STAFF

Kristin Neville

Executive Director & Founder
Wife of the late famous jazz musician Charles Neville, Kristin was inspired by how he used music to heal from the systemic racism he faced as a Black man and to bring diverse people together in joy. Following his example, she decided to use her connections in the jazz world to bring arts access to underserved people and leverage the arts as a tool for social change. To explore and prepare to implement her vision, she obtained a master’s degree in Public Policy and Administration with a concentration in Nonprofit Management from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 2012. She used the entire four-year program to research and develop ideas for Blues to Green. This included traveling to meet with nonprofit Executive Directors and writing research papers on engaging the public with climate change and biodiversity loss through music and cultural events, arts-based nonprofits engaging youth in social enterprise, and more. She then founded Blues to Green in 2013 and has designed and executed all programming since our first Springfield Jazz & Roots Festival in 2014. A member of Springfield’s Climate Change & Health Equity (CCHE) Committee, Kristin is well-connected and involved in Springfield arts and nonprofit work. She also plays the clarinet.

Board

Ray Berry


Springfield resident & President, White Lion Brewing Company (in Springfield)

Eric Bachrach


Founding Executive Director, Community Music School of Springfield

Vanessa Ford


Springfield resident & Program Director of the Trust Transfer Project (in Springfield)

Calvin Hill


Vice President for Inclusion & Community Engagement, Springfield College

Evan Plotkin


President, NAI Plotkin (Springfield real estate firm)                   

Stu Hibbert


Teacher, Springfield Public Schools; DJ, WTCC Radio Springfield

Rose Milligan


Springfield resident & retired Program Officer, Mass Humanities Foundation

Jeff Sullivan


Springfield resident & President & CEO, New Valley Bank & Trust (in Springfield)

Key consultants

Erica Silber

Year-Round Development Consultant
As Principal of Written Wings since 2011, Erica views her consulting as service to the oppressed, working in the background as an ally helping community nonprofits tell their stories in their own voices, access resources, and use best practices to operate efficiently and impactfully. She has supported dozens of local and national nonprofits in the fields of social justice, human services, economic development, and the arts. Erica particularly serves many racial justice and reproductive justice groups, including working since 2014 with SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, the national nonprofit that founded the reproductive justice movement. In addition to serving Blues to Green since 2014, her local clientele includes Community Action Pioneer Valley, Tapestry Health, and many others. Erica raises millions of dollars each year through grant writing and fortifies nonprofits with strategic, development, and program planning. She also guides clients to create program evaluation systems and messaging strategies, and she writes appeals and outreach materials of all kinds. She provides all of these services for Blues to Green. She is also a Latin dancer involved in Springfield and Holyoke’s largely Puerto Rican Latin dance community and spends part of the year in Vieques, Puerto Rico annually with her dance and life partner (below), who is of Puerto Rican descent.

Kyle Homestead

Year-Round Communications Consultant & Seasonal Festival Production Manager
Kyle has been House Sound Engineer and Technical Director for the iconic Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton, MA and toured internationally as Technical Director for numerous artists giving concerts at all scales. When he became a parent, he shifted to a career in IT, marketing, and design, but later returned to music by founding Laudable Productions, which produces festivals and concerts and consults for artists and presenters. They produce the annual Barbes in the Wood festival, Millpond Live summer concert series, World Music Collider quarterly concerts, Planetary Party monthly concerts, and Hinterland Live farm-to-table concerts. He also tours as Technical Director with Sweet Honey in the Rock. Kyle recently co-founded Bombyx Center for Arts & Equity, a nonprofit that stewards the former Florence Congregational Church building, built by abolitionists, as a venue for arts and social justice experiences in Florence, MA. He has been the Springfield Jazz & Roots festival’s Production Manager since 2016 and now leads his own team at Laudable Productions to produce the festival. Kyle also manages the festival’s sound and light, and he supports Blues to Green year-round with graphic design and our newsletter and website.

Yvonne Mendez

Artist Liaison
As a producer and arts administrator, Yvonne’s expertise includes operations and logistics, marketing, public relations, program and organizational development, fundraising, strategic planning, and fiscal management. She has produced a variety of theater and music events that educate, enliven, and empower diverse audiences. Currently Director of Education and Engagement at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst Fine Arts Center, she manages a variety of arts programs, including the Valley Jazz Network. She has also been the Marketing & Outreach Director for New WORLD Theater and the Lead Producer for The Bright Moments Festival. Holding a Master’s degree in Media Studies from The New School, she also runs Visual Concepts 123, which offers print, web, multimedia, and video design to artists and nonprofits. Yvonne has been Assistant to the Producer of the Springfield Jazz & Roots Festival since 2015 and became the Festival Coordinator in 2019 and Artist Liaison in 2022.

John "Klon" Koehler

Production Manager
As President of Klondike Sound, Klon has played key technical roles in thousands of events with audiences up to tens of thousands, mainly as a sound contractor or production manager. Specializing in jazz and outdoor music festivals and events, his accomplishments include supervising audio operations for both of Bill Clinton’s Inaugural Celebrations on the Washington Mall and for the New Orleans Jazz Festival for over 40 years. He has also served as house engineer for two years of Prairie Home Companion live broadcasts. He was co-founder and treasurer of Katrina’s Piano Fund, a nonprofit that gave 400+ free instruments of all kinds to New Orleans musicians displaced by the flood. He is also an accomplished bassist whose bands have performed with BB King, Dr. John, Allen Toussaint, James Cotton, Waylon Jennings, and many others. Klon has produced our festival since its inception and also advises talent selection, site layout, and development.

Michael Rodriguez

Year-Round Fundraising & Event Consultant

Since 1977, Michael has assisted nonprofits by serving on teams as an event director, event consultant, and/or fundraising coordinator managing all aspects of events, including logistics, onsite fundraising, logistics, sponsor recruitment and retainment, infrastructure improvements, and more. He has positioned dozens of nonprofits to maximize their fundraising potential, promote their mission and goals, and improve their programs and timelines to assist their teams in attaining success and longevity. He is also a Latin dance coach connecting Blues to Green with Springfield and Holyoke’s largely Puerto Rican Latin dance community and spends part of the year in Vieques, Puerto Rico annually with his dance and life partner, Erica (above).
Highlights of his previous event experience include:

  • Directing the San Francisco Marathon for 20 years, with 10,000 runners raising $100,000+ for nonprofits annually, and smaller races year-round
  • Coordinating the 50th anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge concert with 800,000 attendees
  • Coordinating the memorial concerts of The Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia and rock promoter Bill Graham with 250,000 attendees each
  • Directing a $5,000 chili cook-off fundraiser to turn into a $30,000 fundraiser with a carnival and live music

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