Director of Conferences and Fieldwide Learning, Theatre Communications Group
Devon leads the conference producing team at TCG, and has an expansive background in event management, non-profit administration, business development, and theatre. With TCG she has produced and helped to curate the programming for six national conferences, including the record-breaking 2016 Theatre Nation in Washington, DC; she has also been on the producing team of every Fall Forum on Governance since 2012, and TCG’s two Audience (R)Evolution Convenings. She holds a B.A. from Vassar College and received her M.F.A. in acting from the American Repertory Theater’s (ART) Institute at Harvard University and Moscow Art Theatre, after which she founded an arts-centric events production company, attended NYU’s summer intensive on events marketing, and did a stint planning business development events in the corporate sphere. Devon was a co-founder, former Producing Director and President of Studio 42, a NYC-based company dedicated to producing the most adventurous work of emerging playwrights from 2000-2015. She has performed off Broadway in New York, regionally, and internationally. Read more about her and her thoughts on theatre, producing, and parenthood on her blog: fempresario.wordpress.com.
Deputy Director & Chief Operating Officer, Theatre Communications Group
Adrian Budhu comes to TCG after five years at The Theater Offensive (TTO), an LGBTQ not-for-profit arts organization in Boston, MA. The strategies he implemented there have strengthened The Theater Offensive’s brand on a national scale, increased its profile in the community, broadened its support base, and built capacity and resources for its sustainability – retiring the organization’s debt, growing revenue from $0.5 million in 2011 to $1.3+ million in 2016, and building cash reserves. Other professional experience includes: GLBTQ Domestic Violence Project, XAMOnline.com, Metro Boston Newspaper, and John Hancock Financial. Adrian lives in New York City with his fiancé Chris, a surgical resident at Mt. Sinai Hospital, and Boston terrier named Jack. He’s an avid runner and completed numerous marathons fundraising over $200K to benefit LGBTQ youth, people with disabilities, people living with HIV/AIDS, homeless people, survivors of Hurricane Katrina, and victims of domestic abuse. Adrian has won numerous awards for his leadership and activism. His prior affiliations include: the Boston Cultural Change Network (committed to collective action for social justice through Arts & Culture), the Boston Creates Leadership Council, where he advised and helped shepherd Boston's cultural plan into implementation; TCG’s Board of Directors (from which he has since resigned); and Point Foundation’s National Board of Directors.
Akia Squitieri, Founding Artistic Director of Rising Sun Performance Company and Company Manager, Innovative Theatre Foundation
Akia Squitieri is an award winning Producer, Director & Arts Administrator. She is the Founding Artistic Director of Rising Sun Performance Company and Company Manager for the Innovative Theatre Foundation. She served as the Company Manager for the international sensation, Blue Man Group at the Astor Place Theater for over 10 years. Past notable credits include working on staff at Horse Trade Theatre Group, serving as General Manager for FRIGID New York’s inaugural year, and returning in multiple positions for each subsequent year; as Production Coordinator for nationally acclaimed Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre, overseeing the playwrights unit and INSIGHT 13 production series and on the Advisory board of the Paul Butterfield Fund & Society. She is a recipient of the New York Innovative Theatre Awards “Founders Award” for her contributions to the organization and Off Off Broadway Community and Two Time "Congeniality" Award Winner from the Planet Connections Theatre Festival for her community involvement. She is currently serving as the Director of Charities for the Planet Connections Theatre Festival, focusing on advocacy & social justice outreach. In the traditional business sector she has worked with Pfizer, EMI Records, Conde’ Nast Publications, EFT Group and others. She is an Alumni of the Commercial Theatre Institute, and has been a speaker, panelist and guest lecturer at the following institutions: CTI, Actors Equity Association, Ramapo College, Theatre Resources Unlimited, New York University, Horse Trade Theatre Group, FRIGID Festival, National Action Network and in Brno, Czech Republic. She is a member of the Society of Human Resource Management. You can learn more about her work at www.akiasquitieri.com and www.risingsunnyc.com
Ashley Walden Davis
Ashley Walden Davis, Managing Director, Alternate ROOTS
Ashley Walden Davis is the Managing Director at Alternate ROOTS, a Southern based regional arts service organization with 40 years of history. As a member-driven national resource for artists and cultural organizers, we seek to champion social and economic justice and the work of people in our field. Ashley lives in Georgia with her husband and son. Ashley is also a founding leader of the Next Generation National Arts Network, a coalition of artists and administrators from all over the United States who have set out to chart the course for being the future leaders of the arts field.
