Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

WAM Theatre Announces Attendees for October's Berkshire Leadership Summit


WAM Theatre Announces Attendees for October's Berkshire Leadership Summit

Organizers of the pilot Berkshire Leadership Summit, an event for women aspiring to, or already in, leadership positions in the non-profit theatre, and hosted by WAM Theatre, are excited to announce that the attendees of this event have been selected.

Of the 163 women theatre professionals who applied to participate in the Berkshire Leadership Summit, 75 have been accepted, hailing from 22 U.S. states and four Canadian provinces. This cohort reflects an emphasis the Steering Committee members placed on diversity, accessibility, and intentionality early in the process. Towards this goal, the steering committee members, comprised of Kristen Van Ginhoven, Artistic Director of WAM Theatre (Steering Committee Chair); Akiba Abaka, Audience Development Manager at ArtsEmerson; Rachel Fink, Managing Director of Theatre Bay Area; and Shafer Mazow, who currently works at the Exploratorium in San Francisco, went through a rigorous selection process that focused on creating a cohort that balanced career (early/late/mid-career), background (race, sexual identity, geography), and level of leadership experience. The process resulted in an intentional balance of these criteria in an effort to provide the greatest opportunity for personal growth and community-building for each attendee at the summit.

"When I stood up at a microphone at American Conservatory Theater's Women's Leadership Conference in August 2016 and said WAM Theatre would host a summit as a next step in the national conversation around gender parity in the theatre, never, ever did I think it would result in this sort of response," explained Kristen Van Ginhoven, WAM's Artistic Director. "The desire for this sort of event is very clear. "

"Getting this sort of response confirms that we were embarking on something timely and critical in discussions of equity and inclusion in the field." said Shafer Mazow, Steering Committee Member and a lead developer and organizer of the Women's Leadership Project and convening that inspired the Berkshire Leadership Summit. "Women of all backgrounds, experiences, and identities struggle to break the glass ceiling in theatre, and the diversity of applicants proves we are articulating and addressing a need for that glass ceiling to be shattered for everyone."

Early- to late-career theatre professionals from British Columbia to Brooklyn will come together in Lenox, Massachusetts, for two days at the end of October. The summit will have a three-part structure: Networking opportunities, rigorous Skill-Building sessions and Advancing the Discourse panels, which will be livestreamed through HowlRound. The Steering Committee will announce the speakers, panelists, and schedule next month.

Attendees such as Emika Abe of Atlanta, Georgia, have long felt the uneven ground of gender parity in theatre and are eager to support other participants in leveling this playing field. "It can be difficult to envision myself in a formal leadership position when there isn't an abundant pool of leaders who look like me from which to gather inspiration," she explains. "This creates a barrier to really owning that we deserve a seat at the table."

Canadian attendee Heather Cant echoes this sentiment. "The importance of equality should never need explaining; when all voices are welcome and heard with equal merit, all the world will truly be a stage."

Steering Committee Chair van Ginhoven concludes, "WAM Theatre and the Steering Committee are incredibly proud to be taking action for gender parity in the non-profit theatre by hosting the pilot Berkshire Leadership Summit. We look forward to welcoming all of these impressive women leaders to the beautiful Berkshires in October."

A complete list of this year's Berkshire Leadership Summit participants is below. To learn more please visit

