Executive Artistic Director
Kathleen Pletcher founded FirstWorks in 2004, transforming the one-night First Night Providence festival into a year-round performing arts and educational organization. With over 25 years experience as an entrepreneur, Kathleen has founded three non-profit arts organizations and formed strategies for organizations across the US. As a presenter, she has developed projects with creative pioneers such as Yo-Yo Ma, Kronos Quartet, and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, linking performances of new work with community engagement across Rhode Island. As a curator, she has participated in numerous international tours, forging relationships with artists in Taiwan, Indonesia, Brazil, Japan, Italy, Mexico and France.
Marissa Hutton comes to FirstWorks from the Dorset Theatre Festival, in Dorset, VT where she served as Executive Director. She has an extensive career in live event production, having worked with organizations such as, the Park Avenue Armory, Irish Repertory Theatre, Monica Bill Barnes Dance Co., Valencia Production Partners, and Bike New York. She has worked on live network television events for Condé Nast Entertainment, Hulu, Netflix, and CW. Marissa spent four years at the International Festival of Arts & Ideas in New Haven, CT as Special Programs Curator. As an avid dance practitioner, Marissa has taught and performed nationally and internationally. Marissa is also a nationally registered Emergency Medical Technician.
Suzanne Kim has over a decade of experience providing creative and technical direction for large-scale multimedia exhibitions and events. She has worked as an exhibition consultant for projects presented at international museums and galleries. Prior to moving to Providence, Suzanne was the Deputy Director and Director of Exhibitions at Smack Mellon, NYC, from 2004 – 2016, where she curated and produced over 100 art exhibitions and events. She received her BFA from the School of Visual Arts.
Known for his signature violin sounds infused with myriad electronic, urban, and African-American music influences, DBR takes his genre-bending music beyond the proscenium. His innovative musical collaborations span the worlds of modernist composer Philip Glass, choreographer Bill T. Jones, Broadway star Savion Glover, and pop icon Lady Gaga, leading the New York Times to describe him as “about as omnivorous as a contemporary artist gets.
Abigail is a recent graduate of Castleton University where she earned her M.A in Arts Administration. She received her B.A. from Rhode Island College where she studied both art history and studio art. Through her previous work experiences, within a wide variety of organizations, she has enjoyed sharing her excitement for the arts with others.
Sam Zimmer is an educator, nature nerd, and lover of creative expression. Sam has enjoyed working with kids of all ages in classrooms and non-traditional settings, especially outside! Her passions include climate advocacy/environmental justice and increasing access to both the arts and the natural world. She has a BA in Cultural Anthropology from Fordham University and a dual MA in Childhood Special and General Education from Bank Street College of Education.
Meredith brings to FirstWorks over 15 years of experience in brand marketing, public relations and creative project management within the non-profit, higher education, consumer electronics and entertainment industries. Also a visual artist, Meredith co-founded the 9yds. art collaborative, which produced multimedia arts events and exhibitions throughout greater Boston from 1998-2002. Her collaborative and solo work has been featured at the BCA Mills Gallery, Allston Skirt Gallery, Zeitgeist Gallery, Wheaton College and the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Gallery at Skidmore College, where she received her B.S. in Studio Art. Meredith is also a contributing writer for artscope magazine, (New England’s Culture Magazine), covering the region’s visual arts news since 2008.
Kim is a graduate of Rhode Island College with a B.A. in Anthropology. She is an alumna of The State Ballet of Rhode Island, where she now acts as a volunteer rehearsal assistant and coach. She is excited to join the FirstWorks team and share her passion for fundraising and the arts.
Fundraising Operations Asst.
Vanessa Villon is a bilingual, community-oriented, and data-driven individual. She is an alumna of Rhode Island College with a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Rhetoric and Writing. During her undergraduate career, she interned for ABC6 News and United Way of Rhode Island. Upon graduation, she worked for Brown University and Rhode Island College. She has worked with Trinity Repertory Company and The Empowerment Factory. She enjoys learning languages, promoting the arts, and volunteering at events.
