Who We Are
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 whose work has been in numerous exhibitions in New York, New England, and Europe. His work explores personal and universal histories through material abstraction and painting, and he is constantly exploring the means to perpetuate these ideas in new directions. He was the Artistic and Program Director of Riverzedge Arts from 2005-2015. In that role, he developed innovative arts programs, consulted on the re-design plans of the city’s downtown area, 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 Arts 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. Art is put to work in ways that matter—not only for contemporary culture, but it effects communities and individuals in profound ways. Brad received his MFA in Painting from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2005.
Kim Keiter, Print Studio Director
Kim moved to Rhode Island from Baltimore in 2001 and has made New England her home ever since. She 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 worked with Boston photographers for over 15 years, editing and printing work for both fine art print and publication. Her current art practice primarily involves screen-printed goods on paper and textiles, with irreverent humor or a touch of flora and fauna. She has taught adults and teens in both mediums through one-on-one direction and class environments. She has a passion for the arts, teaching, community action, and social justice. She loves kitsch, true crime, all things comedy, and nerding out about wine.
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.
Sam Okon, Graphic Design Studio Director
Sam is a graphic designer with a focus on print and digital design. He was introduced to graphic design through the world of music at an early age—designing album covers and merchandise for the various bands he’s been in over the years. Sam received a BA in Journalism from the University of Connecticut, but upon graduation found that his true passion was graphic design. Sam approaches art as a means of communication and seeks to design through empathy and understanding. In his free time, Sam enjoys playing music (guitar and bass), as well as outdoor activities such as hiking and kayaking.
Juniper Darrow, Communications and Development Assistant
Juniper is a poet and activist by passion and a literary critic by training. Originally from North Carolina, 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. In May of 2023, they will complete a second Master of Arts from Brown University, focusing on postsecular theory and early modern poetics. 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 manage communications in political, commercial, and nonprofit settings. When not at work, 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 take, 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!
Board of Directors
Tess Feigenbaum, President
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.
Patrick Smith, Secretary
Affiliations: Year Up & Grads of Life
Patrick is a marketing executive for Grads of Life, an affiliate organization of Year Up that partners with companies to co-create and implement diversity, equity and inclusion strategies that deliver social impact and business benefits. He is responsible for conceptualizing and developing key marketing initiatives for the organization, which includes spearheading significant communication and branding efforts and amplifying thought leadership content critical to key audiences. Patrick was referred to Riverzedge Arts by current President Mark Cote and began volunteering as an advisor to strengthen their marketing and branding efforts in Spring 2022. He became a Board member in September 2022 and transitioned into the Secretary position in January 2023. He received an MBA from Syracuse University and a bachelor’s degree in marketing from DePaul University.
Gemelee DePasquale, Treasurer
Gemelee is a native of Jamaica who 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.
Jessica Barry, Member
Jessica is the Director of Corporate Relations at United Way of Rhode Island where she manages the corporate and employee giving team. She has over 30 year of experience working in non-profit fundraising and engagement Jessica holds a BA in Art History from Mount Holyoke College.
Mark Cote, Member
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. 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 of a program working to provide the youth of Woonsocket a safe and stimulating environment that helps to meet several social-emotional needs.
Hanna Exel, Member
Hanna works at Brown University as the Brown-RISD Program Manager. 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 the 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.
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.
Jon Peirce, Member
Jon, a resident of North Smithfield, is currently a self-employed furniture maker designing and building heirloom quality fine furniture pieces on commission. Prior to starting his own business in 2016, he had a 31 year career in manufacturing, engineering and IT management, most recently holding executive leadership positions at EMC Corporation in Hopkinton, MA. He holds a BA in Economics from the University of New Hampshire and an MBA from Babson College. Jon’s involvement at Riverzedge reflects his strong belief that providing youth with opportunities in the arts can play an important role in their development of critical life skills and can also ignite creative interests that last a lifetime.