Staff and Board

MASSCreative Staff


Emily Ruddock, Executive Director

Ruddock brings 15 years of experience in strategic and management positions for non-profit arts organizations, including working as the first director of the City of Lynn’s Downtown Cultural District. Before joining MASSCreative in 2017, Ruddock was the artistic producer at Merrimack Repertory Theatre (MRT), where she managed the day-to-day operations of the Artistic Department, including hiring, resource logistics, and budgeting for theatrical productions. She also developed and supervised MRT’s first education department-focused effort, strengthening partnerships with local social service organizations and schools.

As director of Lynn’s Downtown Cultural District, Ruddock was highly regarded by city officials and local arts leaders for her leadership in coordinating arts and cultural organizations for neighborhood revitalization and economic development. Ruddock worked with elected city and state officials on a range of projects to promote downtown Lynn and the arts community, including drafting legislation establishing the city’s first Public Art Commission. She also organized and executed free public events featuring local arts and community groups.

She is a potter who loves making original ceramic art and functional ware for her home, her family and her friends. She holds a Masters in Public Administration from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Critical Social Thought from Mount Holyoke College.



Elena Ruocco Bachrach, Ph.D., Development Manager

Elena joined MASSCreative after eight years serving as the Executive Director of the Newburyport Art Association (Newburyport MA). Elena was the lead development staff member among her other responsibilities and achieved success doubling the NAA’s budget during her tenure, thereby expanding on the organization’s capacity to deliver on its mission each year - made possible in large part through fund development results. Elena brings to MASSCreative deep and varied experience in arts administration, the creative economy, and higher education.

Elena aspires to foster the arts - when & where possible, to create vibrant community, community collaborations, and to inform this work with a sense of social responsibility.

Elena’s skill set includes: arts management, business development, fundraising, community outreach and collaboration, marketing and communication, design, higher education administration, public speaking, research, and teaching. Elena holds a doctorate in Political Economy and African Studies from Northwestern University. Elena speaks Italian fluently; has studied French, Spanish, and Hausa. In her free time, she enjoys arts events, travel, writing and cooking. Elena is married to Bill and they have two sons, David and Min.



Tracie Konopinski, Program Director

Tracie Konopinski is a longtime community organizer. At MASSCreative she has built a grassroots, advocacy network of more than 25,000 people who turn out in person and online to support art, culture, and creativity throughout Massachusetts. She works closely with MASSCreative’s Leadership Council identifying new grassroots partnerships and new ways to generate support for greater public investment and leadership in art, culture, and creativity. She has also trained hundreds of activists on political organizing and leadership development in prior campaigns for voter registration, affordable higher education, and environmental justice throughout western Massachusetts and Maine.

Tracie holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Muhlenberg College, where she studied business, communication, and dance.



Selassie Davies, Operations Coordinator

Selassie Davies joined MASSCreative in November 2017. Born in Boston, Selassie grew up in the Midwest before returning to Massachusetts for college. She graduated from Wheaton College in 2016 with a B.A. in Film and New Media Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies.

Following graduation, Selassie completed a fellowship with the Media Art for Public Service (MAPS) media literacy program, a partnership between the Boston Health Commission’s Start Strong Initiative and MIT. She facilitated discussions with students as they navigated the complex topics of gender, sexuality, ability, race, class, mental health, and other areas of difference, to create digital art for social change.


MASSCreative Board of Directors


MASSCreative Board of Directors

Stephen D. Immerman, Ed.D., (Chair) previously served as the president of Montserrat College of Art prior to his retirement in 2019. This followed a successful 30 year-career at MIT, where he served in senior capacities in a variety of departments involving student life, operations, construction management, fundraising, and others. He holds a Doctor of Education Degree from the University of Pennsylvania, Certificates in Leadership from MIT and in Management from the Sloan School of Management at MIT, a Master of Science and Education from the University of New York, Albany, and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the State University of New York, Potsdam. An involved community leader, he was appointed by Gov. Charlie Baker in summer of 2015 to the board of the Massachusetts Cultural Council. He is co-president of Beverly Main Streets, vice president of the North Shore Chamber of Commerce, and on the boards of the Salem Athenaeum, the Essex National Heritage Commission, the Massachusetts Creative Network Commission, the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design and is the former Chair of the Potsdam College Foundation, State University of New York.

