Like so many organizations, We Want the Land Coalition grew organically out of conversations among various friends and colleagues whose lives were, in some way, impacted by the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival. The women soon realized that they had all been basically discussing variations on a theme, and that they shared one single common goal: to preserve the Land for the use of our community. As a result, the WWTLC organizing team was formed. The women who form the founding board of directors for WWTLC are visionary, bright, resourceful, creative, and fiercely determined. Their process has been very much rooted in “everything is possible – we just have to figure out how to make it happen.” Click on the tabs by board member name to get to know WWTLC’s founding board of directors.
Tara Ayres didn’t know about the first Michfest, but from the minute she heard about the second year, she was called to come home, delighted to be there for 37 of its 40 years. Tara was part of the posse that set up the original shuttle crew. After several years working shuttle, she came as a festie for a few years, and as a CCE, and spent many years teaching intensive workshops, returning as a worker for the last four years as part of the DART crew. She was already a radical lesbian and involved with women’s music before she came to fest the first time, but Michfest was a huge part of supporting and nurturing her and was her connection to women’s culture. She met some of her dearest friends through fest. When one of those women died a few years ago, they buried her ashes there.
Outside of fest Tara has spent the last 43 years producing women’s and lesbian and gay concerts, theater and other cultural events, first in Kansas City, then in Connecticut and Wisconsin, and now in California. After years of producing women’s concerts and dances in Madison, WI, she spent 9 years as the artistic director of StageQ, Madison’s LGBT theater troupe. Tara recently moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, and just produced a lesbian play for the San Francisco Fringe Festival.
Fun Fact: Tara spends a lot of time musing about how to make the world more accessible, and just finished writing a guide to using small claims court to enforce the California disability rights law.
Anne Drake is a social worker with the Ann Arbor Veteran’s Administration, supporting homeless veterans. Previously, she worked with severely and persistently mentally ill young adults at a Kalamazoo community mental health agency. She earned two Bachelor of Science degrees from Penn State; the first in Wildlife and Fisheries Science and the second in Criminology. She has a Master’s of Social Work from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. Anne was a Master Sergeant in the US Air Force, retired from the PA Air National Guard in 2007.
In 2007 she fell in love with her Festie sweetheart, Christina, and they were married in 2009. They now live in Ann Arbor with their daughters, Thea and Zora; two dogs, Molly and Mike; and two cats, Jake and Roger. They spend as much time as possible outdoors, teaching the girls about nature, gardening, conservation of the land, and basically getting as dirty as possible. They enjoy backpacking as a family in Northern Michigan each summer.
Fun Fact: To the best of her knowledge, both girls were the youngest on the land for their first trips to the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival – Thea was 2 months old in 2010 and Zora was 3 months old in 2013.
Rae Fehring has spent the last 17 years working in the nonprofit sector. From program design and coordination to serving as the president of a board of directors, she has dedicated the bulk of her professional career to learning and serving organizations with a cause. Also, Rae has built – from the ground up – a nonprofit organization that serves women and girls. This experience, along with her nearly 15-year history with the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, makes serving on the WWTLC board of directors a natural fit for her professional experience, skills, and passion.
Rae holds a BA in Communication Studies as well as an MA (ABT) in Women’s and Gender Studies. She has worked for a variety of organizations and projects including: The Administration on Aging, Lambda Legal, United Way of Central Iowa, the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and most recently as Communications Manager for Planned Parenthood. When not editing or creating copy for Planned Parenthood, Rae spends time with her three brilliant, hilarious and loving children, her dozens of adopted daughters (ask her how that happened), and her 95-pound lap dog, Dexter.
Fun Fact: Rae is a part-time musician. She sings in a jazz funk band, plays every instrument and sings in her all grrl cover band, is one-half of an acoustic duo, and has toured central and the western United States as a solo artist.
Leslie Gallagher holds a B.A. in Literature, Science and the Arts from University of Iowa, and she was the first person in her family to earn a 4 year degree. An advocate for girls and women her entire adult life, Leslie served as a board member for the Emma Goldman Clinic, and worked at the Women’s Resource and Action Center and in the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity at the University of Iowa. Her pursuit of feminist and anti-racist consciousness led her to take a trip to the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival in 2000. She attended for 15 years and worked short crew at One World for 1 year. Her devotion to the Festival was also evident in her cultivation of multitudes of community connections over the years. In July of 2016, she literally woke up one day and said, “We need to save the Land.” From there, her vision, immense organizational capacity and deep connections within the community catalyzed the formation of WWTLC.
