Q: You’re the first staff member we’ve interviewed who wasn’t necessarily a “theatre person” before you came into this job. Can you talk a little about your upbringing and career up until you came to GP?
I often say my only theatrical experience was playing “Dead Person Number 3” in Our Town in high school, though my family, friends and colleagues (past and present) would likely say I have a very dramatic and theatrical personality and was born to work in theatre. I’m an only child from Erie, Pennsylvania and from 15 years old always maintained a “career” outside of other aspects of my life. My work has always been extremely important to me. I’ve spent my whole career advancing organizations and building and empowering successful teams -from public media organizations (PBS/NPR) in Pennsylvania and here in SWFL to higher education with a stint as a consultant where I helped build the Salvation Army Kroc Center in blighted Philadelphia — something I’m extremely proud of.
I had been watching the “Next Stage” Campaign from afar and knew it would be one of the biggest things to happen in Southwest Florida — ever. I am thrilled when I’m able to take on a monumental challenge and I was eager to find a way to leave my own legacy here in Naples for my daughter and grandchildren and for the greater community as a whole. I was at a point in my career to make the move to Gulfshore Playhouse just as the need for a Chief Advancement Officer arose. And the rest, as they say, I hope will make history.
Theatre people are so versatile and adaptable! And the creative energy of my colleagues can bring me out of the biggest slump immediately! There’s something really fun about working in an industry where change is the norm and where you are challenged to create something new almost every, single month. And when our new Theatre and Education Center opens in a few years, we’ll be doubling our offerings and will be in a perpetual state of creation and change. Who can get bored with that?
I work to “advance” the organization in any way possible. Typically that means I head all development/fundraising initiatives — both annual and capital fundraising along with planned giving, foundation and corporate initiatives, I collaborate on legislative and governmental relations and I oversee the marketing and PR efforts of The Playhouse as well.
On any day you might find me meeting with donors, attending one of our fund raising or friend-raising events (or that of another organization), diving deep into marketing materials — ads, brochures, social media posts, leading “War Room” meetings as we strategize fundraising for our new complex, and meeting with our architectural team as we collaborate to honor those Founders who built this amazing cultural institution from the ground up. And then you may see me at the theatre in the evening, smiling and waving hello, taking in a show and laughing and crying with the rest of you.
This is actually a tough one because I think we can all agree it’s been one heck of a year, hasn’t it? I’m so very proud of the progress we’ve made with our new facility, with the productions we brought to the stage this past season and any role I had in making that happen, and making it through what I will always say was the darkest moment of my career — saying goodbye to 75% of our staff, very unexpectedly, in March as COVID took its toll on the world. These are team achievements, so I suppose I’m saying my proudest achievement at The Playhouse so far is to be a part of what I think is the best team near or far.