Kristen Holler, Executive Director – Kristen is a native of Schenectady, and a lover of all things small-city. An avid arts appreciator from an early age, Ms. Holler began working with Albany Barn, Inc. as an intern in 2006 and has supported the organization in various capacities – including as a founding board member and director of volunteer coordination – before taking on her current role as executive director in 2013. Previous to that Kristen worked as in employment services with various non-profits, and spent 13 years in the theatrical costuming industry at The Costumer. In addition to her work with Albany Barn, Ms. Holler is an active volunteer in her community. Board and committee service includes Rosa Venerini Early Childhood Center, Zonta Club of Schenectady, Mission Accomplished Transition Services, and SUNY Empire Leadership Institute.
Casey Polomaine, Director of Programming & Residencies –Casey attended Nazareth College of Rochester, where she earned her degree in Theatre Arts with a minor in Business Administration. Casey is the Co-Artistic Director and Founding Partner of Creative License, a theater collective aimed at breaking down the barriers between the artistic world and the general public, and has produced, directed, and acted in dozens of theatrical performances across the Capital Region. Her professional experience includes over 15 years in the customer service field in both the retail and banking environments.
Timothy J. Sheldon, Office & Events Manager – Tim began working for Albany Barn Inc. as an AmeriCorps VISTA Member in November 2018, and originally hails from Philadelphia, PA. After graduating in 2018 with a degree in International Relations, Environmental Studies, and Mandarin Chinese from Calvin University in Grand Rapids, MI, Tim dove into an internship with the youth program at a church in the Philadelphia area. It was during this internship that Tim felt himself called to do a volunteer service year in America’s cities with AmeriCorps. This is what brought him to Schenectady and the Electric City Barn taking over marketing and community engagement at the Barn, which eventually lead to a full time position after AmeriCorps as the Office Manager for the Electric City Barn and the Events Coordinator for both the Electric City Barn and Albany Barn locations.
*Staff support provided by the New York State Council of the Arts
Board of Directors
Jeffrey Mirel, President – Jeffrey Mirel is Executive Vice President at The Rosenblum Companies, one of the largest developers and a full-service owner-operator of premier properties in the Capital Region. Mr. Mirel provides strategic direction and oversight for all company operations and with company CEO, Seth Rosenblum, spearheads such innovative adaptive reuse and infill development projects as The News Apartments in Troy, NY, a historically sensitive renovation of the century-old Troy Record building combined with a contextually appropriate new addition. In addition to Albany Barn, he is active on numerous boards and committees, among them the Alliance for the Creative Economy (ACE) Leadership Committee, Albany County Convention and Visitors Bureau Board, Downtown Troy Business Improvement District Board and Central Avenue Business Improvement District Board. Mirel is a Jefferson Award for Public Service medalist, a Albany Business Review “40 Under Forty” and a 2018 City & State “Albany 40 Under 40 Rising Star.” He is a BSBA graduate of Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business (cum laude).
Todd Ritschdorff, Esq., Vice President – Mr. Ritschdorff is a Partner with the law firm of Phillips Lytle LLP in the Firm’s litigation practice group. Mr. Ritschdorff concentrates his practice in bankruptcy and creditors’ rights, including workouts and reorganizations, as well as commercial and equipment finance litigation. Mr. Ritschdorff is a member of the American, New York State, and Albany County Bar Associations. Mr. Ritschdorff is also a member of the Capital Region Bankruptcy Bar Association and sits on the Capital District Women’s Bar Association Judicial Task Force Committee. Mr. Ritschdorff has served Albany Barn as a Director since 2009.
Louis Apicello, Director – Louis has been part of the barn organizations since 2010 after an initial partnership with the first Rest Fest, which took place at the old St. Joe’s in Arbor hill. Since then, he served on the board of Albany Barn until the 2018-2019 term when he became a founding member of the Electric City Barn. He hopes to leverage lessons learned from both organizations to help develop a repeatable model to “Raise the Barns” in other areas where there is opportunity.
