Board of Directors
Robert Mayer, Jr.
Derek Blount, Chairman
Derek Blount (Chair, Corporate Council) joined the WaterTower Theatre Board of Directors in 2006 and has served in the roles of Board Treasurer, Co-Chair of The Corporate Council, Board Vice President and in September 2010, was elected President of the Board of Directors. He was re-elected as Board President in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014.
Professionally, Derek serves as Area President for Sovereign Bank, a Dallas-based financial institution and past corporate sponsor of WaterTower Theatre’s annual fundraising gala. In his role with the bank, Derek focuses on corporate banking, including commercial real estate lending, mergers and acquisitions, equipment financing and working capital loans.
Founded in 2004, Sovereign Bank has grown to nearly a billion dollars in assets with banking operations throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, Austin and Houston.
Derek’s professional experience prior to Sovereign Bank includes corporate lending roles with international banking syndicate Credit Lyonnais (now Credit Agricole) and helping establish the Dallas commercial banking division for Hibernia Bank (now CapitalOne Bank). Derek began his banking career with JPMorganChase through completion of their executive training program and later serving as a commercial banking officer.
A Texas native, Derek received both his B.B.A. in Finance and his M.S. in Marketing from Texas A&M University. Derek is an active member of American MENSA, an enthusiastic traveler and an avid runner.
Derek was married in June 2011 to Bethany Harrison. They have a four-month-old son named Harrison Neil.
Ben Cunningham, President
Ben Cunningham is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Liberty Capital Bank in Addison. Ben’s connection to WaterTower Theatre dates back to the late 70’s when it was the Addison Community Theatre and he even served as their Treasurer.
Ben received his undergraduate degree in Finance from the University of Texas at Dallas and is a graduate of the Southwestern Graduate School of Banking at SMU in Dallas. He started his banking career in Dallas in 1973. Prior to starting Liberty Capital Bank in 2008 he spent 18-years with Compass Bank as a Line of Business Manager in the Corporate Banking division. He was one of only 2 managers in the Dallas corporate bank to participate in Compass’ leadership development program at their home office. Ben became very involved in the North Dallas / Addison area and is past Chairman of the Metrocrest Chamber of Commerce and the past president of the Addison Business Association. He’s also a 26-year member and past-president of the Carrollton / Farmers Branch Rotary Club where he currently serves as Secretary. In addition to his involvement in the business community, he is also well connected with Trinity Christian Academy where his three children attended and his wife is a language therapist. Ben has been married to Patty Cunningham since 1974. He is active in his church where he’s attended for 34 years and has served on the elder board, chairman of the Finance Committee and is presently chairman of the church’s defined benefit plan’s Board of Trustees. He serves as a mentor to young men in the church and currently works in the Special Needs ministry for kids with a disability. He also helps with the annual deacon development program for new deacons. Ben and his wife are actively involved with the Joni and Friends organization and volunteer their time each summer to serve at JAF’s family camp for the disabled. Ben also serves on the local board. Ben is the past Chairman of Metrocrest Chamber of Commerce and a recipient of the Golden Eagle Award, an award -- rarely given to individuals -- who exhibit the highest level of integrity and standing in the community. Ben is also a Rotary Paul Harris Fellow. Ben joined the WaterTower Theatre Board of Directors in 2010.
Terry Martin, producing artistic director
Multi-award winning Director Terry Martin is in his 15th season as Producing Artistic Director of WaterTower Theatre where he has overseen more than 100 productions. In his role as WaterTower Theatre’s Producing Artistic Director, Terry oversees both the administrative and artistic aspects of the Company’s nearly $1.5 million annual operating budget.
Under his leadership WTT has grown from a small local theatre company to one of the leading regional theatres in Texas. While consistently maintaining the artistic integrity of the work WTT produces and gaining much critical acclaim, he has - through keen business acumen - managed to keep the theatre in the black and maintain a large paid capacity for the past many seasons.
Some of his more than 65 directing credits at WTT include Dogfight, Full Gallop, Sexy Laundry, The Grapes of Wrath, Putting it Together, On the Town, Spring Awakening, The Diary of Anne Frank, Smokey Joe’s Café, As You Like It, Almost, Maine, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Man of La Mancha, Humble Boy, The Crucible, Take Me Out, A Country Life (which he adapted from Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya and won the 2005 Rabin Award – Best New Play), Cabaret, It Ain’t Nothin’ But The Blues, Company, An Inspector Calls, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, The Laramie Project, You Can't Take It With You, Book of Days, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (2002 Rabin Award – Director of a Play), Sweeney Todd (2002 Rabin Award Nomination – Director of a Musical), Desire Under the Elms, Ravenscroft, Rockin’ Christmas Party (2000, 2001), Enter the Guardsman (2001 Rabin Award Nomination – Director of a Musical), Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill and Little Shop of Horrors (2000 Rabin Award Nomination – Director of a Musical) among others. During the 2014-2015 season, he directed the WaterTower Theatre production of Dogfight for which he received a Dallas Fort Worth Critics Award for Best Director of a Musical.
