Meet the Spillian staff! We have a growing, wonderful crew who make everything run effortlessly.
We’re delighted to introduce you to them.

Spillian Founders Leigh Melander and Mark Somerfield have been best pals since college. Along the line somewhere it occurred to them to get married, so they’ve done that for a while, too. They are building a remarkable crew at Spillian to create the retreat center of their — and hopefully your — dreams.

Spillian Founders

Leigh Melander, Ph.D.
Leigh Melander, Ph.D.Spillian Founding Fomenter/Partner
Leigh has an eclectic (she prefers that word to aimless) background in the arts, in music, dance, theater, writing, and graphic design, as well as consulting in strategic planning, outreach and marketing, and event planning for over 20 years. She has performed and taught internationally as a speaker, actor, dancer, singer, and harpist.

Her undergraduate degree is in performance, literature, and history and she studied writing by invitation with Nobel Poet Laureate Derek Walcott at Boston University. She has a doctorate in cultural mythology and psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute and wrote her dissertation on frivolity (yes, really!) as an entry into the world of imagination.

Leigh oversees all of the visioning, marketing, and outreach for Spillian, and most importantly, the Spillian Imaginarium, presenting workshops and events and working with creatives from around the world to dream forward programs that inspire imagination. She also hosts two radio shows, Myth America and Spillian Revels Radio Hour, on WIOX Radio (an NPR Community affiliate). Her first book, Just That Side of Crazy, will be available in 2017 and she was seen as a mythology expert on the True Monsters series on the History Channel in fall, 2015. She is proud to have served on a range of regional and national boards, and currently serves on the boards of the MARK Project, a regional community development foundation, Rosemary Farm Equine Sanctuary, Spring Journal & Books, and the Joseph Campbell Foundation.

She works with individual clients around the world, helping them to imagine and leap into their wildest ideas. You can find out more about how you could work with Leigh here.

Mark Somerfield, MFA
Mark is a lighting and scenic designer for theater, opera, and ballet. He has most recently been designing for and touring with west coast companies, including State Street Ballet, Opera Santa Barbara, and Music Academy of the West. He is also a production and stage manager, as well as a computerized lighting specialist, and has managed thousands of events in theaters and on tours around the United States and internationally.

He spent over a decade as the Production Manager for the University of California Santa Barbara Music Department, and has worked with New York City Opera, the First National Tour of the Broadway show, Smokey Joe’s Café, the Guthrie Theater, the Ordway Theater, and many other touring, regional, and academic performance organizations. He has a Master of Fine Arts from the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music in lighting design.

Before moving to New York, he completed several major residential renovation projects, including renovations of a postwar house in California into a handcrafted modern version of an Arts and Crafts bungalow, designing and building all custom woodwork, tile work, stained glass, etc. And he is responsible for the sparkling house that Spillian now lives in, spending an entire year bringing the old Fleischmanns mansion back to life. He now serves as Spillian’s Site Designer and General Manager, managing all of the private events on site and providing the lead on all of the ongoing renovations and development of the property.

Spillian Staff

Chef Christian Van Etten

With the talented and unflappable magic of Spillian’s Head Chef Christian Van Etten, our kitchen imagines extraordinary food into being. Drawing from the best of the Catskills’ food growers and makers, Christian works to create custom menus that capture the essence of each event, the people who are gathering together to revel, and the magic of these mountains. He also is regularly teaching cooking classes as a part of our Mythic Catskills Weekend offerings, and is an inspired teacher, making sophisticated cooking accessible and fun.

Christian comes to us as a Catskills native, trained at the award-winning SUNY Delhi culinary program. He has served as sous and head chef at a variety of fine dining restaurants, most recently at Disney Florida. He has returned to his roots and we are grateful!

Tracie De Silva, Hospitality Manager | Captain Spillian

Tracie brings together a million different strands for each of our events, from putting elegant flourishes on tables, to managing our event staff, and serving as the most gracious maker-of-all things possible for our wedding couples and workshop attendees. She is a living example of the soul of Spillian and its generosity.

Amanda Goodchild, Mistress of All Things

We’ve discovered that there is one thing in the entire world that Amanda doesn’t do well: making popcorn on the stove. Other than that, she is a key force in virtually everything that happens at Spillian. You might find her charming the crowd as she tends bar, climbing a ladder to roof a new building, delicately painting a piece of trim work, or anything in between.

Nancy Madero, Head Keeper of the Hearth

Simply put, Nancy is why Spillian gleams. We are looking for a way to bottle and/or patent her energy so we can retire on the proceeds. She is assisted by her daughter Christine, who shows up whenever we call in a panic, ready to tackle whatever gets thrown at her.

Brandon Johnson

Brandon works with partner Mark Somerfield to re-imagine the grounds at Spillian. They’ve been doing exquisite stonework, shaping paths and sculpting the forest, and taming the world’s most adventuresome driveway.

Miguel Martinez-Riddle

Resident maker of fires. Miguel is an acclaimed visual artist who lives just down the hill from Spillian, and who has become the maker of our extraordinary bonfires for weddings and events. They are ephemeral works of art.

Event Staff

We have a great crew of event wait staff, bartenders, and kitchen folks. They work together seamlessly to make events feel like they’ve blossomed with effort, and each bring their own brilliance and sparkle to Spillian and our guests.

  • Schae Clark
  • Sean Wells
  • Samantha Murad
  • Lexi Piskasek
  • Sarah Sanford
  • Shayla McClung
  • Ellen Crawford
  • Brian Lawrence