Susan Chinsen (Vice Chair)  is a community connector who focuses on the Asian Pacific Islander American community--using arts and culture for community building. Currently she is an Associate Producer at ArtsEmerson. She established the annual Boston Asian American Film Festival in 2008, where she continues to serve as the Festival Director uplifting diverse community stories and experiences. Additionally, she has been working with the Center for Asian American Media as an engagement consultant for the upcoming PBS documentary "The Chinese Exclusion Act," building upon her community work and past experience working at WGBH. She is on the board of directors at South Cove Community Health Center, an ArtsEmerson Community Curator, a Boston Neighborhood Fellow at The Boston Foundation, and a Steering Committee member at the Tisch College at Tufts University Community Research Center. Susan is also an alumna of the American Chinese Art Society's traditional dance troupe and Tufts University. 

Sara Stackhouse (Vice Chair & Immediate Past Chair) founded Stackhouse Creative in 2015 to consult with artists and cultural organizations, and to produce creative projects.  She is also the founder and creative director of The Mama Project, a cross-cultural artistic project with women from Boston and Cape Town.  Sara was Chair of Theater at Boston Conservatory at Berklee from 2016-2018 where she supervised 75 faculty, three academic programs, and a department that produced 40+ productions each year.  In 2018, Sara produced an inter-disciplinary project called "Merge/Emerge" with Tina Packer, Danilo Perez, students from the Conservatory, and the Global Jazz Institute. Prior to that, she served as executive producer of Actors' Shakespeare Project for 11 years, producing 48 productions, overseeing school and youth programs, and leading strategy, fundraising, and operations. During her tenure, the company received numerous Elliot Norton Awards, an American Theater Wing award, a Social Innovation Award, and Sara received the Margaret Stewart Lindsay "Inspiration Award".

Wayne M. Kennard (Treasurer) was senior partner at WilmerHale LLC until 2016. Since then, he has provided strategic advice and leadership to two high-tech start-ups -- as co-founder of Sankofa, Inc. and as business strategist and general counsel for North American Wave Engine Corp. He is currently a trustee of the Museum of Science and is on the Board of Advisors of D’Amore-McKim School of Business at Northeastern University. Kennard has also served on the boards of St. Sebastian’s School, the Boston Bar Association, the Fenn School, the Meadowbrook School, and STRIVE, Boston, and is the author of a number of publications in the area of intellectual property.

Justin Kang (Clerk) is the Vice President of Strategy and Growth for the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce where he oversees the strategic initiatives for the leading regional business association. In addition, he is the Executive Director of City Awake which serves as the civic innovation arm of the Boston Chamber with the mission to explore bold and creative ideas to solve our most pressing urban issues.

Most notably, he is currently focused on mobilizing and empowering the next generation of leaders into active contributors in shaping the future of Greater Boston. Specifically, he is engaging over 650 young adults representing 200 organizations as they undergo a nine-month process to produce the first-ever local report in understanding how this generation perceives Greater Boston as well as identifying key issues and solutions prioritized by this cohort. 

He has been named as a “Top 25 Emerging Leader of Color” by Get Konnected!, and as one of “The Next Generation of Powerful People in Boston” by Boston Magazine. In addition, he was recognized as “One of Nine Nonprofit Leaders Obsessed with Making Boston Better” by the Boston Globe and was awarded an ONEin3 Award by the City of Boston as one of 13 young adult leaders doing outstanding work to improve the City of Boston for all residents. 

