ACT Theatre Appoints Sergei Tschernisch Director of Advancement


A Contemporary Theatre's Executive Director Gian-Carlo Scandiuzzi and President of the Board of Trustees, Chuck Sitkin, are appointing a new Director of Advancement. Sergei Tschernisch, President of Cornish College of the Arts from 1994 through 2011, will begin his new post on April 1, 2012. Tschernisch will oversee the expansion of fundraising efforts and work with senior management and the Board of Trustees to guide ACT to the next level of sustainability. ACT Development Associate Jennessa West has been promoted to Director of Development and will oversee the daily operations of the multifaceted fundraising efforts.

ACT will launch several new initiatives in 2012 related to increasing both contributed and earned income. A principal responsibility of Tschernisch's position will be the full execution of a long-term campaign to retire ACT's deficit and build a fund for the future. "Over the past three years we have ended our seasons in the black and maintained our patron base at a manageable level. Now is the time to move forward with a strategic effort and I can think of no better person to lead those efforts than Sergei. His experience and affiliations with individuals, groups, colleges and universities, business and governmental agencies, and cultural organizations are exactly what ACT needs to grow responsibly. We feel fortunate that he wants to go on this journey with us," says Scandiuzzi.

Tschernisch has been connected to ACT since the late 1960s, when he received his first professional acting job working with theatre founder Gregory Falls, and continuing years later with his move to Seattle in 1994 encouraging community partnerships with Cornish and as a patron, feeding his passion for theatre and contemporary arts. "I have always championed artistic creativity. No matter the academic appointment, supporting emerging artists and creating new work have always been an important part of my life and something I have fostered in many ways. I know firsthand that this region will support an exciting vision that is backed by determination. The community needs ACT – and ACT needs its community. That is the ideal equation to move forward with our mission and I look forward to working with Carlo, Kurt Beattie and the Board of Trustees to make it happen."

During Tschernisch's tenure, Cornish achieved record enrollments, yearly balanced budgets and a substantially increased endowment fund, according to press notes. He was fundamental in the campaign to expand and relocate the College to the heart of Seattle, while also creating student housing opportunities. His proven accomplishments in the area of building renovation campaigns, operational and human resource strategies, and overseeing the implementation of Strategic Plans, Business Plans and Master Plans are evidence of his adept leadership skills and keen sense of mission.

Prior to moving to Seattle he held a series of posts at universities across the country, developing curriculums based on the arts and establishing practices to support artists, including Loyola Marymount University's Dean of College of Communication and Fine Arts (1992-1994); Northeastern University Founding Director of the Division of Performing and Visual Arts, where he founded and guided the nuArts Contemporary Performance Series, bringing emerging artists to the campus (1982-1993); University of Maryland Chairman of the Department of Theater (1980-1982); and one of the most significant contributions to advancements in arts education is his participation in the formative years of CalArts, the California Institute of the Arts as staff, Faculty and eventually Acting Dean of the Theatre School (1969-1980). In 2011 Cornish College established the Sergei P. Tschernisch Endowed Scholarship Fund and he won the Seattle Mayor's Arts Award in 2010. He is the recipient of several major civic grants from major institutions and cities across the country. Education degrees were earned from Stanford University, San Francisco State University and a special certificate from Harvard University.

Director of Development Jennessa West has served for three years as Associate Development Director for ACT, leading the annual gala fundraiser and developing corporate relationships. Previously, she was Director of Development for ArtsWest in West Seattle, and prior to moving to the Pacific Northwest she worked in art production and film finance for Warner Brothers and CBS Television in Los Angeles. West is a co-founder of and producer for COLLEKTOR, a multi-disciplinary arts collective, and is an advocate for Native American rights, chairing a board of a small foundation supporting community needs.

ACT Theatre's 2012 Season is on sale for subscriptions, ACTPass Memberships and Single Tickets. The mainstage season begins March 10 with First Date, a co-production with The 5th Avenue Theatre. Followed by Lee Hall's The Pitmen Painters, Lewis Black's One Slight Hitch, Harold Pinter's Celebration, The Dumb Waiter, No Man's Land and Old Times in The Pinter Festival, Trieu Tran's Uncle Ho to Uncle Sam, and a new multi-artist produced Ramayana. There are more than 40 Central Heating Lab performances taking place this year, showcasing emerging and established artists and performers in Seattle.

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