The Executive Committee
President – Wendy Peskin
Wendy had 24 years of non-profit experience with Heifer Project International. She worked for 9 years in Development (also known as Fund Raising) and she also holds a Master of Architecture degree from Washington University . She moved to East Hawaii from Massachusetts in 2010 and was drawn to the Palace because of her interest in foreign and independent films, but she has grown to be an avid fan of Palace concerts and productions like the Musical and Variety Show. She has served on the Board since 2012, and became its president in January 2014. “I love helping steer the renovation and restoration of this beautiful 1925 edifice. What a glorious contribution the Palace makes to Hilo’s Central Business district.”
Vice President – Jeffrey L. (Jeff) Davis
Jeff early retired to Hilo in 2019 after residing in Honolulu on and off, first moving to Hawaii in 1981 after college.
After a career in the corporate world, primarily in technology, Jeff decided to follow a passion to work in non-profit arts and has many years of experience working in marketing and development areas at the Honolulu Symphony and with film festivals such as HIFF, Rainbow FF and Palm Springs FF. In addition, Jeff has managed External Affairs at the San Francisco Symphony, was Director of Events for Honolulu Museum of Art and a Program Officer at East-West Center in Honolulu.
In retirement, Jeff is active on several boards such as Honolulu Printmakers, Volcano Art Center, Lyman Museum and his Hilo condo board. He has served on the boards of Aloha Festivals, Honolulu Gay & Lesbian Cultural Foundation, Honolulu Symphony Guild and Donkey Mill Art Center. Jeff has been a member of Rotary in Volcano and also currently volunteers with Food Basket.
Jeff’s strengths are mostly within the Development area as a steward – connecting, cultivating and building cohesive relationships. He enjoys advocating and fostering community engagement. As a fan of performing and visual arts, Hawaii architecture/design and preservation, Jeff views the Palace Theater as a treasured gathering place with a rich and storied history as a community hub for almost a century that should be maintained, celebrated and supported. He appreciates the variety of programming and exceptional local talent that is showcased and that the theater promotes accessibility and inclusion by offering reasonable ticket prices.
Secretary – Beth Block
Beth Block is a film artist and documentary filmmaker who also worked in the film industry, primarily as a visual effects artist and supervisor. She taught film production at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts and visual effects at California Institute of the Arts. Her films have been screened and awarded internationally. She has been a lifelong supporter of the arts, serving on the board of Los Angeles Filmforum for eighteen years, including several terms as president, and as a founding and board member of the NewTown Pasadena Foundation including three terms as president. She lived in Los Angeles before retiring and fleeing to Hawaii where she now dwells in splendor with her husband, several animals and too many palm trees.
Treasurer – Susan Starkey Hendricks
Susan was raised in Wichita by professional musician parents and she is quick to point out that the music gene skipped her entirely. She attended Wichita State University before moving to Seattle in 1982. With an accounting background, she worked for Noranda, a Canadian based natural resources company, Carrera/Maximus, a software consulting company, and finally, before retiring in 2006, Expedia.com as a systems specialist in the financial department. Susan is the owner of Puna Notary Services.
Susan and her husband moved to their home in Kapoho in 2008 and were very active in the community. They moved from Kapoho in 2018 because of the eruption that forced so many families from the area and now live just outside of Pahoa. Having served on the Palace Board from January 2013 to December 2015, she was asked to return to as Treasurer in March 2019. ‘I love the incredible diversity of entertainment that is offered at the Palace. It is exciting for me to see the restoration of this historic Hilo treasure.’
I arrived in Hilo in 1956 from Micronesia with my parents and 6 younger siblings. I have seen many and much change here in Hilo town and lived through the 1960 Tsunami. My occupations have been varied from toy demonstrator, rental car agent, jobs in the food industry to 13 years at a children’s specialty store. I love working with people especially children. I’m humbly proud that I have the opportunity to help to perpetuate one of Hilo’s famous landmarks …the grand lady of film, theater and music … the Palace Theater.
A resident of Hawai’i for 30 years, served as Administrative Director with United States Department of Agriculture for 12 years serving Hawai’i and the Western Pacific. Fifteen years as Assistant Human Resources Director/ Employee Relations Specialist for Hawai’i Health Systems Corporation serving Hilo Medical Center, Honoka’a and Ka’u Hospitals – from which I retired in September 2016. For the past 14 years worked with every community theater organization in Hilo including University of Hawai’i – Hilo Performing Arts Center, Kilauea Drama and Entertainment Network, Hilo Community Players and The Palace Theater. This includes directly providing continued hands-on support, theatrical resources and monetary donations. Worked on every Palace musical production since Gypsy in 2004, as well and many other Palace productions over the years. As a community theater activist and advocates; I have also designed and built sets, provided sound effects, stage managed and performed in countless productions with all of the above named theater groups, and then some.
Dana E. Butler is a senior associate with Hastings & Pleadwell, LLC, a boutique communication company with offices in Honolulu and Hilo. Her projects have included working with the City and
County of Honolulu to develop a public education and communication plan to support a storm water utility for O‘ahu, providing communications support to the County of Hawaii in its recovery
from the 2018 Kilauea eruption; and providing community outreach for the State of Hawaii in a three-year federally funded research study into road usage charges.
Prior to working with Hastings & Pleadwell, Dana worked at Kalani Honua, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and Hawaii’s largest retreat center, from 2010 until it closed in 2018 due
to the lava flow. At Kalani, she was part of the leadership team and served as its executive chef, managing a team of 40 staff and volunteers responsible for sustainably producing over 125,000
meals a year.
She started her working life as a business litigator in Southern California for 12 years before moving to Hawaii in 2010 for a change in direction. She fell in love with the Puna District and calls it home. By serving on the Board of the Palace Theater, she hopes to expand her connections to the East Hawai’i community.
She is a graduate of New York University and holds a J.D. from Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. She also studied environmental and applied economics at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Born and raised on Army bases, Russell attended Penn State University with a B.S degree in Biology. Russell began working in the natural food business in 1975, and was among the pioneers of the modern natural foods industry. Russell moved to the Big Island in 1985 after arriving on a small wooden sailboat. In 1998 Russell designed and built Island Naturals Market and Deli in Hilo, Hawaii. Now with three stores including Pahoa and Kailua-Kona and over 200 employees, Island Naturals is committed to supporting local farmers and producers. In 2015 Russell was named “Small Businessperson of the Year” for the state of Hawaii by the SBA.
In 2012 Russell became a state senator, where he served until 2020. His focus was on environment, economic justice, and helping Puna recover from a series of disasters.
An avid musician, Russell plays in several bands and perform solo and with his wife Dina. Together they have a 4-year old daughter, Aviva. Russell is also a grandparent and father to three other daughters. In addition to music, he is a collector of fine acoustic guitars and an amateur photographer. He loves the Palace as a quality and historic performance space for our talented community.
Marcia has returned to the Palace Board after working as Director of Communications at the Palace. Marcia, a member of the original Friends of the Palace Theater Board from 2001, has enjoyed working and helping with productions, marketing and fundraising. Her favorite event is the annual “Rocky Horror Picture Show” that screens every Halloween night on the big screen and accompanied by the annual costume contest.
Marcia brings her theatre background to the board, participating in various events such as the Harry Potter night where she appeared as Professor McGonagall in the lobby selfie booth. With a degree in Theatre from the University of Kansas, Marcia knew that Kansas was not going to be her home base. After University, she worked for a theatre season at the Royal Opera Ballet in Brussels, Belgium and then at the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco. Moving to the Island of Hawaii in 1981, Marcia has been and is still an active part of the nonprofit community in East Hawaii.