Staff List

Erin Belieu (Artistic Director for the Port Townsend Writers’ Conference) is the author of three collections of poetry. Her first book, Infanta, was a winner of the National Poetry Series, selected by Hayden Carruth. Infanta was also chosen as a best book of the year by The Washington Post and Library Journal. Her second collection, One Above & One Below, was the winner of the Midland Authors Prize in poetry and the Ohioana prize, and her most recent collection, Black Box, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. She is presently Director of The Graduate Creative Writing Program at Florida State University.

Steven Best (Technical/IT Director) first became a member of the Centrum production staff in 2000, assisting with the design and assembly of most of the different events that have occurred at the Fort. In addition to his experience with sound and lighting, he also has 15 years of construction experience and 20 years of computer and IT knowledge., (360) 385-3102 Ext. 129.

Robert Birman (Executive Director) joined Centrum in 2013, having served as a senior executive in the orchestra world for more than 20 years in San Francisco, Louisville, Santa Barbara, Boston and elsewhere.  He is a former arts administration fellow with the National Endowment for the Arts; an ISPA fellow at the New World Symphony in Miami Beach; and worked two summers at the Colorado Music Festival in Boulder.  Mr. Birman has been a member of numerous national boards and is Past President of the Association of California Symphony Orchestras.  He has served on grants panels for the National Endowment for the Arts, California Arts Council, Kentucky Arts Council, and The Heinz Endowments and is a presenter and participant in programs of the League of American Orchestras’ Orchestra Leadership Academy.  Rob is a percussionist and has a Bachelor of Music Performance degree from Temple University and graduate training in arts administration from Drexel University in Philadelphia., (360) 385-3102 Ext. 111.

Gigi Callaizakis (Director of Human Resources) joined Centrum in May of 2011. She relocated to Port Townsend from Denver in 2006 with her husband. Gigi’s Human Resources background includes independent consulting for higher education, medical manufacturing and non-profit human services organizations. Beginning her HR career at ADP’s payroll service processing unit in Denver, she also went on to lead the HR Departments in the pharmaceutical, casino and youth services nonprofit industries. Gigi holds a PhD in psychology and an MA in Organizational Management. She currently consults in Human Resources services and offers coaching, mediation, energy work services and particularly enjoys working with the Enneagram of Personality to facilitate teamwork and personal growth., (360) 385-3102 Ext. 121

Lucinda Carver (Artistic Director for Chamber Music) was appointed in late 2009.  Called “a first rate conductor” by the New York Times, she is active as a conductor / pianist and her orchestral appearances have included the National Symphony, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Pacific Symphony, and Los Angeles Philharmonic. Opera conducting credits include the Minnesota Opera, New York City Opera, and the Lyric Opera of Kansas City.  Lucinda received her doctorate in musical arts from the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California where she currently teaches piano, harpsichord and conducting and was appointed Vice Dean in 2013.  She served as music director of the Los Angeles Mozart Orchestra from 1991 to 2002.

Megan Claflin (Marketing & Communications Manager) joined Centrum in April 2014. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Western Washington University. An award-winning journalist, she has a passion for engaging communities through storytelling. (360) 385-3102 Ext. 130

John Clayton (Artistic Director of Jazz Programs) leads Centrum’s Jazz Port Townsend festival and workshop. A Grammy-winning bassist, composer and conductor, Clayton has written and arranged music for Diana Krall, Milt Jackson, Quincy Jones, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Whitney Houston and many others. He served as the Artistic Director of Jazz for the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl from 1999-2001. His compositions have been performed by ensembles throughout the US and Europe, including the American Jazz Philharmonic and the Carnegie Hall Big Band. Clayton is the co-leader, along with his saxophone playing brother Jeff, of the Clayton Brothers Quintet.

