Board of Directors/Annual Report


The costs of maintaining the historic Smith Opera House far exceed the revenue from ticket sales, concessions and other goods and services. The Board of Directors spearheads the fundraising efforts that keep the doors open and the lights on.


Rebecca (Becky) Burditt, Chair
Becky joined The Smith’s Board in 2018 after serving on its Film Committee since 2016. She programmed the Voting Rights Film Series in 2018, and has facilitated numerous collaborations with Hobart and William Smith Colleges faculty to bring films to The Smith that support the themes of their courses. Becky is an Assistant Professor in the Media and Society Program at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva. She teach courses on the history of advertising, global musicals and media and theory.

Robb Flowers, Teasurer

Nancy McDermott, Secretary


Annie Bickham

Martha Bond
Martha and her husband Jerry have lived in Geneva for 20 years and have deep family roots throughout the Finger Lakes. A graduate of Mt. Holyoke College, she held various positions in healthcare administration in Rochester before moving to the community in 2000. The following year, she joined Hobart and William Smith Colleges as Director of Grants, a position from which she retired in 2016.
Martha became a member of the Smith Board in 2014 and currently serves as chair of the Grants Committee, as well as a member of the Buildings/Grounds and Membership/Annual Support committees. She and Jerry have two married children and three grandchildren.

Carol Cain
Carol is the principal and owner of Brave World Media, a social media, branding, and communications agency based in Corning, NY. Carol’s media outreach and communications skills were honed during her decade-plus career as an award-winning travel writer and blogger, where she garnered a loyal global social media audience. It is through this work that she first came to the Finger Lakes over 10 years ago. With over two decades of experience in public relations and communications, Carol has established herself as an authority in social media marketing, media outreach, campaign and marketing strategy, brand messaging, and crisis management. Her unwavering commitment to diversity and inclusion has been a cornerstone of her work long before these became marketing buzzwords and she remains a vocal advocate for the same. When not making an impact in the media and marketing industries, Carol dedicates her time volunteering as a Spanish-language interpreter for asylum seekers detained in the U.S. She relishes spending quality time with her family and two puppies during her free time.

Dr. Sim Covington. As six-time graduate of the State University of New York, Dr. Sim J. Covington, Jr. has made history in the Finger Lakes region on three separate occasions. First, serving as the inaugural Chief Diversity Officer for Finger Lakes Community College, appointed in January 2018. In this role he is responsible for supporting all aspects of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for all segments of the institution, creating a welcoming atmosphere for students, faculty, and staff. Focusing on climate, policy, programming, curriculum, and recruitment, he works to advance diversity and equity within institutional units in support of organizational sustainability. Second, he is the first African-American to serve as the Finger Lakes Law Enforcement Academy (FLLEA) Implicit Bias Associate Trainer and Associate Member. This position was created to facilitate real conversations with law enforcement agencies after the tragic death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Third, after running a well-organized campaign and being officially elected in November 2021, Dr. Covington was sworn in as the first African-American man to be elected as a Council Member-At-Large for City Council in Canandaigua, New York.

A proud proponent of world-class business school training, Sim has completed prestigious programs at Harvard Business School, Yale School of Management, Columbia Business School, the University of Pennsylvania, UCLA Anderson School of Management, University of Southern California Marshall School of Business, and Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Shanelle France (she/her/hers) is the Associate Director of Disability Services at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. She returned to Geneva after graduating from William Smith College in 2011, where she studied Africans Studies, Education, and Women’s Studies. She taught Special Education at Geneva Middle School for two years before moving to Colorado in July 2021 and has re-returned to Geneva where she truly feels at home.  Shanelle is a proud dog mom to a Great Dane named Freyja, an outdoor enthusiast, and an ebullient connoisseur of life’s adventures.

