Montford Park Players Board of Directors

The Montford Park Players are run by a volunteer board of directors, each of whom serve for a 3-year term. Due to limitations on in-person meetings, the board meets on the second Saturday of each month at 9:00 AM via Zoom. Meetings are open to all, with the exception of matters affecting personnel. Organizational documents are available to the public  here .

Board Chair

& Governance Committee Chair

Jessica Frantz

Jessica works as an independent fundraising and organizational development consultant with over 14 years of experience in public media, the arts, community impact and public service sectors. Prior to breaking out into the world of self employment, she worked as the Director of Membership and Operations for the Public Radio Program Directors Association (PRPD), and formerly worked in the development department for Asheville’s NPR station. Jessica is a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) credentialed by the Association of Fundraising Professionals and holds a Master of Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Philosophy from the University of North Carolina at Asheville. She spends her free time hanging out with her 75 pound labradoodle, Max.

Board Vice Chair 

Jessica Johnson

Jessica began her career working in Marketing, Membership, and Development for nonprofit organizations in Massachusetts before relocating to Asheville in 2017. She now spends her days working with mostly nonprofit performing arts organizations throughout North America as a team member of Arts People. Jessica is also a stage manager who occasionally dabbles in scenic and properties design and box office management for theaters and performing arts organizations throughout WNC. She has a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Design with a concentration in Urban Studies and Sustainability from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Board Treasurer

& Finance Committee Chair

Charles Umberger

A native of Durham, Charles is a product of the North Carolina public schools and an alumnus of Duke University, where he majored in history. He later received a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and embarked on a banking career, which took him to Georgia and Florida before returning to North Carolina 13 years ago, still in banking. Charles and his wife, Winslow, found Montford Park Players during their move to Asheville, fell in love with the experience and the community, and have been active attendees and supporters ever since.

Charles enjoys hikes and long walks with Winslow and his participation in the Asheville Debate Society and an active history book club. He also serves as treasurer of the Border Memorial Folkmoot Foundation and the Haywood Community College Foundation.

Board Secretary

Jennifer Pearson

Jennifer received her Bachelor of Science in Interior Design from Auburn University’s College of Architecture Design and Construction. She worked in Architecture firms in Alabama, Georgia and Massachusetts where she designed for corporate and commercial clients as well as Universities and Non-profits. After moving to Asheville in 2008, Jennifer made a turn toward smaller scale design and art as she and her husband purchased Frugal Framer in Montford. As an artist and designer, Jennifer has found the business of custom picture framing to be the perfect marriage of design and detail. Jennifer is pleased to be serving as a board member for Montford Park Players and enjoys promoting Montford’s arts and entertainment scene.

At Large Member

George Heard

At large Member

Stan Ingber

Stan Ingber, a retired law professor, has taught and written in the fields of constitutional law, criminal law, and legal philosophy for more than 43 years at 10 schools in the United States, Canada and Europe. He has also served on numerous American Bar Association and government commissions dealing with criminal justice and anti-discrimination. In addition to his many years performing before crowds of often enthralled law students, Stan has also enjoyed the stage lights as a litigator, a storyteller, an actor (community theater), and the legal consultant for The Hippodrome Theater, a professional regional theater in Gainesville, Florida. He thanks the Montford Park Players for again affording him a role to play in the theatrical community.

At large Member

Eugene Jones

Since moving to Asheville, Eugene has been very active in the theater community. You may have just seen him all over, from Magnetic and Montford to The ACT stage. You may have recently seen him on the Montford stage with "Sixteen Years Tried". He is also currently working with Different Strokes. Eugene also plays a big part in Sound-designing for the community. As a graduate with a BA in Theatre Arts from Mars Hill University, Eugene says he’s just happy to be working in the career field that he is passionate about. Eugene is very excited to start his work with improving theatre within his community, so he is pumped to work with Montford in doing so. Eugene would also like to thank everyone who supports the arts, Montford for this wonderful opportunity, and partner for all the support.

At large Member

Candace Taylor

Candace Taylor is an actress, teacher, vocal coach and director who has taught Acting and Voice and Speech classes at a number of prominent universities around the country. She is presently Chair and Artistic Director of the Theatre Department at Warren Wilson College in Asheville, NC. She has worked as an actress with the Acting Company, the Public Theatre, American Players Theatre, Pioneer Theatre Company, Indiana Repertory Theatre, Clarence Brown Theatre, Shakespeare Festival of Dallas, Colorado Shakespeare Festival, North Carolina Stage Company and Milwaukee Shakespeare, to name a few. Candace, trained in the classics, has directed a whole lot of Shakespeare, and most recently, has been helming contemporary prizewinning authors. As a vocal coach, she has worked with Arena Stage in Washington, DC, and with Indiana Repertory Theatre, where she was the dialect coach for a production of Intimate Apparel, starring Viola Davis. Most recently, Candace has been teaching in the Swannanoa Women’s Correctional Center through the Inside/Out program out of Temple University and has developed a new theatre course called Performing Social Justice. She has been elected to and served in Warren Wilson College’s shared governance Forum for four years, helping to create new policy for the College. She was elected to be a member of the Board of Trustees of the College, representing the interests of faculty. Candace has a BS in Theatre from Northwestern University, an MFA in Acting from the Professional Theatre Training Program at the University of Delaware, and is a certified instructor of Fitzmaurice Voicework.

Youth Representative

Ava Atwood

Ava Atwood is a highschool student who has been acting their entire life. They have lived in Asheville forever, and have been participating in youth Shakespeare and other theatre productions for eight years. Ava has worked with Anam Cara theater company, the Montford Park Players, The Montford Moppets, Mouse House Productions, and backstage at ACT. They also enjoy film production and screen acting. Ava loves making music and writing, and if their theater dreams fall to pieces, they plan on pursuing a musical career. They always look forward to seeing and performing in MPP productions, and are thrilled they get to be part of the workings of the theater.

Montford Park Players Staff

Executive Director & CEO

John Russell

Executive Director John Russell became the first employee and Executive Director of Montford Park Players in 2006. He has been instrumental in growing the audience and enhancing the audience experience since his arrival. He was appointed to the Board of Directors of the North Carolina Arts Council in July 2017 by Governor Roy Cooper. He currently also serves on the North Carolina Governor’s School Foundation Board as Vice President and Chief Fundraising Officer, and also as a member of the Theatre Consulting Group for SETC.
In 2018 the Institute of Outdoor Theatre recognized Russell with the Mark R. Sumner Award, a national award exemplifying the highest standards of American outdoor drama. The Sumner Award recognizes significant contributions by an individual to a specific drama, or to the outdoor drama movement. Recipients have played a major role in the production of a specific outdoor drama or they have made a noteworthy impact on outdoor theatre.

Assistant to the Executive Director

& Production Manager

Deanna Braine

Head of Costumes

Trinity Smith Keel

Properties Manager

Devyn Ray

Director of Photography

Rodney Smith

Director of Facilities

Walker Linkous

Resident Lighting Designer

Jason Williams

Resident Dance Choreographer

Kristi DeVille

Marketing Director

Jeff Catanese
Montford Park Players