EDI Mentorship Program
Following a successful pilot year, the LORT EDI Mentorship Program is excited to announce the 2020 cohort. The overall intention of the LORT EDI Mentorship Program is to address one of the barriers that has prohibited the diversity of racial and gender composition in LORT managing and executive leadership. The mentorship program is specifically focusing on administrative leadership.
The program pairs current LORT managing directors, executive directors, and general managers with mentees that currently work for LORT theatres and aspire to become managing/executive leaders in their next one or two career moves. Mentees are emerging leaders of races/ethnicities and/or gender identities that are currently underrepresented in LORT leadership. The objectives of the LORT EDI Mentorship Program are:
1. For current executive leaders to become proactive advocates for future leaders as they make their transition to senior leadership; and 2. For rising leaders to develop the skills and networks necessary to make the move to executive leadership.
We were thrilled with the responses to the call for applicants. The Mentorship Subcommittee selected and matched the following 8 pairs of participants. Please see all participant bios on the pages that follow.
• Amanda Arany, Company Manager of Kansas City Repertory Theatre will be mentored by Steven C Showalter, General Manager of American Repertory Theater;
• Katie Burnett, ACT Lab Production Manager of ACT – A Contemporary Theatre will be mentored by Mike Schleifer, Managing Director of Alliance Theatre;
• Caitlin Crombleholme, Associate General Manager of Alley Theatre will be mentored by Marissa Ford, Associate Managing Director and Roche Schulfer, Managing Director of Goodman Theatre;
• Amanda Espinoza, Education and Community Engagement Manager of Two River Theater will be mentored by Khady Kamara, Managing Director of Arena Stage;
• Melissa Hines, Director of Sales & Audience Development of Actors Theatre of Louisville will be mentored by Brandon Kahn, General Manager of Alley Theatre;
• Sajal David, Human Resources Director of Alley Theatre will be mentored by Cynthia Fuhrman, Managing Director of Portland Center Stage;
• Christine Noah, Associate Director of Board Relations of American Repertory Theater will be mentored by Maggie Boland, Managing Director of Signature Theatre;
• Caitlin Upshaw, Director of Human Resources, Equity and Inclusion of Portland Center Stage will be mentored by Angela Gieras, Executive Director of Kansas Repertory Theatre.
Throughout calendar year 2020, the participants will connect virtually on a regular basis, with particular subject matter or focuses to be determined by each pair. Additionally, we hope that all participants will be able to meet in person at least once this year. LORT has provided funding opportunities to support bringing mentees to the upcoming LORT meeting(s) as part of the culmination of the program.
Amanda Arany is an alum of Florida State University’s BA Theatre program with a focus in stage management. Prior to returning to her hometown of Kansas City, she spent 3 years as Production Manager & Events Coordinator at Limelight Theatre in St. Augustine, Florida – the largest community theatre in North Florida. In that time she also freelanced as a stage manager, house manager, and various technical positions. She is currently completing her second season as Company Manager at Kansas City Repertory Theatre.
Katie Burnett is the Associate Production Manager at ACT Theatre in Seattle, Washington where she manages the ACTLab, a curated series of co-presented new works that activates and engages community voices. In addition to her work with the ACTLab, Katie is passionate about her work project-managing ACT’s strategic planning process and facilitating conversations about EDI and Company Culture. Before joining the ACT team in 2017, Katie worked in major gift fundraising for the Arts Campus at the University of Iowa. Her education background is in stage management and non-profit communication strategies.
Caitlin Crombleholme (she/her/hers) is the Associate General Manager of the Alley Theatre in Houston, TX. Caitlin holds an MFA in Theater Management from the Yale School of Drama (YSD) and a BA in Theater and English from Trinity College. At YSD, she was the recipient of the Morris J. Kaplan Award for Theater Management, a member of the EDI working group, and a co-facilitator of YSD’s anti-racist learning group. Caitlin previously held positions at Yale Repertory Theatre, Fractured Atlas, and Studio Theatre. She also served as a fellow for both the Guthrie and Emerging Leaders of New York Arts (ELNYA). As an aspiring ally, Caitlin is committed to instilling accessible, inclusive, and anti-racist values in storytelling. By fostering collaboration and artistry in theater making, she hopes to provide nourishing experiences for artists and audiences alike.