He has appeared on stage recently at WTT in All My Sons and previously in Our Town. In 2008, Terry won a Dallas Fort Worth Theatre Critics’ Forum Award as Best Actor for Blackbird. His other WTT acting credits include The Woman in Black, Dinner with Friends, The Guys, Bash: Latter-day Plays (2002 Rabin Award Nomination - Actor in a Play) and at Plano Repertory Theatre in The Only Thing Worse You Could Have Told Me… (1998 Rabin Award – Actor in a Play, 1998 Dallas Theater Critics Forum Award), The Woman in Black (2000 Rabin Award Nomination – Actor in a Play), and Lonely Planet.
After growing up in south Alabama, Terry spent 12 years in New York City working in theatre, television and film. While there, he directed and acted at The Village Theatre Company, Carnegie Hall Studios and Theatre at St. Marks as well as television appearances on ABC’s One Life to Live and NBC’s To Serve and Protect. He holds a BFA from the University of Alabama and has trained professionally with Sanford Meisner, Fred Kareman, Wynn Handman, Sally Johnson and Lehmann Byck. Terry presently teaches on-going acting classes in the Sanford Meisner Technique at WTT, as well as having served as Adjunct Professor of Acting at the University of Texas at Dallas.
stan graner, secretary
Stan Graner (Chair, Development Committee) graduated from Texas Wesleyan University with a Bachelor degree in Music and immediately began work as a professional actor. In addition to working as an actor, Stan has had several of his children’s musicals published and has had his musical arrangements performed by The Turtle Creek Chorale in the Meyerson Symphony Center. He is a six-time winner of the Column Awards and was named one of the Best Male Performers in 2010 by arts critic Alexandra Bonifield. He served as Vice President of the Turtle Creek Chorale from 1992-1994. Stan has performed in a number of plays at WaterTower Theatre, most recently in The Diary of Anne of Frank and August: Osage County. This year, Stan was awarded a Dallas-Fort Worth Critics Forum Award for August: Osage County.
jimmy niemann, Treasurer
Jimmy Niemann (Chair, Endowment and Planned Giving Committee), a licensed attorney, started as a computer programmer for EDS and then moved into IT Leadership. Jimmy started a market research company, helped start e-Rewards, and an online advertising channel, e-Miles. Jimmy has served on Addison’s planning and zoning committee as well as on the Town of Addison City Council as a Council Member for six years.
Rosalind (Roz) Benjet is a long-time subscriber and patron of WaterTower Theatre, and a former Trustee and Board member. She, and her husband Merv, have been long-time residents of Addison. Roz is a retired teacher of English literature and composition. She has served on numerous non-profit boards, including a past member of the WaterTower Theatre Board. She is actively involved in the Congregation Shearith Israel, Jewish Family Services, the Addison Business Association and the Dallas Jewish Historical Society. Roz is a charter member of WOW!
Michael Canterbury is the President of The Freedom Foundation. He has been deeply involved in activities supporting The Town of Addison since the early ‘70’s. Michael and his family have been supporters of WaterTower Theatre for many years. He is actively involved in the Boy Scouts of America and is the Co-Coordinator for Shadow Ridge Middle School Band’s Annual Music Miles 5k and Fun Run. He is a member of the Council of Southwest Foundations, Dallas Contributors Network, and the Addison Business Association. He attends the First United Methodist Church Coppell. Michael, and his wife Liese, have two children.
Blake Clemens has over 25 years of corporate and executive experience. He has been with Fortune 500 companies, large private companies, and Family owned businesses. He has a degree in Economics from Albion College (Albion, Michigan), and was an elected official having served as the Mayor Pro Tempore of Addison, Deputy Mayor Pro Tempore and Council Member from 2009-2015. He has been married to Jeannie for 21 years and has two sons, Collier & Logan. He is the Chairman of the Addison Legacy Foundation and serves on the Boards of the Metrocrest Chamber and the North Dallas Chamber. He was in charge of mergers and acquisitions for the Dallas branch of the FDIC for six years. He has served as CEO of Crosson Dannis Real Estate Strategies, Senior Vice President of Southfork Development Company as well as senior positions with Bank of America, Travelers Insurance Company among others.