He serves on the board of directors and advisory boards for several nonprofits including the Asian Community Development Corporation, Institute for Nonprofit Practice, Food for Free and the Massachusetts Literary Education and Performance Collective. In addition, he was the Industry Champion (social impact) for MassChallenge and recently served as a judge for the Massachusetts Nonprofit Excellence Awards and 50 on Fire. He is a Big Brother and an alumnus of Brandeis University.

Malcolm L. Sherman (Member At-Large, Executive Committee) served as Chairman of Zayre Stores until 1987. Since his retirement from Zayre, he has managed several economically troubled companies. As Chief Executive Officer he reorganized Regina Electric Company, Channel Home Centers, Inc., Morse Shoe Company Ekco Group, Smart Bargains and Casual Corner. He has also served as a director of a number of other companies. He currently is the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Brandeis University. He has been Chairman of the Museum of Science, the Two Ten National Foundation and Tufts Medical Center. He also serves as a trustee of the Auerbach Foundation, The Mass Eye and Ear Infirmary and the Mass Cultural Council.

Kara Elliot-Ortega is an urban planner in the arts focusing on the role of arts and creativity in the built environment and community development. Prior to becoming the Chief of Arts and Culture, she served as the Director of Policy and Planning for the Mayor's Office of Arts and Culture. Kara's work to implement Boston Creates, Boston’s 10-year cultural plan, includes creating new resources for local artists, developing a public art program, and supporting the development of cultural facilities.

Originally from Providence, Rhode Island, Kara received her bachelor’s from the University of Chicago and her Master in City Planning from MIT. Prior to the City of Boston, she worked with MIT’s Community Innovators Lab in a community ownership plan for Project Row Houses in Houston, and served as the Media and Communications Editor for the Society of Architectural Historians. Some of her past research includes an analysis of the local impact of artists and art production in Detroit following the 2008 recession, and the role of urban designers in complex problem solving in the Rebuild by Design Hurricane Sandy Design Competition.

A resident of Roxbury with an affinity for music, Kara spends much of her free time attending local shows, reading, and drawing.

Debra J'Anthony is the Executive Director of the Academy of Music Theatre, a historic non-profit performing arts center in Northampton, MA. The Academy of Music, the first municipally owned theater in the nation, offers diverse programming for its audience members in dance, music, theater, spoken word, and independent film.

In her role as executive director, Debra has commissioned and premiered new theatrical work, created the Valley Voices Story Slam, and initiated Women’s Work, a program committed to staging plays written by women. The Academy is listed on the State Register of Historic Places and during Debra’s tenure, had received the Massachusetts Preservation and Restoration Award for renovations to the auditorium.

Before joining the Academy of Music Theatre, she served as the executive director of the Shea Community Theater in Turners Falls, MA for sixteen years. During her tenure there, she was awarded the Community Theater Association Back Stage Award and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts State Senate Official Citation.

Debra is a published poet, and is a current board member of the Greater Northampton Chamber of Commerce and the Hampshire Regional Tourism Council. She has served as a consultant to numerous start-up performing arts organizations in the region. Debra is a member of the Paradise City Cultural District Committee, the national planning committee for SWAN (Support Women Artists Now) Day, Association of Performing Arts Professionals, and New England Presenters.

Richard G. Maloney is Clinical Associate Professor and Director of the Performing Arts Administration graduate program at New York University where he teaches classes in performing arts management and cultural policy. He is also an Affiliated Faculty member at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at NYU. As a professional musician, he has played lute, lavta, guitar, and hand percussion with several Boston area early music ensembles. As an arts administrator, he previously served as General Manager of the Boston Camerata and worked for the Boston Early Music Festival and New England Conservatory. He holds undergraduate degrees in history and music, a graduate diploma in lute performance, a master’s degree in Arts Administration, and a doctorate in Law and Public Policy. Dr. Maloney’s research examines local cultural economic development policies to better understand how they are implemented and to ascertain the impact they have on their respective communities.