Amanda Espinoza is an educator and actor born and raised in West Texas. She received her MFA in Performance and Pedagogy from Texas Tech University. During her studies she worked closely with the Burkhart Center for Autism Education and Research, where she taught theater and dance to grades K-12. She developed and teaches residencies with schools and organizations that serve individuals with special needs in Monmouth County, New Jersey. She recently spent time training and working in Linklater and Theatre of the Oppressed at California State University’s Summer Arts program. Her work has been seen at the Voice and Speech Trainers Association’s Identity Cabaret and at The Association for Theatre in Higher Education’s New Play Development Showcase in Chicago. She is currently the Education and Community Engagement Manager at Two River Theater in Red Bank, NJ.
Melissa Hines is the Director of Sales & Audience Development at Actors Theatre of Louisville. Since joining Actors in 2014, she has managed revenue streams through marketing and sales efforts, and conceived, developed and executed the Community Ticket Grant program, which has welcomed over 150 non-profit organizations and the communities they serve since its inception in 2016. This program has served as a model for community building in peer organizations across the country. Prior to joining Actors Theatre, she was based in New York City and held marketing and sales roles at Broadway.com and BroadwayGPS, a boutique group sales agency of which she is a founding employee. Melissa is an Indiana native, an alumni of Purdue University, and Actors Theatre of Louisville’s Professional Training Company. She and her husband Scott have two children, Colin and Frances.
Sajal Javid currently serves as the Director of Human Resources at the Alley Theatre. Sajal is a dedicated Human Resources Professional, Social worker and Executive Coach with twenty plus years of HR, Operations and Social work experience in multi-state retail, non-profit arts and hospitality industries. As the first Human Resources Director at the Alley Theatre, Sajal is busy setting up the HR department and creating a HR Strategic plan aligned with the mission of the Alley Theatre. Sajal leads the Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Access Committee at the Alley Theatre. Sajal is passionate about employee engagement, wellness and creating an inclusive culture. Sajal focuses on coaching, career coaching and leadership development to increase performance, better business results and remove barriers to success. Sajal is also a partner in Hacking HR which is passionate about the future of work and how technology can affect people and organizations. Sajal holds a Master’s degree from Columbia University in Social Work with a focus on nonprofit management and a specialization in Human Resources. Sajal serves on various nonprofit boards and volunteers in local community based organizations.
Christine Noah (she/her/hers) is currently the Associate Director of Board Relations at the American Repertory Theater at Harvard University. Christine joined the A.R.T. in 2016 and previously served in multiple roles ranging from membership, major gifts, and corporate partnerships to travel and special events, including the annual gala. Prior to A.R.T., Christine was the Grants Manager at Children's Theatre of Charlotte in North Carolina. She is an actor, director, and producer, currently serving as Co-Artistic Director of Fort Point Theatre Channel, where she is also on the Board of Directors. Christine graduated magna cum laude from Davidson College with a B.A. in Theatre and English, and she will receive her M.L.A. in Management from Harvard Extension School in May 2020.
Caitlin Upshaw is the Director of HR, Equity and Inclusion at Portland Center Stage. Though she has always been a theater person, she followed her drive for social justice and went to law school following the 2004 election season. After working in private practice and as in-house counsel, Caitlin found a passion for creating happy and inclusive workplaces. Caitlin joined Portland Center Stage during the 2015-16 season and became Director of HR, Equity and Inclusion in 2017. Her current role allows her to shape the organization’s people-related processes with a strong focus on equity, diversity, and inclusion. Outside of the office, Caitlin occasionally takes on pro bono immigration work and enthusiastically connects her volunteer advocacy with Portland Center Stage's EDI work. Caitlin studied theater at New York University, journalism at the University of Oregon, and law at Lewis & Clark Law School.
Maggie Boland joined the Tony Award-winning Signature Theatre’s staff as Managing Director in May 2008. Prior to joining Signature, Maggie spent nearly 10 years at Arena Stage in increasingly senior positions, beginning as Marketing Director, responsible for Arena’s earned income, and assuming oversight of the Annual Fund and $125 million Next Stage Campaign in subsequent seasons as the Director of External Affairs. Before joining Arena Stage, Maggie worked on Broadway at the Roundabout Theatre Company for nearly six years, most recently as the Director of Annual Giving; she also participated extensively in Roundabout’s capital campaign to fund the restoration and renovation of the American Airlines Theatre. Maggie is a member of the Board of Directors of TheatreWashington and Capital City Public Charter School; she also serves as Secretary of the League of Resident Theatres (LORT).
