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Meet NLAA's Board of Directors

Our hard-working, all-volunteer board keeps NLAA a vibrant source for all types of arts activities. 

We welcome volunteers who would like to help us by serving on committees to assist us in delivering quality arts offerings.


Molly Olson, Chair

Molly Olson is an educator, choreographer and dancer. Molly is the founder and Artistic Director of Reflections Dance Company. Molly also choreographs for Ely Memorial High School and has been active in the Ely Folk School since moving to Ely with her family several years ago. 


Vince O'Connor, Treasurer

Vince has appeared in and directed numerous plays for NLAA over the years. He has been a published writer since fourth grade, when his poem about protozoa was first published. Over the years he's published poetry in various print and online publications, including Satori, Main Channel Voices, Studio One, SP Quill Quarterly Magazine, The Talking Stick, Clean Sheets, Poetry Super Highway, and The Pilot-Independent.  He's also written articles for numerous magazines, including A+, inCider, Compute!, Inside dBASE, Inside QuickBASIC, DBMS, Data Based Advisor, and Computer User, and is a former columnist for Computer User Magazine and The Babbitt Weekly News. Additionally, he has a play, "Nearly Departed", published by Players Press, a book "Pushing AppleWorks To The Limit" published by Compute! Books, a forthcoming poetry chapbook, "Lessons From Life," to be published by Local Gems Press.


Sara Headshot.jpg

Sara Skelton, Secretary 

Sara teaches Humanities and Fine Arts at Vermilion Campus, Minnesota North College. She is a singer, actor and local performer in concerts, musicals, opera and stage plays, and acts as the Artistic Director for the Ely Community Spring Musical. Sara received her Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from St. Olaf College, an MFA in Theater from the U of MN, an English and Theater Secondary Ed degree, also from the U of MN, and a Teaching Writing Graduate Certificate from Minnesota State University, Mankato.  Sara is a devotee of all of the arts, especially the performing arts, loves the outdoors, and lives with her family on one of the area lakes. Sara finds local the combination of outdoor adventure, artistic vibrancy, and natural beauty a gift and an inspiration.


Andrea Strom

Andrea and her husband Brian settled in Ely 14 years ago, after living in many beautiful places around the country teaching environmental education.  They lived in Ely for a couple winters before finally buying a parcel of land and building a home.  One of the draws to permanently settling in Ely was a thriving arts community in a small town bordering on one of the most beautiful places in the country.  Andrea participated in several of the spring musicals and fall plays in her first years in town, and is looking forward to serving on the board of the organization helping to keep the arts alive in Ely.  Now Andrea and Brian own a baker, Brainstorm Bakery, featuring their signature Crapola granola (best granola between Tower and Winton!) and are raising two young children.



Karl Kubiak

A new face in town, but no stranger to the musical arts, Karl Kubiak is one of the newest board members of NLAA. Currently, Karl is the band director at Ely Memorial high school. When not teaching the newest musicians of the Ely community, Karl is active in playing in orchestras all around northern Minnesota, such as the Mesabi Symphony Orchestra, the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra, the Itasca Symphony Orchestra, and the Bemidji Symphony Orchestra.


The arts are an innate part of being a human. Fostering lifelong musicianship and celebrating creative musicians is a passion of Karl’s, and he hopes to continue the tradition of strong music in Ely while bringing in new musicians and ideas to spice up our musical community. Karl hopes to bring out the inner musician in all Elyites and bring in new and exciting music to our community!


Laurie Kess

I was born in Virginia, MN, raised in Babbitt, and have lived in Ely since 1977. I guess that makes me a Ranger! Husband, Paul, and I moved to Ely for what we thought was one year when I accepted a job as the junior high school home economics teacher while a teacher was on a leave. That teacher did not return, I stayed, and served as a teacher, school counselor, assistant principal, and principal in the district until my retirement in 2013. We are happy to have raised three children, and now have grandchildren here as Ely is a great place of safety, opportunity, good education, and activities to make life enjoyable! As a lover of Arts, Northern Lakes Arts Association programming has provided rich experiences for me and my family through the years. This is the time I want to give back to NLAA by serving on thane Board!


If you have an interest in serving on the Northern Lakes Arts Association's Board of Directors, please contact us.

Nominations must be submitted prior to the Annual November Membership Meeting.

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