LENOX, MA (March 22, 2022) — Producing Artistic Director Kristen van Ginhoven, Managing Director Molly Merrihew, and the WAM Board are pleased to announce the appointment of four new members to their Board of Directors. Donna Haghighat, Megan Sandberg-Zakian, Kim Stauffer, and Nicole M. Young-Martin will be joining Board President Wendy Healey, and members Erica Barretto, Toni Buckley, Carolyn Butler, and Margaret Fluhr.
“We are overjoyed to add these four new members to our Board this year,” said Molly Merrihew, WAM Managing Director. “They each bring a unique perspective and expertise to WAM that will aid in our growth, especially as we come out of the pandemic and return to a full season of offerings.”
Donna Haghighat currently serves as the Executive Director of the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts. Under her leadership, the Women’s Fund has successfully launched The Young Women’s Initiative for girls and young women of color in Springfield, focused on gender and racial equity and moved from direct programming to partnerships and community investing.
Megan Sandberg-Zakian is a theater director, author, and facilitator with a passion for the development of vital new American plays for the stage and the ear. She has directed several productions for WAM over the years, including the 2016 Fall Mainstage production of Holy Laughter, and the upcoming Fresh Takes Play Reading of The New Galileos by Amy Berryman. She has recently directed shows at the New York Theatre Workshop, the Huntington Theatre, and the California Shakespeare Theatre.
Kim Stauffer performed the role of Emilie in Emilie: La Marquise Du Chatelet Defends Her Life Tonight in WAM Theatre’s 2013 production and 2017 remount. Her additional Berkshire credits include Barrington Stage Company and Chester Theatre Company; and her regional work as an actor has taken her to New York Classical Theatre, Kansas City Repertory Theatre, the Shakespeare Theatre Company (DC), Actors’ Theatre of Louisville, and beyond. As a Director, she has had the privilege of working with Berkshire Playwright’s Lab, UAlbany Theatre, and Union College Theatre. She is a passionate educator who serves as Head of Acting in the UAlbany Theatre Program.
Nicole M. Young-Martin is a writer, performer, producer, musician, nonprofit manager and educator with over 25 years of experience as a practicing artist and over 10 years of working in higher education and the nonprofit sector. Young-Martin serves as the producer and host of the web series, Black Writers Read, teaches literature, developmental writing, and theatre for Bard Microcollege Holyoke, and works as the Community Investments Manager for the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts. Having attended WAM productions in the past, she is very excited to take on this new role with the WAMily.
The new trustees join WAM’s stalwart Board Members Erica Barreto (multicultural educator, arts administrator, and creative placemaker currently working at MCLA), Toni Buckley (higher education administrator and storyteller working as the Director of Alumni Relations at Berkshire Community College), Carolyn Butler (not-for-profit fundraiser of twenty years with a focus on arts, culture and social services), Margaret Fluhr (clinical social worker for 37 years). The Company is honored for their service and passion for WAM’s arts activism mission. To learn more about WAM Theatre’s Board Members visit https://www.wamtheatre.com/our-board/.
WAM is also grateful for the recent service of Arwen Lowbridge (Financial Planner and Advisor at Baystate Financial), Diane Scott (Director of Artist Services at the Mid-America Arts Alliance) and Ellen Ring (retail specialist of 30 years) who recently completed their terms on the WAM Board. Their assistance and expertise was vital to WAM’s success and sustainability during the pandemic.
“We are honored to welcome these new board members to WAM in 2022,” said Wendy Healey, Board President. “As part of our Accountability plan, WAM’s Governance Committee was charged with actively transforming our traditional board structure to support WAM as an intersectional feminist and anti-racist theatre organization. We’re thrilled to add these artists and nonprofit leaders to our board as part of that effort, and we look forward to continuing to reimagine board roles with their participation.”
