Co-Founder, dog & pony dc
Wyckham Avery is a theatre maker and educator with a focus and passion for non-fourth wall performance. As a founder and conspirator with dog & pony dc, she has devised, performed and/or directed almost every show and has helped develop the training and pedagogy of the company’s Audience Interaction principle. She is currently developing a new solo show, Sing Me a Song, an interactive sing-a-long. She performs and teaches clowning, commedia dell'arte, Shakespeare, and physical theatre in the DC area. She is an affiliated Teaching Artist with the Shakespeare Theatre Company and the Folger Shakespeare Library. @wycktheham
Artistic Director, The Alley Theatre
Gregory Boyd is celebrating his 25th season at the Alley. During his tenure the Alley has risen in national and international prominence, winning the Special Tony Award and experiencing record growth in its Houston audiences, while also transferring its productions to major European Festivals (including two in one season at the Venice Biennale), Broadway, and on tour to 40 American cities. Boyd’s addition of artistic associates has enhanced the Alley’s visibility and reputation worldwide; while his commitment to maintaining a resident company of actors has made the Alley unique among American theatre companies. At the Alley, Mr. Boyd has produced over 100 new productions of the widest ranging repertoire in the country, among them the premieres of Not About Nightingales by Tennessee Williams (Alley, London, Broadway), Jekyll & Hyde, (Alley, National Tour, Broadway), The Civil War (which he also co-authored), Shakespeare’s Roman Plays (with Vanessa and Corin Redgrave); Robert Wilson’s productions of Hamlet, When We Dead Awaken and Danton’s Death (with Richard Thomas); Ellen Burstyn in O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night and Tony Kushner’s Angels in America Parts 1 & 2 (both directed by Michael Wilson), premieres by Keith Reddin (Synergy); Eve Ensler (Lemonade); and Alley Artistic Associates Edward Albee (The Play About the Baby), Horton Foote (The Carpetbagger’s Children), Ken Ludwig (The Gershwins’ An American in Paris, Leading Ladies) and Frank Wildhorn (Jekyll & Hyde, Wonderland and The Civil War). At the Alley, he has appeared as an actor in Danton’s Death (Tom Paine) and Cyrano de Bergerac (Cyrano) and directed over 40 productions including: Seagull, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Eurydice, Cyrano de Bergerac, Treasure Island, Subject to Fits, Hitchcock Blonde, Hapgood, The Pillowman, Jekyll & Hyde, Three Sisters, In the Jungle of Cities, After the Fall, The Greeks, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Macbeth, As You Like It, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Directing projects outside the Alley have included Our Town at Hartford Stage (Hal Holbrook), Coward’s Design for Living at Williamstown (Marisa Tomei, Campbell Scott, Steven Weber), Stoppard’s Travesties at Long Wharf (Sam Waterston, Tom Hewitt) and the premiere of Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Schenkkan’s Lewis and Clark Reach the Euphrates at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles. This season, he directed Dracula, the Original Vampire Play and As You Like It. Boyd has served as Panelist for the National Endowment of the Arts, the Texas Commission on the Arts and the Massachusetts Council for the Arts. He has taught on the faculties of Carnegie-Mellon, Williams College, the University of Houston, and the University of North Carolina, where he headed the Professional Theatre Training Program. He was educated at the University of California, Berkeley, where he is a Distinguished Alumnus, and at Carnegie-Mellon.
Chairman, National Endowment for the Arts
Jane Chu has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate in June 2014 as the 11th chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. Since 2006, Chu served as the president and CEO of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City, Missouri, overseeing a $413-million campaign to build the center. As the performance home of the Kansas City Ballet, Kansas City Symphony, and Lyric Opera of Kansas City, the Kauffman Center has hosted more than one million people from all 50 states and countries throughout the world since its grand opening in September 2011.She was a fund executive at the Kauffman Fund for Kansas City from 2004 to 2006, and vice president of external relations for Union Station Kansas City from 2002 to 2004. Previously, she was vice president of community investment for the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation from 1997 to 2002. Chu also served as a trustee at William Jewell College and on the board of directors of the Ewing Marion Kauffman School and the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce. Chu was born in Shawnee, Oklahoma, but was raised in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, the daughter of Chinese immigrants. She studied music growing up, eventually receiving bachelor’s degrees in piano performance and music education from Ouachita Baptist University and master’s degrees in music and piano pedagogy from Southern Methodist University. Additionally, Chu holds a master’s degree in business administration from Rockhurst University and a PhD in philanthropic studies from Indiana University, as well as an honorary doctorate in music from the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance. Read more about Jane Chu and the NEA here.
Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni
An award-winning actor, producer and educator, Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni is currently touring the one-woman show she wrote and performs in: One Drop of Love. One Drop travels near and far, in the past and present to explore history, family, race, class, justice...and love.
Cox DiGiovanni has been featured in the New York Times and on NPR as a spokesperson on using the arts to explore racial identity. She served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Cape Verde, West Africa, and has designed curricula for and taught English as a Second Language to students from all over the world. She has been honored with the Peace Corps’ Franklin H. Williams Award, and with Peace Corps Fellows and Hollywood Foreign Press Association scholarships. She holds a BA in Spanish and Education, an MA in TESOL, and an MFA in Acting and Performance in Film, TV and Theater. She is also a proud member of Ensemble Studio Theater/LA Playwrights Unit, and a co-curator of MixedRootsStories.org.
Managing Director, EmcArts Inc.
Melissa brings to EmcArts more than two decades of experience in cultural administration. Melissa’s work as a Lead Facilitator for EmcArts programs is influenced by the work in community engagement and partnership development that she previously led with the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. In addition to her program delivery work as a facilitator, workshop leader, and on-site coach, Melissa serves as the Managing Director of the Company, overseeing staff development, financial management and Board relations. At EmcArts, Melissa cultivates flexibility, maintaining a non-hierarchical, interactive environment where a team of big thinkers can flourish. As Managing Director, she is at the center of everything EmcArts does. She is a lead facilitator for EmcArts programs; serves as the primary liaison with the Board; and oversees all management functions, including finances, resource management, and personnel. Working in close partnership with Richard Evans, she is deeply engaged in strategy development, helping to “build the structure around his creative vision.” Melissa’s fascination with process goes beyond her work. She loves to travel (without a road map), and over the past ten years, she also has become more involved in cooking and growing things—from cultivating herbs on her front stoop to building creative menus from her farm share—a natural extension of her nurturing work at EmcArts. Melissa was the facilitator for TCG’s journey through the Innovation Lab for Arts Development Agencies in 2013-14.
Artistic Director, The Public Theater
Oskar Eustis has served as the Artistic Director of The Public Theater since 2005. He came to The Public from Trinity Repertory Company in Providence, RI where he served as Artistic Director from 1994 to 2005. Eustis served as Associate Artistic Director at Los Angeles’ Mark Taper Forum from 1989 to 1994, and prior to that he was with the Eureka Theatre Company in San Francisco, serving as Resident Director and Dramaturg from 1981 to 1986 and Artistic Director from 1986 to1989. Eustis is currently a Professor of Dramatic Writing and Arts and Public Policy at New York University, and has held professorships at UCLA, Middlebury College, and Brown University, where he founded and chaired the Trinity Rep/Brown University Consortium for professional theater training. Throughout his career, Eustis has been dedicated to the development of new plays as a director, dramaturg, and producer. At The Public, Eustis directed the New York premieres of Rinne Groff’s Compulsion and The Ruby Sunrise, and Larry Wright’s The Human Scale. At Trinity Rep, he directed the world premiere of Paula Vogel’s The Long Christmas Ride Home and Tony Kushner’s Homebody/Kabul, both recipients of the Elliot Norton Award for Outstanding Production. While at the Eureka Theatre, he commissioned Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, and directed its world premiere at the Mark Taper Forum. Eustis has also directed the world premieres of plays by Philip Kan Gotanda, David Henry Hwang, Emily Mann, Suzan-Lori Parks, Ellen McLaughlin, and Eduardo Machado, among many others.
Executive Director, Theatre Communications Group
Teresa Eyring joined Theatre Communications Group (TCG) as executive director in March 2007. Previously, she spent 20 years as an executive in theatres around the U.S. Positions included managing director of the Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis, managing director of the Wilma Theater in Philadelphia, assistant executive director of the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, and director of development for the Woolly Mammoth Theater Company in Washington, D.C. Eyring holds a BA from Stanford University and an MFA from the Yale School of Drama. She is a member of the boards of the Performing Arts Alliance and The Actors Fund. Under her leadership, TCG adopted a new strategic plan with a major focus on diversity and inclusion, as well as audience and community engagement. With this plan, TCG has articulated a new, unifying vision statement. In summary it is: A better world for theatre. A better world because of theatre.
