Mosaic Founder Rick Sperling Will Retire From Nonprofit After 27 Years
Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit founder and Artistic Director Rick Sperling will retire from the nonprofit in September 2019. Mosaic has also elevated DeLashea Strawder to Artistic Director from Associate Artistic Director. The announcements were made by Sperling and the Mosaic Board of Directors.
Founded by Rick Sperling in 1992 to address gaps in Metro Detroit arts education, Mosaic has served, mentored and guided thousands of young artists throughout the community. After his departure in September, Sperling will continue his consultancy work for Detroit Public Schools Community District in the area of arts excellence for youth. He will also continue to serve as an advisor to Mosaic and its Board and produce an annual summer alumni and community musical.
A 1999-2002 member of the Mosaic Singers, Strawder joined the nonprofit in 2003 as Assistant Music Director and steadily rose up the ranks to Music Director and her most recent title of Associate Artistic Director. Now, as Mosaic's new Artistic Director, she will provide leadership in the development and oversight of training programs and artistic performances while working with Executive Director Stefanie Worth to ensure stage and educational initiatives align to strategic plans and budgets.
"DeLashea, with Stefanie, provides the ideal combination of talent to evolve and move us forward with new ideas and approaches aimed at community impact, sustainability and maximizing potential," said Kate M. Spratt, Chair of Mosaic's Board of Directors. "Rick Sperling, a man whose vision and leadership are without peer, cannot be replaced. Rather, we will honor and build upon his legacy of 'only the best, nothing less' for those we serve."
"My goal has always been to create an organization that benefits generation after generation of young artists and I am incredibly proud of what we have built," said Sperling, whose new title will be Founding Artistic Director. "It is also a dream come true to have a Mosaic alumnus succeed me. With a strong balance sheet and zero debt, this organization is in wonderful hands with leaders I know will continue and evolve the Mosaic mission."
A Detroit News Michiganian of the Year, Sperling's work has been recognized locally and nationally including with the Detroit Free Press Award for Lifetime Achievement in Theater and the National Guild of Community Arts Education Award. Mosaic facilitates the participation of more than 500 young people from more than 50 Metro Detroit schools in First, Second and Main Stage programs annually. Under Sperling's leadership, Mosaic has garnered numerous national and local honors including the National Youth Arts and Humanities Program Award - the country's highest honor for youth cultural organizations, The State of Michigan's Governors' Arts Award, and Crain's Detroit Business' Best Managed Nonprofit Award.
Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit is an internationally renowned out-of-school creative youth development organization. Mosaic channels the passion, energy, and creativity of area youth into developing outstanding theater productions, critical thinking skills, and global citizenry through arts education, college prep, and workforce readiness programming. Mosaic's young artists have performed at the White House and the Kennedy Center and have toured their critically acclaimed productions in Europe, Asia, Africa and 25 states throughout the U.S. The organization maintains a 95%-plus high school graduation rate with students attending colleges across Michigan and around the country, institutions such as The Julliard School, and going on to become Kresge Artist Fellows, Broadway stars, and Emmy and Tony Award nominees. To learn more about Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit, visit us online at www.mosaicdetroit.org.
DeLashea Strawder has devoted her skill and leadership to inspire and incite a new generation of leaders and advocates for the arts for over a decade. Equally grounded in artistic excellence and arts education Strawder is a sought after conductor, clinician and speaker. A champion of arts and culture and its' inherent ability to motivate, empower and mobilize, she serves as co-chair for the National Creative Youth Development Field Building Action Team and has been recognized for her leadership and community impact as a Comcast 20 under 30 (2011), Detroit Pistons Come Together Foundation Impact Award (2013) and Michigan Chronicle 40 under 40 (2017) awardee. Under her leadership Mosaic Singers have won two gold and three silver medals at the World Choir Games, opened for the Sistine Chapel Choir, performed for President Obama and at the Congressional Black Caucus Conference, American Choral Directors Michigan Conference and as the guest chorus for select performances of Josh Groban's Stages and Bridges Tours.
Stefanie joined Mosaic in May 2018 as Executive Director, bringing a strong multi-sector perspective and two decades of experience in Detroit's nonprofit sector. From her days as an award-winning newspaper reporter, an internet pioneer, Detroit City Council staffer, and brand marketing leader, her roles have been threaded by innovative approaches to community collaboration.