Board & Staff


Executive Director

August Denhard

Board of Directors

Aly Gardner-Shelby, President

Britt East, Vice President

Harry Reinert, Secretary

Richard Ginnis, Treasurer

Jim Hessler

Nick Ketter

Laura Payne

Mauricio Roman

Lindsey Strand-Polyak

Sarah Thomson

Richard L. Tso


Ann Stickney, Operations Director

Amy R Tullis, Marketing Director

Advisory Board

Diana Carey

Theodore Deacon

Fernando Esteban

Antonio Gomez

Mary Ann Hagan

Naomi Shiff

Aly Gardner-Shelby

Originally from Dublin, Ireland, Aly has lived in the Seattle area for 25 years. Although now a Program Manager at Microsoft, her true passions are the arts and music, and she is a keen member of the Medieval Women’s Choir of Seattle. Aly's love of music was nurtured in high school by a range of music classes as well as Musicianship taught by music historian Barra Boydell, with emphasis on Medieval music. She continued with university studies getting a BA in the History of Art and an MA in Ancient History and Archaeology at Trinity College, Dublin University. Aly was a keen member of Dublin University’s Trinity College Choir, led by professor and composer Brian Boydell, and later a member of the Guinness Choir. Her favorite performance was in the latter as one of six choirs and three orchestras combined for Mahler’s challenging and large-scale Symphony No. 8 in E-flat major, “Symphony for a Thousand.” However, she remains enthralled by Medieval music - including Gregorian Chant, which was part of her family’s tradition as a child. In previous non-profit experience, Aly served as board member and then president of Irish Network Seattle. She was formerly Executive Director of Alpine Ascents Foundation, raising funds for children of disadvantaged families in Nepal to attend school. She also volunteers at Microsoft and elsewhere in diversity, inclusion and allyship. Aly is delighted to have an opportunity to support the growth and sharing of the musical arts in the Seattle area and beyond: to connect our past and future, bring joy to people, and help artists to thrive.

Vice President
Britt East

Britt East is an inspirational author and speaker who uses his experience, strength, and hope to challenge and inspire people all over the world to unleash their true potential through his books, articles, and public speaking engagements. He also has over 20 years of experience in marketing and technology leadership, where he has helped a variety of organizations craft their best online presence, through engaging and effective design, advertising, and content marketing (web, email, social, display ad, and search).

Harry Reinert

Began Continuous Board Service in 2017 // Harry grew up in the Seattle area and attended Washington State University and University of Washington where he received degrees in Philosophy and English, respectively. After teaching high school English for a time, he attended University of Washington Law School where he received a JD in 1978. During his 35 year professional career he worked on legislation and policy development for the state and local governments. Harry worked for King County for 15 years on land use and environmental issues and retired in 2014. Since then he has been taking classes at University of Washington (music theory, history of western classical music and jazz, and Italian), traveling, working around the house, reading, and threatening to learn to play the piano. His only musical training is long forgotten accordion lessons from one of the Seattle area accordion schools that were prolific in the 1960s, and junior high school band where he played the clarinet. Since then, he’s been a listener rather than a performer. His musical tastes are somewhat eclectic and include classical music from chant and medieval up through contemporary, jazz, and folk. He and his spouse, Cecilia, have lived in Fremont for over 35 years.

Richard Ginnis

Began Continuous Board Service in 2012 // Richard was born and raised in Cleveland Ohio. He attended Ohio State University and the University of Illinois, ultimately obtaining a Masters of Accounting Science degree. While at the University of Illinois, he passed the CPA exam. After completing college studies, he began working in Chicago as a CPA, living in Chicago for seven years before making the move to Seattle. Since the move, he has worked in public accounting and is currently self-employed. Richard moved to Seattle in May, 1977, just in time to attend the inaugural concert of the Early Music Guild. He immediately became a member and soon after was invited to serve on the board, serving as Treasurer for four years. Later, he joined the board of Seattle Baroque Orchestra and served as Treasurer for 15 years. He also currently serves on the board of the Seattle Recorder Society. Richard is married with two children. His current interests include playing the saxophone and recorder, Israeli folk dancing, golf, and jazzercise.

Jim Hessler

Began Continuous Board Service in 2017 // Jim is the President of Path Forward Leadership Development, a firm he founded in 2001. Jim helps organizations and individuals do the hard work of developing progressive, effective leadership practices. He’s the author of Land On Your Feet, Not On Your Face -- a Guide To Building Your Leadership Platform. Jim lives in Issaquah with his wife of 45 years, Paula Weiss. He studied music at Whittier College and plays the piano. His daughter Ruthie Millgard is the Artistic Director of the San Diego Children’s Choir.

Nick Ketter

Nick is a Washington native and centers much of his personal life around music of all styles and genres. He studied audio engineering and music synthesis at Berklee College of Music and went on to record, edit and mix the Peabody Award-winning radio documentary "Will the Circle Be Unbroken?" and the documentary "Goin' to Chicago". Nick earned his MBA at Emory University's Goizueta Business School and led digital marketing efforts for IBM, The Coca-Cola Company, and most recently Microsoft, where he leads web marketing for the video game Minecraft.

