Ramsdell Theatre Executive Director

Xavier Verna

photo by Crescent Rose Photography LLC

Executive Director, Xavier Verna, arrived at the Ramsdell Regional Center for the Arts (RRCA) in 2017 after having served for five years as Director of Education for the Sphinx Organization in Detroit, MI. Xavier is also involved in state-wide efforts to support other Michigan arts and cultural organizations as a governor-appointed council member for the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and serves on three boards including the Manistee Area Chamber of Commerce, So Percussion, and as past president for the Michigan Presenters Network.

Xavier brings collaborative energy from his time at Sphinx. At Sphinx, Xavier expanded its educational programming profile to a national level, which received one of the highest honors at the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards, hosted by former First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House. He oversaw the development of local and national programming. In Detroit and Flint, Xavier worked with 12-15 schools annually to provide free after-school programming on violin. He led summer programs while working with major institutions such as Roosevelt University, Oberlin Conservatory, and Cleveland Institute of Music. in 2013, Xavier launched the annual conference on diversity in the arts, SphinxConnect (formerly known as SphinxCon), inviting 30 speakers from the national and international sector.

Xavier’s collaborative energy has increased partnerships within the Manistee community with local and regional business leaders and corporations to support programming and operations at the RRCA. Xavier has transformed the performing and visual arts programs at the Ramsdell by diversifying its content making them more accessible to everyone. He strengthens existing programs through successful fundraising that advance the mission and fund major capital investments. More recently he has led the transformation of the art gallery space in Hardy Hall and state-of-the-art upgrades to the Ramsdell Theatre’s sound system.

Facilities/Operations Manager

Michael “Mik” Mikula

photo by Chris Wucherer

Prior to joining the RRCA, Mik had a long and successful career in the theatre. After moving away from Manistee 28 years ago, Mik studied at the Royal National Theater in London, England, and received his BFA in Theatre Arts, both in design and performance, from Stephens College for Women. He studied at the Royal Shakespeare Company with Antony Sher, Fiona Shaw, Richard Eyre, John Barton, Patrick Stewart, Janet McTyre, and others. Mik also served as Technical Director for the Medora Musical in Medora, North Dakota. After returning to Michigan, Mik worked at Interlochen Center for the Arts, and as Director of Theatre at West Shore Community College.

Mik has been a professional theatre artist for more than 25 years, throughout the United States, primarily Midwest. He is a director, has worked in education, repertory summer theatre, all aspects of technical theatre, touring management, fundraising, grant writing, film television, voice-over, print, industrials, and others. He is versed in all areas of technical theatre including design, technical direction, production management, lighting design and master electrician, sound design and technician, prop master and design, stage management, special effects, and construction.

He has worked in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul for more than 20 years, working on over 50 professional productions at that time. For 7 years Mik worked for Troupe America as Company Manager, Production Manager and Technical Director for the four of the five different Church Basement Ladies National Tours, having logged more than 200,000 miles touring,  in more than 250 different venues, and as Technical Director for the Medora Musical in Medora, North Dakota.  In addition, Mik has been a director for the Lakeshore Players Summer Youth Program, for 10 years. He has worked as an improvisational actor for Who-Done-It, and also works as a director and theatre technician, in addition to working in film, television, industrials, print, and voice-overs.

Marketing/Events Manager

Sherri Protasiewicz

photo by Sue Brown

Sherri brings a wealth of passion, knowledge, and excitement with her as she joins her favorite hometown theatre as the Marketing & Events Manager. 

Before moving back to Manistee in 2017, she spent four years booking and servicing large scale events and conferences for the Kalamazoo County Convention and Visitors Bureau. She also facilitated the Kalamazoo Tourism Ambassador Program where she trained front-line hospitality workers on how to promote local assets. While in Kalamazoo, Sherri served on several committees and panels including Kalamazoo Downtown Retail and Restaurant Association, Western Michigan University (WMU) Public Relations Organization, and also regularly spoke at WMU student admitted events. She was highly involved in Event Services Professional Association where she collaborated with other event service professionals across the U.S.  

After returning to Manistee, Sherri joined Munson Healthcare Foundations as the Charitable Giving Officer. She developed a successful mid-level giving program and organized several fundraising campaigns and events, raising funds for necessary healthcare programs and equipment for Manistee Hospital. 

Most recently, Sherri served as the Marketing Coordinator for the Manistee County Visitors Bureau where she developed and executed marketing and social campaigns to boost economic impact through tourism. During this time, she served on the Michigan Association of CVB’s Marketing Committee to increase travel throughout the state of Michigan. 

Sherri is a board member of the Miss Mid-Michigan Scholarship Competition, an active member of the Manistee Area Jaycees and serves on several event committees throughout the county. In her spare time, you can find her enjoying live music, kayaking, or spending time with her family and pets.  

Visual Art/Volunteer Coordinator

Theresa Gimpel

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Theresa is an arts administration professional who brings years of experience in programming and gallery management along with her personal commitment to help expand creative opportunities for emerging and established artists and the community to her role as Visual Art and Volunteer Coordinator at The Ramsdell Regional Center for the Arts.  

Prior to relocating to the Manistee area from Chicago, Theresa spent ten years on the staff at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). She was most recently Assistant Director of Employer Relations in the Career and Professional Experience department. Theresa facilitated connections between SAIC students and alums and hundreds of major companies, organizations and individuals from across the U.S. and around the world. She managed the school’s award-winning internship program, placing more than 400 students each year in valuable, educational work experiences. Theresa assisted in the planning of school-wide events and programs and worked directly with young artists, guiding them in their search for internships and jobs after college and helping them develop and fine tune their professional materials and portfolios.  

Before joining SAIC, Theresa was the Director of Programs and Exhibitions at the Hinsdale Center for the Arts (HCA), a regional non-profit arts organization and gallery located in suburban Chicago. At HCA, Theresa worked closely with members of the HCA board and the community to curate and mount 4 -6 visual art exhibitions per year in all media and oversaw an annual month-long holiday fine art and craft show which provided additional exhibition opportunities and income to more than 100 local and regional artists. She developed and managed classes in art, music, theatre and dance for children and adults, including a popular summer Multi Arts Camp that offered children the opportunity to explore creative cultures from around the world and across history as they engaged in art, dance, theatre and musical activities.  

Before her time at HCA, Theresa was the Rental Manager at The Rialto Square Theatre in Joliet, Illinois. An historic movie palace, the Rialto was restored and transformed into a live theatre and event venue. Theresa managed rental contracts, green room requirements and performer relations, oversaw the activities of the theatre’s 100-member volunteer organization and coordinated the theatre’s many weddings and private events. 

Theresa’s leisure pursuits include travel, cooking, exploring Northern Michigan, biking Manistee County’s backroads, and treasured extended visits with family and friends.