Spillian is lucky to have a growing community of dear friends who have stepped in and supported its vision in a variety of ways. Our Spillian Fellows serve as an informal brain trust, sharing ideas, challenges, best practices, and resources. We are so grateful to them.
Gene Melander, PhD
A lifelong educator, Gene is as a Professor Emeritus and retired Assistant Vice Provost at Penn State, one of the most imaginal thinkers about education you’ll meet. He’s also Leigh’s dad. We think he’s mostly over the twitch that developed when he first saw this impossible project we took on. His generosity is one of the reasons we’re still standing.
Jackie has spent a lifetime finding the intersections between place and people, history and possibility. For over 30 years, she served as the President of the Centre County Historical Society in Pennsylvania and spend several years the Board of the Pennsylvania Humanities Council. She’s also Leigh’s mom. And the anointed Empress of Weird, but we don’t talk about that much.
Lynn Melander, MA
Leigh’s sister Lynn is Leigh’s daily coach and manager of whining, despair, and elation, sometimes in the same phone call. When she’s not busy with that, she serves as the Development Lead at Mozilla Foundation. And herds three splendid daughters about with remarkable aplomb.
Leigh’s sister Jody is one of the inspirations of Spillian’s vision of imagining past what you think is possible. She has spent a lifetime immersed in the creative and natural inspiration of Cape Cod, and has fiercely and steadfastly built a life that is about the components she chooses, rather than what the world assumes. She is an artist, a naturalist, and a creator of marvelous working objects.
Bradley Olson, PhDSpillian Facilitator
Dr. Brad Olson is a practicing psychotherapist in Arizona, Leigh’s best bud from grad school, and the most sartorial man you’ll ever meet. He’s a writer and poet, a philosopher, and the informal therapist for all of us at Spillian. He is also a speaker of growing renown and is awaiting the release of his first book, Falstaff Was My Tutor, in the next few months.
Chris HensleySpillian Facilitator
Chris showed up at Spillian one day, wondering what we were up to and whether we might want to do a music series. We’re not sure he’s glad he did that, but we’re never letting him escape. Prior to his indentured servitude creating music programs and providing brilliance in our marketing and PR work, he spent a career in the music industry, working as an exec in artist development and marketing with major stars for all the major labels. Silly man, he thought he moved up here to fish.
Dana HensleySpillian Facilitator
The innocent victim of Chris Hensley’s curiosity about what was happening up the hill, Dana has graciously become our videographer/event photographer. She actually has another life as a media coach, working with top modeling clients, actors, and professionals building speaking and media careers.
John Boecker, MA Spillian Facilitator
John is an architect and partner at 7group, an internationally recognized multi-disciplinary consulting firm focused on green and regenerative development, as well as an international coach. He and his colleague Tom Keiter have been leading Mark and Leigh on a world-changing coaching journey working to articulate the essence of Spillian as a place and as an idea.
Tom KeiterSpillian Facilitator
Tom has been a friend and wild-man inspirer of Leigh’s for many years. A film maker by trade, he, along with his colleague John Boecker, has been a moving force in imagining sustainability in the US and the world, including being founding visionaries of the US Green Building Alliance’s LEED certification program as well as consulting and coaching internationally. With John, he’s been helping Mark and Leigh to land and deepen and understand how Spillian’s essence echoes throughout all we do.
Bob WalterSpillian Facilitator
A partner in crime in several contexts, Bob is the President of the Joseph Campbell Foundation and is a consistent source of brilliance, of generosity, and of shared resources. An acclaimed writer, director, and educator, he leads, by the way, the annual Mythological Toolbox Playshop in July, a hands-on creative exploration into Campbell’s Hero’s Journey®.
Joseph Piasek, PhDSpillian Facilitator
A founder of Nickelodeon Television, a major figure in freeform radio, and the creative spark behind WIOX Community Radio, Joe is another brilliant iconoclast at our table, both literally and metaphorically. He is co-inventing a media relationship with Spillian and WIOX/WSKG radio and goading us to think of Spillian, alongisde WIOX, a beacon from the Catskills to the world. He has a PhD in organizational development.
