Richard Stein, President and CEO, ( – Extension 17)

Prior to his appointment at Arts Orange County in August, 2008, Rick transformed the Laguna Playhouse in Laguna Beach into a major resident professional theatre over the course of 17 years as its Executive Director, growing it from an annual budget of $700,000 to $7 million, and producing more than 100 plays, including two national touring productions. There he also directed many notable productions, including several premieres. Rick came to Orange County in 1987 to serve as Managing Director of the Grove Shakespeare Festival in Garden Grove following a five year stint as Director of Lincoln Theater at the University of Hartford (Connecticut). He holds degrees from Columbia and Syracuse Universities and returned to Columbia for post-graduate study on a National Endowment for the Humanities summer fellowship. Rick was sent to Korea on a cultural exchange by the International Theatre Institute-US, has served on the executive committee of the League of Resident Theatres, and is a contributing writer to AMERICAN THEATRE magazine. He’s a past Chair of the John Wayne Airport Arts Commission, past President of the Association of Fund Raising Professionals-Orange County Chapter, and past co-Chair (twice) of National Philanthropy Day-Orange County. He serves on the board of California Arts Advocates, a statewide organization promoting the interests of the arts community. He has been a guest lecturer at University of California, Irvine and California State University, Fullerton, and was a commencement keynote speaker at the Laguna College of Art and Design. He has served as a panelist or site visitor for the New England Foundation for the Arts, California Arts Council, Western States Arts Federation, and the Connecticut Commission on the Arts, for which he also produced its State Arts Awards. Although his career has largely been in the theatre, Rick’s first post after finishing graduate school was as Executive Director of a local arts agency, Oswego County Council on the Arts, located in Fulton, New York.

Karen AholaKaren Ahola, Advancement Officer,( – Extension 11)


Karen was educated in England where she earned her degrees in French and International Relations from the University of Reading. She pursued a long-time career in corporate marketing and communications (The Economist, Accord Publications, NTA, Inc.,) before crossing over to the non-profit sector. Prior to joining Arts Orange County, Karen served for seven years as the marketing and associate director of Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens in San Clemente, CA. Karen currently advises non-profit and civic institutions and her recent appointments include arts and culture representative, City of San Clemente Centennial General Plan Advisory Committee. Her expertise includes marketing, communications, donor relations and development, and event management.



Nicholas Thurkettle, Program Assistant, ( – Extension 14)

Nicholas Thurkettle is a writer, actor and filmmaker who studied Theatre Performance and Music at Bradley University. A member of the Writers Guild of America, he has sold and optioned feature screenplays, is the writer of the animated show Children of Ether, and worked five years in story development for a feature production company. He is a producer, writer, director and performer with the award-winning podcast Earbud Theater, which creates sci-fi and horror radio dramas. His one-act play The Rothko premiered at the OC-Centric New Play Festival, and his short plays have enjoyed stagings in California, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. He authored the acclaimed short story collection Stages of Sleep and co-authored the sci-fi novels Seeing by Moonlight and A Sickness in Time. As an actor, he is an experienced voice performer and audiobook narrator, and spent five seasons on stage with Shakespeare Orange County, playing roles like King Duncan in Macbeth and Peter Quince in A Midsummer Night's Dream, while serving as their Casting Director for two seasons. Other favorite stage roles include Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing and Renfield in Dracula. He appears in the independent films Cloudy With a Chance of Sunshine, Revelator, Aventura!, and Isla Vista: The Rock Opera, and was nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the Love International Film Festival for his role in Reclaiming Friendship Park. Finally, he is the producer, writer, editor, and director of two short films, Samantha Gets Back Out There and The Retriever. Samantha premiered at the Laughlin International Film Festival and was an Honorable Mention and nominee for Best Comedy at the IndieFest USA Film and Music Festival, while The Retriever premiered at the Gallup Film Festival where it was nominated for Best Comedy Short and Best Male Performance in a Short.