Board of Directors

Cheryl Crooks Executive Director
Cheryl Crooks, Executive Director

Cheryl Crooks is a professional photographer and writer with a studio in Bellingham. Cheryl began her career as a journalist and arts critic in Phoenix and was selected as a critic fellow of the O’Neill Theatre Institute. Cheryl then wrote for TIME Magazine, becoming the magazine’s West Coast medical reporter. Since moving to Bellingham, she has served on a number of arts and community boards, including the Mount Baker Theatre, the Bellingham Festival of Music, the Campaign for the Arts, and Western Washington University’s College of Fine and Performing Arts.

Audrey Sager, PRESIDENT

Audrey Sager is the founder of the New York City law firm of Sager Gellerman Eisner who limited her practice to the field of matrimonial law. She was been named as a Super Lawyer each year from 2006 to 2017 and was recognized as a leading lawyer in New York State before she retired. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and was a vice president of the Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York. Both she and her husband, Steven Gellerman, are movie lovers. They relocated to Bow, Washington in 2014 where they are enjoying the Pacific Northwest lifestyle.

Lucas Senger, VICE PRESIDENT

Lucas G. Senger is a multi-industry creative professional. Lucas' film projects have been awarded top honors at Tribeca International Film Festival, South by Southwest, Naples, Manchester, and Seattle International Film Festivals among others. He has contributed production leadership to media projects that have been broadcast on Vice, MTV, Fuse, and Sundance networks and platforms. His projects have been featured by Complex, Rolling Stone, Spin, and Indiewire. Lucas' academic work is dedicated to frameworks of management for creative projects and people. Lucas is co-instructor of Western Washington University’s AACSB accredited MBA consulting capstone, Arts Enterprise, and Cultural Innovation program. He was the 2021 faculty recipient of the university's Equity and Inclusion Achievement Award. Lucas is co-founder of Cake Machine; a consultancy supporting creative organizations by providing strategies generating financial stability without limiting creative output.

Shing Root

Shing Root moved to Boulder, CO from Taiwan in 1998 to fulfill her dream for studying Dance Movement Therapy at Naropa University. After exploring how to help people maintain their emotional health, she refocused her direction to help both people and businesses achieve financial health. She currently is a CPA and working in a local company as an assistant controller. She also serves as treasurer of YWCA Bellingham’s board. Both she and her husband, Manson Root, love movies and theater very much. They relocated to Bellingham in 2016 to explore the Pacific Northwest culture and lifestyle.

Claudia Puig, Program Director

Claudia Puig is president of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, and a longtime critic on NPR’s Film Week, a film festival programmer, and cultural consultant. She is currently Program Director for the Santa Barbara International Film Festival and in 2020 she was a Senior Programmer for AFI Fest. Puig has been a speechwriter for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and program director for the Napa Valley Film Festival, Mendocino Film Festival, and FilmFest 919 in Chapel Hill, N.C. In addition, she has a film consulting business specializing in cultural consulting and she teaches a college class on Diversity in the Media. Previously, she was USA Today’s film critic for 15 years.

cascadia international womens film festival board of directors advisory
Amy McIlvaine, Treasurer

Amy McIlvaine moved to Bellingham in 1994 after working in Chicago and New York in institutional fixed income sales. She was employed as a certified financial planner until 2012, when she returned to school to complete a certificate in sustainable food and agriculture. Amy currently operates The Dahlquist Kitchen in downtown Bellingham, which serves as a commissary kitchen for local food entrepreneurs. Amy has served on numerous boards in Bellingham over the past 20 years, and she is currently a member of Sustainable Connections board.

Barbara Bitner, Secretary

Barbara has over 25 years in arts administration and management. She created and presented the "Global Rhythms Performing Arts Series" for the Maui Arts & Cultural Center. She served for 10 years as a director at Maui Community College’s Continuing Education program where she founded Art-Tech Maui, a national attended conference to explore the interface of art and technology, CyberCamp a youth program integrating traditional fine arts with technology, and USC-on-Maui, a program to bring top-notch film production classes to Maui to support the local population in telling their stories. She is also the founding director of the Oxbow Summer Art Camp, an internationally attended fine arts program for the highly acclaimed Oxbow School in Napa.

