The Board of Directors acts as the governing body of Festival of Trees, and is composed of individuals who are elected to oversee the organization’s operations. The board is responsible for setting the organization’s mission, strategy, and goals, and ensuring that the organization operates in compliance with legal and ethical standards. They aim to address the public’s interest through the organization’s work and act as the legal voice for the organization.
Scott Killingbeck – President
Event Planning, Friendship Ornaments
Scott attended the first two Festival of Trees events back in 1984 and 1985 at Cobo Hall. In 1986 and 1987 he designed his first tree with the banquet team of the Westin Hotel. He also offered to assist with the design of the annual Friendship Tree, and in 1996 he was put on the Executive Committee, running the event’s snack bar for the next two years. Once more the Festival reached out to Scott and asked him to take over Santaland, eventually helping out with the gift shop, wreaths and overall Festival décor (all the while still doing the Friendship Tree.)
In 2015 Scott was asked to join the Board of Directors. A year later he was elected to board president. In that role, Scott worked to bring transparency to the organization and coordinated with the foundation to both increase public awareness and ensure the continued growth of the Evergreen Endowment Fund. Scott is a key part of the implementation team at every event to ensure that all board members and executive team members are engaged, understand the mission and work together to ensure that we put on a top notch event and meet our financial commitments to the Children’s Hospital. As he puts it, “I am so proud to say I am part of this great organization. The reason I give my time is so that kids have more days to play and more nights to dream. Kids should just be kids.”
Jill Lezotte-Kates – Secretary
Pastry Donations, Gift Shop Co-Chair
Jill has been an Independent Sales Representative, Fundraising Pro and Leader with Avon for over 40 years. She also owned the Avon Westland store for several years. As a way to give back to the community, Jill founded “Slippers for Seniors” fundraising and collecting spare change at her store register, purchasing the Avon unisex slippers, bagging and gift tagging to donate to home-bound senior citizens in Wayne, Westland, Garden City, Inkster and Romulus during the holiday season. After she closed the store in 2018 and preparing for the upcoming holiday season, she saw a paint and sip fundraiser for Festival of Trees advertised on Facebook and thought, “Wow a fundraiser hosting a fundraiser.” She contacted Festival of Trees about hosting a “Herbie the Hedgehog” plush animal fundraiser. Herbie the Hedgehog became the mascot for the 2018 Festival of Trees and a Herbie was given to all children at the 2018 Holiday Hearts event, thanks to a generous donor. Avon also sells other holiday items and Jill was asked to set up in the Festival gift shop. All proceeds from the Avon sales in the gift shop go back to Festival of Trees. Jill has donated close to $13,000 to Festival in cash and auction prizes since 2018.
Jill is also the Sweets & Treats chair, soliciting sweet treats from local bakers to be used at the Festival Preview Gala and Holiday Hearts events.
David Schneck – Vice President
Webmaster, Contracts, Social Media
Kimberly Schneck – Director
Administration, Children’s Activities
David is an Executive Vice President and Board Member for Hirata Corporation, and joined the Festival of Trees Executive Committee in 2019 to assist with web site development. David was appointed to the Festival Board of Directors in 2022 and became a Festival Vice President in 2023, David handles organization, finance, and contract review, as well as development and maintenance of the web site and social media channels.
David is married to Kimberly Schneck, who also serves as a director, assists with administration and also serves as chairperson of Children’s Activities. Kim was introduced to Festival of Trees when her cousin Steve was a patient at Children’s Hospital. The generosity of the Foundation and the importance of the research funded by Festival of Trees inspired Kim to join the team as the Children’s Activities Coordinator in 2022, and accept appointment to the Board of Directors in 2023.
Andrew Stein – Board Member
President & CEO, The Children’s Foundation
Andrew Stein joined The Children’s Foundation as President & CEO in January 2023. The Foundation actively supports and encourages innovative ideas, programs, and research aimed at improving the physical and mental health of children. By providing funding, resources, and expertise, they empower individuals and organizations to develop and implement solutions that address the evolving needs of children and the community. Andrew was drawn to this role because of the unique platform The Foundation offers to create a community where all children have equitable opportunities to lead healthy lives in his home state of Michigan.
Kids have been at the center of everything Andrew has done professionally. For 14 years, he was a part of City Year, serving in a variety of leadership positions. Beginning as an AmeriCorps Member working full-time in Washington, DC Public Schools, Andrew eventually became the Executive Director of City Year Detroit, where he more than doubled the size of the organization, increasing the number of students served every day from 2,500 to 7,000.
Andrew is an alumnus of Detroit Country Day School, Michigan State University, and Georgetown Law School. He lives in Detroit with his wife and three children. He is active in the community, serving as treasurer of New Detroit, a board member of the Sherwood Forest Association, and numerous other coalitions and committees focused on children, education, and workforce development. He was the recipient of the Detroit Young Professionals Vanguard award and Leadership Detroit Class XXXVIII.
Anina Bachrach – Vice President
Anina is a retired Director of Market Research for Comerica. She joined the Board for Tennis and Crumpets in 1978. Tennis and Crumpets transitioned to Festival of Trees in 1985, making Anina one of our founding members. Anina was also on the team that worked with the Michigan Garden Clubs in 1987 to start the Aisle of Wreaths. This display was so popular that it became a permanent part of the festival, with wreaths so outstanding they sometimes sold for more than the trees!
Anina is married to Ben Bachrach, who assisted with IT and developed the original Festival of Trees web site. Ben was a member of the Board until 2023 and is still involved in web site development and maintenance.
Martha Polakowski – Director
Marty has been a nurse for over 40 years. In that role she has worked in a variety of settings including NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) and in homecare for medically fragile babies. She has a passion for babies and children, and believes in the importance of research to find better outcomes for their future. 35 years ago, Marty’s Charge Nurse asked her to volunteer 4 hours at Festival of Trees, and if she didn’t like it, she didn’t have to go back. Needless to say, Marty was bitten by the Festival bug and she is still here today! She also became involved with TAPP, a teenage parenting program that helps teenagers’ journey through an unplanned pregnancy, including the importance of finishing their education and becoming good mothers to their babies.
Theresa Diefenbach – Executive Director
Administration, Donations, Accounting
Theresa joined Festival of Trees in 2002 as an Administrative Assistant. In 2007, she was promoted to the Executive Director position, and has overall responsibility for all aspects of the Festival, including planning, organization, accounting, sponsorships, donations, volunteers and public relations.
Theresa is married to Lenard Diefenbach, who serves as a member of the Festival of Trees Executive Committee. In addition to general organization, Lenard provides site planning, material handling, electrical work and mechanical construction for the event.