David Greenspan's plays include Jack, The Home Show Pieces, 2 Samuel 11, Etc., Dead Mother, She Stoops to Comedy (Obie), The Argument (Obie), The Myopia, Go Back to Where You Are and I’m Looking for Helen Twelvetrees. These have been produced most notably by the Public Theater, Playwrights Horizons, Target Margin Theater, The Foundry Theatre and the Abrons Arts Center. He has received two performance Obies: one for one for The Boys in the Band, one for Some Men and Faust; solo renditions of The Patsy, Gertrude Stein’s lecture Plays and a program of two Stein lectures and a playlet entitled Composition… Masterpieces… Identity. Guggenheim, Lortel and Fox fellowships, Alpert Award and an Obie for Sustained Achievement.
Elaine Grogan Luttrull
CPA, Minerva Financial Arts
Elaine Grogan Luttrull is the founding owner of Minerva Financial Arts, a company devoted to improving financial literacy among artists and arts organizations through coaching, business planning, and education. She is the author of Arts & Numbers (Agate, B2 2013), and she serves as the Department Head for Business & Entrepreneurship at the Columbus College of Art and Design. Elaine is the founding director of the CCAD Women’s Leadership Institute, and she previously served as the Director of Financial Analysis for The Juilliard School. Her presentations have been featured nationally by the DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the Kennedy Center, Americans for the Arts, Playwrights of New York, the Lark Play Development Center, and the Foundation Center.
Co-Founder, dog & pony dc
Rachel Grossman is an artist and engagement strategist focused on the art-artist-audience triangulation. She is a co-founder and Ring Leader with dog & pony dc. Rachel launched Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company's "connectivity" initiative and served as the first connectivity director, transforming the way the company considers the relationship between its work, audience, and community. Prior to that she was the director of education & outreach at Round House Theatre, and managed education and community programming at Shakespeare Theatre Company, Arena Stage, and CENTERSTAGE. Rachel has presented at TCG, NET, NAMP, ATHE, and AATE, and is a member of HowlRound’s National Advisory Committee. @rgindc
Actor, Poet, Educator
A native of Northeast Ohio, Christine Howey is a graduate of Brecksville High School and Kent State and taught English in the Cleveland Public School system, followed by a 35 year career in advertising. She worked as an actor and director at Dobama Theater in Cleveland Heights from 1969 to 1984, and has been a theater critic for the past 20 years, writing for The Plain Dealer, and currently for the weekly Cleveland Scene magazine and for her blog "Rave and Pan." In 1999, she began work on a solo show dealing with her transgender journey, which was performed in New York and later, at the East Cleveland Theatre. Ten years later, Howey joined a poetry workshop, where she developed an interest in performing her own poetry. These pieces, which often utilized character voices of both genders, were well received and later became the basis of Exact Change.
Dave Isay is one of the most trusted and respected broadcasters working today. The recipient of four Peabody Awards and a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, his work taps into the heart and soul of the human experience. He is an author, documentarian, and founder of StoryCorps. StoryCorps is the vehicle by which Dave celebrates and explores the lives of everyday people from coast to coast. StoryCorps was honored with a rare institutional Peabody Award in 2007, and received Peabody and Columbia DuPont Awards for its coverage of the 10th anniversary of 9/11. In 2013, StoryCorps won the MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions. Since its inception in 2003, Dave and the StoryCorps team have worked tirelessly to record history as it is told by the unsung masses. 50,000 interviews have been archived and preserved at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. This number continues to grow daily with the StoryCorps mobile unit rolling into new communities and the growing number of StoryBooth locations recording around the country. Weekly, millions of listeners experience these stories on NPR’s Morning Edition. Isay’s work is held in the highest regard and continues to garner acclaim. In addition to his broadcasting honors, he is the author/editor of numerous books that have been New York Times Bestsellers, including Listening Is an Act of Love, Mom: A Celebration of Mothers from StoryCorps, and All There Is: Love Stories from StoryCorps. The StoryCorps book, Ties That Bind: Stories of Love and Gratitude From the First Ten Years of StoryCorps, was released in the fall of 2013. When he’s not enjoying time with his family, Dave spends most of his day in StoryCorps’ Brooklyn Headquarters listening to heart-wrenching stories of everyday American tragedy and triumph.