Valerie Dalena
Valerie Dalena

Valerie Dalena is an award-winning screenwriter, director and producer. Her
company, Stiletto Rosso Productions, produces film, video, and multi-media
theatre and concert events. Since moving to Whatcom County, she has been very involved in the arts and arts organizations, including Advisory Board, CASCADIA; Board of Directors, Sylvia Center for the Arts; Marketing/ Video Production, Bellingham TheatreWorks; Producer, Pocket Concerts; Producer/Director, FireHouse Studio at FireHouse Arts and Events Center; and co-founder, Whatcom Arts Project. Her career has included West Coast Editor of Glamour Magazine, TV Film Development at Wrye-Konigsberg Productions, and Program Administrator of LA County Inter-Agency Council for Child Abuse and Neglect. She holds a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology and is a former member of Alliance of Women Directors and Women in Film LA and Seattle.

Lynda Moore

Lynda Moore is CASCADIA’s Volunteer Coordinator and brings extensive experience as a volunteer herself for the Pacific Science Center’s “Science on Wheels” educational workshops, researching school enrichment programs, and collaborating scheduling with faculty and volunteers. As an intern with Bellingham’s Technical Alliance Group, she supported event communications, marketing research, and technical support. She also volunteers and trains volunteers for Bellingham’s Mount Baker Theatre. Professionally, she has more than 10 years of experience in finance administration, county government, medical manufacturing, and systems technology and is trained in cyber security and computer support.

Daniel Larner

Daniel Larner is professor emeritus of theatre, Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies, Western Washington University. He was dean of the college, served as WWU faculty senate president, and currently serves on the Fairhaven College Advisory Board. Dan is a playwright and a widely published scholar of American drama and dramatic form. He taught the WWU Scriptwriting Workshop for 35 years, where he was a founder of the College of Fine and Performing Arts. He served for 23 years on the Board of the Mount Baker Theatre and for 40 years on the BOD of the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington. Dan has been a member of the board of directors of the Bellingham-Whatcom County Public Facilities District, and currently serves as its president.

Jordan Neyens

Jordan Neyens. a recent graduate from Western Washington University, is just beginning his career in film and theatre production and currently works as a producer + campaign coordinator for Soulcraft Allstars, a local storytelling agency. Neyens has held leadership roles in many non-profit organizations in the Bellingham area, including executive director of Bellingham Pride in 2017. He started his time with CASCADIA as an administrative intern while studying Arts Enterprise and Cultural Innovation at Western, his passion for film and CASCADIA's mission drove him to continue working with the organization afterward.

Lyn Dennis

Lyn Dennis, a Native American member of the Lummi Nation and the Tahltan Band, owns MyTribeTV, a livestream company that provides video and information about tribal events to Native Americans across the United States. In the past, Lyn served on the Board of Directors for Native American Public Telecommunications, Inc., now known as Vision Maker Media. Her documentary film, The Muckleshoot Sla-Hal Bone Game, premiered in 2016 at the 41st Annual Indian Film Festival and was selected for CASCADIA’s 2017 festival. Lyn has also served as executive director for the Northwest Alliance of Gaming Tribes, chief of staff for the Lummi Indian business council chairman, as well as public relations and communications director for the Lummi Indian Business Council. In addition, she was executive director for the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, representing 58 Pacific Northwest tribes.

Cassidy Brooks
Cassidy Brooks

Cassidy Brooks, the co-founder of Talking To Crows (TTC), holds ten years of experience in music. theater and in producing, directing, writing, editing, and camera operation for TTC. Cassidy co-created TTC’s multimedia cartoon, American Pizza, and attended the Savannah College of Art and Design for sound design. She also co-produced and directed the feature film, Just Like The Men, released in 2020 and now available to stream on Amazon Prime. Cassidy has served as one of CASCADIA’s short film judges since the festival’s beginning and has contributed to the festival trailers every year. She was grateful for the opportunity to attend the ArtHouse Convergence conference in 2020 on behalf of CASCADIA. She and her team members also hosted the Bellingham Film Annual Showcase in 2017 and 2018.