Emika Abe, Atlanta, GA

C.J. Astronomo, Toronto, Ontario

Leah Barish, Chicago, IL

Eva Barrie, Toronto, Ontario

Devon Berkshire, Brooklyn, NY

Anne Bertram, Minneapolis, MN

Sara Brookner, Somerville, MA

Kamilah Bush, Greensboro, NC

Kristen Adele Calhoun, New York, NY

Heather Cant, Kamloops, British Columbia

Tatyana-Marie Carlo, Miami, FL

Elena Chang, New York, NY

Jamila Cobham, Richmond, CA

Patsy Collins Bandes, Belmont, MA

Angela Combest, Chester, MA

Lori Ann DeLappe-Grondin, West Sacramento, CA

Celine Delcayre, Brooklyn, NY

Deanna Downes, Cedar Rapids, IA

Theresa Erbacher, Washington, DC

Hannah Fenlon, Brooklyn, NY

Karena Fiorenza Ingersoll, Chicago, IL

Aislinn Frantz, Groton, CT

Kelly Galvin, Lee, MA

Ann Garner, Philadelphia, PA

Adriana Gaviria, New York, NY

Maddie Gaw, Berkeley, CA

Tuled Giovanazzi, Calgary, Alberta

Ruth Goodwin, Toronto, Ontario

Stephanie Graham, Toronto, Ontario

Ty Hallmark, Kensington, MD

Pamela Halstead, East Pennant, Nova Scotia

Julie Hennrikus, Boston, MA

Rachel Spencer Hewitt, Chicago, IL

Esther Jun, Toronto, Ontario

Teresa Kilzi, Urbana, IL

Lia Kozatch, Clark, CO

Anne Levy, Tuscaloosa, AL

Shellen Lubin, Chatham, NY

Natasha MacLellan, Parrsboro, Nova Scotia

Porsche McGovern, Greenwich, CT

Tracy Liz Miller, Tempe, AZ

Nicole Miller Marks, Philadelphia, PA

Margaret Morneau, Roseville, CA

Tara Moses, Broken Arrow, OK

Shondrika Moss-Bouldin, Fairburn, GA

Shannon Musgrave, Salt Lake City, UT

Erica Nagel, Oakland, NJ

Brenna Nicely, Arlington, MA

Bridget O'Leary, Watertown, MA

Abigail Pañares, Berkeley, CA

Elizabeth Pangburn, Shutesbury, MA

ReBecca Parker, Buford, GA

Melinda Pfundstein Vaughn, Cedar City, UT

Karen Altree Piemme, San Jose, CA

Lisa Portes, Chicago, IL

Mary Jane Probst, Saint Louis, MO

Martha Richards, Berkeley, CA

Ali Joy Richardson, Toronto, Ontario

Dylan Russell, Richmond, CA

Helen Schultz, New York, NY

Jordan Schwartz, Marietta, GA

Phaedra Scott, Boston, MA

Hana Sharif, Baltimore, MD

Shannon Sindelar, Brooklyn, NY

Brianna Sloane, Sunderland, MA

Nicole St. Martin, Edmonton, Alberta

Bronwyn Steinberg, Ottawa, Ontario

Meg Sullivan, Cranston, RI

Erin Washington, Atlanta, GA

Emma Watt, Somerville, MA

Alexis Williams, New York, NY

Denise Winter, Port Townsend, WA

Danielle Zarbin, Brooklyn, NY


The pilot Berkshire Leadership Summit will be hosted by WAM Theatre on October 28 and 29, 2017, in the Elayne Bernstein Performing Arts Center at Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, MA.

The summit is informed and supported by the research that American Conservatory Theater commissioned from the Wellesley Centers for Women. The HowlRound blogpost about the study can be found at

Sponsors and supporters for the summit include Lynn and Richard Atkinson, Hannelore Voness, Joan and James Hunter, Jack and Suzy Wadsworth, Arwen Lowbridge of Baystate Financial, Classical Tents, ZONTA Club of Berkshire County, and the donors of the GoFundMe campaign.

The Berkshire Leadership Summit Steering Committee: Kristen Van Ginhoven, Artistic Director of WAM Theatre; Akiba Abaka, Audience Development Manager at ArtsEmerson; Rachel Fink, Managing Director of Theatre Bay Area; and Shafer Mazow, who currently works at the Exploratorium in San Francisco and was a lead developer and organizer of the Women's Leadership Project and convening.


Based in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, WAM Theatre is Where Arts and Activism Meet. The company was co-founded in 2010 by Canadian director, actor, educator, and producer Kristen Van Ginhoven. WAM's vision is to create opportunity for women and girls through the mission of theatre as philanthropy. Inspired by the book Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, WAM donates a portion of the proceeds from its theatrical events to organizations that benefit women and girls. Since 2010, WAM Theatre has donated more than $32,500 to twelve nonprofit organizations and provided paid work to more than 200 theatre artists. In addition to the main stage productions and special events, WAM Theatre's activities include a comprehensive educational outreach program and the Fresh Takes Play Reading Series. For more information, visit

Related Articles View More Boston Stories

Featured on Stage Door

Shoutouts, Classes & More

More Hot Stories For You