She holds a Master of Fine Arts Degree in Producing from the California Institute of the Arts and a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Studies from Old Dominion University. Ashley previously worked with Cornerstone Theater Company, Towne Street Theater, Arena Stage, Virginia Stage Company and Elizabeth River Theater Company and served on the Board of Directors of Appalshop. She has served as an Assistant Professor in the Theater Drepartment at Kennesaw State University.
Some honors include Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP) Leadership Fellowship, Theater Communications Group (TCG) New Generations: Future Leaders Grant, Cornerstone Theater Company Paula Altvater Fellowship, LA Stage Alliance Ovations Fellowship and Arena Stage Fellowship.
Claudia Alick, Executive Producer, CALLING UP
Claudia Alick is a performer, producer, and inclusion expert. Named by American Theater Magazine as one of 25 theater artists who will shape American Theater in the next 25 years, Alick has served as the founding Artistic Director of Smokin' Word Productions, is a NY Neofuturist alum, published playwright, recipient of NYC Fresh Fruit directing award, TedXFargo speaker, the Lilla Jewel Award for Women Artists, featured on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam and former Community Producer at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. At OSF for ten years she produced events such as “The Every 28 Hours Plays”, "The Green Show", The Daedalus Project, OSF Open Mics as well as producing/directing audio-plays with OSF such as the Grammy nominated "Hamlet". Her personal projects include her podcast “Hold On…Wait for it”, vlog “This Week in Cultural Appropriation”, StreetPoetry, and one-person Show “Fill in the Blank” exploring disability and the medical industry. Claudia served on Oregon Arts Leaders in Inclusion, the steering committee of TheGhostlight Project, the steering committe for Black Theater Commons, and is currently co-president of the board of Network of Ensemble Theater, She is currently the executive producer of the transmedia social justice company CALLING UP.
Gretchen Wright, Development Manager for Special Contributions and Brand Awareness, Alliance Theatre
Gretchen Wright is currently the Development Manager for Special Contributions and Brand Awareness at the Alliance Theatre, where she was hired to strategically scale fundraising efforts for the theater’s 50th Anniversary. Prior to this role, she was a consultant at Organizational Performance Group, where she partnered with companies of all shapes and sizes to discover and resolve their organizational challenges, including Westport Country Playhouse, Williams College Libraries, and Northwell Health. She is passionate about bringing organizational development work to the theater field. Previously, Gretchen served as the Associate Managing Director and Company Manager of Yale Repertory Theatre, Managing Director of the Yale Summer Cabaret, and as Management Fellow of Alliance Theatre, where she facilitated their 2016-20 strategic planning process. After completing a directing fellowship at Actors Theatre of Louisville, she began her arts career as a freelance director, choreographer, and dancer in Chicago, IL. There, she found her love for producing and management at Court Theatre under the late Stephen Albert. Gretchen holds a BA in Theater and English from Duke University, an MFA from the Yale School of Drama in Theater Management, and an MBA from the Yale School of Management with a focus on organizational development.
Interim Executive Director, The Theater Offensive
Harold Steward is the Interim Executive Director of The Theater Offensive, a Queer and Trans Theater based in Boston, MA.