Fun Fact: Leslie has worked a wide range of jobs over the years; she’s sold cars, served as an assistant for a magazine dedicated to holistic healthcare for cats, and currently manages an industrial adhesives company. She’s picked up a wide array of skills and a plethora of knowledge from all of these experiences.
Nedra Johnson is an openly lesbian singer songwriter and instrumentalist. Her work has primarily focused on women, love and liberation. She attended the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival as a performer and/or worker for 28 years, missing only one between her first and the final festival.
Nedra does things “the lesbian way”: If something needs to be done, she learns how to do it. Although Nedra’s formal education ended after “some college,” she has remained an avid learner and has acquired skills throughout her life that have enabled her to work in fields that generally require a college degree. In addition to being a musician, Nedra has worked in retail as a Produce Manager/Buyer. She has freelanced as a web designer and podcast producer as well as worked in web and multimedia production and in web based technical support. In her spare time, she writes and performs songs, is a passionate advocate for women and girls, and crafts deeply thoughtful essays on social justice issues on her blog. She has been credited for shifting the perspectives of countless readers who take the time to consider and process her words.
Fun Fact: Nedra likes to match plaids, sometimes wearing 2 to 3 variations at a time. especially on Thursdays, aka “Plaidy Thursday.”
It was 2013, Brooke Levandowski had just quit her job conducting Africa-based research to reduce maternal death and disability due to unsafe abortion and moved back to NY for a part-time job and huge instability, to assist her family. By the spring, her nerves were shot and the wonderful Kari Points’ voice popped into her head, reminding Brooke that Kari was in love with this music festival in the woods that she had attended for years. After a shockingly brief text exchange, Brooke bought a plane ticket, packed her bags, and found Home. She attended Fest for the final three years (2013-2016), and, like most attendees, enjoyed and reveled in every moment.
In area 51, Brooke has a PhD in Epidemiology and Master’s in Public Administration. She conducts health research focused on how social determinants of health (race, income, education, etc.) influence stigmatized health outcomes (such as STDs, HIV, abortion, suicide). She is the Secretary of the BOD of her local Planned Parenthood affiliate and has extensive volunteer experience including a BOD for a non-profit focused on disordered eating and eating disorders, Peace Corps, AmeriCorps and SWOOP (this fantastic lesbian version of Habitat for Humanity in NC). It is her absolute honor and pleasure to serve WWTLC in whatever way she can.
Fun Fact: Brooke spends her summers in the Thousand Islands region of the St. Lawrence River. She drives her boat, named Phyllis, up and down the river, finding peace in the sunshine on her face, the wind in her hair and the breathtaking views of water, islands, clouds, and trees that never get old. She’s currently making friends with the Great Blue heron who’s frequenting her dock.
Brenda Millhouse-Huebner has spent her life fighting for and working with women. She works as a financial architect where she helps her clients forge paths from where they are currently in their financial process to where they want to be. She prides herself on having the ability to make the complex simple and easy to understand. One of the ways that Brenda gives back to women is by working with women in the prison system. She volunteers one morning a week to teach the women financial education so that they have a good foundation to be successful when they return home.
Brenda is a member of DamesBond, which is a local networking group for women business owners as well as a founding member of Speaking of Gender (SoG). With SoG, we strive to make women’s voices heard on every conference panel we find. She was passionate about Fest and wanted to be involved to help save and maintain the Land for women and girls in perpetuity.
Brenda has 3 children and 2 grandchildren. She has 2 dogs. She spent 2 ½ years in Okinawa, Japan.
Fun Fact: Brenda and her wife, Barb, raise and release Monarch butterflies. By September 1, 2017, they have released approximately 500 butterflies this year alone.
Papusa Molina is part of this project, because women have been the center of her life since she was in elementary school (all girls’ school). In 1980 Papusa moved from Yucatan to Iowa to get her Master’s, and later, a PhD degree. In 1985 she attended for the first time the Festival as a worker in Oasis, and a year later was invited to work as a facilitator for Diversity and anti-oppression work with the workers’ community. She was already working at the Women’s Resource and Action Center (WRAC) at the University of Iowa and was one of the co-founders of “Women Against Racism.” The summer of 1986 marks the time when the construction of a community committed to work on liberation from all kinds of oppressions (racism, ableism, classism, anti-semitism, ageism, and all other isms) started at Michfest. It was hard work: crying, laughing, hugging, and, above all, the community learned how to radically love each other. Papusa became part of Staff Services, then Ops, the Walhalla office crew until 2000. That year after fest, she went back to Mexico and returned to festival just once in 2015.
