Tonight the CATF Board Of Trustees will honor and show our appreciation for the remarkable leadership of Lisa Younis. Lisa has completed her two year term as Board President and her nine years of service as a Trustee. Suzanne Shipley, President of Shepherd University, is hosting a party for Lisa and the CATF Board in her beautiful, historic home at Popodicon. This important celebration marks another milestone in the Festival’s history. Tonight we pay tribute and recognize Lisa’s unselfish dedication to our mission: “to produce and develop new American theater.” Lisa has lead our Board during the most difficult economic climate since the Festival began twenty years ago. Under her watch the Festival persevered and continued to produce extraordinary new works for the American stage. Tonight we salute her leadership and service. It has been an honor and a privilege to work with Lisa. 

Lisa joins an elite group of former CATF Board Presidents.  Ron Jones, Andy Michael, Mary Helen Strauch, Lynn Shirley, and Stephen Skinner have provided the Theater Festival with their leadership, advice and dedicated support. Each of these extraordinary individuals has been instrumental in guiding and nourishing the creative work of the American playwright. I am forever grateful to these past presidents. They have embraced my vision to create a home for the future of the American theater.

Serving on an arts board is, especially in this moment, a form of social activism. It is a statement of belief in the power of community. The Contemporary American Theater Festival is supported by an outstanding Board of Trustees. They are a generous collection of individuals who are deeply committed to the Festival’s mission and core values. They give so much of themselves in service to our theater and to our community. They believe in the power of contemporary theater. They believe in the power of story. They believe in the power of sharing the most private of feelings in the most public of spaces–the theater. Together we breathe the same air–actor with actor, actor with audience, audience with audience–as we confront pain and difference, conflict and joy in the safe environment of the stage. Our Board shares a passionate belief that we can only grow as a society if we find the strength to confront and consider ideas and issues that may make us uncomfortable. Our trustees believe that a community without art has no voice, no memory, no aspiration — a community without art is no community at all.

I am always inspired when I walk into our board room and see the dedicated faces of our trustees. They have made room in their lives for our work. With so many things competing for their time, our trustees continue to commit their resources (intellectual as well as financial) as they freely choose to dedicate their valuable energy to our artists and our work. Our community is made better because of their support fot the Contemporary American Theater Festival. 

On behalf of the entire Theater Festival artistic community, I want to personnally thank Lisa Younis for her dedication and service as our Board President. I wish her all the best and look forward to seeing her, and her husband John, in our audience in the years to come.

I also welcome our next Board President — Jenny Ewing Allen. Jenny will continue to guide the Festival into the future. She will help to create and nurture an environment for a strong supportive relationship between the board members, the artists, and the festival staff as we continue our mutual creative journey.

–Ed Herendeen, Producing Director

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