Artistic Director, Shakespeare Theatre Company
Michael Kahn has been the Artistic Director of Shakespeare Theatre Company for the past 29 years. During this time he has directed award-winning classical theatre productions, instituted free Shakespeare performances and led the Theatre to receive the 2012 Regional Theatre Tony Award. Mr. Kahn has received seven Helen Hayes Awards for Outstanding Direction. Mr. Kahn’s work in theatre and opera has been seen on Broadway, off-Broadway, in American regional theatres and at international venues. Prior to joining STC, Mr. Kahn was the Richard Rogers Chair of the Drama Division at Juilliard, where he has taught since its founding in 1968. He also served as the Artistic Director of The Acting Company, McCarter Theatre Center and the American Shakespeare Theatre. He earned a Tony nomination for his direction of Showboat. In January 2013, Mr. Kahn was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame. In April 2013, he was named an Honorary Commander of the British Empire (CBE) by Queen Elizabeth II.
Artistic Director, Cleveland Play House
Laura Kepley has directed Cleveland Play House mainstage productions of Fairfield (world premiere), The Little Foxes, Venus in Fur, Good People (also at Syracuse Stage), A Carol for Cleveland (world premiere), In the Next Room, or the vibrator play, My Name is Asher Lev and CPH readings of Roe Green Award-winning plays Marjorie Prime and Daphne’s Dive. She joined CPH in 2010 as associate artistic director, having arrived from Trinity Repertory Company in Providence, Rhode Island, where she was resident director and artistic associate for four seasons and interim director of the Brown/Trinity Rep MFA in Directing Program for one. She has also directed for The Alliance Theatre, Asolo Repertory Theatre, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and Contemporary American Theatre Festival, among others. A native Ohioan, Laura received her undergraduate degree from Northwestern University and her Master of Fine Arts from Brown University/Trinity Rep. She is a Drama League Fellow and a recipient of the 2009–2011 National Endowment for the Arts/Theatre Communications Group Career Development Program for Directors.
Lisa Kron is a writer and performer whose work has been widely produced in New York, regionally, and internationally. She created the book and lyrics for the musical Fun Home, score by Jeanine Tesori, (Pulitzer Prize finalist, Tony nominations for best book and best score, Lortel, Obie, Drama Critics Circle and Outer Critics Circle awards for Best Musical); The Ver**zon Play (2011 Humana Festival); In The Wake (Lilly Award, Best Plays of 2010-2011 Theater Yearbook); Well (Best Plays of 2003-2004 Yearbook, 2006 Tony nom. for Best Actress); and 2.5 Minute Ride (Obie, L.A. Drama-Logue and GLAAD Media Awards). As an actor recent roles include Mrs. Mi-Tzu and Mrs. Yang in the Foundry Theater’s acclaimed production of Good Person of Szechuan (Lortel Award, Outstanding Featured Actress), and dance critic Walter Terry in Richard Move’s Martha @... The 1963 Interview at DTW, New York Live Arts and the Singapore International Festival of the Arts. Honors include Guggenheim, Sundance and MacDowell fellowships, a Doris Duke Performing Artists Award, a Cal Arts/Alpert Award, a Helen Merrill Award, and grants from the Creative Capital and NYFA. She is a founding member of the OBIE- and Bessie-Award-winning collaborative theater company The Five Lesbian Brothers, whose plays continue to be performed by companies around the world and are regularly taught in Theater, Performance, and LGBT Studies programs. She currently serves on the boards of the McDowell Colony and the Lilly Awards, and on the Council of the Dramatists Guild of America.
Director of Communications & Conferences, Theatre Communications Group
Dafina McMillan serves as the director of communications & conferences for Theatre Communications Group (TCG). In this role, Dafina oversees the overall internal and external communications strategy – as well as produces TCG’s convenings, including the TCG National Conference. Prior to joining TCG, Dafina served as the associate managing director of Penumbra Theatre Company in St. Paul, MN. While previously in New York, she was an account supervisor at global public relations agency GCI Group (now Cohn & Wolfe) and implemented communication strategies for Fortune 500 companies. She also consulted with the Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts on marketing and community engagement initiatives. Dafina is an alumna of The John F. Kennedy Center’s International Arts Management Fellowship in Washington, D.C. Originally from Houston, TX, she received her bachelor of science degree in public relations from the University of Texas at Austin.
