Meet the Team

The Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts employs three full-time staff who also produce and manage First Night State College. Scroll down to learn more about:

  • Rick Bryant, Executive Director
  • Carol Baney, Director of Operations
  • Jennifer Shuey, Director of Development
  • Rachael Lowe, Digital Media Assistant
  • Kira Watson, Intern

Our work is also supported by Annie and John Nelson of Brown & Associates, Inc. Bookkeeping Services, and Doris Mack, Performing Arts Consultant. Our website has been designed and is supported by Courtney Shelton Hunt of Denovati Digital, who also provides social media and other digital engagement expertise and guidance.

Rick Bryant, Executive Director

Rick Bryant

Rick Bryant joined the paid staff of the CPFA as its director of visual arts in 1999, though his involvement with the Festival dates back to 1984, when he first volunteered on the Trash Crew. Rick was named Executive Director of the CPFA in 2005.

Born in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, before the county hospital moved to State College, Rick attended public schools in State College, and afterward the University of Virginia, where he earned a bachelor’s degree from the School of Architecture in 1979.

After college he toiled away in the insurance business and pursued professional education, earning a Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriter designation in 1986. He completed the Pennsylvania Rural-Urban Leadership Program in 2013.

In addition to serving as a long-time Festival volunteer, he has volunteered for many community organizations. He has served on many committees and boards including the board of the Art Alliance of Central Pennsylvania, the Board of Deacons of State College Presbyterian Church, the State College Board of Health, the Community Advisory Board for Penn State’s Center for the Performing Arts, and the State College Historic Resources Commission. He currently serves as a member of State College’s Historic Architecture Review Board, on the board of Citizens for the Arts, the statewide arts advocacy organization. He recently completed service on the Central Regional Steering Committee of Draw the Lines, an anti-gerrymandering effort sponsored by Philadelphia’s good government organization

You can read about Rick’s intermittent travels as a doofus hipster-wannabe at his blog, The Wandering Wahoo.

Carol Baney, Director of Operations

Carol Baney

Carol Baney has been with the Festival for nearly twenty five years. She is a native of Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. After attending public school in Bellefonte, she received an associate in arts degree from the Hagerstown Business College in Maryland. She has continued her post-college education and earned an associate in liberal arts degree from Penn State in 2009.

In March 2013 and again in 2014, one of Carol’s dreams–to visit Africa–came true when she volunteered at the Urkundo Home and Learning Center in the Muhanga District of Rwanda.

In her spare time, Carol creates jewelry which she sells at festivals in the mid-Atlantic region. This is not just a creative outlet, but also gives her the opportunity to learn about the festival business from the artists’ perspective.

Jennifer Shuey, Director of Development

Jennifer joined the Festival staff in April 2015. Prior to that, she served almost 15 years as the Executive Director of ClearWater Conservancy, a well-respected land trust and natural resource conservation organization in central Pennsylvania. Jennifer grew up in the village of Hublersburg in the Bellefonte area and earned a B.S. of Landscape Architecture from Penn State.

Jen is a pastel painter whose work focuses mainly on landscapes of central Pennsylvania. She is a Signature Member of the Central Pennsylvania Pastel Society, a juried member of the Farmland Preservation Artists of Central Pennsylvania, and a member of the Artists Registry of the Bellefonte Art Museum and the Art Alliance of Central Pennsylvania.

Jen remains committed to conservation and connecting people to nature. She serves on the Board of the Centre County Farmland Trust and is a trustee of the Hamer Foundation.

Jen lives with her high school sweetheart husband Chris in Pleasant Gap, with their two kitties, Hammie and Moe.  The cats – and their names – came from Hameau Farm, in the Big Valley, where Jen first picked up a pastel at an artists’ retreat.

As the Arts Festival’s Director of Development, Jennifer helps the Festival’s past, current, and future supporters find the best ways to make a difference in the community as part of the Festival family.

You can see some of Jen’s art on her website.  A selection of Jen’s pastels is also available at Art a la Carte at 107 South Allegheny Street in Victorian Bellefonte.

Rachael Lowe, Digital Media Assistant

Rachael Lowe is the Festival’s digital media assistant. Rachael was the intern for the Festival in 2019 and assisted with the virtual shows in 2020 and 2021. She is a 2019 graduate of Penn State and now works for Insomniac Events as a merchandise manager for festivals. She has traveled all over the country working festivals like Coachella, EDC, and Okeechobee, just to name a few. When she is not traveling to shows, Rachael works at her hometown music and arts venue in Philadelphia, The Mann Center for the Performing Arts, as a merchandise associate.

Rachael has always had a passion for live events and working behind the scenes to create a memorable experience for people. During her time at Penn State, she was heavily involved with their annual music festival, Movin’ On.

In her free time, Rachael loves going to cycling workout classes, reading, and attending concerts that she isn’t working!

Kira Watson, Intern

Kira Watson is a second-year student at Penn State. She is currently in the Division of Undergraduate Studies, but plans on majoring in advertising with a psychology minor. Born and raised in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, Kira has always been immersed in Penn State, and has been attending the Festival for as long as she can remember.

With a love for the arts, Kira’s primary focus for the past eight years has been dance. She grew up dancing and competing with Hot Styles Dance Company, until she graduated in 2021. Now, she continues to be involved with the studio by teaching classes of her own and helping in any way she can. Kira is also a part of Penn State’s first all-girl hip hop dance team, Whiplash! Through this, she performs in many events at Penn State and is heavily involved in THON.

Visit the Festival Store!

Get a Festival poster and buy Festival wristbands, t-shirts and other merchandise at the corner of College and Allen – or visit our online store.