Peter Nessen is the President of Corporate Realty Investment Company, LLC, Peter utilizes more than four decades of experience in public and private finance to provide strategic direction and oversee business strategy.

Peter served as Secretary of the Executive Office for Administration and Finance of Massachusetts and as the senior cabinet member during the first two years of the administration of Governor William Weld. He was previously a senior partner of the accounting firms of BDO Seidman and Henry J. Bornhofft Company, and the Dean for Resources and Special Projects at Harvard Medical School. As one of the country's leading experts in public finance and privatization, he is the founder and chairman of a public policy organization that provides services to not-for-profit, health care, and other organizations. He was the chair of the Mass Cultural Council from 1993-2003.

Peter received a BA from Dartmouth College and a MBA degree from The Amos Tuck Graduate School of Business.

Maurice Parent is a Boston based actor with nearly 15 years of professional experience. He has over 40 acting credits at theatres across the nation and abroad, having performed with some of Boston’s oldest and most respected companies such as Actors’ Shakespeare Project, Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, Huntington Theatre Company, Lyric Stage Company, New Repertory Theatre, and SpeakEasy Stage Company, among others.

Parent is the co-founder and Executive Director of The Front Porch Arts Collective, “a black-led theatre company committed to advancing racial equity in Boston through theater.”

Maurice Parent is the Boston College Rev. J. Donald Monan, S.J. Professor in Theatre Arts, for the 2018-2019 academic year. Parent’s history as an educator extends back nearly a decade. Currently he is a Teaching Artist with Actors’ Shakespeare Project, an Adjunct Professor at Tufts University, where he teaches acting, and at Boston University, where he teaches music theatre technique.

Parent won the 2017 ArtsImpulse Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical for his role of Mr. Bones in The Scottsboro Boys (SpeakEasy Stage Company). He has been nominated for four Elliot Norton Awards by The Boston Theater Critics Association, winning twice for Outstanding Actor (Midsize Theater): in 2017 for Actors’ Shakespeare Project’s production of Edward II, and in 2008 for three extraordinary performances in the same season: Some Men at SpeakEasy Stage, Angels in America Parts I and II at Boston Theatre Works, and The Wild Party at New Repertory Theatre.

Russell J. (Rus) Peotter retired from a 42-year career in public media in January 2017. He served as Vice President of the WGBH Educational Foundation and General Manager for WGBY, Springfield; Public Television for Western New England since 2001. Previously, he was Vice President for marketing and development at Maine Public Broadcasting (MPB). At MPB, he also served as production and promotion manager for almost fifteen years, during which he received a New England Emmy and the Elmo Award from Sesame Workshop. He was named PBS Communications Professional of the Year in 1999 and PBS Development Professional of the Year in 2003.

Rus is a corporator or board member of many regional organizations including: PeoplesBank, Double Edge Theatre, Enchanted Circle Theatre, The Springfield Central Cultural District, The Hilltown Land Trust, OneHampshire, American Public Television, America’s Public Television Stations, The Trustees, MassCreative, the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission Plan for Progress and Leadership Pioneer Valley. He is a councilor for Hampshire Council of Government (HCG) and Chesterfield town moderator.

Rus resides in Chesterfield, Massachusetts with his family as well as a Vizsla, three horses, 40 chickens, 11 goats, and a 76-year-old tractor. His interests include agriculture, food, wine, music, the performing and visual arts, and the outdoors.