Karen Goulet

Joan Sullivan Grela has been a member of the Smith Board of Directors for almost ten years.  Joan previously served as Chief of Staff for State Senator Michael Nozzolio before retiring in 2016. In addition to the Smith Board of Directors, Joan also serves on the Ability Partners Board of Directors, the Finger Lakes Health Foundation Board of Directors and is a member of the Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester Community Action Committee. Joan has three children: Megan Castro, Marissa Ryan and Michael Grela and spends lots of time with her seven grandchildren: Jesse, Travis, Emily & Elyse Castro and Mirabelle, Sullivan and Fitzgerald Ryan and great-granddaughter Gabriella Castro.

Stephanie Hesler is a Development Assistant at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. In her role she supports the frontline fundraising team of the Advancement Office. Previously she worked as the Performing Arts Coordinator in the Gearan Center for the Performing Arts.  Before coming to the colleges, Stephanie worked as the Development Officer for Finger Lakes Visiting Nurse Service and Ontario-Yates Hospice, and in development, programming and membership roles for Girl Scouts of NYPENN Pathways.  Stephanie currently serves as the Vice President of the Geneva Rotary Board of Directors and is Co-Advisor for the Rotaract Club at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. Stephanie holds a B.A. in Communications Studies from SUNY Oswego, and a Certificate in Non-Profit Management from St. John Fisher College.  Stephanie and her husband Stephen live in Geneva and have two college-age sons. In addition to spending time with friends and family, Stephanie enjoys managing “Hesler Woodworking,” a fledgling family business. She also enjoys reading, attending performing arts events, running, spending time outside and watching sunsets at the Seneca Yacht Club – weather permitting!

Jen Menges spent the first half of her career working in corporate America in the financial field – which she eventually found less than rewarding, but soon discovered a passion for wine and wine education.  In 2016, she made the leap to change career paths and followed her dream of joining the wine industry, where she has worked at Hermann J. Wiemer for the last 6 years, currently in the role of Director of Strategic Development.  Pursuing education in her field, she has attained her WSET Level 3. She lives on the Bluff in Penn Yan with her husband, her two rescue dogs and two cats.  When she’s not at the winery, she enjoys hiking with her husband and dogs, gardening at home and baking when she can.

Mara O’Laughlin joined the Smith Board right after retiring from Hobart and William Smith in 2013. A native of New York City and a graduate of William Smith College, she was first employed as a Social Studies teacher at the Romulus Central School from 1967-1972. She then returned to her alma mater where she served as Director of Admissions for 31 years. In 2006, she assumed the position of Assistant Vice President for Advancement, leading the William Smith Centennial and then securing funding for the Gearan Center for the Performing Arts. The Colleges recognized her service with its highest honor: Doctor of Humane Letters in 2013. Smith Board service has included Chair, Membership and Annual Support; Member: Grants, Nominating, and 125th Committees. Her family includes spouse Joanne Goff; two step-sons, Ryan and Benjamin; and three grandsons: Kian, Grayson, and Asher Goff.

Anthony (Tony) Shelton joined the board in 2016 and serves on the Grants Committee. He’s been a long-term supporter of The Smith and previously served on the Board of Directors for Geneva Concerts and the Geneva School Board. Tony is an Emeritus International Professor at Cornell and was the Director for a USAID-funded project in Bangladesh. When not traveling, he enjoys spending time sailing, fishing and biking in the Finger Lakes.

S. Ford Weiskittel

Mitchell Wilber, Treasurer
Mitch is a lifelong resident of western New York with a career centered around various aspects of production agriculture. He is a graduate of Brown University and is married to Aliceann Wilber, the remarkable coach of the William Smith College soccer team. The couple have two adult children who are doing interesting things in Nashville and Washington, D.C. He has been a member of the Smith board since 2011. He has a long history of taking on community and civic roles with other organizations: the Geneva City School District Board of Education (past president), the Town of Geneva Planning Board, Geneva Generals Hockey Organization and the Geneva Soccer Club. He is also the former president of the New York State Agri-Business Association.







2017 Annual Report