Riverzedge staff share a vision with the board, volunteer corps, and youth for success, innovative capacity, a commitment to materials and resource conservation, and boundless energy to provide hope and contribution to others.
Kristen Williams, PHD, Executive Director
Kristen’s path to Riverzedge Arts has been a winding one with a perfect destination. Trained as a theatre practitioner and an academic, Kristen has been by turns a director and playwright, a published poet, and a college professor. She holds degrees in Theatre, English, and American Studies from Rhode Island College, the University of Toronto, and the University of Maryland, College Park. Coming of age in the do-it-yourself punk rock scenes of Providence and northern Rhode Island, Kristen believes strongly in the power of creativity to draw out and amplify the unique strengths of people, landscapes, and cultures to produce powerful and healthy communities. In her free time, she is an avid reader, gardener, and amateur furniture-builder, and is never happier than when she is trailing behind her dog on a hike in the woods.
Brad Fesmire, Artistic Director
Brad is an artist who’s work been in numerous exhibitions in New York, New England and Europe. His work explores personal and universal histories through material abstraction and painting, and is constantly exploring the means to perpetuate these ideas in new directions. He was the Artistic and Program Director of Riverzedge from 2005-2015. In that role, he developed innovative arts programs, consulted on the re-design plans of the downtown for their city, collaborated on education reform initiatives, and oversaw ambitious public art projects. After spending over 4 years co-owning a specialty carpentry and sawmilling company, he felt the need and passion to return to working in the arts, social and educational sectors and returned to Riverzedge in February 2020. As this work continues, his interest in the intersection of art and social change increases as it becomes more important that art does something, and art is put to work in ways that matter...not only about contemporary culture, but how it effects communities and individuals in profound ways. He received his MFA in Painting from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2005.
Kim Keiter, Print Studio Director
Kim received her BFA from The School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Partnership with Tufts University, with a concentration in Photography and Printmaking. Kim has had an extensive career as a photographer and screen printer in both commercial and fine arts. She has taught adults and teens in both mediums through one on one direction and class environment. She has passion for the arts, teaching, community action, and social justice. She loves kitsch, true crime, cat snuggles, and all things comedy.
Sayyid Lestrade, Graphic Design Studio Director
Sayyid is a Boston Certified comic book artist. He is a fine arts trained illustrator who studied illustration at Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, Massachusetts. His comic book titled, Mobius, explores themes of dealing with adversity and change as a teenager in a world that is constantly changing. His work is heavily character design inspired and explores storytelling through symbols and imagery. His work covers a number of mediums such as painting, printmaking, digital art, physical drawings, typography, and graphic design. He has worked in the past with Boston Public Schools creating artwork with elementary school students in Roxbury, gaining his Boston Artist Certification in 2018. In 2019 Sayyid moved to Rhode Island to continue his art career in a whole new environment.
Kailey Coppens, Media Studio Director and Visual Story Teller
Kailey Coppens is an American-born artist raised in Northern California. Her work has been featured and sold throughout Massachusetts. At the age of 11, her family moved to Texas, where she lived for three years before moving to Worcester, MA. After graduating high school she attended Lesley University for one year, initially intending to study psychology, but after one art class concluded that fine arts and media were her passion. She then transferred and completed a Dual BFA at Massachusetts College of Art and Design. Studying both Painting and Studio for Interrelated Media, she graduated with the Marcia Lloyd Auction Award. While living in Boston, she worked at the Institute of Contemporary Art Boston, a small Boston-based film studio, and completed an internship at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. Since relocating to Rhode Island, Kailey has worked as a Teaching Artist, Youth Programmer, and Practicing Artist.
Geo Darrow, Communications and Development Assistant
Geo is a poet and activist by passion and a literary critic by training. A North Carolina native, they hold a Master of Arts in English Literature from Wake Forest University and a Bachelor of Arts in English and Government from Wofford College. Their professional publications are devoted to women’s literary history and the role of women’s labor in and beyond the arts. They believe that the arts and humanities are the key to a sustainable future, and they are excited to be a part of Riverzedge Arts' mission. Outside the university system, they manage communications in political, professional, and nonprofit settings, and they enjoy spending time with their pet python, Tiresias.
Maysen Costa, Operations & Programs Assistant
Maysen is fairly new to the arts scene but has always admired everything it represents, and he hopes to add to that with his own unique ideas. He gained his appreciation for art from his father, who had amazing skills when it came to mural painting and drawing—his favorite piece being an entire bedroom of different Lion King scenes. A Rhode Islander through and through, Maysen spent childhood summers at Iggy’s eating clam “chowdah” and winters still drinking iced coffee and sledding down the biggest hills he could find—not at the same time of course. After graduating high school, he attended URI to pursue a degree in computer engineering. Quickly realizing that wasn’t the route he wanted to go down, he left and took time to figure out what he really wanted to do. He strongly believes that mental health should be a priority for everyone, and he plans to eventually start an organization dedicated to providing a safe space and resources to youth and adults struggling mentally or emotionally. To Maysen, having a creative outlet is incredibly important for emotional expression and mental healing. From little doodles to massive sculptures, find whatever style you flow the best with and, well, go with the flow!