Rainy has worn many hats, several of which she’s crocheted herself. She is a former speech-language pathologist, teacher, and library worker who brings her love of Post-It Notes and detailed lists to her role at FirstWorks. Rainy thrives when called upon to connect people to things that they love (or will love soon!) and to each other. As a musician and avid reader, Rainy spends a lot of her time being either very loud or very quiet. She has acted as a Drum Instructor/Lead Drum Instructor and Band Coach (very loud) for Boston Raising Powerful Musicians (formerly Girls Rock Campaign Boston) since 2016. She was also the first head referee of Central Mass Roller Derby (…actually also very loud). Many people have reported that Rainy looks like someone who would be good with plants (very quiet), but alas, she is not.
Vitalo-Gagnon, Fiscal Mgmt
VITALO GAGNON, LTD. is a professional management firm specializing in customized accounting and business advisory services. Vitalo Gagnon’s expertise encompasses interim or part time CFO/Controller capabilities, special projects and retained long-term accounting relationships. They have provided accounting and fiscal management services to FirstWorks since 2017.
Mary Gagnon brings over 25 years of experience including accounting, financial planning and analysis, and administrative support functions. She has a BS in Business Administration with a major in accounting and marketing and an MBA from Bryant University. She also earned an Information Systems Management certificate from Boston University.
Board of Trustees
State Director, AARPRI
J. Richard Ratcliffe
Partner, Ratcliffe Harten Galamaga LLP
Associate Director, RI State Office of Diversity, Equity and Opportunity
Kevin S. Hundley
Karen E. Silva Ed.D, CHE
Retired, Chairperson, Graduate Business Programs, Johnson & Wales University
Board of Trustees
VP Human Resources, Pariseault Builders
Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for Loews Hotels & Co
Associate Attorney, Locke Lord
Brendan Chipley Roane
Director of Marketing and Communications, G Enterprises
Exec. VP Dir. of Employee & Community Engagement, BankNewport
VP Business Development, RI Commerce Corporation
Executive Director, City Year Providence
H. Jack Martin
Executive Director, Providence Public Library
Lieutenant Governor, State of Rhode Island
Associate General Council, Textron
Public Humanities Faculty Fellow & Associate Chair of Theatre Arts & Performance Studies, Brown University
Melissa Snape Wisniewski
Head of Corporate Citizenship, Collette
Director of the Center for Media at Johnson & Wales University
Grafton “Cap” Willey IV
Managing Director, CBIZ, Inc.
Robert J. Allio
Allio Associates, LLC
Deming E. Sherman
Retired Partner, Locke Lord LLP
Chair Emeritus (Honorary)
Frederick K. Butler, Esq.
Retired, VP Business Ethics & Corporate Secretary, Textron
General Manager, Providence Performing Arts Center
Founding Board Member
FirstWorks’ Youth Board consists of Rhode Island high schoolers representing communities across the state. The Youth Board meets four times annually to assess our artist-educator program, workshop formats, curricular themes, curation and other initiatives and programs. Members and their friends and family are also invited to FirstWorks performances and asked to evaluate and provide feedback.
The next round of applications to join FirstWorks’ Youth Board will begin in September 2024.
Cranston High School West
Simone is a multi-instrumentalist in piano, violin, guitar, and percussion. This is her second year on the FirstWorks Youth Board.
The Met School
Alison is interested in learning more about the entertainment industry and the intersection of music and culture. In addition to being on FirstWorks’ Youth Board, Alison has a hybrid internship with our organization and the City of Providence’s Department of Arts Culture and Tourism. She is also taking a music class at CCRI and is participating in the Brown University Young Entrepreneurship Program.
Ivana Rivera de Leon
Mount Pleasant High School
Ivana is interested in how art can be a tool for community building and give people a sense of control over their lives. Inspired by her musical family, she quickly learned the saxophone and has since become a conductor of peer musicians. Ivana is also interested in becoming a surgeon.
Jacqueline M. Walsh School for the Performing Arts
Sydney is a music major and the Tri-M Music Honor Society secretary. This is her second year on the FirstWorks Youth Board.
The Wheeler School
Seoyon’s creative interests are deep and wide, including writing (poetry and prose), visual art, music (flute and gayageum), and theater. She is currently a Teen Creative Fellow with Providence Public Library, where she has also helped analyze FirstWorks’ historical information as a Data For Good associate. Seoyon is also part of the Iowa Young Writers’ Studio.
Jacqueline M. Walsh School for the Performing Arts
Katrina is a dance major and choreographer who won a scholarship and performed her solo piece at Ohio University’s Dance Department Summer Intensive. This is her second year on the FirstWorks Youth Board.