Staff

Leadership Team

Anne Berquist  |  General Director

Anne Berquist is an international arts administrator and a professional musician. Her extensive international experience in team leadership, expansion of organizational awareness, and relationship building has established a reputation for artistic excellence and innovation. A native of France, Ms. Berquist moved to the United States in 2001 to become the Artistic Director and Chief Executive Officer of Fontana Chamber Arts in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Under her leadership, the program flourished artistically and financially. In addition to earning the anchor organization designation by the Michigan Council for the Arts and Cultural Affairs, Fontana Chamber Arts received national awards for adventurous programming. In 2008, Ms. Berquist became the Executive Director of the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo and the Kalamazoo Culture Center and was named the President/CEO of the Ann Arbor School for the Performing Arts in 2010. In 2012 she became the Executive Director of the Atlantic Classical Orchestra.

Previous posts include Director of Administration and Director of Studies at the Conservatoire National de Region d’ Amiens in France, serving in the management department at the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris, France, and as professor of cello and chamber music at the Conservatory of Versailles and Saint-Malo.

An accomplished cellist, Ms. Berquist brings with her experience as a musician in addition to experience in managing arts organizations.  She has won prizes in cello and chamber music at National Music Conservatories and holds a Master of Music in Cello Performance from the University of Missouri and received an M.B.A. from the University of Paris, La Sorbonne.


Maestro James Meena  |  Artistic Director

James Meena, Opera Carolina’s General Director and Principal Conductor, Toledo Opera’s Artistic Advisor, and Opera Grand Rapids’ Artistic Director, consistently earns critical acclaim for his artistic vision and dynamic presence on the podium.  With extensive experience in opera, ballet, and symphonic music, Mo. Meena held principal and resident conducting posts with the Cleveland Ballet and Toledo Symphony.

Mo. Meena was engaged as guest conductor with orchestras and opera companies in the United States, Italy, Taipei, Korea, Canada and Mexico including the Mexico City Philharmonic, the Washington Opera, Opera Pacific, Portland Opera and the Utah Opera. On opera stages, he has conducted legendary singers including Renée Fleming, Denyce Graves, James McCracken, Mignon Dunn, Marilyn Horne, Jerome Hines, Diana Soviero, Jerry Hadley, Mark Delavan and Marcello Giordani.

Meena has demonstrated exceptional leadership, vision and finesse in the area of philanthropic development, having expanded the Opera Carolina season from 3 to 4 main-stage productions, as well as increased their annual budget from $1.9 million to $3.5 million.

Meena is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University and Baldwin Wallace College Conservatory of Music.


Angela Freier  |  Development Director

Angela Freier is an emerging philanthropy professional with a Bachelors in Music Education from Central Michigan University and a Master of Arts Administration from Florida State University. Ms. Freier has experience in both the arts and animal-welfare non-profit sectors with strong event planning and donor relations experience. Angela Freier studied Opera performance throughout both her degrees and has performed in Opera productions in Michigan, Florida, and Indiana. She lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan with her Husband, Nathan, and 3-year old daughter, Abigail.

 

 


Ashley Roberts  |  Marketing Director

Ashley Roberts is a marketing professional with eight years of experience in marketing, communications and public relations in both the private and non-profit sectors. She began her career as a media planner for healthcare clientele, and she continued to pursue her other interests including brand management, communications and public relations. Ashley joined Opera Grand Rapids in July of 2014. In her three years with the company, she has handled the company’s communications, promotions and public relations. Ashley received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications and Public Relations from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana and a Master of Arts degree from Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan. She lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan with her husband Dan.


Sarah Watson  |  Operations Manager

Sarah Watson is a graduate of Grand Valley State University with a degree in Group Social Studies Education and Theatre. She has over 10 years of experience in production work, and began working for Opera Grand Rapids in May 2014 as an Assistant Stage Manager. When not at the opera, Sarah continues to volunteer and work on productions at Grand Valley State University, Grand Rapids Civic Theatre, Heritage Theatre Group and Jewish Theatre.

 

 

 


Kate Folkert  |  Graphic Designer

Kate Folkert holds degrees in English (Hope College) and Graphic Design (Kendall College of Art and Design), and a background in advertising/marketing project management. Currently the Graphic Designer for Opera Grand Rapids, she is responsible for concepting, designing, and producing all marketing and promotional materials for the company. Kate also works on a variety of freelance projects for a broad range of clients.