BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Lynn Johnson, Board President
Lynn served as President of the MN College and University Career Services Association from 1998-2001. Lynn has been employed at Bemidji State University since 2001, and is currently the Interim Director of Distance Learning. She completed the Luoma Leadership Academy in 2010 and has extensive union leadership experience at BSU. She served as MSUAASF secretary for four years and has been MSUAASF president for the past two. Lynn has been a Relay for Life campus team volunteer as well as a coordinator for BSU Community Appreciation Day. She has also served as a volunteer with Sanford Health since 2009. Lynn joined the board of the Paul Bunyan Playhouse in 2011 and recently finished serving as the PBPH Board President. Lynn has been a volunteer usher at the Minnesota Musical Theater and for St. Mary’s University theatre productions.
Aspen Easterling, Secretary
A former middle school teacher, Aspen is currently the Advising Coordinator for Bemidji State University's Department of Professional Education. She joined the Playhouse Board of Directors in 2014. Aspen holds a Bachelors and Masters Degrees from Bemidji State University, both in Education. She and her canine pal, Kaylee, help out with the Bemidji Area Canines program.
Chris Keenan, board member
Chris has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Paul Bunyan Playhouse on and office for approximately 25 years. His most recent term began in 2005. His longstanding connection brings continuity and perspective to the group. He has been self-employed in the construction field since 1974, and has established trusting relationships with literally thousands of community members over the years. Chris’ expertise in the construction field helps the Playhouse maintain the historic Chief Theatre, and his business sense helps the Board fulfill its fiscal responsibilities. Chris has been a member of the Bemidji Rotary Club since 1995. Annual local projects include building and raffling artistically-designed playhouses with proceeds going to new playground construction and Habitat for Humanity projects. Chris has organized Rotary International Projects to Honduras for the past 15 years. Rotarians have worked in isolated mountain villages as part of doctor and dental brigades or on school renovation and water purification projects.
Cory Renbarger, board member
Dr. Cory J. Renbarger joined the faculty at BSU in 2012. He holds degrees from The University of Minnesota, The Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and Concordia College. Cory has extensive performing credentials throughout the United States. During the 2009-2010 season, Dr. Renbarger also served as the official anthem singer of the Minnesota Wild hockey franchise.
Besides his duties with opera theater, Dr. Renbarger also serves as the coordinator of vocal performance studies and teaches pedagogy, diction, song literature, and opera studies.
Steve Berard, Vice President
Steve acted in four main stage theatre productions as an undergraduate English major at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. As a graduate student, he twice co-directed winning productions at Indiana University’s “IU Sing” competition. Steve has taught English overseas with the Peace Corps in Yemen, at a language institute in Kuwait, and at an international university in Japan. He is a passionate reader and a regular contributor to the World Literature
Forum. Since joining Bemidji State University in 2002, Steve founded the Open Borders Learning Community, was advisor for the International Student Organization for five years, and served as BSU’s Eurospring Assistant Director in 2009. He has been a Paul Bunyan Playhouse board member since 2011.
Eric Kuha, Treasurer
Eric earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees in English from Bemidji State University. He has been very active in the theater milieu of Bemidji. He served as the Box Office Manager for the Paul Bunyan Playhouse during the 2014 Summer Season. Eric is currently an Instructor of Information Technology at Leech Lake Tribal College.
Mary Knox Johnson, Board Member
Mary taught at West Fargo High School for 31 years. She has directed and designed over 85 plays in her career, mostly musicals. Mary was named North Dakota One-Act Play Coach of the
Year four times, North Dakota Creative Artist of the Year once, and was inducted into the North Dakota Speech & Theater Association Hall of Fame in 2005. She has co-written two mini-
musicals and is the author of a children’s book Thoughts from Pudge: (A Philosophical Look at Life from a Dog’s Point of View). Mary taught in the theater department at Bemidji State
University for five years, and she has directed and designed costumes for Bemidji Community Theater. Mary has also designed costumes for the Lake Bemidji Summer Opera Co. and for
Long Lake Theater. She has served on the Board of Directors of the Paul Bunyan Playhouse since 2011.
Holly Nelson, board member
Crystal Shepard, board member
Crystal along with her husband Will own and operate WillStar Riding Academy, an equestrian center specializing in equine education for a variety of disciplines and rider levels. Crystal has traveled all over the United States developing skills needed to be one of the areas top instructors. Serving Northern Minnesota, she believes in community and wants to offer a safe and reputable center. Crystal is thrilled to be a member of the board of the Paul Bunyan Playhouse.
Jesse Whiting, board member