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.
Jamil Jorge (juh-mel hor-heh; he/him) has a Ph.D. and M.A. in ethnomusicology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a B.A. in music from Connecticut College. He is a Mellon Mays Fellow, is on the Board for Thames Valley Music School, the Alumni Advisory Board for Humanities Without Walls, and the Alumni Committee for the 7th Regiment Youth Performing Arts Organization. Jamil has taught in multiple institutions, coordinated mentoring and educational opportunities for the U.S. Navy, and founded a nonprofit to provide leadership training and scholarships for students of color. As a performer, Jamil is a multi-instrumentalist who has played many styles of western art music, jazz, African music, music for dance, and more.
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.
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.
Education Program Coord.
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. Sam is a member of the local folklórico group, Las Teteras.
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.
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
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
Brendan Chipley Roane
Director of Marketing and Communications, G Hospitality
Public Humanities Faculty Fellow & Associate Chair of Theatre Arts & Performance Studies, Brown University
Director of the Center for Media at Johnson & Wales University
Grafton “Cap” Willey IV
Managing Director, CBIZ, Inc.
Head of Corporate Citizenship, Collette
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 2023. Click here for more information on how to apply.
Isabella “Bee” Ba
Cranston High School East
Isabella is a versatile artist involved in her school’s choir and is the secretary of the theatre program.
Cranston High School West
Simone is a multi-instrumentalist in piano, violin, guitar, and percussion.
Jacqueline M. Walsh School for the Performing Arts
Sydney is a music major and the Tri-M Music Honor Society secretary.
Hope High School
Sophia is a versatile visual and performing artist who focuses on the violin.
Providence Career and Technical Academy
Naomi is a multi-instrumentalist who plays guitar, bass, piano, and drums. She is in the chess club, track, and community programs focused on engineering and curriculum advocacy.
Cranston High School East
Eileen is a visual artist and president of the Asian, Pacific, and Desi American Club, a member of the Gay/Straight Alliance, National Honor Society, and Art Honor Society, and the school ambassador of the Green Club.
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.