Board of Director Bios


Professional: Worked for 30 years for U.S. Congress in the Oakland District offices of Congressman Ron Dellums and later Congresswoman Barbara Lee.  Since being retired, has served on a couple Boards including LifeLong Medical Care for 12 years where she chaired a capital campaign for the West Berkeley Clinic.  Serves as a docent at Rosie the Riveter National Park.  Active with IndivisibleBerkeley and other resistance groups.
Personal: Currently married to Billy McDonald and between them has four grown sons.  Two in Bay Area, one in Florida with grandson, and one in San Diego.  Long time resident of Berkeley.
Freight Connection: Attended many concerts at both old and new Freight.  Also, was part of Girlfriendz, a vocal group directed by Ellen Robinson.  Girlfriendz was the lead group at Open Mic on two occasions.
Music Connection: Loves to sing and has taken various singing classes from time to time. Listens to and appreciates all kinds of music.


Professional: Lead guitarist, singer, and songwriter in many styles including rock, acoustic, soul, jazz and funk. Performs live and a recording artist, as a band leader and side musician.  Co-creator, screenwriter and musical director of a feature film. Occasional guitar teacher.
Personal: Grew up in Berkeley and lives with her wife and 9-year-old son.
Freight Connection: Has performed at the Freight many times with the Shelley Doty X-tet, Skip the Needle, Sistas in the Pit, Cris Williamson, and in a duo with Vicki Randle. Board member since 2015.
Music Connection: See above.


Professional: Chief Financial Officer, Cal Performances, UC Berkeley
Personal: Lives in Berkeley with wife Deborah Sperber. Enjoys cycling, hiking, and photography. Both daughters attended Berkeley public schools.
Freight Connection: Board member since 2017.
Music Connection: Avid music listener with broadening musical interests. Former Board Member & Chair, Berkeley Public Schools Fund.


Professional: Retired. Former COO/CFO in the hedge fund industry in the San Francisco area. Spent 13 years with an international public accounting firm in their San Francisco and New York City offices.
Personal: Has lived in the Bay Area since 1980 with wife Carol. Has two adult married children, two grandsons, and a granddaughter.
Freight Connection: Performed at the last open mic at the previous Freight with his wife Carol and his music teacher at the time. Prior Freight board member and Treasurer from 2001 to 2012. Rejoined the board in 2016.
Music connection: Has been trying to learn guitar since 2001.


Professional: Renee Hayes served as the Associate Director of Grants for the Arts/San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund (GFTA) for 22 years. She has been involved in arts philanthropy for more than 30 years and was co-chair of the Berkeley’s Civic Arts Commission. She is a nationally certified counselor and life coach specializing in artistic careers.
Personal: Lives in Berkeley with her husband Joseph Hicks and fur-daughter (cat) “Berklee.”
Freight Connection: Over the last 20 years, she has performed at the Freight with The Irrationals, Linda Waterfall, Susan Anders and Don Arbor.
Music Connection: Renee has a diverse musical background: performing in choruses, pop bands and musical theatre as well as recording commercial jingles, back-up vocals and two CD’s with the whimsical a cappella soul group–The Irrationals. Her latest CD “Renewable Soul,” is ‘a musical community garden with growing instructions.’


Professional: Composer, pianist, fiddler, singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. Has performed on more than 100 albums. Was the first female instrumentalist to compose and record for Windham Hill Records. Tours nationally and internationally. Grammy nominated and a Bammy Award winner.
Personal: Lives in Albany. Married with a high school-aged daughter.
Freight Connection: Long-time and frequent performer on the Freight stage. Was a board member from 2005 to 2014. Rejoined the board in 2016.
Music Connection: See above.


Professional: Corporate Research Librarian at private equity firm Hellman & Friedman.
Personal: Lives in Alameda with wife Linda Benson
Freight Connection:  Has attended concerts at Freight for 20+ years and is a Life Member. Board member since 2015.
Music Connection: Avid listener and festival attendee. Former folk music deejay.


Professional: Retired Labor Official. Playwright. Author. Storyteller.
Personal: Live in Berkeley and Portland, Oregon part of the year. Enjoy writing, cooking, baking, salsa dancing, line dancing and thrift shopping.
Freight Connection: Volunteer since 2012.  Moth Story Hour Participant.
Music Connection: Organizing Y Dance Party Field Trips to the Freight:  Zydeco, Salsa. Avid Listener: Musica Nueva Cancion, R&B, Folk, Rock.