Marissa Lynn Ford is the Associate Managing Director at Goodman Theatre. Prior to joining the management team she was the first participant in Goodman’s executive apprenticeship program where she led several projects including the Chicago August Wilson Festival, Goodman Theatre’s first Black Theatre Summit, the 2015 Chicago Accessibility Summit in partnership with the Chicago Community Trust, and participated on the Joyce Foundation’s Spotlight Grant Committee. Marissa believes and is dedicated to the power of storytelling to transform the narrative that shapes humanity. Through this mission she spearheaded Goodman’s Black Words Matter Celebration, project managed the opening festival of the Alice Center for Education and Engagement, and curated Goodman’s first sensory friendly and touch tour performances. She is currently managing the implementation of Goodman’s strategic planning around Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Access. Marissa serves on the League of Resident Theatres EDI and Mentorship Committee and is a proud board member for Haven Theater Company in Chicago. Prior to her time at Goodman, Marissa served at Collaboraction Theatre, Broadway in Chicago and American Theatre Company. Marissa is a proud Chicago native and graduate of Drake University with a BFA in Acting and BSBA in International Business.
Cynthia Fuhrman has worked in the professional theater since 1982, with two detours – which she highly recommends. She was Manager of Public Relations at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, and Director of Marketing and Communications when OSF opened its Portland branch and through its transition to Portland Center Stage; and for five seasons she was Director of Marketing and Communications at Seattle Repertory Theatre. The first detour from theater came from 1998-2002, when she was the COO for eyescream interactive, at the time the Northwest’s largest internet marketing agency; a second breather from the theater came in 2007, when she was the Communications Director for Portland’s Office of Sustainable Development, a crash course in promoting all things green. She returned to PCS in 2008 as Director of Marketing and Communications, and was named Managing Director in 2017. Cynthia holds her B.A. and M.A. degrees in Humanities, and attended the University of Oregon, the American University of London, and Southern Oregon University.
Angela Lee Gieras is in her seventh season leading KCRep’s business operations. She co-leads with the artistic director to fulfill the company’s artistic vision and mission. During her career, she has overseen the production of over 50 plays including twelve world premieres with three artistic directors. A former commercial banker, Gieras began her career in arts administration at The Warehouse Theatre in Greenville, South Carolina, and went on to serve as the associate managing director of the Dallas Theater Center, where she led finance and operations and oversaw the acquisition of a new production facility. Just prior to joining KCRep, she served as director of development at Florida Theatre in Jacksonville, where she executed fundraising strategies that nearly doubled annual giving in three years. Gieras earned an MBA and MA in arts administration from Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas and a BS in finance with a minor in theatre from the University of Florida. She has guest lectured at the University of Florida, Southern Methodist University and at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Gieras serves on the board of directors for League of Resident Theatres (LORT), Theatre Communications Group (TCG) and a the co-chair of the LORT Equity, Diversity and Inclusion committee and the LORT nominating committee. She has served as a panelist for the NEA, a speaker at KCACTF ASPIRE program, and the alumni board for SMU's Cox School of Business. She is a founding board member for Theatre Alliance of Kansas City (TAKC) and a member of the executive women’s leadership council at the KC Chamber. In 2018, she founded Inspired Arts Management, LLC to promote leadership development, partnership development and research in the American theatre. She will release a study of dual leadership in American theatre in 2020. She is inspired by building trust, helping others succeed, and witnessing the seeds of leadership develop and grow. Her core values are authenticity, connection and learning.
Brandon Kahn joined Alley Theatre in 2018 as General Manager. Brandon came to the role from Williamstown Theatre Festival in Massachusetts, where he served over six seasons as Resident Production Stage Manager, Associate Line Producer and most recently Producing Manager. During his time at Williamstown, three productions have moved to major New York City not-for-profits, including Martyna Majok’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play Cost of Living, and two productions moved to Broadway. Prior to Williamstown, he worked as a freelance stage manager for 10 years in New York and San Diego. He’s worked on five Broadway shows, six Off-Broadway shows and many regional productions at La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego, Huntington Theatre Company in Boston and Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor, New York, in addition to Williamstown. Brandon received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and his Master of Fine Arts degree in Theatre Management and Producing from Columbia University. His wife Jennifer is Founder of SCENERY BAGS and they have two boys, Hudson and Judah.
