We’re excited to announce the election of two new members to the festival board of directors: Sheri Cote and Susan Rollins. Their presence increases the size of our board to 12 and brings valuable skills in business and marketing to our all-volunteer organization.

Sheri (top photo) is the economic development director for the towns of Guilford and Madison. Formerly president of the Shoreline Chamber of Commerce and regional economic development director for the Southeastern Connecticut Enterprise Region, she’ll help provide financial oversight as well as create and implement strategies to engage businesses in the festival’s mission and attract tourists to our events.


Sheri has been involved in many southern Connecticut business, educational and nonprofit ventures, including the Connecticut Economic Development Association, the Connecticut Tourism Coalition, Central Region Tourist District, LEARN, Thames River Innovation Place and the Waterford Board of Education.

Sue (bottom photo), who will head Marketing for the festival, is a principal in Rollins & Bennett, which provides strategic planning, branding, print and online marketing, advertising, logo design and other services to businesses and nonprofits. Clients have included Westford Hill Distillers, French Cousins, Fleet Capital and Elm Shakespeare Company.

Her creative work has won awards from Adweek magazine, the Connecticut Art Directors Club, and the Advertising Clubs of Boston and Hartford. Her community service includes work for the Guilford High School Music Boosters and board membership at New Haven’s Creative Arts Workshop, Pilgrim Fellowship in Guilford and St. Thomas Day School in New Haven.

The addition of Sheri and Sue completes an initial phase of our post Covid-19, board capacity-building efforts. Other changes involve the election of Peter Hawes as executive director, board chair and head of Programming, and Katie Contessa as board vice chair and head of Education and Outreach. Peter has worn multiple hats since joining the organization in 2017, including head of marketing and programming, vice chair and acting chair. Katie, director of Shoreline Ballet, led our dance program in 2019, joined the board the following year and headed production for the 2021 festival. In her new role, Katie will pilot our “change lives through the arts” initiative, working with the Guilford Public Schools and other partners to offer workshops, master classes and other educational and human-service programming.