The Bovina Farmer. And an artist, a former top ad-man, and brilliant creative and raconteur, Steve is proving to be a muse of eatables and ideas for Spillian. He is helping us leap to a whole new level. And he grows vegetables like you’ve never had before. He’s what Mr. Greenjeans fantasized about becoming.
Will SoterSpillian Facilitator
We are trying to decide if we’re better off kidnapping or cloning Will. He is an outdoor guide (co-founder of Upstate Adventure Guides), a trail-maker who has been overseeing bringing the trails to life, a chef, a visionary, and an utter sweetheart. He has done so much for us, but the image that we keep most closely is of him in the winter, in his ice climbing gear, cleaning ice off the roof to stop the ice dams from damaging the house. Okay. We’re going to kidnap AND clone him.
A quiet force of nature, both literally and metaphorically, Ann does computer programming as her day gig, but is inspired by creating new ways to help people access the magic of the Catskills. She’s spearheaded the design and build of several local trails on lands previously inaccessible, has inspired us with her ability to make things happen here, and has been an incredibly generous supporter of Spillian in a variety of ways, including introducing us to Will Soter.
A superb organizer who also walks in whimsy (you don’t meet many of those!), Sheleigah knocked on our door one day offering to be helpful. When we finished weeping, we set her on the task of organizing all of our contact information and relationships with clients and visitors. We hear she’s been asking for Rumpelstiltsken… Prior to her helping us, she brought clarity to a number of organizations, including the Society for Ethical Culture.
Rita Ferrandino, MBASpillian Facilitator
One of Leigh’s best lifelong friends, a former work colleague and way back in another century, a fellow dancer. Rita is a Principal and Founding Partner at Arc Capital Development, providing business development consulting internationally, as well a powerhouse in Sarasota Democratic politics, and has provided endless support to this project.
Ally, friend, champion, challenger, community visionary Peg Ellsworth has spent a lifetime bringing life to communities in these mountains. She is the Executive Director of one of the most innovative community foundations the country, The MARK Project, and brings brilliance and resources to the region. We are the lucky recipients of her insights and energies on more occasions than we can count, from grant support to catering from she and her husband’s company Ate O Ate Catering.
Jack is truly an inspired Jack of All Trades and has been one of our great friends getting Spillian flying. He prepares the best breakfasts ever down the road at Arkville Bread & Breakfast, but in his spare time, he does things like showing up at Spillian with exquisite hand-painted signs.
Suzie NixonSpillian Facilitator
Another dear friend of Leigh’s, Suzie helped to nurture the vision of Spillian as it was first birthed in California and has been the tireless cheerleader and strong shoulder to lean on for energy and inspiration for over a decade. She is an expert in nonprofit organizational and funding development and is the Executive Director of Kids in the Game, a national nonprofit helping kids play sports.
David Miller, PhDSpillian Emeritus Facilitator
David Miller is one of the leading scholars and teachers in mythological and religious studies in the world. He is the Watson-Lederer Professor of Religion, Emeritus from Syracuse University as well as an Emeritus from Pacifica Graduate Institute. He has been supportive of Spillian since its first inception as The Imaginal Institute in California and was Leigh’s dissertation advisor.
Stephanie Pope, MA
Stephanie Pope is a grad school friend and colleague, an extraordinary poet exploring the intersections of poetry and myth, and a tireless supporter of the myth and imagination community. Her website, mythopoetry.com, has been an embracive landing place for many poets and mythologists and is holding a big place in this work internationally. She’s been a supporter and champion of Spillian like breathing, through co-sponsorships and a brilliant (and tireless!) dance of spreading the word on social media. She is one of the few people in the world who actually is, in fact, a maven.
Last but so not least, Reed is a long-ago friend and former student of Mark’s who happens to live across the valley from Spillian. He arrived one day offering to help with renovations and made the impossible possible, showing up every day for months to tackle the next seemingly insurmountable challenge. His knees may never recover from his toothbrush-cleaning of all of the bathroom floors.