The Festival Team

Robert Neal Marshall
Executive Director


Robert Neal Marshall Profile

Robert Neal Marshall graduated from New York University Tisch School of the Arts with a BFA in film. Early projects took him to Berlin, Germany for Regina Ziegler Productions, with multiple Industrials for Chicago based Jack Lieb Productions. In the mid 1980’s Marshall had a rare opportunity in London’s West End as Assistant to Agent and Theatrical Producer Richard Armitage on several hit shows, including ME AND MY GIRL with Robert Lindsay and Emma Thompson and HIGH SOCIETY with Natasha Richardson.

As an Independent Producer, Marshall has mounted stage productions in the West End at the Donmar Warehouse, at the famed Edinburgh Festival, and back in the US. Several of his documentary films include the biographical MR OCEAN LINER which premiered on board Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 and screened at the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center at Lincoln Center. His critically acclaimed documentary, BACK FROM THE LIGHT, on the aftereffects of surviving a near death experience, is also the topic of several inspirational talks. Marshall’s credits include multiple independent feature films and shorts as Production Manager and Line Producer.

As Casting Associate with Pat Moran, CSA (HAIRSPRAY, THE WIRE) Marshall was a member of the team to win an Emmy® award for casting GAME CHANGE and an Emmy® nomination for casting season one of the comedy VEEP, both for HBO.

As a member of SAG-AFTRA and Actors’ Equity, Marshall’s work features Off Broadway, Regional stage, Film & Television roles, including AWESOME 80’S PROM and HOUSE OF CARDS. For 12 years Marshall has been a guest lecturer for the Cunard Insights Enrichment Program.

Raised in a theatrical family, Marshall’s mother is actress turned photographer Bette Marshall, whose recent pictorial “Young Whitney – Stories and Photographs” is a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the pre-fame life of a yet unknown 18-year-old Whitney Houston. His father was Music and Entertainment Law attorney Paul G. Marshall.

Many Columbia Festival of the Arts guests may know Marshall as LakeFest Emcee. However, in 2012, Festival Executive Director Nichole Hickey recruited Marshall from Pat Moran Casting to act as Programming Manager. Following a series of staff & leadership changes, Marshall would return as Marketing Consultant and eventually Executive Producer of the Columbia Film Festival, a welcome responsibility he has continued in his role as Executive Director of the Festival since August 2020. Marshall is a 31 year Howard County resident and lives in Columbia with his Husband of 36 years, and a 5lb rescue Chihuahua (who he met on a film set) that has more Instagram followers than he does!

Dave Simmons
Director of Programming


Dave Simmons Profile

Dave Simmons joined the Festival as Programming Manager in 2013 and has been instrumental in leading the Festival’s Programming and Production over the past seven years. Some highlights include presenting artists such as Pilobolus, Monterey Jazz Fest on Tour, Judy Collins, Aaron Neville, The Second City, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Architects of Air, and Australia’s Strange Fruit to name a few. He especially enjoys working with the Columbia Association and various community partners in presenting the Festival’s Free LakeFest Weekend, which brings more than 20,000 to Downtown Columbia each June. Simmons really enjoys working with Columbia’s unique creative community in providing free visual and performing arts experiences to the community. In 2016 and 2017, Simmons served on the Board of Directors of Columbia’s 50th Birthday Celebration, where he provided guidance on programming and production for events.

Prior to joining the Festival, Simmons completed his Master’s degree in Arts Management from American University in Washington, D.C. He was awarded “Distinction” for his directed research project Artists’ Access to Healthcare in the United States, which was presented at the 39th International Conference on Social Theory, Politics and the Arts at Seattle University in 2013. Simmons is also a graduate of St. Mary’s College of Maryland where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Art and Art History and was the recipient of the Senior Purchase Award for excellence in Studio Art.

Outside of the Festival, Simmons is the Manager for the D.C. based world music group DOGO, founded by Togolese musician Massama Dogo. He is currently working with the band on a new album release due for release in 2021. Dave lives in Silver Spring, Maryland with wife Kathleen, daughter Claire, and son Luke.

Kiera Gillock
Development & Support Services Coordinator


Kiera Gillock Profile

Kiera comes to the Festival with a Master of Science in Arts Administration from Drexel University and a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and Film from McDaniel College.  She has multiple years of experience as Development Coordinator for Alabama Blues Project in Tuscaloosa, AL where she provided excellent support in grant-writing and donor management, as well as maintained social media and advertising accounts.

As Event Supervisor for The Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center, Kiera coordinated and performed valuable event organization and cleanup. Her most recent organizational work as Project Coordinator with Theatre Tuscaloosa excelled in several skill areas of great importance to Columbia Festival of the Arts, including the development and production of the theatre’s SecondStage program.

Kiera regularly coordinated communications with corporate sponsors and partner University personnel. Her database management and organizational skills include administration and maintenance of the theatre’s archives and patron files.

In addition, Kiera brings supplemental skills of great value that include the creation and implementation of digital, video, and print media with excellent film & editing of promotional video content for web and cable viewing, as well as archival and behind-the-scenes content.

Susan Boucher, Volunteer Coordinator

Bob Everett, Bookkeeper

Dale Rodefer, Technical Director

Sue Galvin, Technical Director

Cliff Feldwick, IT Specialist

Alison Hickman, President

Lisa M. Goldblatt, Vice President

Philip Maher, Treasurer

Mae A. Beale, Secretary

Kevin J. Kelehan, Esquire, Legal Counsel

Gary J. Stacharowski, Accountant

Tomiwa Aroyewun, Management Consultant,  US Department of Labor

Mae A. Beale, Civic and Community Activist

Bram Berlin, Treasury Management Officer, Sandy Spring Bank

Lisa M. Goldblatt, Law Office of Lisa Goldblatt

Alison Hickman, Director, Fannie Mae

Amanda Hof, Executive Director, Visit Howard County

Dr. Meina Liu,  Professor of Communications at George Washington University

Philip Maher, Assistant Branch Manager, M&T Bank

Dr. Michael Martirano, Superintendent, Howard County Public School System

Dennis Mattey, President, Columbia Association

Nicola Morgal, Bureau Chief of Recreation, Howard County Recreation and Parks

Rain Pryor, Actress/Writer/Arts Advocate

Jacqueline R. Scott, Director of Community Resources & Services

Larry Twele, Chief Executive Officer, Howard County Economic Development Authority

Dr. Daria J. Willis, President, Howard Community College

Steven Sachs, Retired from Willis Towers Watson