Rose Colarossi has been involved with WaterTower since 2009. She became a member of WOW! in 2011 and joined the WOW! Steering Committee in 2013. Rose has been involved with WTT on many levels including sitting on the Steering Committees, the Community Cast Party as well as the Spotlight Gala 2015. Rose is also a member of the WaterTower Theatre Board of Directors and serves on its Development Committee. Many of you may also know Rose through her family business, The Egg & I Restaurants with their original location right here in Addison.
Most recently, Rose has started hosting a new online radio show called Hope Through Conversations on Pegasus Netwaves bringing to light issues in an effort to educate and promote awareness and empathy. A huge advocate of WaterTower Theatre, she has offered WTT the opportunity to be on her show to discuss the importance of the Arts. She will also be promoting WOW! In addition, Rose has partnered with one of the stations owners to start an all women’s radio station called LeFemme Focus, which will be supported by an online magazine of the same name, social hours and seminars. She will host a show called WE – Women Entrepreneurs that will give small women-owned business an opportunity to promote their business or service at a reasonable cost. It is evident that Rose is a huge supporter of women. For over ten years, Rose owned a Curves; an all women’s fitness facility. Through Curves she supported local domestic and homeless shelters in our area. Through that experience, she learned of a specific need and is now in the process of starting a non-profit that will support domestic and homeless shelters.
On a personal note, before her entrepreneurial days, Rose was a behavior modification therapist working with children with Autism. She is a huge advocate of My Possibilities, a non-profit organization for adults with disabilities. She has sat on many of their advisory committees and their The Egg & I Restaurants participates in their annual Santa Run each year. Rose and her husband Rob have four children and two grandchildren. Together they teach Sunday school to 4 and 5 year-olds at Hope Fellowship in Frisco and are both very involved in supporting Build International Ministries, Metro Relief and Tres Dias. They are huge advocates of WaterTower Theatre. They enjoy sharing their season tickets by inviting new people to each performance.
Barbara Daseke (Chair, 2014 Spotlight Gala) is the owner of Barbara Elliott Interiors and, with her husband Don, has been a long-time resident of Addison. She is one of the most dynamic non-profit fundraisers in North Texas, having served most recently as the Chair of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s AT&T Gala and has worked on many other fundraising events for organizations such as the Dallas Museum of Art, Southern Methodist University and TACA. Last year, she served as Co-Chair, with Anita Braun, of WaterTower Theatre’s 2011 Spotlight Gala and is the Chair of the 2012 Spotlight Gala. Barbara currently serves on the Boards of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, TACA and SMU Meadows School of the Arts. Barbara is a charter member of WOW! and also serves on its Steering Committee.
Buddy Frazer was born in Dallas and has lived all of his life in Texas. Most of his school years were spent in Lubbock where he graduated from Texas Tech with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering. He returned to the Dallas area in 1969 to work for Texas Instruments as an electrical engineer, project manager, and international marketing representative. During his 27-years there he traveled extensively in Europe, Scandinavia, Asia and the Middle East. After leaving Texas Instruments he spent three years as Director of Programs for the Dallas office of the Camber Corporation. There he oversaw the development of software for aircraft flight simulators.
He left Camber in 2001 to start his own video production company. He produces videos for corporate clients covering marketing, product promotion, training, award ceremonies, and conventions. He videotapes theatrical productions, memorial services, reunions and oral histories. He has also spoken to groups on documenting their history, and has produced historical videos for the Dallas Historical Society and other organizations. He has been honored with several awards for outstanding corporate and historical videos by the Dallas-Fort Worth Professional Videographers Association.
After moving to the Dallas suburb of Addison in 1980, he became involved in civic activities. He has served as president of his homeowners association, started a neighborhood crime watch program, and was a member of a committee charged with issuing industrial revenue bonds for development at Addison Airport. He served on the Addison Planning & Zoning Commission from 1983-1984 and again from 1998-2002. The last two of those years he served as Chairman. In 2001 he served as a member of the Addison Thoroughfare Plan committee.
He became a member of the Board of Directors of WaterTower Theatre in 1997, where he served as Vice President from 1998-2000 and President from 2000-2003. He currently is a member of the Theatre’s Board of Directors. He was appointed to the Dallas County Historical Commission in 1999, and served as its Chairman from 2003 to January 2007. The Historical Commission grants the first approval for State of Texas Historical Markers, and its members are appointed by the County Commissioners Court. During his term he published the Commission’s quarterly newsletter and maintained its website. As a part of his duties as Chairman, he served on the Board of Directors of the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza.
