Donna Walker-Kuhne Receives LPTW's First Rachel Crothers Leadership Award
Marketer and Audience Developer Donna Walker-Kuhne received the first Rachel Crothers Leadership Award on June 27, presented by the League of Professional Theatre Women at an inaugural luncheon at Sardi's, hosted by André DeShields.Pop singer and Broadway star LaChanze (currently Off-Broadway in THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES) performed "Feeling Good," accompanied by Marco Pagula on piano. An award-winning marketing consultant, Walker-Kuhne is the founder of Walker International Communications Group, a boutique marketing, press and audience development agency. She is recognized as one of the country's foremost experts in audience development and she and her team specialize in multicultural marketing, group sales, multicultural press and promotional events.
The leadership award is named in honor of playwright Rachel Crothers, (SUSAN AND GOD; THE THREE OF US) who was a champion of women's rights before women could vote. She worked to help those serving on the front during World War I and II and founded an organization that later went on to become the American Theatre Wing, which partners with the Broadway League, to present the annual Tony Awards, honoring Broadway's best each season.
The League of Professional Theatre Women will present the newly established Crothers leadership award to a theater woman "who has distinguished herself in exemplary service and sacrifice for a common cause-a cause which leaves our society and the world a little better than the way we found it.""We are very excited by the opportunity the League has now to award a theater woman who brings her gifts and talents to bear in addressing a national or local cause or issue affecting our fellow citizens and everyday Americans," said Yvette Heyliger, co-vice president of programming at LPTW.
The award was presented by Playwright Rehana Lew Mirza (BARRIERS). In addition, Marvin Lowe, a soloist with the Harlem Gospel Singers, presented "Siyahamba," a South African welcome song, and longtime LPTW member Zoe Coralink Kaplan and DeShields reminded the crowd that Crothers made famous the quote about a woman's place being in the house -- and the Senate!Walker-Kuhne expressed her appreciation by acknowledging and thanking her mentors who taught her along the way and opened doors. Among them were famed director George C Wolfe and Arthur Mitchell, founder of the Dance Theatre of Harlem, who in 1985, while touring around the country, asked the question. "Where are the Black people?" "That questioned launched my career in audience development and community engagement," Walker-Kuhne said. Walker-Kuhne said she loves teaching and providing tools and support for the next generation of arts administrators. She challenged those coming up to "shake up society and revitalize the whole world. Create a winning life and through your art, inspire the world, inspire all of us to be our best. Advance like young lions-be ferocious, tenacious, innovative and warm-hearted."
DeSheilds, currently starring on Broadway in HADESTOWN, entertained the luncheon attendees with political comments, prayers and some of his popular snippets of advice:
"Don't give up, in or over. Stay on the path until you win," he said.For more information of the League of Professional Theatre Women, visit theatrewomen.org.