Most recently, Steward served as Manager of the South Dallas Cultural Center, a division the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs, which provides instruction and enrichment in the arts with an emphasis on the African contribution to world culture. Steward also founded Fahari Arts Institute in Dallas in 2009 after recognizing a gap in the landscape for local LGBTQ artists of color in Dallas. Fahari Arts Institute celebrates, displays and produces the work of queer artists from the African Diaspora.
Steward is a member of the Board of Directors for the National Performance Network/Visual Artists Network, Theater Communications Group and the Steering Committee of Black Theatre Commons and NextGen National Arts Network. Steward is an Adjunct Faculty Member in the Department of Performing Arts at Emerson College. Steward has been recognized for his leadership role within the Dallas art, African American and LGBTQ communities with accolades including the Dallas Voice Local Queer Notable, Apostle Alex D. Byrd Empowerment Award from the Legacy of Success Foundation, Dallas Voice Readers’ Choice Best Theatrical Director, National Performance Network Mentor and Leadership Award and D Magazine Up Starter in the Arts.
Jason Najjoum, Senior Associate, McChrystal Group
Jason Najjoum is a Senior Associate at McChrystal Group, a global advisory services and leadership development firm, currently advising a global energy company on internal communications, culture change, and strategy alignment. Previously, Jason spent ten years in the arts and culture space, functioning as a producer, general manager, fundraiser, casting director, and performer in theater and television. While in New Haven, CT, Jason served as Managing Editor of the Yale Theater Management Knowledge Base, Company Manager of Yale Repertory Theatre, and Yale University President’s Public Service Fellow in New Haven’s Department of Arts, Culture and Tourism, and wrote a case study on change management at Seattle Repertory Theater that he later taught in his graduate program. In NYC, Jason served as Producing Director of New York Theatre Barn, where he developed the work of over 50 musical theater writers through NYTB’s signature new work development and community building program, as well as Prospect Theater Company, Davenport Theatrical Enterprises, The Flea, and the cell.
A native of Northern Virginia, Jason earned a Master of Business Administration from Yale School of Management, and interned as a Senior Management Associate for Bridgewater Associates during his summer. He also earned a Master of Fine Arts in Theater Management from Yale School of Drama. Jason received a Bachelor of Arts in Music and History from Emory University and is a graduate of the Commercial Theater Institute. Jason co-founded the Analyzing and Mobilizing Privilege group at Yale School of Drama, is trained as an intercultural group facilitator, and previously served on the board of directors of Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services nonprofit in New Haven, CT.
Jessie Punia, Change Lead and Co-Owner, August Public
Jessie has always worked in the field of Talent & Change and thoroughly enjoys working with the world's most influential organizations to help them build stellar teams who are capable of greatness. Prior to her current role as Client Lead and Global Recruiting Lead at August, Jessie worked at IBM and Undercurrent as an Organizational Change consultant for large global companies across a variety of industries. Jessie is a born and raised Londoner who loves getting outside and playing new golf courses.
Jewel Cadet, Associate Director of Programs, Center for Anti-Violence Education
Jewel was born and raised in Brooklyn, East New York to Haitian Parents. She is a vibrant Virgo gem who lives her life in service to Black Queer Liberation and holds herself accountable to getting our people free. Jewel is a passionate Social Justice Organizer for the rights of Women, Girls, Femmes and for the Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Community. As the Associate Director of Programs at the Center for Anti-Violence Education, Activist Consultant at Music Freedom Dreams, and Event Coordinator for the Generations Project, in addition to her own personal projects that include mental wellness and movement for the Black Community, Jewel’s tireless advocacy for marginalized communities drives her work everyday. In 2017, she was given the HEART Award from the Metropolitan Community Church of New York for leading the way in making New York City and the world a safer, more just and inclusive place for LGBTQ people.