Cassidy Brooks
Ann McQueen

Ann McQueen joins the CASCADIA board with over 20 plus years of sales experience in media and medical sales. She shares degrees in both art history & business communications. Her sales career has taken her all over the Northwest covering a broad territory from Oregon to Alaska. From a young age, her parents instilled a strong appreciation for the arts, music, and theater. She has attended film festivals such as Sundance, Telluride, Bellingham, and Seattle. Ann moved to Bellingham in 2017 where she is an active member/volunteer with the Bellingham Yacht club along with several local community outreach programs. After volunteering and hosting CASCADIA in 2021 she wanted to utilize her business acumen and passion for independent film to help promote the talented women filmmakers as well as Bellingham's strong arts scene.

Cheryl Crooks Executive Director

Cheryl Crooks / Executive Director

Cheryl Crooks is a professional photographer and writer with a studio in Bellingham. Cheryl began her career as a journalist and arts critic in Phoenix and was selected as a critic fellow of the O’Neill Theatre Institute. Cheryl then wrote for TIME Magazine, becoming the magazine’s West Coast medical reporter. Since moving to Bellingham, she has served on a number of arts and community boards, including the Mount Baker Theatre, the Bellingham Festival of Music, the Campaign for the Arts, and Western Washington University’s College of Fine and Performing Arts.

Cassidy Brooks

Audrey Sager / Board President

Audrey Sager is the founder of the New York City law firm of Sager Gellerman Eisner who limited her practice to the field of matrimonial law. She was been named as a Super Lawyer each year from 2006 to 2017 and was recognized as a leading lawyer in New York State before she retired. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and was a vice president of the Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York. Both she and her husband, Steven Gellerman, are movie lovers. They relocated to Bow, Washington in 2014 where they are enjoying the Pacific Northwest lifestyle.

Cassidy Brooks

Lucas Senger / Board Vice President

Lucas G. Senger is a multi-industry creative professional. Lucas’ film projects have been awarded top honors at Tribeca International Film Festival, South by Southwest, Naples, Manchester, and Seattle International Film Festivals among others. He has contributed production leadership to media projects that have been broadcast on Vice, MTV, Fuse, and Sundance networks and platforms. His projects have been featured by Complex, Rolling Stone, Spin, and Indiewire. Lucas’ academic work is dedicated to frameworks of management for creative projects and people. Lucas is co-instructor of Western Washington University’s AACSB accredited MBA consulting capstone, Arts Enterprise, and Cultural Innovation program. He was the 2021 faculty recipient of the university’s Equity and Inclusion Achievement Award. Lucas is co-founder of Cake Machine; a consultancy supporting creative organizations by providing strategies generating financial stability without limiting creative output.

Shing Root

Shing Root moved to Boulder, CO from Taiwan in 1998 to fulfill her dream for studying Dance Movement Therapy at Naropa University. After exploring how to help people maintain their emotional health, she refocused her direction to help both people and businesses achieve financial health. She currently is a CPA and working in a local company as an assistant controller. She also serves as treasurer of YWCA Bellingham’s board. Both she and her husband, Manson Root, love movies and theater very much. They relocated to Bellingham in 2016 to explore the Pacific Northwest culture and lifestyle.

Cassidy Brooks

Claudia Puig / Program Director

Claudia Puig is president of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, and a longtime critic on NPR’s Film Week, a film festival programmer, and cultural consultant. She is currently Program Director for the Santa Barbara International Film Festival and in 2020 she was a Senior Programmer for AFI Fest. Puig has been a speechwriter for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and program director for the Napa Valley Film Festival, Mendocino Film Festival, and FilmFest 919 in Chapel Hill, N.C. In addition, she has a film consulting business specializing in cultural consulting and she teaches a college class on Diversity in the Media. Previously, she was USA Today’s film critic for 15 years.

