Who We Are

Shelley Smith: Founder, President, Board Member, Artistic Director

shelleyShelley has been involved in numerous theater productions as director, playwright, producer, choreographer and performer as well as in many other capacities. Other theatres she has worked with include Stages Theatre Company, Eden Prairie Players, Eat Street Players, Gallery Theatre Company, Homeward Bound Theatre, Foxhill Studios and the University of Minnesota. Shelley has a B.A. degree in Theatre Arts from the University of Minnesota (as well as many graduate credits), with an emphasis in Directing and Theatre Management, and a B.S. in Business and Marketing from St. Cloud State University. In addition, Shelley has received acting, movement, dance and vocal training from the Guthrie, Live Action Set, Zenon Dance, Macphail Center for the Arts, Mary Laymon Studio and Lauren Hill Alexander Technique Studio. Furthermore, Shelley has done extensive work in producing theatre including: directing, producing, creating, writing, music, set, costume and props design, volunteer management and promotion. She is current President of the Board for Chain Reaction Theatre Project, and she has served as Chair for the Eden Prairie Player’s Advisory Committee. Previous to Shelley’s theatre career, she worked as a Product Manager for First Minnesota Savings Bank. She is currently a volunteer at Oasis for Youth, a drop-in center for homeless youth in Bloomington.

David Durkee, Secretary of the Board

Computer Technical support

David_bw_150David returned to theater in 2009, having taken a long break after college, under Shelley Smith’s direction in an Eden Prairie Players production. He has been active in Eden Prairie Players since then as an actor, occasional director, advisory committee member and co-chair, photographer, graphic designer, and electronic communications director. He also performs occasionally with other groups in the area. He sees his mission in community theater as bringing high quality theater opportunities to people in the community, and is always glad to see someone coming back to theater later in life, as he did.

Professionally, David has been developing computer software for over thirty years. He’s concentrated in his career on creating software tools for creative people, and creating great user experiences. He has developed desktop publishing software for MultiAd Services and worked on a variety of applications for Adobe, including Encore DVD, Flash Professional, Edge Animate, and rich text editing software used in Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects, and others. He is now working as an independent software developer as DWDurkee, LLC. His current projects are TheaterForms.com, a website with online audition forms and other services for theaters under development, and Comic Strip Factory, a comic strip creation application for Macs. He has been involved in theatre for 19 years as an actor, director, board member, advisory committee member and co-chair, photographer, graphic designer, and electronic communications director.

After having performed in Chain Reaction Theatre Project’s production of Choices, David is excited about the company’s mission. He looks forward to bringing his experience and talents to contribute to Chain Reaction’s projects.

Jenn Herron, Board Member


Jenn- head shotJenn has been a friend and supporter of Chain Reaction Theatre Project prior to its inception and is honored to focus energy on this influential work. She has a gift and passion for relational communications. From interpersonal listening to connecting with a larger audience, she is driven by cultivating impactful messages. Her desire for creating meaning in the world was enhanced through finding recovery from addiction in 2008. Jenn understands and has empathy for social values and concerns, and seeks to listen and learn from both the marginalized and privileged in an effort to transform culture.

Jenn is currently a Spiritual Care Intern at local residential treatment centers. As a volunteer, she serves as Marketing Director for Bloomington Fastpitch Association, is an ally and advocate for the LGBTQ community, and has a long history of leadership with church and educational efforts. Prior to spending time at home with her two children, Jenn earned a B.A. degree in Professional Communications and worked in the advertising, journalism, and marketing industries. She holds a M.A. from Luther Seminary in Theological Studies, concentrating in Congregational Community Care.

Katherine Lewis, Chairwoman of the Board

Community Connections

Katherine Lewis joined the Chain Reaction Theatre Project Board in 2018. She has served at St. David’s Episcopal Church in Minnetonka since 2009. Born in Virginia, she grew up in West Virginia and received her B.A. at Denison University in Granville Ohio. Katherine worked as a community organizer after college for nonprofits in Washington, DC and Columbus, Ohio before going to Virginia Theological Seminary, Alexandria, Virginia, where she received her M.Div. in 1996.

Katherine has served congregations in Ohio and Minnesota, originally coming to Minnesota in 1998 to work at St. Mark’s Cathedral. Katherine makes her home in Minneapolis with her children, son Jesse and daughter Eva.

Mary Yarger, Board Member

Community Outreach, IT Support

photo of Mary YargerMary learned about Chain Reaction Theatre when she attended her first CRTP production in 2017. She was so moved by that experience she attended the same play the following week bringing others with her in hopes they would feel the same impact.

Through the Justice Ministry team at her church she has been on several mission trips to Africa. The most recent trip was to Ghana in the Lake Volta region in September of 2019. Lake Volta is a region where child trafficking is rampant. Mary is passionate about educating people about human trafficking and fighting for human rights.

She joined the board of Chain Reaction Theatre in 2019 to help others become inspired to take action regarding social issues. Mary works in IT for a small local company in Minneapolis.

Emberly Hermann-Johnson, Lead Volunteer

Social Media/Communications/Marketing 

Emberly “Em” has a minor in theatre, and acted onstage throughout her high school and college career as well as in community theatre as a young adult. Currently, she is a reading tutor with Americorps as well as a mom of three. She holds a master’s degree in Technical Communication from Metropolitan State University and most recently was the communication/marketing coordinator for the nonprofit Merrick, Inc,. after a decade with the Metropolitan Airports Commission. Raised a Unitarian Universalist with a core belief in social justice and that every person holds intrinsic value and worth, Chain Reaction Theatre Project embodies the intersection of her passions and beliefs. Em hopes to use her creative talents, communication skills and desire to create positive change in the world to help spread the message of CRTP.