festival, Kennebec Valley Music Festival, District IV Music Festival, All State Music Festival, and All Eastern Music Festival. Her leadership experience covers a number of other areas. She chaired the Maine Music Educators Association District IV for over 8 years; also for more than 12 years she was active in her local association in grievance arbitration and bargaining. She continued to serve her local association as president for 7 years. Under her leadership her association received the MEA’s John H. Marvin award for leadership, integrity, and tenacity and was recognized by NEA president, at the time, Reg Weaver.  Sherry is active as a church organist and choir director and has served on the church Parish Council for 5 years. She is on the Oakland Budget & Advisory Committee and has been diligent for citizens in the local area by urging a more in-depth oversight for the RSU 18 school budget.

Kathleen Moore
Marketing Committee Chair

Kathy Moore was born in Coronado, California into a Navy family. After moving around the country quite a bit, her family finally settled in Waterville, the childhood home of her mother. She attended Mt. Merici Academy through high school and graduated from the University of Maine, Orono with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Masters degree in Counseling. She moved back to Waterville to work for the Maine Department of Labor in the Manpower Training Division in Augusta, developing workforce training programs throughout the state before returning to UMO to obtain a Ph. D. in Experimental Psychology. Her research focus was Psychology and the Visual Arts.

While finishing her program, Kathy began teaching at (then) Kennebec Valley Technical College in Waterville before taking a job there as the first Student Services Coordinator.  As the college evolved into Kennebec Valley Community College (KVCC), Kathy developed and directed the Student Affairs division. During her 22 years of service, she focused on helping people gain access to a college education and on developing services to help students persist to graduation. Upon retirement, Kathy continued to work as a consultant to KVCC President Barbara Woodlee for five years, helping to write grants to develop new associate degree programs, such as the Energy Services Program and Sustainable Agriculture Program.  Most recently, she taught Sociology for 2 years at KVCC. 

She has served on several Maine State Legislature commissions that studied various issues affecting disadvantaged populations and was a member of the Maine Equal Justice Partners Board for many years, serving as Board Chair for three years. She lives in Waterville with her husband, Bob Nardi. Her daughter and son-in-law, Erica and Jon Humphrey, live in Oakland.

Debra Levenseller
Marketing & Fundraising Committee

Debra Levenseller is responsible for providing supervision and consultation to The Maine Children’s Home’s clinical staff. She oversees diagnosis, case planning, and treatment of the agency’s clients.

Levenseller has a long history of outpatient therapy, case management, and directing various mental health treatment programs. Most recently, she was employed as an outpatient therapist at the social service and medical agency, Assistance Plus, out of Benton.

A magna cum laude graduate of Salve Regina College with a bachelor’s degree in social work, Levenseller also received her master’s degree in social work from the University of Maine’s Graduate School of Social Work. While a graduate student, she completed an internship with The Maine Children’s Home.

She completed the training and supervision requirements for her Registered Play Therapist Certification through the Association for Play Therapy. Levenseller plans to assist other clinicians at the Harland Turner Family Counseling Center in becoming certified as well, providing a therapeutic approach that aligns with the core of The Maine Children’s Home’s mission–building and strengthening children and their families, while improving their lives.

Debra lives in Belgrade with her husband and has three grown sons who all live locally.

Mike Thorn
Government & Policy Committee

Mike Thorn is a seasoned executive with more than 20+ years of experience working with people & organizations to play a bigger game of life. He is a systems entrepreneur – an integrated approach to effecting positive change by getting everyone involved & focused on creating access and opportunity for those in underserved communities (people/geographies).

His belief is that participation in The Arts (Music, Theater, Dance) provides students with life long skills that enhance their access and opportunities for success in life. Mike has worked with and for entrepreneurs, private equity owners, public/private organizations, and consumer package goods leaders such as P&G and Kraft. He has had the privilege & honor to be President of Yankee Candle, Russell Athletic and most recently consulted for Bauer Hockey & Easton Baseball/Softball. He is currently the Founder/Managing Partner of Ask Inside, LLC ( We are champions of accessibility, we strive to improve economic & social well-being for high performing, underserved communities.

He is a graduate of the Executive Development Certificate program @ Wharton School of business and holds a BS in Economics from Assumption College. He is currently a board member of the National Council for Adoption, The Base (an academic institute, baseball and training academy) in Chicago, along with a business advisor for Stadia Ventures, an innovation hub for entrepreneurs.
Mike has been married to his best friend Maggie since 1990 and have three adult daughters. Amanda and Sarah both danced for many years (Sarah is now choreographing in Boston) while Katie played sports in High School. A native New Englander, Mike is an enthusiastic Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics, and Bruins fan, as well as an active participant in Spartan Races and Sprint/Olympic Triathlons.