Board of Directors
Wade W. Owens
Robert Mayer, Jr.
Derek Blount, Chairman
Derek Blount currently serves as Chairman of the WaterTower Theatre Board of Directors and has served as the Co-Chair of the Corporate Council since its inception. He joined the WaterTower Theatre Board of Directors in 2006. Since joining, Derek has served two terms as Board Treasurer, one term as Board Vice President, four terms as Board President and one term as Board Chairman.
Derek is a writer whose works include family-oriented books (“The Three Christmases of William Spencer”) as well as thriller novels (“Hostile Takeover” and “Second Son”). Derek has been published in various periodicals including MENSA Magazine. Derek also serves as President of Happy Prince Media, LLC, a media and consulting firm with a focus on creativity and innovation.
Derek’s earlier professional experience was centered in the financial industry including corporate lending roles with JPMorganChase and international banking syndicate Credit Agricole. Derek also helped establish the Dallas commercial banking division for CapitalOne Bank and served as Area President for Sovereign Bank.
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. He and his wife, Bethany, have two vivacious boys. Learn more about Derek’s books at derekblount.com
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.
Wade W. Owens, Vice President
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.
stan graner, secretary
Stan Graner has proudly served on the WaterTower Theatre board since 2012. He graduated from Texas Wesleyan University with a Bachelor degree in Music, and has acted regionally at Amphibian Stage Productions, Casa Mañana, Circle Theatre, Classical Acting Company, Contemporary Theatre of Dallas, Dallas Repertory Theatre, Garland Summer Musicals, Kitchen Dog Theatre, Lyric Stage, One Thirty Productions, Plano Repertory Theatre, Stage West, Stolen Shakespeare Guild, Theatre Three, and Uptown Players. Stan has performed in a number of plays at WaterTower Theatre, including Our Town, The Diary of Anne Frank, August: Osage County, and The Grapes of Wrath. Stan has received a DFW Theater Critics Forum award, several Column Awards, and critic Alexandra Bonifield (Critical Rant & Rave, Arts+Culture Magazine, TheaterJones.com) named him one of the Outstanding Male Performers of 2010. Stan has had children’s musicals published with Hal Leonard, Choristers Guild, Lorenz, and Jenson Publications. He’s had musical arrangements performed by The Turtle Creek Chorale in the Meyerson Symphony Center, and he’s done musical arrangements for three shows at Theatre Three. Stan is featured on all three Holidazzle recordings put out by DFW Actors Give Back, including arranging work on the most recent release, and he was honored to be invited back to his alma mater Texas Wesleyan University in 2008 to perform an evening of Broadway songs. He served as Vice President of the Turtle Creek Chorale from 1992-1994.
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. He is a member of the Council of Southwest Foundations, and the Dallas Contributors Network. 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.
Greg joined WaterTower Theatre as Director of Development in June 2008. In 2010, he was promoted to Director of Development and Marketing, overseeing a combined development, marketing and communications department. In May, 2016, the Board of Directors of WaterTower Theatre named him Managing Director. During his career in non-profit arts management, Greg has held a variety of senior development, marketing and communications positions with The National Ballet of Canada (Director of Marketing), American Ballet Theatre (Director of Marketing and Communications), English National Ballet (Director of Development, Marketing and Education), Los Angeles Opera (Director of Marketing and Communications), The Atlanta Opera (Senior Director, Development and Public Affairs), San Jose Repertory Theater (Director of External Affairs), The Laguna Playhouse (Director of Development and Marketing), the Orange County Performing Arts Center (Vice President, Marketing and Communications), and the Dallas Theater Center (Director of Marketing). Greg serves on the Board of the Addison Business Association and was recently appointed to the Aging Mind Foundation Gala Committee. He is the recipient of several Telly Awards, including two Silver Telly’s as well as a “Webby Award” for best non-profit arts website (San Jose Repertory Theatre). Toronto-born, Greg is a graduate of the University of Western Ontario with a Honors Bachelor of Arts and is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP).
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.
Deborah 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