Laree has been involved in the theatre most of her adult life. She served on the Board of Directors of the Studio Arena Theatre, a professional theatre company in Buffalo, NY. She is a graduate of Oklahoma State University, SUNY at Buffalo where she did her pre-doctoral study, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania and Boston University. In addition to Arena Stage, Laree has served on the boards of the Dallas Contemporary Museum of Art and The Center for Vital Longevity at UTD. She is the Founder of The Aging Mind Foundation. She also helped found the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation Buffalo Chapter. Prior to her retirement, Laree was a Senior Vice President/Senior Investment Advisor for Morgan Stanley. In 2004, Laree was awarded the YMCA’s Leadership Award. Laree is an active member of WaterTower Theatre’s President’s Circle, the Nasher Sculpture Center, the Kimbell Art Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC, and the Perot Museum of Nature and Science.
Margo Ramirez Keyes is a highly respected Dallas civic leader, philanthropist and community volunteer. Margo has a lengthy career in fashion design, merchandising, retail and wholesale business. Her 28 year career includes senior positions with The Allied and Federated Corporation and Levi Straus & Company. Margo also has an extensive consumer marketing background in product development where she worked for the British Consulate in Dallas as their International Vice-Consul Commercial Trade Officer. A tireless advocate for the arts, education and Latino causes, Margo is active with numerous non-profits locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. She is currently on the board of TACA, The Dallas Performing Arts and the Latino Cultural Center. Nationally, she sits on the boards of the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and The Red Cross. Margo is married to Wild Oats Chairman Jim Keyes.
Jeff has been in the banking industry for more than 30 years having begun his career as a bank examiner for the State of Texas. Jeff is currently the market leader in Addison for Frost Bank. Jeff is a Co-Chair of WTT’s Corporate Council. He currently serves as Vice President of the Board for HEROES and is on the Board of My Possibilities and the Addison Business Association
Robert Mayer, Jr.
Robert Mayer, Jr., is a native of Dallas, attended public schools here and graduated from Harvard College. He served in World War II as an officer in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He returned to Texas and worked as a geophysicist before starting his company, Well Reconnaissance. Later that company became part of Gearhart Industries, where Bob was Vice President, Technology. He had leadership roles in political activity and in a number of scientific and technical organizations. He has been active in Addison since moving his company there in 1974. He joined the Addison Business Association shortly after its formation and served for many years on its Board. Bob’s late wife of 47 years, Elli, was an actress and appeared in many plays in Dallas. Upon retirement, Bob has served on the Boards of the WaterTower Theatre, the World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth and Dedman College, SMU.
Wade W. Owens is the Senior Vice President and Senior Wealth Advisor for Regions Financial. He has over 20 year of banking experience within the corporate, commercial and community banking sectors as well as the private wealth management business. With so much experience in both commercial and private banking, Wade has a comprehensive understanding of the challenges and opportunities for both business owners and executives as well as affluent families. Having spent his career helping clients to build wealth, preserve wealth and, perhaps most importantly, helping people define and plan for their legacies.
Wade is active in the Dallas community and has served in leadership roles in various areas of service including education (Advisory Board for the UTD School for the Arts and Humanities), social service (Board Chairman for the Center for Non Profit Management) and the arts (Director of the Water Tower Theatre). Wade has a BA from the University of Arizona, an MBA from the University of Dallas and several advanced certifications in various specialties including graduating from SMU’s Graduate School of Banking.
Corky is a long-time resident of Dallas and the Addison-area. She has previously served on the Board of Directors of WaterTower Theatre (2003-2008). Currently, she serves on the board of the Addison Business Association, the Metrocrest Chamber of Commerce, and The Civic League among others. She is a member of the WOW! Steering Committee, the Community Cast Party Steering Committee and has been involved in WaterTower Theatre’s Spotlight Gala every year since its inception.
Paul Shultz is General Manager of Slalom Consulting's Dallas practice. He has 38+ years’ experience as an executive leader, business strategist, systems integration, and organizational improvement professional.
Before joining Slalom, he served as the managing director of enterprise applications at Protiviti, a global business consulting and internal audit firm. Previously, Paul was the managing vice president of the Southwest market at Hitachi Consulting. He held a number of leadership positions prior to Hitachi Consulting including CIO of Edisto Resources and NRM Energy. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master's degree in business administration from Baylor University.
Debbie is the Director of Marketing and Special Events at Million Air Dallas in Addison. She is very involved in the community. She served as past Director of Programs and Membership for the Farmer’s Branch Chamber of Commerce, was on the Board member of the Metrocrest Chamber of Commerce, and has supported a number of non-profits including the Collin County Children’s Advocacy Center, The American Heart Association, CONTACT Crisis Hotline, Genesis Woman’s Shelter. She is a member of Women in Aviation International, Metrocrest Chamber, Women of WaterTower Theatre (WOW!), Spotlight Gala 2013 and 2014 Gala Committee, and WaterTower Theatre’s Corporate Council. Debbie, and her husband Donnie, have one son.
at the Addison Theatre Centre
15650 Addison Road
Addison, Texas 75001