Joshua Borenstein, Managing Director, Long Wharf Theatre
Joshua Borenstein is in his eighth season as Long Wharf Theatre's Managing Director. During his tenure, Long Wharf celebrated its 50th anniversary season; served as a co-producer for the Broadway production of Meteor Shower by Steve Martin and starring Amy Schumer; led the Off-Broadway transfer of Satchmo at the Waldorf to New York; completed a $4 million, award-winning renovation of the Claire Tow Stage at the C. Newton Schenck III Theatre; established a new endowment to fund new play development; expanded its community engagement initiatives with nationally recognized programs; and doubled the size of its education department. Borenstein also worked at Long Wharf from 2003 to 2007 in various general management capacities. Prior to Long Wharf, Borenstein served in various roles at AMS Planning & Research, Yale Repertory Theatre, and Trinity Repertory Company. Borenstein was also at the Huntington Theatre Company through Theatre Communication Group's "New Generations" program.
Borenstein is a Lecturer in Theater Management at the Yale School of Drama, and he has been a guest lecturer at Wesleyan University, Southern Connecticut State University, Quinnipiac University, and Boston University. He has served as a grant panelist for the NEA, ArtsMidwest, the Greater Hartford Arts Council, and the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven. Borenstein currently serves on the boards of Theatre Forward and the Connecticut Arts Alliance. He was recognized in Connecticut Magazine’s “40 Under 40: Class of 2014.” Borenstein is a graduate of Wesleyan University and the Yale School of Drama.
Laura Zabel, Executive Director, Springboard for the Arts
Laura Zabel is the Executive Director of Springboard for the Arts, which operates Creative Exchange, a national platform for sharing free toolkits, resources, and profiles to help artists and citizens collaborate on replicating successful and engaging community projects.
An economic and community development agency run by and for artists, Springboard provides programs that help artists make a living and a life, and programs that help communities connect to the creative power of artists. Springboard is a nationally recognized leader on artist-led community development, creative placemaking and creative cross-sector collaboration. Springboard’s work has been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Stanford Social Innovation Review and The Guardian and directly impacts over 25,000 artists each year in their home state of Minnesota. Through national tools and training Springboard’s programs have been replicated in over 70 communities across the U.S. and internationally.
Springboard’s director, Laura Zabel is one of the nation’s leading thinkers on the role of artists in community and has been honored with numerous awards, including the Gard Foundation Award of Excellence and the Bush Foundation Leadership Fellowship for her work with Springboard. Zabel was named one of the 50 most “powerful and influential people in nonprofit arts” by the Western States Arts Federation, and is currently a local economy fellow with the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies and a creative placemaking policy fellow at Arizona State University. Zabel’s creativity and track record of innovation has made her a sought-after speaker at leading conferences and events.
Partner, Organizational Performance Group
Laura Freebairn-Smith has been a consultant for such distinguished companies as the New York Times and People’s Bank. Her specialty is assisting leaders in realizing the full potential of their organizations through humanistic and analytical practices, while offering guidance in the redesign of infrastructure, the creation of strategic plans, and with organizational development.
Laura currently teaches leadership at Yale’s Drama School, and diversity and team building in the Executive MBA program at Yale’s School of Management. Prior to that, she served as Director of Yale’s Organizational Development and Learning Center, which she helped create. Laura’s credentials include a BA from UC Berkeley (Philosophy and Political Science) and an MBA from the Yale School of Management. She holds a doctorate in Organizational Systems from Saybrook Institute and has published articles and chapters on organizational development topics, most recently on radically informative indicators for organizational success. Prior to joining Yale, Laura founded Good Work Associates, a consulting firm providing strategic planning and organizational development. Before that, she served as Managing Director for the Gesell Institute of Human Development, as Chief Operating Officer for Jobs for the Future, and as Education Coordinator for the International Rescue Committee on the Thai/Cambodian border.
In addition to her tenure at Yale, Laura has taught at University of New Haven, Georgetown, and Central CT State University. She recently served on the Town of Hamden Charter Revision Committee and has served on numerous other boards in the past. Laura has received several leadership awards. For recreation, Laura enjoys running, writing poetry, tennis, and gardening.
