Board of Directors


Sandra Zielinski, 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.





John Bowen


John Bowen, Vice-President
John has been active in community theatre for 25 years. An educator and communicator his entire career, he works today as an analyst in Learning and Development at State Farm. He’s also had stints as a high school English teacher and theatre director, professional writer, instructional designer and consultant.





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Nancy Nickerson, Secretary                    
Nancy is an office professional with more than 30 years of secretarial and office administration experience, including positions such as Executive Assistant and Office Manager for large companies. Nancy’s theater experience also spans many years.  She has appeared in a number of productions at Heartland Theatre Company, has worked as a volunteer at Heartland as usher and in the box office.  Nancy has also appeared in many productions at Community Players Theatre and Prairie Fire Theatre.  She was a founding member of Pied Piper Playhouse, a children’s theater group in Tupelo, Mississippi, and performed (actor, pianist, musical director) for many of their performances.



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Barb Lemmon, Treasurer                        
Barb recently retired from State Farm after more than 39 years in the Actuarial Department.  Barb is active in her church, sings in the choir, and plays the violin. Barb is also currently serving as the chair for the task force planning for 1st Pres’ 150th birthday, and is serving a 3-year term on the church’s Personnel Committee. Barb has supported the Bloomington Normal Youth Symphony in the ’90s and again the past 5 years on the Board of Directors, serving in Secretary and Treasurer roles and assuming the presidency in June 2017. Barb became involved in theater in 1998, joining the pit orchestra as violinist when her husband Dave was cast in 1776 at Community Players. She played violin in the pit orchestra for many productions, was music director for a summer youth show and served on the Board of Governors for 2 years, and served as house manager for several shows.The past several years, Barb has volunteered at Heartland Theatre as an usher and a box office volunteer


DEAN BROWNDean Brown, Past 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.

Connie Blick
Connie was an acting major at Illinois State University in 2002, and currently works as Office Manager for The School of Theatre and Dance at ISU. After college she moved to Chicago, auditioning with representation by Stewart Talent. Then Connie and her husband Zach came back to Normal to raise a family.

Connie saw her first Heartland Theatre production, FALLING, directed by Lori Adams. Immersed from the very first scene, she had “witnessed an incredible ensemble performance with first rate talent, equivalent to any professional theatre production.” She knew that when the time was right, Heartland Theatre Company would be the theatre she would love to be involved in.



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.






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.




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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)




Cristen Monson Photo only_edited-1Cristen Monson                                      
Cristen is the Academic Advisor in the School of Theatre and Dance at ISU, having received a BA in Acting from The University of Texas at El Paso where she appeared in over 25 productions for the Union Theatre. After leaving Texas, Cristen worked as a professional actress in New York City and then in Baltimore, appearing in The Maryland Arts Festival and many local community theatres. After moving to Bloomington in 2007, Cristen earned her Masters degree in Theatre from Illinois State and taught at Bradley and ISU.  Cristen has appeared on Heartland’s stage and has worked with Prairie Fire Theatre.  She has acted for Community Players Theatre and for School of Theatre and Dance (ISU). She is also the Artistic director for Summer on Stage Theatre for Youth and is mother to two awesome kids.


Abby Scott
Abby grew up in Peoria and started doing theater in elementary school. She majored in theater (and economics) at Oberlin College. She then home for New York where she studied the Meisner technique at the William Esper studio, performed in off-off-off-off Broadway shows, did stand-up comedy in various clubs and bars, and ran her own comedy shows. She stopped performing from 2008 – 2014 when when she became a part of the 10 minute plays at Heartland.

Abby is a data scientist by trade, having worked for Caterpillar, State Farm and currently as a statistical modeler for Country Financial. Abby is particularly interested in encouraging diversity in the arts.



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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)




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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)






William-Zimmerman-743x1024 BWBill Zimmerman
Bill Zimmerman received a BA in History and Sociology at Northern Illinois University, in 1973.  He began working for Country Financial in 1973, as a Field Claims Representative, and in 1986 was sent to Kansas City as Claims Manager for six western states.  Bill came to Bloomington in 1990, promoted to Director of Corporate Support Services at Country Financial, overseeing all construction, maintenance, and repair as well as being responsible for leases, construction, furniture and equipment, and administration of all field offices in 21 states.  After retiring in 2013, after 38 years of service, Bill turned to community service, currently serving on McLean County Historical Society Board and ISU Senior Professionals Board, and serving on the Public Building Commission, Bloomington Library Foundation Board, and American Legion Honor Guard.


Emeritus Members of the Board of Directors:

Paul Baker

Tom Clemens

Lori Cook Baird

Madonna Courtright

Ron Emmons

Sherrin Fitzer

George Freeman

Ruth Ann Friedberg

Kathryn Gillespie

Gayle Hess

Peggy Hundley

Nancy Niebur-Parente

Brian Simpson

Steven Spencer

Carol Straka

Julie Sullivan



Carol A. Reitan

Philip Shaw

Rita Kohn