OLLI at BCC Staff
Megan Whilden, OLLI at BCC's Executive Director, has been a creative force in the Berkshires since she landed here almost 20 years ago from California. After stints doing marketing for IS183 Art School, Storefront Artist Project, and Lindisfarne Books in Great Barrington, as well as serving as the editor of the Artful Mind magazine, she served as the City of Pittsfield’s first Director of Cultural Development for a decade, ushering in an explosion of creative placemaking.
Megan founded the monthly 3rd Thursdays downtown arts festival; was a cofounder of the 10X10 Winter Arts Festival; and helped launch the Pittsfield CityJazz Festival, the Downtown Pittsfield Farmers Market, Pittsfield Shakespeare in the Park, WordXWord, the return of the Pittsfield Ethnic Fair, and more. She was a founding board member of the Berkshire Creative Economy Council, and during her tenure Pittsfield was the first municipality to receive the Creative Community Award from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and was the first community west of Boston to have a designated cultural district.
Five years ago, she became Executive Director of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at Berkshire Community College, a membership program that provides educational, social, and volunteer opportunities designed especially by and for people fifty years old and better. She has invigorated and grown OLLI in concert with over 200 volunteers, expanding membership by 40% and adding new programs including open houses, University Days, shared interest groups, a Performing Arts Initiative and more.
She has received awards from Multicultural BRIDGE, the Berkshire Visitors Bureau, Pittsfield Community Television, Downtown Pittsfield, Inc. and 1Berkshire. In 2018 she was recognized as one of the 25 “most dedicated, most creative, most influential” people in the Berkshires by Berkshire magazine.
Megan is also a second generation OLLI member. Both her mother and her aunt have taught OLLI classes in California.
Andy Ottoson, OLLI at BCC's Administrative Assistant, recently moved full-time to the Berkshires after fourteen years in New York City. Originally from Minnesota, he spent many years producing, directing and stage managing theater and opera throughout the country, including work at the Guthrie Theater, SPF at the Public Theater, Dallas Opera, Nashville Opera, Project Shaw, Primary Stages, Utah Shakespearean Festival and many others. He is also the Founding Artistic Director of Dalliance Theater in New York, which produced over twenty new works in its four-year run. His writing has been featured at Dalliance, Frameworks Productions, the Fresh Fruit Festival at the Wild Project (Outstanding Short Play, 2015), West Village Playwrights Center and more. He also spent many years in systems management at NADAP, a non-profit focusing on employment and treatment services for individuals with Substance Use Disorders. He holds a BA in theater from Webster University in St. Louis.