Kevin Garcia, Programs Assistant
Kevin, born in Worcester Massachusetts, but is a proud Rhode Islander who has spent most of his life in the city of Woonsocket. He moved with his family to Woonsocket as a toddler and grew up attending all kinds of elementary schools such as Kevin K Coleman, Harris and even the 2nd Ave School (the present-day home of Riverzedge!) He then attended the Woonsocket Middle and High Schools and is currently pursuing his GED. Growing up he enjoyed art such as drawing his favorite cartoon and superhero characters and during his freshman year he was introduced to Riverzedge Arts by one of his older siblings who graduated from the program in 2010. During his time in the Public Art Studio, he learned how to paint and draw even better than before, and created close relationships with the staff. Three years later he is still a part of the Riverzedge Arts community, now as a staff member, working with the new youth participants and helping them to become great artists and young adults. When not at Riverzedge, he enjoys cooking, gaming and creating social media content.
Board of Directors
Mark Cote, President
Affiliations: Community Care Alliance
Mark is currently a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, working as Director of Child Welfare at Community Care Alliance. Originally from rural Maine, he moved to Vermont to obtain his B.A. and M.A. from Saint Michael’s College, a small Liberal Arts College outside Burlington, Vermont. Through his work in Woonsocket at CCA he became familiar with Riverzedge Arts and referred many youth to the program, and then in his desire to become more invested in the program, he decided to join the Board of Directors in 2016. He soon after became Board Chair in the Summer of 2017. His work as a therapist, particularly working with at-risk youth, has contributed to the development as a program working to provide the youth of Woonsocket a safe and stimulating environment that helps to meet several social-emotional needs.
Tess Feigenbaum, Secretary
Tess is passionate about creating resilient systems and communities that elevate others and drive meaningful change. Her strategy and design backgrounds drive her to find unlikely connections and seek innovative solutions to social and environmental challenges across sectors and industries. Tess is currently Program & Design Manager at Social Enterprise Greenhouse, where she manages SEG's coworking space, environmental initiatives, and brand strategy. Tess is also the cofounder of Epic Renewal, an urban composting social enterprise dedicated to redefining our approach to waste in an urban environment. Her professional experience includes four years as a design researcher and strategist at an impact-driven creative consultancy, where she served clients such as Doctors Without Borders, World Bank Group, and WWF through program design, communications strategy, business development, and human-centered research. Tess received her bachelor’s degree in Industrial Design from Rhode Island School of Design.
Gemelee DePasquale, Treasurer
Gemelee is a native of Jamaica and currently resides in Milford, MA and has a background in Accounting, Finance and Management. She has worked both in the nonprofit and for-profit sector and has a solid understanding of how businesses work. She received her B.Sc. in Business Management from Becker College and an MBA with a Concentration in Accounting from Clark University. Gemelee developed a strong sense of devotion for the nonprofit sector as an employee of a youth serving organization. The experience gave her a deep appreciation for how nonprofits seek to improve the quality of life for youths. Her passion is to contribute towards bringing about equitable outcomes for underrepresented groups.
James Tierney, Member
Affiliations: Ocean State Business Development 1st Vice President
James joined OSBDA in October 2015, and serves the role of 1st Vice President. Currently, James is responsible for business development, loan packaging, and portfolio management. Prior to joining OSBDA, James worked for Coastway Community Bank as a Commercial Credit Analyst. At Coastway, James was responsible for both SBA and non-SBA loan underwriting and portfolio management. James is a graduate of Bryant University, where he received his Bachelor of Science with a concentration in finance. James has also received a certification from the Mass. Bankers Association.
Linda Hutchison, Member
Linda currently serves as the Grants Manager for the United Way of Rhode Island, where she is responsible for seeking out and securing funding for programs and research efforts of the organization. Linda has over 20 years of experience in nonprofit management including positions in fundraising, workforce development, formal and informal STEM education at the Museum of Science, Boston, Greater New Bedford Workforce Investment Board and Bristol Community College. Linda holds a BS in Human Resource Management with a minor in Women’s Studies from UMass-Dartmouth.
Elizabeth Santana, Member
Elizabeth, is a long-time resident of Woonsocket and a mother of three awesome daughters. One of her daughters was a mutli-year participant of Riverzedge. She is a true believer of what the organization stands for and the influence they have on the youth they work with. She currently works full-time as a case manager at Community Care Alliance. She feels it is very important for her to motivate and help families overcome obstacles and help them reach their goals.
Hanna Exel, Member
Hanna is a Curricular & Co-Curricular Program Coordinator at Brown University. After working as the Expanded Learning Opportunities Program Associate in 2016-17, Hanna returned to Riverzedge as a board member in 2021. She has held positions in youth development, education, and arts administration at organizations including Providence After School Alliance, Artists Communities Alliance, and RISD Museum. A resident of Providence, Hanna enjoys cooking, making ceramics, and weaving tiny rugs. She holds a BA from Oberlin College and an MA in Art History from Tufts University.