Artistic Director, Crowded Fire Theater
Mina Morita is the Artistic Director of Crowded Fire Theater. Previously, she served as the Artistic Associate at Berkeley Rep and its center for the creation and development of new work, The Ground Floor. During her time at Berkeley Rep, Mina artistically coordinated the Fireworks Festival, directed Crazy Wisdom Saves the World Again, and directed a staged reading of The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later. As assistant director there, she worked with a number of directors including Tony Taccone for Tony Kushner’s The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures, and with Les Waters for Sarah Ruhl’s In The Next Room, or the vibrator play (which received a Tony nomination). In 2012, Mina worked with Anna Deavere Smith as the artistic coordinator for her play On Grace.
As a freelance director, she has worked at Shotgun Players (By and By, The Great Divide, and The Norman Conquests: Round and Round the Garden), Just Theater (Underneath the Lintel), TheatreFIRST (Fire Work), Sleepwalkers Theatre (The Nature Line), Aurora Theatre Company’s Global Age Project, Playwrights’ Foundation, Impact Theatre, Berkeley Playhouse, and Bay Area Children’s Theatre, among others. In 2014, Mina won the Theatre Bay Area Award for Outstanding Direction of a Musical (Where the Mountain Meets the Moon at BACT). In 2015, she directed Christopher Chen’s Aulis: An Act of Nihilism in One Long Act at UC Berkeley’s Zellerbach Playhouse and Idris Goodwin’s Blackademics at Crowded Fire.
Beyond Mina’s work as a director, she is a member of the Zellerbach Family Foundation’s Community Arts Panel. Previously, Mina served as Board President of Shotgun Players and was one of the original founders of Bay Area Children’s Theatre where she served as interim Executive Director in 2011. Mina holds a degree in directing from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, was awarded the Bret C. Harte Fellowship at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, received the National Arts Strategies Future Leadership Fellowship, and participated in the 2014 Lincoln Center Director’s Lab.
Kevin E. Moore
Managing Director, Theatre Communications Group
Kevin E. Moore is an arts professional with over 20 years experience. Mr. Moore joined TCG in 2010. He served as managing director for Arizona Theatre Company, a LORT B theatre based in Tucson and Phoenix, Arizona prior to joining TCG. He was with Arizona Theatre Company for ten years, starting as marketing director and finishing his time there as managing director. In addition, Mr. Moore has served in many capacities with organizations including the Herberger Theater Center in Phoenix, Historic New Harmony in Indiana, Cincinnati Arts Association and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. He has served on grant panels for Theatre Communications Group, the Arizona Commission on the Arts and the City of Phoenix and was Founding Board Chair of Alliance for Audience, a service organization for the arts in Phoenix. He has also been a guest lecturer at Arizona State University. Mr. Moore graduated from Furman University in Greenville, SC.
Program Director, Leadership Development in Interethnic Relations (LDIR)
Carmen Morgan is a national diversity consultant and has worked with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) for the past six years on structural and organizational equity. In addition, she serves as a partner for Theatre Communications Group’s Diversity and Inclusion Initiative where she helped to launch their national Diversity and Inclusion Institute. She also provides customized resources and trainings on diversity, inclusion, and equity to theaters nationwide. Carmen is also currently the Program Director of Leadership Development in Interethnic Relations (LDIR). Carmen co-wrote and edited ExpandingLDIRship: A Resource Promoting Positive Intergroup Relations in Communities Through Awareness, Skills and Actions, which remains the center piece of LDIR’s community programming and training. Her leadership work in the arena of diversity and inclusion involves developing and directing program initiatives nationwide – programs that are proactive instead of reactive. She has presented at national conferences including the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity, National Association for Multicultural Education, Association of Performing Arts Service Organizations, Americans for the Arts, United States Institute for Theatre Technology, and the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation, to name a few. Carmen is a founding member of the California Chapter of the National Association for Multicultural Education (NAME), a former Human Services Commissioner for the City of Pasadena, and is currently on the fundraising committee for Black Women for Wellness, a community-based organization serving women in South Los Angeles. She remains a committed community activist who has worked within the nonprofit sector, specifically around social justice issues, for almost 20 years.
