The Coterie Theatre Appoints Khalia Davis as New Producing Artistic Director

Khalia Davis is a multidisciplinary artist and arts leader who most recently served as the Assistant Director The Hippest Trip: The Soul Train Musical.

By: Jan. 31, 2024
The Coterie Theatre Appoints Khalia Davis as New Producing Artistic Director

The Board of Directors of The Coterie Theatre has appointed Khalia Davis as the new producing artistic director, effective Feb. 1, 2024. Davis replaces interim artistic director Heidi Van who has led the artistic programming since February following the resignation of Jeff Church in December 2022. Davis will partner with Managing Director Jonathan Thomas, who joined The Coterie in April 2022 as director of development, and served as interim managing director since November 2022, following the passing of longtime Coterie executive director Joette Pelster, until his appointment as Managing Director in March 2023.

“From our first introduction to Khalia to the everyday interactions, her energy and passion for theatre for young audiences is palpable,” said Theresa Stoker, President of The Coterie's Board of Directors. “We know she will continue to do exciting and innovative work in the field of theatre for young audiences and we are thrilled to have her co-leading The Coterie. We've created an amazing team with Jonathan and Khalia; the two complement each other so well. With their collaboration, and that of the full team, we believe The Coterie's reputation as a top theatre for reaching across races, genders, and generations, locally and nationally, will flourish.”

ABOUT Khalia Davis

Khalia Davis (she/her) is a multidisciplinary artist and arts leader who most recently served as the Assistant Director for the Broadway-bound world premiere, The Hippest Trip: The Soul Train Musical. As the former Artistic Director of Bay Area Children's Theatre (BACT), she led the world premieres of a kids play about Racism, which brought together over 40 theater producing partners, including The Coterie, and was viewed on Broadway on Demand nearly 80,000 times during its limited run then became a free resource for educators and their students, and The Imaginaries: An Immersive Musical, an original new work that transformed their theater into an accessible playground created by the newly-formed BACT Writer's Room. The BACT Writer's Room was a direct response to the lack of opportunities for BIPOC playwrights and composers specializing in TYA projects. During the COVID pandemic when theaters were closed in the Bay Area, she worked in partnership with former Executive Director of BACT, Nina Meehan, to conceive and produce various forms of theatrical digital and audio content for young audiences that activated their creativity and imaginative play, showcasing the potential for future digital and theatrical collaborations in TYA programming. Ms. Davis directed and devised other new works like the award-nominated world premiere, She Persisted the Musical, based on the popular children's book by Chelsea Clinton, the off-Broadway world premiere of an original adaptation of Maya Angelou's I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings with New York City Children's Theatre, and the world premiere Arthur and Friends Make a Musical! based on Arthur, the longest-running animated series on PBS with First Stage. Other prominent theaters include: A.C.T., Atlantic Theater Company's Atlantic for Kids, New York City Children's Theater, Disney Theatrical Group, Spellbound Theatre and more. As a producer, Ms. Davis has helped organizations reach hundreds of thousands of young people through interactive “edu-tainment” with the nationally known Story Pirates, generated new digital pre-school content with Spellbound at Home, and produced children's media with her personal company, Kids at Heart Productions. Before assuming her role as Artistic Director of Bay Area Children's Theater in 2020, Ms. Davis served as the Director of Inclusion and Education with Brooklyn Children's Theatre restructuring their children's musical theater programming through an anti-racism lens. Proud board member for TYA/USA, Spellbound Theater, and The Story Pirates. Awards: 2019 Emerging Leader Fellowship-TYA/USA, 2019 NYCCT Leader Fellowship, 2021 Corey Medallion Award-Children's Theatre Foundation of America. BA in Theater Arts from the University of Southern California.
Ms. Davis stated, “I am over the moon with this opportunity to carry on a cherished legacy valued by generations of families and young people here in Kansas City as their new Producing Artistic Director! I was immediately drawn to The Coterie after reading their mission and value statement and seeing that they highlight justice as an important tenant to the work on the stage and in the classroom. I believe art is meant to invite conversation, interrogate perspectives, and ignite imagination. I am energized by The Coterie's history of embracing new work written and performed by historically marginalized communities and equally passionate about the positive impact of new work development and community collaboration and partnerships.”

“And while I am not from Kansas City originally, witnessing the way the arts community here supports and uplifts one another is reminiscent of living and working professionally in the San Francisco Bay Area theater community,” she continued. “I look forward to working with new colleagues across the arts industry here and working alongside managing director, Jonathan Thomas, to bring more exciting, engaging, and educational arts programming to the families and young people of Kansas City and beyond!”

Managing Director Jonathan Thomas stated, “As we further our mission to bring professional theater to young people and families, as well as serve our community as the premier arts education theater in our region, Khalia stood out as someone who brings exceptional leadership, talent, and experience in those crucial areas. Khalia's commitment to new work, particularly in the BIPOC playwright and composer community, is an inspiring parallel to our equity, diversity, inclusion, and justice work.”

“It's hard to know how to begin to describe all the positives Khalia brings. She is a dynamic, caring, and skilled innovator at the forefront of the industry, and she brings a wonderful energy to our region. I am honored to partner with her and look forward to supporting her artistic leadership as we bring life-changing experiences to the families of Kansas City.”
 ALJP Consulting led the search process, in partnership with a diverse search committee of stakeholders. Over 90 candidates nationwide applied for the role, and the process incorporated feedback and invited participation from a wide variety of board, staff, resident artists, and other members of The Coterie and Kansas City's arts community.

"Khalia brings an extraordinary combination of experience, vision, care, and energy to The Coterie." says ALJP Consultant Patric Madden, "She's a fantastic choice to carry on the organization's tradition of bold and inclusive storytelling, and we know that The Coterie and the entire field will benefit from her leadership."

ALJP Consulting is a Black woman-owned, mission driven firm specializing in executive search, strategic planning, board coaching and development, facilitation, and other services for nonprofit arts and culture organizations. ALJP was founded in the Summer of 2019 to fill a need for more consulting firms dedicated to reimagining the ecosystem of the industry to address contemporary challenges. The firm strives to create more diverse and inclusive environments for artists, administrators, and patrons. For more information, please visit