Laura Payne

Laura Payne was born with a great love for music from the start, always listening to songs on the radio as a child. She began her musical journey at the age of 9 through 5 years of classical guitar training. She obtained her first electric guitar and amp at 14 and started learning rock guitar by listening/playing along to her favorite albums. At 18, Laura joined her first band as a bassist purely out of necessity because no one else in the band wanted to play bass. Laura fell in love with the instrument since that moment and has been driven to continuously learn and improve her skills. Laura's passion now consists of playing, writing, recording and sharing great music alongside talented musicians, as well as volunteering and staying active in music programs that serve our communities. She continues to grow her skills and involvement by donating time/efforts as an EMS board member, Music Forward Foundation - Alliance member, Poway Symphonette Foundation board member,  ASTA San Diego chapter secretary,as well as performs/records string bass regularly in ensembles such as the Palomar Symphony and Poway Symphony Orchestras. Laura is also a life-long techno geek, starting with influences from her electrical engineering father, achieved a B.S. degree in computer electronic technology, and has worked in technical/program/project management roles since 1990.  Currently at Microsoft as a business PM for partner compliance training programs, and is also a board member/policy co-director for Microsoft's LGBTQI employee resource group.  Laura lives in San Diego with her wife Lauren, their son Kai, and 2 dogs + 3 kitties.

Mauricio Roman

Mauricio Roman is a senior research scientist at AWS. He met Early Music Seattle when they presented a baroque concert at the Amazon headquarters in 2019. When not crunching data or preparing models, he enjoys reading about the history of music and the beaux arts, particularly at the time of the Renaissance, and writing occasional articles. Mauricio is trying to learn how to sing early Baroque music but battles with his poor pitch. Originally from Colombia, he speaks Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, French and reads a little bit of Latin.

Lindsey Strand-Polyak

Lindsey Strand-Polyak is honored to be serving as the Seattle Baroque Orchestra musicians representative on the EMS Board. In addition to her concert career, Dr. Strand-Polyak is a passionate educator and arts advocate, working with organizations including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Young Musicians Foundation, Education through Music-Los Angeles, Elemental Music, and the UCLA Mentor Outreach Program. In two decades in education and outreach, she has taught in nearly every corner of Southern California, from Compton to Claremont, Whittier to West Hollywood, and Santa Monica to Sherman Oaks, while witnessing the immense impact that arts education makes across the economic spectrum.   Dr. Strand-Polyak believes that historical performance and early music should be accessible to everyone, which has led to her directing community ensembles, advising organizations and undertaking artist residencies throughout the country. Guest talks and residencies have included University of Southern California, University of Oregon, Northwestern State University of Louisiana, University of Richmond, Sacramento State University, Montana State University, University of Northern Colorado, and California State University-Fullerton. With Elisabeth LeGuin, she restarted the UCLA Early Music Ensemble, which had lain dormant for more than 20 years, and then served as Associate Director. In 2016, she co-founded the community baroque orchestra Los Angeles Baroque with cellist Alexa Haynes-Pilon and currently serves as its Artistic Director. In 2021-22, Dr. Strand-Polyak consulted with and designed workshops for Bitterroot Baroque in Hamilton, MT, and served as Artistic Advisor to Kensington Baroque Orchestra in San Diego. She is also on the board of Pacific Northwest Viols.   Lindsey's pandemic projects have included exploring three-viol repertory with the Downtempo Divas; practicing the bass viola da gamba; recording a forthcoming studio album at the Jack Straw Cultural Center; learning wheel-thrown pottery (on Instagram @baroquenpottery); and cooking her way through most of Yotam Ottolenghi’s Simple.

Sarah Thomson

Sarah migrated from Australia to Seattle in 2017. She has over 15 years of experience working in marketing for international organizations, specializing in digital marketing and branding. Sarah is a strong advocate for delivering a strong customer experience. Her pursuit of supporting non-profits during the pandemic led her to volunteer for Early Music Seattle’s marketing department before accepting a board position 12 months later. She is excited to be a part of the growth ambitions of Early Music Seattle.

Richard L. Tso

Richard L. Tso joins the EMS board with over 22 years of experience in business, marketing communications, and product strategy for technology companies, venture capital firms and startups. He’s currently VP of Product Marketing at ClimateTech company Persefoni and held leadership positions at Microsoft, LivePerson, and Yamaha Corporation of America. A cellist and singer, he received his bachelors in Human Biology from Stanford University and a Masters of Science in Strategic Design & Management from Parsons School of Design.



We are currently seeking highly motivated individuals who are passionate about early music, and have the time, resources, and connections to join our board of directors and contribute to our mission. Our board of directors is an engaged and high-performing board, with a strong commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. LEARN MORE