Howard Kibrick, Treasurer – Howard joined Halliday Financial in 2007 and currently serves as a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and Regional Vice President. Additionally, Howard has trained advisors who are new to the industry or to the company and at times served as a Registered Principal. Howard holds a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and a master’s degree from Rutgers University. He holds his Series 7, 24, and 63 securities licenses, as well his New York State Life, Accident, and Health Insurance license. Howard holds the CFP® designation, a highly regarded accomplishment within the Financial Services industry. After beginning his now 20 year plus career in financial services as Financial Advisor at Waddell & Reed, Howard then spent many years with First Niagara Bank and its predecessor banks. Prior to entering the Financial Services industry, Howard began his work as a Certified Social Worker, providing counseling services to individuals and families. He is an active member with the Financial Planning Association of Northeastern NY, as a participant of both the Advocacy and Pro Bono committees. Howard is also the past President of the Business Referral Network Group, and past President of the Cornell Club of the Greater Capital District, where he is currently serving as the Scholarship Co-Chair.
Michael Lorka, Director – Michael is a current employee of Schwartz Heslin Group where he assists aspirational companies in valuation, investment banking, and consulting services. His previous experience included work as an equity research analyst covering small to mid-capitalization companies in the industrial, insurance, and consumer good sectors. Michael also worked as an investment banking analyst in the industrial sector at Goldman Sachs & Co. Michael is very active in the Albany, NY community, being a member of the Tech Valley Young Professional Network and the Friends of Albany Crew. Michael got involved with the Albany Barn in June of 2018.
Lori Kochanski, Director-Lori is an artist, pastor and spiritual director. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Susquehanna University, Selinsgrove, PA, and a Masters of Divinity from Yale University, New Haven, CT. In addition to her work as an artist and spiritual director, Lori is the Assistant to the Bishop for Faith Formation in the Upstate New York Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. She is currently exploring how the ability to wonder transforms communities. Lori lives in Albany, NY, with her husband, Scott Fackenthall.
Nancy Sciocchetti, Director- Nancy is a health care attorney and Managing Director at Mercury Public Affairs. She was formerly a senior partner and supervisor of the Health Law practice of O’Connell and Aronowitz. She concentrates in the area of health care enterprise development and transactions, representing both for-profit and not-for-profit clients in licensure and operation of health care facilities, certificate of need, sales, mergers and acquisitions, financing, and corporate and real estate issues. Her clients primarily include corporate entities and individual practitioners, owners and administrators of health care facilities, including licensed medical personnel, Article 28 licensed entities, mental health facilities, substance abuse treatment providers, senior residences, assisted living facilities, home care services agencies, physicians’ groups, and individual medical practitioners. Ms. Sciocchetti has spoken on topics involving health care licensing, corporate formation and compliance, and various issues in health law to trade association, business groups, and local and state bar associations. Ms. Sciocchetti is a graduate of Albany Law School and Siena College. A recipient of the Legal Aid Society Distinguished Service Award, Ms. Sciocchetti is also listed in the publication “Outstanding Young Women in America” and has been named to the Upstate New York Super Lawyer’s list in the category of Health Care Attorneys. She is the past President of the Board of Directors of the Susan G Komen for the Cure Upstage, the Italian American Bar Association, The Brown School, and Coesa, Inc. She is a member of the American, New York State, Albany County and Saratoga County Bar Associations, and the National Health Lawyers Association. She is admitted to practice in New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Third Department and the U.S. District Court, Northern District of New York. Ms. Sciocchetti is the immediate past President of the Board of Directors of the Saratoga County Bar Association and sits on the Board of Directors of The Albany Barn. She is also involved in a number of local and national charitable organizations and was the recipient of the 2010 Outstanding Community Service Award by the Little Sisters of the Poor, and 2018 Susan G Komen Love Award by Susan G. Komen Upstate New York.
Matthew Wagoner, Esq., Director-Matt is the founder of The Wagoner Firm, PLLC where he represents business owners and entrepreneurs in bet-the-business litigation and as outside general counsel. Matt is also a Co-Managing Director of Square Peg Ventures which makes angel investments in startup companies as well as income producing real estate. An businessman at heart, Matt loves what the Albany Barn does for its members and the community and is proud to serve on the Board. Beyond this service, Matt sits on the Board of two other local nonprofits – Albany Can Code, Inc. and First Family, Inc. He is actively engaged in his local community having served on the Boards of Tri-Village Little League and Bethlehem Pop Warner.
Chris Kennedy, Director: Chris has been a lifelong resident of the Capital Region and currently lives in Latham with his wife Lisa and two children, Sophie & Benjamin. Chris has been employed for over 10 years at Capital Bank in Downtown Albany as a Vice President of Commercial Lending specializing in Commercial Real Estate. He currently serves on the Advisory Board of the North Albany YMCA and has been active in that role since 2015. He is also Chairperson for the Advisory’s Finance Committee. In 2012 Chris was a graduate of the Capital Region Chambers “Leadership Tech Valley.” As a daytime resident of the City of Albany and advocate for Downtown, Chris has assisted in fundraising on behalf of the Downtown Albany Business Improvement District (BID).
