Philadelphia Young Playwrights Names LaNeshe Miller-White as New Executive Director

Miller-White brings with her more than 15 years of experience on the Philly arts and culture scene.

By: May. 03, 2023
Philadelphia Young Playwrights Names LaNeshe Miller-White as New Executive Director
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After an extensive search, the Board of Directors of Philadelphia Young Playwrights have hired LaNeshe Miller-White as the organization's new Executive Director. Miller-White has started in her new role, and has left Theatre Philadelphia, where she wrapped up a very successful Philadelphia Theatre Week. She will take the reins of the organization following the seven year tenure of outgoing Executive Director Lisa Nelson-Haynes who has taken a national role at StoryCorps. Miller-White brings with her more than 15 years of experience on the Philly arts and culture scene. She is a graduate of Temple University, where she worked with Philadelphia Young Playwrights in 2004 by performing in her first Philadelphia acting role in a PYP showcase. Her experience with PYP comes full circle from being a new actor performing in her first show for PYP to now returning to lead the organization.

"The Board of Directors of Philadelphia Young Playwrights welcomes LaNeshe Miller-White as our new Executive Director," said PYP Board President Peter Mastriano. "LaNeshe is uniquely suited to increase the visibility of PYP's impact in Philadelphia and the region. She has a unique set of artistic and leadership skills, along with deep connections for our community. She has a proven track record of raising up Philadelphia's creative voices - and she brings with her a passion for making a difference and getting things done. We are thrilled to have her join our organization for our next chapter."

"When I came to Philadelphia in 2004 to attend Temple University my very first theater gig within the first few weeks of arriving here was as an actor in the yearly fall PYP showcase at Temple," said Miller-White. "Since then I've had the pleasure of being an in-classroom actor, participating in a Saturday playwriting retreat, and the 2nd Annual Pep Rally. I have always been extremely touched and inspired by the scenes and plays the students participating in PYP programs have written. I am so honored to be able to join PYP in the capacity of Executive Director and lead the organization in bringing the transformative power of playwriting into classrooms."

She added, "Philadelphia Young Playwrights is such a stellar opportunity to introduce students to the power of playwriting and using creative writing to express ourselves and connect with one another. As a big advocate for keeping arts experiences in schools I am so excited to join PYP as Executive Director and be a part of enabling arts education for Philadelphia area youth."

As the organization's new Executive Director, Miller-White will help Philadelphia Young Playwrights champion and celebrate student voices through the art of playwriting - in our schools and in our communities. Programs are designed to provide students with creative experiences that build community, inspire change and transform lives. Current programs include in-school programs, an annual playwriting festival, resident playwrights, playwriting workshops and classes, and community-based programs.

First on her priority list will be continuing to execute and measure benchmarks for PYP's new strategic plan. She will also begin meeting with donors, community partners and educational leaders this spring - and she will learn more about student's works through the Summer Literary Committee.

Mastriano said, "An ongoing challenge of PYP is visibility and awareness among regional individual donors. PYP enriches young minds. This is not tangible like a public mural or a hot meal. As students, our beneficiaries are not in a position to advocate for us. One assignment of the new ED will be to bolster broader awareness of PYP and reconnect with the students we have touched over the decades now that they are adults. We have all the confidence in the world Miller-White can lead this important work as we head into the future."

With this announcement, Theatre Philadelphia has also announced their search to fill Miller-White's outgoing role as their Executive Director. Miller-White hopes to work with Theatre Philadelphia down the road as a community partner as she turns her attention to raising up new young voices from our community. Her dream is in five years to see a student work from PYP's program make their world premiere debut on a Philadelphia stage during Philly Theatre Week - which she just spent the last several years championing.

Miller-White will also continue to remain active in producing theatre through her work with Theatre in the X. She will also take to the stage this May with a role in the Philadelphia Artists Collective world premiere adaptation of Jane Eyre at Christ Church Neighborhood House.

Philadelphia Young Playwrights wishes to thank and celebrate the outgoing Executive Director Lisa Nelson-Haynes who will continue to empower others to take control of their stories and voices - but now on a national stage. She will now serve as Interim Chief of Programming at StoryCorps.

"Under Lisa's leadership Philadelphia Young Playwrights developed syndicated student podcasts, showcased intimate virtual artist conversations between professionals and students about works in progress, expanded programming into Philadelphia communities, and delivered virtual programming to keep students feeling creative and emotionally connected throughout the pandemic and overlapping period of social unrest," said Mastriano. "On behalf of our board and staff, we want to thank Lisa and wish her well as we she her on in her new position."

For more about the work and team at Philadelphia Playwrights, please follow @pyplaywrights and visit www.phillyyoungplaywrights.org.

ABOUT LANESHE MILLER-WHITE


LaNeshe Miller-White is the former Executive Director of Theatre Philadelphia and has more than 15 years of experience on the Philly arts and culture scene. After graduating from Temple University, Miller-White worked as the marketing manager of Painted Bride Art Center for over ten years. During that time, she also co-founded Theatre in the X, a company dedicated to breaking down the barriers to the theater by providing accessible productions in Philadelphia's Malcolm X Park for no cost. She is a two-time Leeway Foundation Art & Change grantee, and was the first Philadelphia co-chief representative for the national organization the Parent-Artist Advocacy League (PAAL), of which she is now an advisory board member. She is also an adjunct professor in Drexel University's Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, a board member of the Philadelphia Cultural Fund, and the 2022 Story Changers Awardee for the Philadelphia Women's Theatre Festival.

ABOUT PYP


Since 1987, Philadelphia Young Playwrights (PYP) has partnered with educators to bring the transformative power of playwriting into classrooms and community settings across Greater Philadelphia. Placing students at the center of their learning, PYP's intensive writing residencies advance writing-based literacy skills while developing critical 21st century skills like creativity, communication, and collaboration.

In-School Programs

Each year, the majority of Philadelphia Young Playwrights' programming occurs in classrooms throughout the Greater Philadelphia region. The organization's two main offerings are the Core Program, a long-term residency program customized to individual classroom needs to guide students through the process of writing and revising plays, and Monologue Workshops, a short-term series of classroom visits that guide students through the process of writing monologues. Both programs include actor visits to the classroom, where professionals bring student writing to life to assist in the writing and revision process.

Annual Playwriting Festival


Each year, Philadelphia Young Playwrights invites students to submit their plays to the Annual Playwriting Festival. Plays are considered by the Literary Committee-a collection of nearly 70 program alumni, artists, staff, teachers, and others-who read and write individualized responses to every play. Literary Committee members recommend a number of outstanding plays to be considered for further consideration by two additional groups of readers, Pre-Final Committee and Final Committee.

Workshops, Classes, Mentorships

Philadelphia Young Playwrights strive to create opportunities for students to engage with PYP, to build their craft, and to find community outside of the classroom. From one-day workshops, to week-long summer camps, to yearlong mentorship programs, our current on-site programs are listed on the website.

HISTORY PYP


Philadelphia Young Playwrights was conceived by founder Adele Magner. In 1986, Magner consulted with Gerald Chapman of New York's Young Playwrights, Inc. and gathered a group of Delaware Valley educators and theatre professionals to further her vision. The program emerged as a groundbreaking tool for classroom teachers to inspire students' literacy learning and creativity. It began its first full year operation in the 1987-88 school year.

PYP mourned the untimely passing of Adele Magner in 2000. In the summer of 2001, the Board hired Glen Knapp as Executive Producing Director to sustain and advance Adele's outstanding legacy. In 2016, Lisa Nelson-Haynes began as Executive Director who is now followed by LaNeshe Miller-White taking the reins of the organization in 2023.



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