AMY McILVAINE

Amy McIlvaine moved to Bellingham in 1994 after working in Chicago and New York in institutional fixed income sales. She was employed as a certified financial planner until 2012, when she returned to school to complete a certificate in sustainable food and agriculture. Amy currently operates The Dahlquist Kitchen in downtown Bellingham, which serves as a commissary kitchen for local food entrepreneurs. Amy has served on numerous boards in Bellingham over the past 20 years, and she is currently a member of Sustainable Connections board.

Lynda Moore

Lynda Moore is CASCADIA’s Volunteer Coordinator and brings extensive experience as a volunteer herself for the Pacific Science Center’s “Science on Wheels” educational workshops, researching school enrichment programs, and collaborating scheduling with faculty and volunteers. As an intern with Bellingham’s Technical Alliance Group, she supported event communications, marketing research, and technical support. She also volunteers and trains volunteers for Bellingham’s Mount Baker Theatre. Professionally, she has more than 10 years of experience in finance administration, county government, medical manufacturing, and systems technology and is trained in cyber security and computer support.

Cassidy Brooks

Barbara Bitner / Secretary

Barbara has over 25 years in arts administration and management. She created and presented the “Global Rhythms Performing Arts Series” for the Maui Arts & Cultural Center. She served for 10 years as a director at Maui Community College’s Continuing Education program where she founded Art-Tech Maui, a national attended conference to explore the interface of art and technology, CyberCamp a youth program integrating traditional fine arts with technology, and USC-on-Maui, a program to bring top-notch film production classes to Maui to support the local population in telling their stories. She is also the founding director of the Oxbow Summer Art Camp, an internationally attended fine arts program for the highly acclaimed Oxbow School in Napa.

Lyn Dennis

Lyn Dennis, a Native American member of the Lummi Nation and the Tahltan Band, owns MyTribeTV, a livestream company that provides video and information about tribal events to Native Americans across the United States. In the past, Lyn served on the Board of Directors for Native American Public Telecommunications, Inc., now known as Vision Maker Media. Her documentary film, The Muckleshoot Sla-Hal Bone Game, premiered in 2016 at the 41st Annual Indian Film Festival and was selected for CASCADIA’s 2017 festival. Lyn has also served as executive director for the Northwest Alliance of Gaming Tribes, chief of staff for the Lummi Indian business council chairman, as well as public relations and communications director for the Lummi Indian Business Council. In addition, she was executive director for the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, representing 58 Pacific Northwest tribes.

Daniel Larner

Daniel Larner is professor emeritus of theatre, Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies, Western Washington University. He was dean of the college, served as WWU faculty senate president, and currently serves on the Fairhaven College Advisory Board. Dan is a playwright and a widely published scholar of American drama and dramatic form. He taught the WWU Scriptwriting Workshop for 35 years, where he was a founder of the College of Fine and Performing Arts. He served for 23 years on the Board of the Mount Baker Theatre and for 40 years on the BOD of the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington. Dan has been a member of the board of directors of the Bellingham-Whatcom County Public Facilities District, and currently serves as its president.

Valerie Dalena

VALERIE DALENA

Valerie Dalena is an award-winning screenwriter, director and producer. Her
company, Stiletto Rosso Productions, produces film, video, and multi-media
theatre and concert events. Since moving to Whatcom County, she has been very involved in the arts and arts organizations, including Advisory Board, CASCADIA; Board of Directors, Sylvia Center for the Arts; Marketing/ Video Production, Bellingham TheatreWorks; Producer, Pocket Concerts; Producer/Director, FireHouse Studio at FireHouse Arts and Events Center; and co-founder, Whatcom Arts Project. Her career has included West Coast Editor of Glamour Magazine, TV Film Development at Wrye-Konigsberg Productions, and Program Administrator of LA County Inter-Agency Council for Child Abuse and Neglect. She holds a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology and is a former member of Alliance of Women Directors and Women in Film LA and Seattle.