Karen Gose Clemens (Director of Development) joined Centrum’s staff in late 2009. She has been an arts administrator and fundraiser for 23 years, eleven of those years devoted to major gift work in annual fund, capital and special fundraising campaigns.  She served under the Honorable Mike Lowry as Executive Director of the Washington State Arts Commission; as fundraising consultant with C.W. Shaver & Company; in consulting and executive capacities to regional cultural organizations including The Capital Theater in Yakima and Northwest Sinfonietta; and as Major Gifts Manager at the Museum of Glass in Tacoma. She is a graduate of The Evergreen State College and loves her cockatoo, dogs and family; giving people presents; mysteries (reading and writing); and travel., (360) 385-3102 Ext. 132

Sue Cook (Development Associate) Sue has been with Centrum since January 2001.  A brief sojourn with the Wooden Boat Festival and then, swoosh – the tide brought her back home to Centrum.   Background –1970’s – Co-Founder & Producer of the San Francisco Harvest Festival, a 19th Century Americana Costumed Holiday Market. The festival grew to be produced in over 15 cities each Fall and  included 3 stages with  “authentic” folk performers offering sea shanties, clogging, shape note choral  works and many other theatrical pieces reminiscent of that period. She has 3 children and her pup, Molly!  She works in the Development Department assisting with donor activities.  A life-long lover of entertaining – she prepares many of our donor receptions and manages our volunteers for the annual Gala.,  (360) 385-3102 x103

Jordan Hartt (Writers’ Program Manager) joined Centrum in 2006. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Western Washington University and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Idaho. Jordan works as the program manager for the Port Townsend Writers’ Conference and believes in the power of reading and writing to transform lives.

Mary Hilts (Program Manager, The Port Townsend Acoustic Blues Festival/Development Manager) joined the Centrum staff in 2003. Mary manages all administrative aspects of the PT Acoustic Blues Festival; and assists with aspects of resource development, Centrum’s donor database and coordination of donor events. A graduate of Washington State University, Mary also completed Jazz Studies at Shoreline Community College, and holds a degree in Music Performance from Los Angeles Harbor College. Prior to working at Centrum, she was in artist relations and management, coordinated booking and promotions, as well as contract negotiation, public relations, and tour management.  A musician, artist, and advocate for social justice, Mary moved to Port Townsend in 1981., (360) 385-3102 Ext. 116

Lisa Johnson, (Finance Manager) joined Centrum in 2010. She graduated from Seattle Pacific University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Finance. She has spent her past working in many diverse accounting positions at a CPA firm; a gourmet potrack manufacturer; a utility company, and family owned businesses in the lumber, seafood and trucking industries. Born in Port Townsend, Lisa is a local “Islandgirl” , raised  on Marrowstone Island, where she enjoys her family’s roots and  the peace of island living. She loves working in the garden, and her menagerie of animals which includes her Arabian horses, dogs, cats and chickens. An avid outdoor enthusiastic, you’ll often find her hiking in the Olympics, rowing with the Tuf as Nails Port Townsend’s master women’s rowing team, biking the STP, (Seattle to Portland), and even the spontaneous thrill of skydiving., (360) 385-3102 Ext. 105

Peter McCracken (Program Manager, Fiddle Tunes, Voice Works, Uke) has served at Centrum in various capacities, including Arts Program Director and Traditional Arts Program Manager. In 1992, he started the Blues workshop and festival, bringing five National Heritage Award recipients to Fort Worden to perform and teach. McCracken led the initial curatorial project for Centrum’s Festival of American Fiddle Tunes Preservation and Stabilization project in 2000, producing Volume 1 of the Fiddle Tunes Archives. The CD “A 20th Anniversary Festival Sampler” captures twenty-two performances from the festival’s twentieth gathering. The long-term project received initial funding from the National endowment for the Arts, along with generous donations from individual donors., (360) 385-3102 Ext. 127

Jacqueline Mention (Volunteer Coordinator/Graphic Designer-Marketing Associate) joined the Centrum staff in 2011. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Lewis and Clark College, is the founder of Homeschool, a nomadic affordable art shop in Portland, OR, and is a writer of extremely short fiction., (360) 385-3102 Ext. 118

Gregg Miller (Program Manager, Jazz, Choro, Chamber Music) first came to Centrum in 1978 as a student in the Chamber Music camp. In the early ’90s, he returned for three years as a faculty member at Jazz Port Townsend. In the fall of 1999 he became Program Manager for Jazz and Classical Music and now runs Jazz Port Townsend and the Port Townsend Chamber Music Festival. Gregg is active as an adjudicator and frequently serves as a grant panelist for the NEA, Chamber Music America, the Washington State Arts Commission and other organizations. He enjoys skiing, motorcycling and working with his hands, including driving and repairing wheat combines in eastern Washington., (360) 385-3102 Ext. 109

