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 Coordinator, ( – Extension 14)

Nicholas Thurkettle coordinates the Emerging Arts Leaders - Orange County program for ArtsOC, as well as Artist Calls and other iniatives. He studied Theatre Performance and Music at Bradley University and, outside of his ArtsOC work, is a writer, actor, and filmmaker. Short films he has written/directed have played more than 40 film festivals, winning awards such as People's Choice - Best Short Film (Borrego Springs Film Festival) and Best Comedy Short (Albuquerque Film & Music Experience). 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 is a producer, writer, and performer with the award-winning sci-fi/horror radio drama podcast Earbud Theater. His one-act play The Rothko premiered at the OC-Centric New Play Festival and is represented by Heartland Publishing, and other short plays have enjoyed stagings in Illinois, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Minnesota, Maryland, and throughout California including at the Hollywood Fringe Festival. He authored the short story collection Stages of Sleep and co-authored the sci-fi novels Seeing by Moonlight and A Sickness in Time. He appears in independent films such as Cloudy With a Chance of Sunshine, To a Dead Friend, Afterthought, and Revelator, and was nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the Love International Film Festival for his role in Reclaiming Friendship Park. He is an experienced voice performer in videogames, animation, and audiobooks, and spent five seasons on stage with Shakespeare Orange County, serving as their Casting Director for two seasons. He now manages the Modjeska Shakespeare Players.