Cory Chisel - Co-founder
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Adriel Denae - Co-founder
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Ryan Romenesko is co-executive director of Refuge Foundation for the Arts. Working at Jensen Communications, located in Pasadena, CA, is where he first began working with Refuge co-founders Cory Chisel and Adriel Denae. As Director of Public Relations for Jensen Communications, he hand-crafted and executed PR campaigns for some of the world's finest musicians including Carlos Santana, Crosby, Stills, & Nash, Jackson Browne, Zakk Wylde, Steve Vai, Joe Bonamassa, and countless others. In September 2016, he returned home to Northeast Wisconsin to help further the mission of Refuge Foundation for the Arts.
Sydney Jacques is originally from Appleton, and is a graduate of UW-Madison where she studied Non-profit Studies. After returning home to Appleton in 2017, Jacques began working at the Refuge where she assists the Co-Executive Directors in day-to-day operations, works closely with Adriel Denae on the redesign of the building, and welcomes artists who visit and reside.
Artist and Events Coordinator
Kurt Kempen, born and raised in the Fox Cities, began as a music fan tending bar who wanted to bring music to the area, and started booking bands to perform at the bar. In 2011, continuing his journey to bring music to the Fox Cities, he founded the music festival Rock Your Cause which featured all original music from Wisconsin bands. A year later the Mile of Music festival was announced, where Kurt volunteered to help curate the music. He then became the primary talent buyer for the annual festival, which includes 242 bands playing 900+ sets at 72 venues over a 4-day weekend. In March 2018, Kempen began working in collaboration with the Refuge to further expand the bond between arts and community.
Building and Grounds Preservation
Mark Geenen, originally from Kaukauna, has been with the Refuge since our doors opened in 2015. When Geenen is not tending to the acres of property and preserving the building, he can be found in his studio working on various projects from instruments to everyday items, often using salvaged materials found throughout the property. He also helps in assisting road crew for visiting artists. Geenen is often seen playing his guitar while Daisy follows by his side.
Daisy was abandoned in the woods and rescued by Mark Geenen one afternoon — but who rescued who really?
Daisy has lived at The Refuge for nearly 3 years — in charge of chasing squirrels, welcoming new guests, getting treats & being our resident Hallway Monitor.