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The Kahilu Theatre staff is comprised of both full and part time employees as well as independent contractors, all who generously share their passion and expertise in support of our organization's mission and vision. Mahalo! 

Sara Nealy – Executive Director

Sara brings arts leadership from two San Francisco arts organizations where she implemented critical financial management, expanded engagement with diverse cultural communities, developed strategic artistic collaborations and partnerships, and introduced an increasingly ambitious program of productions.

Sara was selected by Musical America for their “MA:30 Profiles in Courage” roster for her cogent leadership.

Before moving to San Francisco, Sara resided with her family in North Kohala, where her children attended Parker School, and Sara danced with Halau ‘o Ha’alelea under the direction of the late beloved kumu hula, Raylene Ha’alelea Kawaiae’a Lancaster.

Sara’s work in Hawai’i included marketing communications and film production for a variety of cultural organizations and corporate clients, particularly for the Earl and Doris Bakken Foundation, North Hawaii Community Hospital, Nā Kālai Wa’a, the Kohala Center, Friends of the Future, Five Mountains Hawai’i, and Cyanotech. In 2009, she was the Director of Sales and Marketing at Kona Village Resort.
Chuck Gessert – Artistic Director

Chuck brings to our arts organization more than thirty years of experience as a theater executive. Most recently he was the Managing Director of the South Bend Civic Theatre in Indiana. Chuckʻs career includes 10 years serving as General Manager at Theatre at the Center, a professional Equity theatre in Chicago. He was also the General Manager for one of the largest amphitheaters in North America at Tinley Park, Chicago. One of his many event credits was generating 10,000 unpaid extras to take part in the filming of the parade in the movie “Ferris Buellerʻs Day Off”.

In some way, shape or form, Chuck estimates that he has been involved in over 1,000 concerts, more than 200 theatrical productions, several movies and commercials, completed three marathons and one Ironman Triathlon!

In his role as Artistic Director, Chuck is responsible for leading the selection of programming for our Kahilu Presents and Kahilu Produces Season and the Arts Ed program. 
Eric Kwan – Box Office Manager and
                    Interim Operations Manager


Born and raised in Asia and Australia, Eric has lived on the Island of Hawaiʻi for more than a decade. He has spent over 30 years in the hospitality industry in sales and marketing with Hyatt Hotels, Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts and Mandarin Oriental Hotels.

This is Eric’s second go-around with Kahilu Theatre where he oversaw the Box Office before its ‘intermission’. Prior to rejoining the Theatre, he worked with Louis Vuitton and was a travel consultant arranging customized itineraries for travels around the globe.

Eric’s hospitality industry experience includes opening hotels and resorts in the U.S. and international destinations, regional/international sales responsibilities, sales training, coaching, customer relations development, and feasibility studies for new hotel/resort projects.

Food and travel are two of Eric’s passions. Education is a third – Eric strongly believes that a well-rounded education is important to every child. 
Margo Ray – Kahilu Exhibits Coordinator

Margo is an artist from the Big Island of Hawai’i. She holds an MFA from Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec and a BA in Studio Arts from University of Hawaii at Hilo. Her works have been exhibited in venues such as Second Street Gallery (Charlottesville, VA), The Honolulu Museum of Art at First Hawaiian Center (Honolulu, HI) and Parisian Laundry (Montreal, QC). Her artwork can be found in the collections of the Hawai’i State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, The Honolulu Museum of Art Gift Print collection, and the Artist Book Collection of the Bibliotheque Nationale du Quebec.    

From 2006 to 2015 she was co-owner and operator of Ironwood Custom Framing and Design, a custom picture framing business in Kamuela, HI. Since selling the business she has focused on her art practice and raising two young children, in 2016, she was hired as the Kahilu Exhibits coordinator. As coordinator, she is working in partnership with the Exhibitions Committee to create a leading edge art gallery at Kahilu Theatre. The Gallery is dedicated to expanding the visibility of diverse and experimental visual arts within our region, enlivening our island community through dynamic programming of both solo and thematic group exhibitions that create access to quality art and artists which inspires new ways of thinking, seeing, and doing.
Ashley Jones – Executive Assistant

Ashley was raised in North Carolina where she earned a degree in Psychology from the UNC Charlotte. After working at a medical billing office for 2 years, the pull of the islands took her to Oahu and there she met her husband in 2012. In 2014 they moved to the Big Island and Ashley became a volunteer at the theatre. Her husband’s job temporarily took them back to the mainland which enabled Ashley to care for their two children while completing an MBA. The family returned to the Big Island late in 2017, and Ashley is very happy and grateful to be back in one of her favorite towns in the world. She is passionate about music and the performing arts and is very excited to return to the Kahilu theatre.

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