Team, Mission, History


To embrace the Cleveland winter by celebrating with light, fire, art, music, games, and snow.


Our vision is to contribute to the Cleveland cultural landscape with a free/low cost, and accessible event in the winter time; an event where anyone can experience winter through traditional and innovative activities. Brite Winter marries fire, participatory art, food, music, and games to build community while helping us embrace the cold winter months.

Fitting into the rest of the Cleveland calendar, we see Brite Winter as the premier Cleveland event between New Year’s Eve and St. Patrick’s Day and a showcase for Northeastern Ohio’s artists, musicians, and creative culture.


Once upon a time, a couple of friends were sharing a pitcher on a patio outside at the end of the summer. Conversation turned to two things: what can younger people do to get more involved in the community; and what are things you’ve always wanted to do. We decided that Cleveland really needed to embrace winter and have fun with it. We couldn’t come up with a better idea than to have a winter festival. We would have been content to have a keg of Christmas Ale in someone’s backyard in a snowstorm. Instead, we ended up finding an enormous amount of support in the community and way too many things to show off in this town. We ended up with 800 people listening to music, building snow forts, and sliding around on ski-bikes in an urban park. Year 2 lead to even more partnerships and fun. Year’s 3+4 led to a change of venue in Ohio City and a huge expansion of festival attendance.

We had 20,000 people around Ohio City for hours on end, crowding vacant lots and overflowing bars and restaurants (see the Plain Dealer’s Writeup: “I can’t wait until next year.”). Year 5 found us working with more businesses and more partners in Ohio City and around the rest of Cleveland, creating a festival village that completed the experience in the Market District of Ohio City.

Brite Winter keeps growing and changing, but some things always remain the same. We are about winter. Not avoiding it or running from it, but running to it, bundled arms open wide. We are about having fun in the middle of a season that is generally avoided. We are about celebrating the fantastic art, music, and general awesomeness of our city.  We work hard to do all of this on a budget, so we can keep it free for all of you. As we grow and develop, these parts of our history won’t change.


Donald Bulea – Chair of the Board
Doni is an attorney around town, and he has been a volunteer at Brite every year. He joined the Brite Winter team in 2012 to make sure that we have all our i’s and t’s, dotted and crossed.

Jimmy Harris – Co-Founder, Vice President of the Board
Jimmy is a founding member of the Brite Winter team and Graduate of Case Western Reserve University.

Julie Scholle – Treasurer
Julie works at a local Fortune 500 company and raises her young family in Ohio City. She is also a fan of punk music. She joined the Brite Winter team in 2012 to lend some left-brained accounting skills to our generally right-brained group.

Jonathan Wehner – Secretary
Born and raised in Dayton, OH Jonathan Wehner relocated to Cleveland to attend Case Western Reserve University and has since neighborhood bounced from Hessler Street to North Collinwood to Tremont before settling in Ohio City with his brilliant and beautiful (but sadly Pittsburgh-born) wife and their misbehaved dog. By day he recruits new undergraduate students to CWRU and by night he consumes (and sometimes creates) Cleveland art, food, music, sports, and beer. He proudly serves on the board of directors for Groundworks Dancetheater as well as the board of the Near West Intergenerational School.

Damon Taseff – Board member
Damon works at a downtown real estate company. He enjoys music and is thrilled to raise his family in the city. He joined the Brite Winter Board in 2013.

Jennifer Thomas – Board member
Jennifer Thomas has a track record of developing innovative ideas for NortheastOhio and is currently working with companies to  accelerate the growth of greatideas  or  existing  successful  products  into  a  revenue  producing,  impactfulbusinesses.  Previously, Jennifer managed over $12 million in grants to develop andrevitalize Akron’s core city while at the Knight Foundation.  From 2003 – 2010 shelaunched and led the Cleveland-based Civic Innovation Lab, which  granted over$1.5 million to 55 diverse and innovative start-ups, 30% of which are succcessfulcompanies today. Music is her passion and she plays the piano, bass and guitar.

Emily Hornack – Co-Founder, Acting Executive Director
Emily is a founding member of the Brite Winter team. She was born and raised in Cleveland, left for a while, then came back home to stay. She’s a graduate of Case Western Reserve University and works at MetroHealth.  She also serves on the Board of Choral Arts Cleveland and the planning committee for the Heights Music Hop.

Justin Markert – Program Manager
Justin is new to the Brite team but is by no means new to the Cleveland music community. He’s booked music at venues all over town as well as a handful of area music festivals. Justin is also the co-owner of Cellar Door Cleveland.

David Resnik – Relationships and Sponsorships
David is a native Clevelander turned world traveler.  After returning to his hometown, he joined the Brite Winter team in 2013 and brings career experience in event planning, coordination and relationship building.  He enjoys working with our Sponsors and Partners, loves classic rock, long walks on the beach, and all things Cleveland.

Lauren Kotmel – Development

Robin VanLear
Robin Van Lear 
Robin is the community arts director at the Cleveland Museum of Art, she leads the way for the direction of Brite Winter artistic lighting installations, and generally serves to keep us sane.

Ariel Cascio
Ariel is a graduate student at CWRU and has lived in Cleveland since 2009. She belonged to the first ever Brite Winter volunteer cohort, and is currently the Brite Winter Volunteer Coordinator. Ariel is passionate about Cleveland positivity year round.

Jesse Sloan
Jesse is part of the Brite Winter music planning team and has brought together artists for several independent music festivals, benefiting the anonymous relief mission and the Weapons of Mass Creation Fest

Katie Rose Dawson
Katie Rose knows music, a vital member of our programming team since 2012. She is a former booking manager from Cleveland’s legendary Grog Shop, and recently relocated to New York City. Though she’s working from a far, her impact and enthusiasm for Brite Winter is massive.

Nikki Delamotte
Nikki Delamotte is a Cleveland-based pop culture writer whose work has been featured in publications locally and nationally. She’s been the official blog writer for Brite Winter since 2013.

Eileen Scott
Eileen is a lifelong Clevelander, proud to be the mother of six children and a full time college student. I work at The Standard, a fabulous new addition to the Cleveland independent restaurant scene. Involvement with community service and volunteer projects began in elementary school and have always been a creative outlet for me.

Krista Macomber

Matt Knickman
In Southeast Missouri I was raised. Throughout Missouri I did my schooling days. Grabbing a bachelor’s and master’s and it was cool but I moved to North Carolina when I got out of school. Met my now wife which was totally good and decided to take our talents to a colder neighborhood. Worked with Brite last year and wasn’t even scared and Emily said – you did great can you help out again next year?

Mark Inglis

Mark works in marketing at the Cleveland Institute of Art, and has been instrumental in creating stronger ties between Brite Winter and CIA.

Zoe Adams
Zoe is also serving as our liaison at Ohio City Inc, helping us with working with the city and the neighborhood.

Virginia Houston
Virginia is yet another invaluable resource lent to us by our partners, Ohio City Inc. She has aided us with connecting to the neighborhood, grantors, and merchants.

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