Maria Manuela Goyanes
Artistic Director, Woolly Mammoth Theater Company
Prior to joining Woolly, Maria Goyanes served as the Director of Producing and Artistic Planning at The Public Theater, where she oversaw the day-to-day execution of a full slate of plays and musicals at the Public’s five-theater venue at Astor Place and the Delacorte Theater for Shakespeare in the Park. Earlier in her career at The Public, she managed some of the theater’s most celebrated productions, including Hamilton by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Josephine & I by Cush Jumbo, Straight White Men by Young Jean Lee, Barbecue by Robert O’Hara, and Here Lies Love by David Byrne and Fatboy Slim.
Maria holds a position on the adjunct faculty of Juilliard and curates the junior year curriculum of the Playwrights Horizons Theater School at NYU. She has guest lectured at Bard College, Barnard College, Brown University, Columbia University, Juilliard, the National Theater Institute at The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, UCSD, the University of Texas-Austin, and Yale University, among others. Since 2015, Maria has also served as a member of the board of the National Alliance for Musical Theatre. From 2006 to 2008, she co-chaired the Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab with Jason Grote, and from 2004 to 2012, Maria was the Executive Producer of 13P.
Maria is a first-generation Latinx-American, born to parents who emigrated from the Dominican Republic and Spain. She was raised in Jamaica, Queens, and has a collection of hoop earrings to prove it. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in 2001 from Brown University.
Executive Director, Theatre Communications Group (TCG)
Teresa Eyring joined TCG in March 2007. Prior to arriving at TCG, Eyring spent more than twenty years as an executive in theatres around the U.S. Positions included: managing director of the Children’s Theatre Company (CTC) in Minneapolis from 1999-2007; managing director of the Wilma Theater in Philadelphia from 1994-1999; and assistant executive director of the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis from 1989-1993. She began her theatre career as director of development for the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in Washington, D.C., in 1983. She holds a B.A. in international relations from Stanford University and an M.F.A. in theatre administration from Yale School of Drama. Eyring is currently active as an executive committee member of the Performing Arts Alliance, chair of the follow-up process for the 2008 National Performing Arts Convention, board member of The Actors Fund and was previously a member of the Tony Awards nominating committee.
Teresa Coleman Wash
Executive Artistic Director, Bishop Arts Theatre Center
Teresa Coleman Wash is a playwright, producer and Founding Executive Artistic Director for the Bishop Arts Theatre Center, an award-winning, multicultural theatre that produces a full season of jazz concerts, theater performances, a lecture series and year-round arts education programs in Dallas, TX. She holds an MA in Arts Management from Goucher College and a BS in Business Administration from Albany State University. Wash is the 2018 Obelisk Award recipient in the category of Visionary Nonprofit Arts Leader for the Business Council for the Arts. She serves on Theater Communications Group’s 2018/2019 Programming Council, and she is an alumni of The OpEd Project through the Dallas Public Greenhouses. In 2016, she was one of three recipients of the Dallas Observer's MasterMind Award, and currently, she serves on the Cultural Tourism Committee for VisitDallas, the steering committee for Dallas Area Cultural Advocacy Coalition and The Dramatists Guild of America where she is also a Council member.
Stephanie Ybarra Incoming Artistic Director Baltimore Center Stage
Stephanie Ybarra is the incoming Artistic Director for Baltimore Center Stage, and currently serves as Director of Special Artistic Projects at The Public Theater, where she leads the Mobile Unit and Public Forum programs. Her career spans two decades includes roles at Dallas Children's Theater, Dallas Theater Center, Yale Repertory Theater, Two River Theater Company, and Playwrights Realm. In response to the current state of the world, Stephanie co-founded the Artists’ Anti-Racism Coalition, a grassroots effort to help the Off-Broadway community dismantle systems of exclusion and oppression. She holds an MFA from Yale School of Drama, and a deep belief in the power of the Post-it note.