Sumner Bender has been involved with Trustus Theatre for the past 14 years. She has been a member of the Trustus Company since 2003, worked as the box office manager in 2006, and was the publicity manager from 2005-2007. She stage managed 10+ productions and appeared onstage in several mainstage and side door shows. She was last seen as Bunny in 2014’s House of Blues. Bender first joined the board in 2012 serving a full term and returned in 2016, this is her first term as Vice President. She continues to make Trustus a priority because of her belief that it is a bedrock of the Columbia art community, also for her continued love and support of founders Jim and Kay Thigpen. Bender is the Theatre Teacher at Spring Hill High School, the chair of the nominating committee for the SC Theatre Association, and a director of children’s theatre at the Irmo Chapin Recreation Commission.
Ellen Rodillo-Fowler has been part of the Trustus family for many years as a Company member. Her most recent Trustus show was Tail! Spin! in the Side Door. Other Trustus credits include Marie Antoinette, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, Standing on Ceremony: the Gay Marriage Plays, In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play), August: Osage County, Third Finger, Left Hand, and The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told. She has also performed at Workshop Theatre and Chapin Theatre Company.
She earned a BS in Biology from Erskine College and an MSPH in Epidemiology from the University of South Carolina’s Arnold School of Public Health. By day, she is the Manager of Business Analysis at SCANA. Prior board experience includes the Alumni Board of Directors of Erskine College (2009-2013), the Board of Directors for the Cultural Council of Richland & Lexington Counties (2013-2015), and the Board of Directors for the Friends of the Metropolitan Child Advocacy Center (2016-2018). She looks forward to combining her knowledge and experience in the arts and business to ensure a bright future for Trustus Theatre.
Lynn is a governmental affairs and lobbying consultant who represents clients at the State House and in local government matters.Prior to joining the firm, Lynn was actively involved in numerous political campaigns across the state, including managing a South Carolina Congressional race in 1988. She has authored and implemented grassroots plans for major corporations to engage employees in the political process. Additionally, she drafts legislation and has extensive knowledge of the legislative rules and appropriations process. Lynn recently served as chairperson and continues on the board of The Advocacy Group (TAG), which was established in 1992 as the first international public affairs and government relations corporation to provide a diverse array of professional advocacy services internationally.
Denise Turbeville Barker holds both a B.A. degree in counseling/psychology and an M.A. degree in Conflict Resolution from Columbia College. Prior to her retirement in 2010, Denise served 12 years as the Executive Director of the SC Children’s Foster Care Review Board Program in the Office of the Governor, after starting with that agency in January of 1980. In addition to more than 25 years of management experience in foster care review, child welfare, and state government, Denise was certified to conduct mediations for both civil and Family Court, and earned the Certified Public Manager credential. She has presented training and workshops to a variety of public and private audiences locally, statewide and nationally.
Denise worked in an advisory capacity to the Board of Directors for Prevent Child Abuse America for 8 years and served as a Board member for Prevent Child Abuse South Carolina for over 10 years. She also served as a Board member for the Midlands Mediation Center for four years. A lifelong Methodist, Denise has worked with a number of committees at Trenholm Road United Methodist Church and currently serves as president of the Sanctuary Choir.
Jason Carpenter is a piano accompanist originally from Knoxville, Tennessee. He began playing for school and church groups during middle school, and is now the primary accompanist for the Dreher High School Choral Department and the Richland District One High School Honor Choir. He holds a Ph.D. in Retail and Consumer Science from The University of Tennessee and served on the faculty of The University of South Carolina for nearly ten years after arriving in Columbia. A resident of the Vista, Jason is honored to be serving on the Trustus Board of Directors.
Jonathan Jackson has acted on stages large and small across Columbia, including shows at Trustus. He is an Army veteran, an International MBA graduate of the Darla Moore School of Business, and teaches marketing at Midlands Technical College and USC. He believes that a vibrant arts scene is a critical component of cultural and economic growth for the Midlands and proudly serves as a volunteer and board member.
Karla Turner is a Lin-Manuel Miranda fan and a communications professional (in that order) who believes that a healthy arts scene is essential for a happy city. As a writer for the University of South Carolina’s website, and a supporter of the arts, she lives for the moments when talents converge and bring ideas to fruition. She studied journalism and photography at the University of South Carolina and went on to advance marketing, social media and public relations efforts for a variety of Columbia, SC arts organizations and nonprofits, like Girls Rock Columbia, Columbia City Ballet and Tapp’s Arts Center. She came to live in Columbia in the 90’s, an era of boy bands and brown lipstick. It wasn’t until she auditioned for her first local play that she found a home in her new city. Her favorite Trustus Theatre performance, Angels in America, exposed her to a level of bravery like she had never seen in a live performance. Karla believes Trustus Theatre is important, now more that ever, for its commitment to bringing divergent and challenging performances to South Carolina audiences.