Christopher Babcock, Director: Christopher is a Partner with the law firm of Cannon Heyman & Weiss, LLP, a boutique law firm with offices in Albany and Buffalo. Cannon Heyman & Weiss, LLP concentrates entirely in the areas of affordable housing and community development law, commercial real estate and corporate finance transactions utilizing low-income housing tax credits, new markets tax credits, historic tax credits and other tax incentives. He is a member of the New York State and Albany County Bar Associations. He is a graduate of Le Moyne College and Albany Law School. Chris became involved with the Barn in 2018.
Dr. Kimberly Kilby, Director: Kim is a family and preventive medicine physician who oversees the team of Regional Medical Directors at MVP Health Care. Dr. Kilby previously served as Associate Dean for Academic & Student Affairs and Interim Associate Dean for Undergraduate Medical Education at Albany Medical College in Albany, NY, and practiced clinically at Albany Medical Center Bariatrics and Nutrition Group. She has past experience in public health practice, having served as the Director of the Bureau of Communicable Disease Control for the New York State Department of Health where she was responsible for overseeing the control and prevention of general communicable diseases statewide and directed the statewide surveillance activities and clinical management for the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic. Dr. Kilby was named the 2015 Family Practice Educator of the Year by the New York State Academy of Family Physicians. She proudly serves as a mentor for Capital Region Sponsor a Scholar and previously served on the Board of The Next Step, Inc. In the local arts community, Kim is best known for her non-medical persona as a singer/songwriter who has performed throughout the Capital Region. These days, with kids and work and life, you can find her occasionally making music at the Unitarian Universalist Society of Schenectady where she explores ways to weave together music, social justice, and liberal values to create meaningful connection.
Michelle Hines Abram Thibeault, Director: Michelle has over 20 years of experience in the hospitality industry. She was Executive Chef for Mood Food, which under her
leadership garnered a spot on New York Magazine’s Top Ten list. After spending a few
years in the kitchen, she was recruited to be the Director of Special Events for RDC & The
Destination Group. She eventually went out on her own and started Innovative Events, a boutique luxury event planning and catering companies in NYC and Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. She was a Trustee Member of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce and was recognized for herbcharitable work for the Jacksonville Chapter of Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Returning to upstate New York as the Director of Banquet & Convention Services at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Albany, New York . She became the Director of the hotel’s wine program and then transitioned to Food & Beverage Director. In 2009 M.H.A. Thibeault was a Founding Director and served for several years as Vice
President of the Board of Directors for the “Albany Chefs’ Food & Wine Festival: Wine &
Dine for the Arts”, who’s mission is to promote and enhance Albany by highlighting and marketing its’ chefs and innovative cuisine and to provide sustainable funding to the downtown arts community. Her numerous charitable endeavors include serving as Executive Director for Dance Crazy, serving on the board of directors for the Stakeholders Foundation, yearly campaigns for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society including being a 2013 Woman of the Year Candidate, LunaFest to benefit Sjogren’s Syndrome Foundation, founding the Meil Fleur Societé, annual fundraisers for Yono’s Scholarship Foundation and for the Albany Barn.
Michael LaPorte, Honorary Director: Michael art has been one of constant exploration and self-discovery. Originally growing up in Schnectady, NY, of French-Canadian and Native Peoples decent (Mic-Mac/Mohwak), Michael started on his path after service in the United States Navy. After attending Schnectady County Community College, he found the open road calling, finally settling in Santa Fe, NM, where he became involved in working in the Native American Art world for over 25 years. Managing Native and Ethnic Art galleries in Santa Fe, as well as San Francisco and New Orleans. His passion for Art has led him to creating his own; first with poetry, and more recently, photography, where he has combined his love for music and performance, chronicling the music scene of Albany and the Lower East Side of New York City. Michael has been performing locally and regionally with The Andrew Wheeler Band (recently re-branded to Biscuits & Gravy), winners of the regional International Blues Challenge 2016, having represented the Capital Region Blues Society at the IBC Challenge in Memphis, TN. in 2017. In addition to his service to the Albany Barn board, Michael also sits on the board for the Albany Housing Coalition as their Homeless Veterans Representative.
Associate Board Members
- Hon. Helena Heath
- Jon Huther
- James Thomas