Papusa’s everyday life is dedicated to Academia. She directs a post-graduate Institute in Psychotherapy and is a professor of research methodology and the in-house consultant on issues of gender, class, and sexuality. She has been lucky enough to always intertwine her personal and professional life with activism. Papusa served as the General Director of the National Institute for Women, a cabinet position under President Fox mandate from 2001-2006. She has co-created different NGO’s that now keep working without her (domestic violence, women and AIDS, sustainability).
Fun Fact: Papusa tries to be a practicing Buddhist, loves the ocean, writing poetry, and cooking.
Cammie Pisegna made the journey to her first Festival in 1989 as a Festie for 3 years and then as a worker for 23 years. The women she met and those she worked with will always be her family of sisters who continue to amaze, delight and inspire her to seek truth, goodness, joy, generosity, and radical justice in all aspects of her life. Throughout all those years, at every turn, she learned from the example of Lisa Vogel’s brilliant combination of leadership and love. Although Festival has never been just a place to Cammie, she is passionately in love with the Land and so honored to be part of preserving her beauty for women and girls forever.
At Festival, Cammie worked as Sprouts Coordinator for 20 years and carries a passion for creating opportunities where all generations – both together and in separate ways – can enjoy and be nurtured by the Land.
She is a Mama of six children and Nana of 7 grandchildren. As a Librarian, she brings a love of research and organizational skills to the Board. She served as Director for non-profit intergenerational programs (Senior Corps and Grandparents Raising Grandchildren) and President of the National Senior Corps Association Board of Directors where her passion for bringing generations together began. Throughout both her library and non-profit work, she became proficient at grant writing and community collaboration that she hopes will benefit WWTLC. She currently works at Whirlpool Corporation as part of the customer service management team and a member of the Whirlpool PRIDE Network.
Cammie is excited to be part of WWTLC and lend her heart and hands to the rebirthing.
Fun Fact: Cammie studied calligraphy as her undergraduate college major. She works as a professional freelance calligrapher for advertising agencies and for private commissions. She has also taught classes in different alphabets and techniques and looks forward to devoting more time to calligraphy when she retires in a few years.
Annemarie Serra holds a BA in Materials and Logistics Management from Michigan State University and an MBA in Marketing, Strategy, and Organization Behavior from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University. By day, Annemarie leads very large cross functional teams to deliver new products. She is known for breaking complex problems down into manageable chunks, maintaining a big picture perspective while digging into details, and creating process and order out of chaos.
Her love of music has shaped her involvement in the arts and culture community, including the Woodstock Folk Festival, First SaturdayMusic, and Women in Music Say Yes – a women’s song circle she founded to help build the women’s music community, provide a safe environment for growth and learning, and showcase their talent and abilities. Annemarie first attended MichFest in 2002 as a first-time camper. One time was all it took for her to start planning her year around the Festival, including serving on short crew for 3 years. After learning that the 40th Festival in 2015 would be the last, Annemarie began brainstorming ideas for sustaining and growing the Festival’s culture beyond its end. Serving on WWTLC’s board is a true labor of love.
Fun Fact: A life-long learner, after finishing her MBA program Annemarie became a student of the guitar and recently began playing the ukulele. She has joined an all-girl ukulele band called the Ukulele Superheroes. She’s also an amateur arborist and grows mighty oaks from wee acorns on the regular.
Karen Thompson is an activist and attorney who has spent much of her legal career representing individuals who are fighting for justice. As a staff attorney at the Innocence Project, her work centers around post-conviction litigation in seven states across the United States, including Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Arkansas. Karen has also fought for lesbians and gay men seeking asylum from unspeakable brutality and regularly lectures about wrongful convictions and mass incarceration at colleges, universities and high schools across the country. She was a board member of FIERCE!: an LGBTQ youth-of-color organization dedicated to building leadership and consciousness and fighting police brutality in New York City. Karen’s fighting streak was honed by her two decades as a worker at the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival where, among other things, she was one of four facilitators of the Allies In Understanding workshop series which addressed the strongly held opinions around womyn’s space by embracing difficult conversations.
She holds a BA from Carleton College, an MA from New York University, and a JD from Northwestern University.
Fun Facts: Karen has two dachshunds, Miles Davis and Jolene. She is a published poet and a singer in her spare time.