Khady Kamara joined Arena Stage in 2001 and has been an integral member of the communications team, eventually being promoted to Chief Marketing Officer before taking over as Associate Executive Director and ultimately Managing Director. Under her leadership, Arena’s sales team repeatedly broke box office records for a number of shows. She successfully administered the upgrade and transition of Arena’s ticketing software to meet the ever-changing needs of its growing patron base. Her work was integral in the success of Arena’s temporary residency in Crystal City and the opening of the Mead Center for American Theater. During Kamara’s tenure, she pioneered unprecedented efforts to maximize donations with ticket purchases, and group sales revenue has more than doubled in scope and range of audiences reached. Part of her focus has been on strengthening community relations, managing strategic planning efforts with the board of directors and helping grow the donor base. Kamara serves as Adjunct Faculty for the Graduate Arts Management Program at George Mason University and is on the Board of Theater Washington.
Mike Schleifer joined the Alliance Theatre in March 2014 as the General Manager. In June 2016, he assumed the role of Managing Director, overseeing all operational, marketing, financial and fundraising activities. The Alliance recently finished a multi-million dollar renovation of its mainstage theatre which was the keystone of a $112 million Woodruff Arts Center Capital Campaign. During his tenure Mike has helped to bring Tuck Everlasting and The Prom to Broadway openings after successful starts at the Alliance. Mike is excited to have started an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee at the Alliance and to serve on the LORT Diversity Steering Committee. Prior to Atlanta, he spent 13 years at Baltimore’s Center Stage working in a number of roles including Associate Producer, Production Manager and Resident Stage Manager. Before Center Stage, Mike was the Production Manager at Playwrights Horizons Theater School at NYU, and the Company Manager and Casting Director at the Hangar Theater in Ithaca, New York. Mike began as a Stage Manager and has more than 50 stage management credits between his time in New York and working regionally. While in Baltimore, Mike was an adjunct faculty member at Towson University for seven years and has guest lectured all over the East Coast. Mike served for several years on the Board of Directors for Pumpkin Theatre, a not-for-profit childrens theater in Baltimore. Mike is married to theater director and educator Laura Hackman and the proud father of two boys, Jack and Ben.
Steven Showalter graduated from DePauw University’s School of Music, as a pianist, but also with a career focus on arts administration. He has held a variety of arts jobs ranging from General Manager of Broadway bound theater productions - to touring Booking Agent - to usher and ticket-taker. He is currently the General Manager at the American Repertory Theater at Harvard University, where he has been since September of 2014. For 10 years prior to the A.R.T. Steve held the positions of General Manager and Associate General Manager at The Public Theater / Shakespeare In the Park. He just recently completed his Master of Liberal Arts Degree from the Harvard University Extension School.
Roche Edward Schulfer started working in the Goodman Theatre box office and ultimately became executive director in 1980. Since that time he has overseen more than 350 productions including close to 150 premieres. He initiated the Goodman’s annual production of A Christmas Carol, which celebrated 40 years as Chicago’s leading holiday arts tradition in 2017. In partnership with Artistic Director Robert Falls, Mr. Schulfer led the establishment of quality, diversity and community engagement as the core values of Goodman Theatre. During their tenure, the Goodman has received numerous awards for excellence, including the Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theater, recognition by Time magazine as the “Best Regional Theatre” in the U.S., the Pulitzer Prize for Lynn Nottage’s Ruined and many Jeff Awards for outstanding achievement in Chicago area theater. Mr. Schulfer has negotiated the presentation of numerous Goodman Theatre productions to many national and international venues. He coordinated the 12-year process to relocate the Goodman to the Theatre District in 2000. To mark his 40th anniversary with the Goodman, his name was added to the theater’s “Walk of Stars.” Mr. Schulfer was a founder and twice chair of the League of Chicago Theatres, the trade association of more than 200 Chicago area theaters and producers. He has been privileged to serve in leadership roles with Arts Alliance Illinois (the statewide advocacy coalition); Theatre Communications Group (the national service organization for more than 450 not-for-profit theaters); the Performing Arts Alliance (the national advocacy consortium of more than 18,000 organizations and individuals); the League of Resident Theatres (the management association of 65 leading US theater companies); Lifeline Theatre in Rogers Park and the Arts & Business Council. Mr. Schulfer is a lifelong Chicago area resident and received a degree in economics from the University of Notre Dame where he managed the cultural arts commission. He will be teaching a theater management seminar at Notre Dame in the fall of 2018.