Professional: Music business professional who has been an Agent and Artist Manager since 1985. With more than 30 years of experience, AnneMarie was the Founder/Co-Director of International Music Network  (IMN) and helped to develop it into one of the leading world music and jazz agencies.  She was also the Western States representative at Monterey International from 2009-2012. Currently she is Vice President/Agent at SRO Artists. She has served on the Board of NAPAMA (North American Performing Arts Managers and Agents) and holds a BFA from Boston University in Theatre.
Personal: She lives in Benicia and is the proud Mom of 2 grown children. She loves to garden, and be out in nature. AnneMarie also practices Quantum Healing Hypnosis Therapy and energy healing.
Freight Connection: Has booked many artists at the Freight over the years.
Music Connection: Professional in the music business and active music lover!


Professional: Recently retired after 40 years in private practice as an attorney in San Francisco, focusing on commercial, business and financial transactions. Served on volunteer board of Slide Ranch, a nonprofit environmental education center on West Marin coast.
Personal: Lives in Berkeley, married to a gifted fine artist, and has two grown sons, one of whom is in the music industry in Los Angeles, and another in Berkeley who is a medical professional and plays the drums.
Freight Connection: Served on the Freight board from 2010 through 2018. Rejoined the board in 2021. Have participated in many classes and jams at the Freight over the years, and attended shows regularly. Provide pro bono legal services to the Freight.
Music Connection: Life-long interest in music. Play guitar and mandolin. Performed in professional boys choir as a child, majored in ethnomusicology in college, played in acoustic bands through high school and college, and currently enjoy being part of a community of local musician friends met through the Freight.


Professional: Executive coach, consultant, facilitator, strategist with nonprofits, social enterprises, and foundations working on social change issues—work with leaders and teams on raising resources, developing people, communications and leadership.
Personal: Came to East Bay from San Francisco years ago to direct Oakland Youth Chorus, and never left. Loves to be in water and is a fan of all dogs and other four-leggeds.
Freight Connection: Board member since 2014. Have always loved and appreciated the Freight.
Music Connection: Enjoyed a long career in Bay Area music as Founding Music Director & Conductor of The Women’s Philharmonic and Artistic Director of Redwood Records & Redwood Cultural Work, among others.


Professional: Jonathan is a longtime employee-side labor and employment attorney with an emphasis on representing the victims of discrimination and harassment. He serves as the general counsel of the National Union of Healthcare Workers.
Personal: Jonathan and his wife Aixa Gannon have lived in Oakland for thirty-five years, where they raised their two daughters. He enjoys the outdoors including fishing and hiking, cooking, reading and listening to music. He is proud to have served as the Board Chair of St. Paul’s
Episcopal School in Oakland, which his daughters attended, and which has received national awards for its efforts towards diversity and inclusion..
Freight Connection: Jonathan has been going to shows at the Freight since the San Pablo days when he lived in Berkeley. He was excited to learn of the Freight’s initiatives around equity and inclusion and is happy to combine his enjoyment of board service and music.
Music Connection: Jonathan initially learned his love of musical performance from his first-generation dad who taught him (and himself) about anyone from Pete Seeger to Art Tatum to Gilbert & Sullivan. He regrets he gave up the trumpet in high school and both admires and is jealous of the incredible talents on this Board.


Professional: Higher Education Strategic Leadership Consultant. Former non-profit ED; former Provost and Professor at colleges in the west, southeast, northeast and midwest; focus in diversity, equity and inclusion.
Personal: Lives in Oakland with wife Barbara. Enjoys dance, theatre, and travel.
Freight Connection: Board member since 2019. Performed at the second “old” Freight in the 1990s and at the “new” Freight in the past decade.
Music Connection: Singer —touring musician with my sister in the 1980s and 1990s; currently in the Oakland Interfaith Community Choir with my mom.


Professional: Assistant Dean of the Arts & Humanities Division at UC Berkeley.
Personal: Has lived in Berkeley since attending Cal. Married to actor/clarinetist Charles Shaw Robinson. They have one son, Walker, a student and cellist attending UC Santa Barbara.
Freight Connection: Long-time audience member and Board member since 2017.
Music Connection: An avid listener who is blessed to be surrounded by musicians at home and at work and among her friends.