Jordan Neyens

Jordan Neyens. a recent graduate from Western Washington University, is just beginning his career in film and theatre production and currently works as a producer + campaign coordinator for Soulcraft Allstars, a local storytelling agency. Neyens has held leadership roles in many non-profit organizations in the Bellingham area, including executive director of Bellingham Pride in 2017. He started his time with CASCADIA as an administrative intern while studying Arts Enterprise and Cultural Innovation at Western, his passion for film and CASCADIA’s mission drove him to continue working with the organization afterward.

Cassidy Brooks

Cassidy Brooks

Cassidy Brooks, the co-founder of Talking To Crows (TTC), holds ten years of experience in music. theater and in producing, directing, writing, editing, and camera operation for TTC. Cassidy co-created TTC’s multimedia cartoon, American Pizza, and attended the Savannah College of Art and Design for sound design. She also co-produced and directed the feature film, Just Like The Men, released in 2020 and now available to stream on Amazon Prime. Cassidy has served as one of CASCADIA’s short film judges since the festival’s beginning and has contributed to the festival trailers every year. She was grateful for the opportunity to attend the ArtHouse Convergence conference in 2020 on behalf of CASCADIA. She and her team members also hosted the Bellingham Film Annual Showcase in 2017 and 2018.

Ann McQueen

Ann McQueen joins the CASCADIA board with over 20 plus years of sales experience in media and medical sales. She shares degrees in both art history & business communications. Her sales career has taken her all over the Northwest covering a broad territory from Oregon to Alaska. From a young age her parents instilled a strong appreciation for the arts, music and theater. She has attended film festivals such as Sundance, Telluride, Bellingham and Seattle. Ann moved to Bellingham in 2017 where she is a active member/volunteer with the Bellingham Yacht club along with several local community outreach programs. After volunteering and hosting for CASCADIA in 2021 she wanted to utilize her business acumen and passion for independent film to help promote the talented women film makers as well as Bellinghams strong arts scene. 

Advisory Board

Everett Aison– Director, Screenwriter, & Co-founder of SVA’s Film School

Mel Damski– Director, Emmy & Oscar Nominee

Polly Miller– Founder, Creative Director, & Marketing Guru

Maria McLeod– Author, Professor, & Media Specialist

Sue Lonac– Professor of English and Film Studies, Whatcom Community College

Lance Rosen –Founder of Dapple Gray Productions, a screenplay development company, former director of Business and Legal Affairs for The Disney Channel

Darrel Hillaire – Founder of Children of the Setting Sun Productions

Sheila Goodwin– Professional Actress (Behind the Mask, The X-Files), Bellingham psychotherapist, and equestrian.

Shirley Jo Finney– Award-winning international director of theater, television, and films.

Michael Petryni– Screenwriter & Producer

Dennis Minor – President and Executive Producer of Blue Highway Productions

Bob Goodwin– Executive Producer, Director, Emmy nominee and Golden Globe recipient.

John McGarrity–President of Value Management Corporation and founding member of Whatcom Film Association.

Andy Clay– CEO of Clay Senior Management and Filmmaker

Team Members

Tara Nelson – Communications Coordinator & Website Administrator. Owner of Taradactyl Design.

Scout Powell – Outreach Coordinator, Southern California.

Katie Schreiber – Submissions Coordinator. Graduate of Western Washington University’s theatre department and CASCADIA intern for the past two years. Currently also an editor with SoulCraft Allstars.

Founding Board

BOARD PRESIDENT

Cheryl Crooks

VICE PRESIDENT / TREASURER

Dr.  F. Lee Van Horn

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Polly Miller

SECRETARY

Marla Bronstein

DEVELOPMENTAL CONSULTANT

Carol Gipson

FOUNDING BOARD MEMBERS

Everett Aison
Mel Damski

Amy McIlvaine
Susie Purves

Barbara vz Howard
John McGarrity

Julie Trimingham
Sheila Goodwin

Megan Taylor 
Emily Weiner