For Immediate Release

Contact: Todd Brandt,, 860-520-7240

Hartford Stage announces Jack Sennott elected President of the Board of Directors

New Officers and Board Members also elected at Annual Meeting

Hartford, CT, July 14, 2021 – Hartford Stage, under the leadership of Artistic Director Melia Bensussen and Managing Director Cynthia Rider announce the election of Jack Sennott as Board President during its Annual Meeting on Wednesday, June 23.  He succeeds David R. Jimenez, whose term concluded after three years. 

Jack Sennott is Chairman, CEO and President of Hartford-based CapSpecialty, a specialty insurance provider for small and mid-sized businesses across the U.S. Prior to his role at CapSpecialty, Sennott was Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Alleghany Corporation. He previously served as Hartford Stage Board Vice-President and as Chair of the Finance Committee.

Newly elected officers include Elease Wright, Human Resources & Leadership Consultant as Vice President and Chair of Human Resources Committee. Devon C. Francis, Partner & Senior Consultant at Fiducient Advisors continues as Treasurer and Chair of the Finance Committee and Michael D. Nicastro, Chief Executive Officer and Board Member at Continuity in New Haven, will continue as Secretary.

“As Hartford Stage puts plans in place to reopen to in person performances in October and put ourselves back on a trajectory for artistic and economic success, we cannot think of a better person to help lead our theatre in its return than Jack. He follows in a long line of strong Board leaders for Hartford Stage who value our artistry and the impact this theatre has on the community,” said Cynthia Rider, Managing Director of Hartford Stage.

“I am thrilled and honored to be elected as the next President of Hartford Stage. Over the past fifteen months, the team has done remarkable work through the Raise the Curtain campaign to make the theatre’s re-emergence possible. We cannot wait to welcome everyone back in October and I encourage you to plan a night out at the Hartford Stage! My wife Donna and I care deeply for this theatre and I look forward to working with Melia, Cynthia and the rest of our newly elected and returning board of directors to continue the amazing work of sharing the art and emotion of theatre with our audiences,” said Sennott.

Newly-appointed members to the Hartford Stage Governing Board of Directors are Shari Cantor; Mark G. Contreras; Anne D’Alleva; John Doran; the Very Rev. Miguelina Howell; Mark Overymyer-Velázquez; and Bill Thompson.

Shari Cantor is the Mayor of West Hartford and a Certified Public Accountant. She is an alumnus of UCONN where she has been a board of trustee since 2014 and inducted into the UCONN Hall of Fame in 2018. She is a member of the board of Foodshare, the CT Children’s Medical Center Foundation, the West Hartford Art League, and the American School for the Deaf.

Mark G. Contreras is the President, CEO and Trustee of Connecticut Public Broadcasting, the NPR and PBS affiliate in Connecticut. Prior to this role, he served as Dean of the School of Communications at Quinnipiac University, a leading media program focused on journalism, film and television, public relations and design.

Anne D’Alleva is the Professor of Art History and Dean of the School of Fine Arts at the University of Connecticut. Her initiatives as Dean include the founding of the Krenicki Arts and Engineering Institute, the development of a partnership between the Human Rights Institute and the School of Fine Arts, an anti-racism research initiative, and a program of professional development activities for undergraduate and graduate students.

John Doran is the Director of Accounting at Travelers Insurance specializing in financial reporting and compliance. John is a Certified Fraud Examiner and Chapter Officer of the Insurance Accounting & Systems Association (IASA) Northeastern Chapter and was the 2020 Chapter President. He is a former member of Stage One, the young professional leadership arm of the Governing Board at Hartford Stage.

The Very Reverend Miguelina Howell serves as the Tenth Dean and Vicar of Christ Church Cathedral in Hartford. Miguelina also serves as Chaplain to the House of Bishops, Faculty for CREDO, a Wellness Program of the Church Pension Group and serves as member of the Church Pension Group Client’s Council. She is the first Hispanic woman to be a cathedral dean in the Episcopal Church.

Dr. Mark Overmyer-Velázquez is the Campus Director of the University Connecticut- Hartford and Professor of History and Latinx Studies. He oversees the university’s newest regional campus and works with colleagues and Hartford partners to build bridges between academic and city communities to support collaborative, engaged learning and research.

Bill Thompson recently retired as the Principal & Consulting Actuary at Milliman. He serves as a Fellow on the Society of Actuaries and as a member of the American Academy of Actuaries. He served as a Board Member and Treasurer of the Seabury Retirement Community and as a former Vestry Member & Treasurer of St. James’ Episcopal Church.

Individuals returning to the Governing Board after having served as Honorary board members are Esther Pryor, Professional Pastry Chef & Owner & Operator of EAPRYOR LCC, and Tom Richards, Global Leader for Strategy & Business Development at CIGNA.

Long-time board member and Past President, Walter Harrison was elected as a Life Director.

Walter Harrison has been on the Hartford Stage board since 2002 and served as Board President from 2007-2010. He led the Artistic Director Search Committee in 2018-19 and co-chaired the recent Raise the Curtain campaign. He is president emeritus of the University of Hartford and was instrumental in the creation and continuation of the deep partnership the theatre has and continues with the Hartt School at the University of Hartford.

In addition, Hartford Stage appointed Emily Harrington and Leah Wade as new members of Stage One, the young professional leadership arm of the Governing Board.

Emily Harrington is the former Director of the Broadway Green Alliance in NYC, where she led multiple initiatives to educate, motivate and inspire the Broadway community at the intersection of theatre and environmentalism. 

Leah Wade is the Operations Manager for Dalio Education and serves in a number of volunteer capacities across Hartford including as a mentor with Grace Academy, on the Scholarship Review Committee for HFPG, and a member of Farmington Valley chapter of Links, Incorporated.

Jack Sennott

Elease Wright

Devon C. Francis

Michael D. Nicastro

Shari Cantor

Mark G. Contreras

Anne D’Alleva

John Doran

Miguelina Howell

Mark Overymyer-Velázquez

Bill Thompson

Emily Harrington

Leah Wade


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