Board of Directors


Dean Brown, President
Dean is a nationally certified school psychologist serving schools in McLean County Unit District #5.  He is a North Dakota native, but also resided in Arizona for 11 years before moving to Normal.  He obtained his undergraduate degree from Concordia College, Moorhead, MN and his graduate degree from the University of Minnesota at Moorhead.  He has a vast resume in theatre including directing and technical directing at the high school level, drama instructor at an international fine arts camp for 17 years, community theatre (directing, acting and technical directing), two Summers working as a professional actor, liturgical drama, playwriting, and make-up designing.  He has appeared on the Heartland Stage in 11 shows, directed two 10-minute plays, and has served on the New Plays from the Heartland selection committee since it’s inception.


SANDI ZIELINSKI BWSandra Zielinski, Vice-President
Sandra Zielinski is a Professor Emeritia from the School of Theatre and Dance at ISU. She has served the field of theatre education for over forty-three years in secondary and collegiate teaching and directing. She was the Administrator of the Theatre Education Entitlement Program 6-12 in the School of Theatre and Dance. Sandra’s credits also include directing in Chicago and acting in several independent Chicago films as well as directing for the Illinois Shakespeare Festival, the Idaho Repertory Theatre, and Collaboraction Theatre in Chicago.




gayle hess


Gayle Hess, Secretary
Gayle is a Systems Analyst in Life Systems at State Farm and a member of State Farm’s Community Volunteer council. Frequently appearing on stage in Bloomington-Normal, Gayle is originally from Saint Louis and graduated from the University of Missouri at Columbia.
(Grants Committee)




Lori Professional

Lori Cook Baird, Treasurer
Lori Cook Baird is a graduate of UC Davis and lived in California for 36 years before moving to Bloomington, IL. She is an Adjunct Biology Professor at Bradley University in Peoria as well as a professional fast pitch softball pitching coach. In addition, she is a face painter and an actress, with appearances in A Nice Family Gathering and The Dining Room at Heartland. Lori is also a certified ASA umpire, and professional scorer.





Bruce Boeck
A playwright who has twice won a spot in Heartland’s 10-Minute Plays contest, Bruce Boeck is Program Director and Lead Therapist for Renewed Hope at Hopedale Medical Complex, as well as a private practice counselor and an actor.





18Mark de Veer
Mark has worked in many facets of professional and non-professional theatre including acting, directing, technical direction, production stage management, company management, and set construction for the past 45 years. Heartland acting credits include Berlin To Broadway, in which he served as director and actor; Our Town; Inherit the Wind; The Clean House; and The Language Archive. He also had the honor to initiate the role of “Old Hoss” Radbourn, (whose Major League Baseball pitching record of 58 wins in a single season still stands after 132 years), in the first ever Evergreen Cemetary Walk.



John Ficca

John Ficca
Dr. Ficca is the former Chair of the School of Theatre Arts and Professor Emeritus of Theatre at Illinois Wesleyan University. He is also a playwright and director who has seen his work on many different stages, including IWU, Heartland Theatre and Victory Gardens Theatre in Chicago.





JOHN KIRK cropped

John W. Kirk
Founder of the Department of Theatre at Illinois State University, Dr. Kirk spent over thirty years on the faculty there.  He has written thirteen plays, directed over fifty stage productions and published two theatre texts as well as several other publications.  He has performed as an actor and directed many plays at Heartland Theatre over the years. He was the Managing Director of the Greenview  Arts Center in Chicago and has directed off-Broadway in New York. (Finance Committee)





Todd Wineburner cropped

Todd Wineburner
Todd is a longtime radio personality at WJBC. He graduated from Illinois State University with a double major in Theatre and English and began his radio career with the Armed Forces Radio and Television Network at Comiso Air Station, Italy. As an actor, Todd has appeared on many different area stages; he has also appeared as a stand-up comedian at Heartland Community College’s “Funny Raiser.”
(10-Minute Plays Committee)






08bw_edited-1 cropped


Ann B. White
Ann created the Young at Heartland Senior Acting Troupe for Heartland. She frequently appears with the YAH troupe as well as on the main stage at Heartland. She also serves as historian for the Vladimir/Canterbury Sister City Association and is a member of the Religion, Culture and the Arts committee of the First United Methodist Church.
(Young at Heartland Program Director)




Michelle Woody

Michelle Woody
Michelle Woody is an actress on Heartland’s stage, having performed in the 10-Minute Plays and full productions such as CLYBOURNE PARK, LANGUAGE ARCHIVE and EARTH AND SKY. Michelle is the Administrative Aide for ISU’s School of Theatre and Dance. (Grants Committee and 10-Minute Play Committee)





Emeritus Members of the Board of Directors:

Paul Baker

Tom Clemens

Madonna Courtright

Ron Emmons

Sherrin Fitzer

George Freeman

Kathryn Gillespie

Peggy Hundley

Nancy Niebur-Parente

Brian Simpson

Steven Spencer

Carol Straka

Julie Sullivan



Carol A. Reitan

Philip Shaw

Rita Kohn