Executive Vice President, TDC
Susan has been with TDC since 1987. In her many years with the firm, she has led a range of projects that include mergers, strategic business plans, financial restructuring and facilities planning. Susan’s practice focuses on the complex challenge of aligning an organization’s strategy, implementation plan, and financial sustainability. Her deep financial analysis skills and hands-on operational experience has given her a special expertise in how to scale an organization to an appropriate size while creating a sustainable capitalization plan. She has worked with clients of all sizes across the country in such areas as arts and culture, community development, education and social services. Susan has authored studies on capitalization in the arts sector and spoken on the issue at TCG gatherings over the last four years, including the last two Fall Forums.
Editor-in-Chief, American Theatre
JIM O'QUINN is editor-in-chief of American Theatre, the monthly national arts magazine now in its 31st year. His articles and reviews have also appeared in Stagebill, Theatre Heute, Tatler, High Performance, Encyclopedia Britannica and other publications, and he was a regular theatre reviewer for the now-defunct Manhattan weekly 7 Days. He also edited The Journal, a quarterly publication of the SDC Foundation, for six years, and created the Downtown arts section of The Villager newspaper in downtown Manhattan. Prior to joining Theatre Communications Group in 1982, where he collaborated on the creation of American Theatre and became its founding editor, O'Quinn was managing editor of the journal TDR: The Drama Review, published by New York University; a city-desk reporter for the New Orleans Times-Picayune; and publisher for two years of an award-winning weekly newspaper in southwest Louisiana. He has also worked as a composer and music arranger for theatre, and his children's opera The Littlest Emperor was produced in 1978 at New Orleans's Contemporary Arts Center. He holds degrees in English and journalism from Northwestern State University of Louisiana and did graduate work at the University of New Orleans and the Performance Studies Department of New York University. His work at American Theatre has been recognized with two National Magazine Awards for Editorial Excellence (2001, 2002) and an Excellence in Editing Award for Sustained Achievement from the Association of Theatre in Higher Education (2010).
Founding Artistic Director, Sojourn Theatre
Michael Rohd is founding artistic director of Sojourn Theatre, a sixteen year old ensemble-based company and a 2005 recipient of Americans for the Arts’ Animating Democracy Exemplar Award. He devises and directs new work around the nation and is on faculty at Northwestern University where he helps lead the MFA Directing Program. He wrote the widely translated book Theatre for Community, Conflict, and Dialogue (15th printing, Heinemann Press, 1998). He leads Center for Performance and Civic Practice, an ongoing body of activity comprised of research, programs and projects that aim to make visible the power of the arts to demonstrably increase civic capacity. His work with the Center, Sojourn, and in non-arts sector settings around the nation focuses on social practice and civic practice cross-disciplinary projects through collaboratively designed arts-based engagement and participation strategies. He is the 2013-2016 Doris Duke Artist-in-Residence at Lookingglass Theater Company in Chicago. Recent/Current projects include leading a two year Sojourn Artist-in-Residence collaboration with Catholic Charities USA poverty reduction sites around the US; BUILT 2.0, a Sojourn partnership with Planning Commissions around the country utilizing civic practice in public engagement settings to help communities deal with difficult conversations and resource allotment; and, collaborating with theaters and universities around the country to mount locally specific projects based on Sojourn's model performance/engagement process/production How To End Poverty in 90 Minutes.
Artistic Director, The Flea Theater
Niegel Smith is a theater director, performance artist and artistic director of the Flea Theater in New York City. His theater work has been produced by Classical Theatre of Harlem, HERE Arts Center, Hip Hop Theatre Festival, The Invisible Dog, Luna Stage, Magic Theatre, Mixed Blood, New York Fringe Festival, New York Live Arts, Phoenix Theatre Ensemble, The Public Theater, Summer Play Festival, Todd Theatre and Under the Radar, and his participatory performances have been produced by Abrons Arts Center, American Realness, Dartmouth College, Elastic City, The Invisible Dog, Jack, The New Museum, Prelude Festival, PS 122, the Van Alen Institute and Visual AIDS. He often collaborates with artist Todd Shalom and playwright/ performer Taylor Mac. Smith, a graduate of Dartmouth College, was the associate director of the Tony Award winning musical FELA!, assistant directed the off-broadway production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and both the Broadway and Off-Broadway productions of Tony Kushner's Caroline, or Change. He has received residencies, grants and/or fellowships from Brooklyn Arts Council, Brooklyn Arts Exchange, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Sundance Theatre Lab, Theater Communications Group, Tucker Foundation, Van Lier Fund and VoxFest. Before surviving high school in Detroit, he grew up in the North Carolina piedmont, fishing with his dad, shopping with his mom and inventing tall-tale fantasies with his two younger brothers.