Jonathan C. Rappaport is Executive Director of Arts|Learning, Natick; and Co-Founder, Faculty, and Director Emeritus of the Kodály Music Institute. Formerly he was Head, Conservatory Lab Charter School (Brighton, MA); and Arts Curriculum Liaison, Worcester (MA) Public Schools. He has taught music at all grade levels in public schools in New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. Rappaport has published 18 choral works and 5 books and is the recipient of awards from MMEA, AIME, MAAE, and NETC. He helped write the MA Arts Curriculum Framework (1999) and currently is co-chair, Arts Education Advisory Council, MA DESE. Jonathan was appointed by MA governor Deval Patrick to a commission to develop the “Creative Challenge Index” for Massachusetts public schools. He is a composer, educator, author, conductor, pianist, and vocalist. Graduate degrees include a Certificate in Kodály Education from the Franz Liszt Academy, Budapest, Hungary; a Master’s of Music from New England Conservatory, Boston; and studies towards a Ph.D. (ABD) from UMass/Amherst.

Troy Siebels serves as Executive Director of The Hanover Theatre, a 2,300-seat world-class performing arts center in downtown Worcester, opened in 2008 following a $32 million dollar historic restoration. The theatre presents more than 140 performances to audiences of more than 170,000 annually and is a key catalyst to the city’s revitalization. Troy serves as Chairperson of the Worcester Cultural Coalition and the Massachusetts Performing Arts Center Coalition; on the Boards of Directors of Destination Worcester and StageSource, and as a member of the Massachusetts Cultural Council

Barbara Wallace Grossman  is a theatre historian, director, voice specialist and author and currently serves as the Interim Chair and Professor of Theatre at Tufts University. Her works include Funny Woman: The Life and Times of Fanny Brice (Indiana University Press) and A Spectacle of Suffering: Clara Morris on the American Stage (Southern Illinois University Press). A Presidential appointee to the National Council on the Arts (1994-1999) and the United States Holocaust Memorial Council (2000-2005), she served as Vice Chair of the Massachusetts Cultural Council for twelve years (2007-2019). She currently is a member of the Anti-Defamation League’s New England Regional Board, American Repertory Theater’s Board of Advisors, and Jewish Arts Collaborative’s TheaterWorks.

 Professor Grossman teaches a variety of undergraduate and graduate courses at Tufts including The American Musical, Confronting Genocide on Stage and Screen, Domestic Tragedy, and Voice & Speech – The Art of Confident Expression. As a director, her dramatic work has ranged from Our Country’s Good to Our Class, The Illusion to Arcadia. Musical productions have included A Little Night Music, Company, Rent, Kiss Me, Kate and Parade. She directed a staged reading of Sholem Asch’s God of Vengeance for JArts last April in anticipation of the Huntington’s production of Indecent and looks forward to directing Kate Hamill’s antic adaptation of Sense and Sensibility at Tufts this winter. 

An honors graduate of Smith College with an M.A. in English Literature from Brandeis and an M.F.A. in Directing from Boston University’s College of Fine Arts, Professor Grossman earned her Ph.D. in Theatre and Performance Studies at Tufts and received a certificate in Voice and Speech from the A.R.T. Institute for Advanced Theater Training.

Erin I. Williams is the Cultural Development Officer for the City of Worcester, MA and the Executive Director of the Worcester Cultural Coalition, the unified voice of the Greater Worcester, MA creative community. The Coalition is a unique public-private partnership which shines a spotlight on the creative activity produced in the region and supports economic development through such initiatives as the WOOcard, Worcester Wayfinding program, and Creative Confabs. With Erin’s leadership, the Worcester Cultural Coalition was presented the Commonwealth of Massachusetts highest award, as the Creative Economy Catalyst. In July 2012, Richard Florida named Worcester as one of the top 20 creative cities in the U.S in The Rise of the Creative Class. Erin currently serves on Governor Patrick’s Creative Economy Council and is a board member of Destination Worcester in addition to many local community organization boards. Erin is a firm believer that creativity sparks the economy and builds community.

Do you like this page?

Community Impact

The Drama Studio is one of a handful of youth theatres in the United States that offers quality, range, and depth in its acting training programs. For Springfield-area youth, the Studio's conservatory program offers an unusual opportunity for training that prepares its graduates (all of whom are college bound) to...