Jerron Paxton (Artistic Director for the Port Townsend Acoustic Blues Festival) was born in 1989 but his talent is beyond his years. He plays in the true songster tradition: ragtime, hokum, old-time, French reels, Appalachian mountain music and blues and more. Paxton is yet unsigned to a record label, his biggest fame has been found through the Playing for Change Foundation video II, which gave him international fame. Frank Matheis, publisher of said, “The virtuoso is a joyous entertainer, humorous with a smooth vernacular, dazzling wit, a terrific storyteller, exuding an affable excitement. He’s witty, fast rhyming, poetic, fun, exciting and wonderfully skilled as a musician and a fine singer, he is the continuation of a proud tradition.”  Phil Wiggins refers to Jerron Paxton as “a musical genius” and offers his blessing on Jerron taking the helm he once held.

Karen Sweeney (Administrative and Finance Assistant).  An Alaskan who wanted to see what it was like to live in the Lower 48, Karen relocated to the Olympic Peninsula where she met the man she would later marry.  Among their stops over the next three decades were places like Dodge City, Kingsville, Gunnison, Rapid City, and Arcata where Karen found work that included bookkeeping and managing small businesses, while her husband pursued his passion coaching college football.  During the journey, Karen followed her love of nature, culminating in a BA from Western State College of Colorado and a Feng Shui Certification from the Wind and Water School of Feng Shui.  Recently, this Sweeney Clan moved to the Quimper Peninsula and Karen joined the Centrum staff.  (360) 385-3102 Ext. 113

Hali Kalae Ransom (Registrar, Hospitality Coordinator) came to Centrum in early 2008 after managing the classified and circulation departments at The Port Townsend and Jefferson County Leader. She was packed up at the age of five and relocated to Port Townsend where her father, Bill Ransom, founded and directed the Port Townsend Writers’ Conference. Hali has been a PT “local” ever since., (360) 385-3102 Ext. 114

Suzy Thompson (Artistic Director for Fiddle Tunes) has been a leading force in many influential roots music groups, including the California Cajun Orchestra, the Blue Flame String Band, Klezmorim, the all-woman Any Old Time String Band, and most recently, the Bluegrass Intentions. She has also worked with Laurie Lewis, Maria Muldaur, Jody Stecher, Del Rey, Geoff Muldaur, Alice Gerrard, and the Savoy-Doucet Cajun Band, among many others. Suzy is one of just a handful of active players who have mastered the blues violin, and the power of her laser-beam voice rivals Bessie Smith, Sippie Wallace, and Memphis Minnie. Suzy currently records and performs in a duet with  reknowned flatpicker Eric Thompson, with the Aux Cajunals, and with the Thompson String Ticklers.

Lisa Waipio Werner (Director of Operations) is an alumni of the University of California at Irvine, and has owned and managed a variety successful businesses. In 2008 she came to Port Townsend from Kapa’au Hawai’i to work as volunteer coordinator and residency program manager at Centrum. Raised in a family of musicians and ocean sports enthusiasts, her hobbies include playing flute and guitar and racing outrigger canoes. In 2012 Lisa and her partner moved into the house of their dreams, a compact sustainable home designed and built for them on Discovery Bay., (360) 385-3102 Ext. 128

Martha Worthley (Program Manager, Young Artist Project//Artist Residency Manager) joined Centrum in 2007. Born in Providence, Rhode Island, she studied at the San Francisco Art Institute (BFA 1977) and also studied textile design and printing at the Rhode Island School of Design and Oregon College of Arts and Crafts. Martha has been deeply involved in changing attitudes towards arts education. She began working in the Port Townsend Schools in the early 1990s teaching Talented and Gifted classes in visual arts for elementary students. This work evolved as the Port Townsend School District and PT Artscape, funded by Washington State Arts Commission, worked to develop sequential arts education for the district, aligned with state academic learning requirements in the arts. For Centrum, she designs the Young Artists Project with a vital, contemporary and diverse group of artists who will guide and inspire young artists throughout the year., (360) 385-3102 Ext. 120