Principal, Rebecca Thomas & Associates
Rebecca Thomas founded Rebecca Thomas & Associates (RTA) to help cultural nonprofits and their supporters think creatively about how to balance artistic aspirations with business realities. She assists arts leaders in making choices that build organizational health and adaptability. She collaborates with grantmakers to design and implement programs that align capital to organizational needs. Rebecca speaks and writes about the relationship between healthy finances and mission success, and she advocates for improvements in the way money flows to the sector. She is the co-author of Critical Steps Toward Capital Health in the Cultural Sector, The Case for Change Capital in the Arts and Change Capital in Action: Lessons from Leading Arts Organizations. Her essays have appeared in Grantmakers in the Arts’ Reader, Philanthropy News Digest and the Chronicle of Philanthropy. Previously, Rebecca was Vice President at Nonprofit Finance Fund (NFF), where she led NFF’s arts strategy, designed and implemented national programs, and directed business and product development efforts. There, she ran the six-year $15 million Leading for the Future initiative, a program that combined flexible capital with advice to help leading performing arts organizations transform their business models to achieve artistic goals. Rebecca is also the architect of two online financial data platforms, developed in partnerships with the Cultural Data Project and GuideStar. Rebecca serves on the boards of the Cultural Data Project and José Mateo Ballet Theatre, and on the finance committee of Lark Play Development Center. She is an advisor to the National Center for Arts Research at Southern Methodist University. Earlier in her career, Rebecca was Senior Economics Correspondent for Smartmoney.com. She received her MBA from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business and her BA from Yale University.
Baratunde Thurston is a technology-loving comedian who has contributed to Fast Company, NPR, CNN, MSNBC, BBC, Al Jazeera and roughly one bajillion podcasts. He hosted TakePart Live on Pivot TV and shows on Discovery Science Channel, Yahoo, and AOL. In 2006 he co-founded Jack & Jill Politics, a black political blog whose coverage of the 2008 Democratic National Convention has been archived by the Library Of Congress. From 2007 to 2012, he helped bring one of America’s finest journalistic institutions into the future, serving as Director of Digital for The Onion. He’s an affiliate at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society and a director’s fellow at the MIT Media Lab. His book, How To Be Black, was published in February 2012 and is a New York Times bestseller. In the summer of 2012, he co-founded Cultivated Wit, a startup that exists at the intersection of comedy, creativity, and technology to make the world more fun. His wide range of experience and activity has earned him an equally wide range of praise. The ACLU of Michigan honored him “for changing the political and social landscape one laugh at a time.” He was nominated for the Bill Hicks Award for Thought Provoking Comedy. The Root named him to its list of “100 most influential African Americans,” and Fast Company listed him as one of the “100 Most Creative People In Business.” Then-candidate Barack Obama called him “someone I need to know,” and YouTube user “mooospot” referred to him as a “dumbass liberal crackhead welfare sucker.” He accepts each of these honors with equal humility. Baratunde travels the world, speaking and advising on the subjects of our digital future and storytelling, satire and democracy, and race and politics. He has spoken at countless universities, and organizations as well as delivered keynotes at South by Southwest, the Guardian Changing Media Summit, and more. In May 2011, he spoke at the presidential palace in Tbilisi, Georgia (the country) on the role of satire in a healthy democracy, and he has advised The White House on digital strategy and public engagement. Baratunde resides in Brooklyn, lives on Twitter and has over 30 years’ experience being black.
Paula Vogel's play, How I Learned to Drive, received the Pulitzer Prize, Lortel Prize, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and New York Drama Critics Awards for Best Play, and her second OBIE. Other plays include The Long Christmas Ride Home, The Mineola Twins, The Baltimore Waltz, Hot 'N' Throbbing, Desdemona, And Baby Makes Seven, and The Oldest Profession, A Civil War Christmas and Don Juan Comes Home From Iraq. Co-created with Rebecca Taichman, her play INDECENT will open at Yale Repertory Theatre and La Jolla Playhouse in the fall of 2015; The Vineyard Theatre will produce Indecent in New York in the Spring of 2016. TCG has published four books of her work. She has taught playwriting at Brown University, Yale School of Drama and throughout the United States and abroad.