ROCKLAND — The Strand Theatre announces the election of Ellen Seidman as Chair of The Friends of the Strand Theatre Board. Friends of the Strand Theatre (FOST) is the nonprofit organization that owns and operates the 98 year old theater.
Seidman, a resident of both Spruce Head and Portland, is a Non-Resident Fellow at the Urban Institute. Prior to moving to Maine full time, she had a long career in the federal government and with several community development organizations. She has been on the FOST Board since 2016, serving as Vice Chair the past two years. Seidman also serves on the boards of Maine Initiatives and the Financial Health Network.
“It is an immense honor — as well as a real challenge — to follow Jo Dondis as Chair of the FOST Board,” said Seidman. “Over this past difficult year, with the enormous effort of staff and Board, the Strand has proven its resilience, creativity and value to the community. As we look forward to reopening the theater, I look forward to helping lead this amazing group of people.”
Outgoing Board Chair Jo Dondis, of Camden, served in that role since the establishment of the Friends of the Strand Theatre in 2013. She will remain on the FOST Board and chair the Development Committee. Dondis spearheaded the transition of the Strand to a nonprofit and is the granddaughter of Joseph and Ida Dondis, who built the Strand Theatre in 1923.
"I've been fortunate to have had the privilege and quite frankly, the sheer exhilaration, of working with such a talented team of people to guide the Strand to where it is today,” said Dondis. “I'm excited about the Friends of the Strand Theatre's new Board chair and am confident that Ellen Seidman will be a strong leader and the perfect person to steer the Strand forward into its next chapter."
FOST Board Member Norman Thomas of Owls Head has been elected Board Secretary. Thomas was a career Naval Officer, and now does part time technical and management consulting with the Office of Naval Research and the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, DC.
Abby Simmons Walker recently joined the FOST Board, bringing the number of directors to 12. Walker is a native of Houston, Texas but grew up spending summers in Rockport. She is the daughter of the late Matt Simmons and Ellen Simmons, who renovated the theater in 2004. The Simmons family gifted the Strand to FOST in 2013. Walker is currently the Coordinator of Strategic Partnerships and Volunteer Programs for Spring Branch Independent School District, in Houston, and serves on the Business and Education Committees for both the Greater Houston Women's Chamber of Commerce and the Houston West Chamber of Commerce.
The Strand Theatre, located in downtown Rockland, has been entertaining audiences since 1923 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The theater’s mission is to present an innovative program of films, live performances, and educational events that contribute to the growth of a strong artistic and cultural community in Maine, to serve as a gathering place for enrichment in the Midcoast area, and as an anchor for Rockland's vibrant downtown Community.