If you have expertise to share and are interested in speaking to WAM about volunteer opportunities including participation in a WAM Committee working alongside our team and board please contact WAM via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
WAM recently announced their 2022 Performance Season centering different versions of empowerment through four groundbreaking theatrical stories and a cabaret benefit performance that will take place in venues across the Berkshire region. The season includes: The New Galileos by Amy Berryman, Bright Half Life by Tanya Barfield, a MisCast Cabaret, Escaped Alone by Caryl Churchill, and Cadillac Crew by Tori Sampson. For tickets and more information visit wamtheatre.com.
NEW BOARD MEMBER BIOS
Donna Haghighat (she/her) came to the Women’s Fund with over 12 years of experience developing programs, cultivating relationships, launching startups, fundraising, directing communications strategy, creating strategic plans and building advocacy programs. Under her leadership, the Women’s Fund has successfully launched The Young Women’s Initiative for girls and young women of color in Springfield, focused on gender and racial equity and moved from direct programming to partnerships and community investing. This has allowed the Women’s Fund to focus on advocacy, research and fundraising. Prior to joining the Women’s Fund, Haghighat was Principal at Collabyrinth Collective, LLC. Previous roles have included Executive Director of the Aurora Women & Girl’s Foundation, Chief Engagement and Advocacy Officer for YWCA Hartford Region, a strategic consultant, Chief Development Officer for Hartford Public Library, Interim Director and Grants/Program Manager of the Women’s Education and Leadership Fund, and Co-President of AAUW CT. Haghighat was awarded the Trinity College Alumni Medal of Excellence in 2019, was the grand prize winner of the 2012 University of Hartford’s Barney School of Business International Business Plan Competition and was recognized as The Trinity Club of Hartford’s Person of the Year in 1999 and the Trinity College National Alumni Association Award in 1996.
Megan Sandberg-Zakian (she/her) is a theater director, author, and facilitator with a passion for the development of vital new American plays for the stage and the ear. Current Role with WAM: director (The New Galileos), Board Member. Previous WAM: Seven Homeless Mammoths Wander New England, Holy Laughter. Favorite recent directing projects elsewhere include: Nat Turner in Jerusalem (New York Theatre Workshop), House of Joy (California Shakespeare Theatre), Skeleton Crew (Huntington Theatre Co), Mr. Parent (The Lyric Stage) and Audible Originals Rapture Season and Evil Eye (Audie Award for Best Original Work; Gracie Award for Original Online Programming). Writing: Her book, There Must Be Happy Endings: On a Theater of Optimism and Honesty is available from The 3rd Thing Press. Affiliations: Megan is the co-founder of creative leadership consultancy Humanstudio, an Associate at BIPOC-led executive search firm ALJP Consulting, and a co-founder of Maia Directors, supporting artists and organizations engaging with stories from the Middle East and beyond. Education: Megan is a graduate of Brown University and holds an MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts from Goddard College. She has taught classes and workshops at Brown University, Yale University, Harvard University, and Northeastern University. Awards/Memberships: She is a recipient of the Princess Grace Theater Award and the TCG Future Leaders fellowship, an alumna of the Lincoln Center Directors Lab, and a proud member of SDC, the union for professional stage directors and choreographers. Etc: Megan lives in Jamaica Plain, MA, with her wife Candice. Connect: megansz.com
Kim Stauffer (she/her) is an Actor, Director, Educator, and Communication Consultant. Her first experience with WAM was as an actor in their production of Emilie: La Marquise Du Chatelet Defends Her Life Tonight. Her life and artist path have continually found her at the intersection of Arts and Activism – working with WAM resonates. As an actor her work has taken her to New York Classical Theatre, Barrington Stage Company, Kansas City Repertory Theatre, Chester Theatre, The Shakespeare Theatre Company (DC), Actors’ Theatre of Louisville, and beyond. She serves as Head of Acting in the University at Albany’s Theatre Program and is passionate about creating collaborative, educational spaces fueled by experiential and interdisciplinary learning. With UAlbany’s School of Social Welfare she co-founded the Simulation Project, bringing together student Actors and Social Workers for practice simulations. As a practitioner of Listening and Presence, she is a Communication Consultant who uses acting techniques to teach skills in embodied communication and behavioral and cultural awareness to groups and individuals. She is a member of Actors Equity Association, the Association for Theatre in Higher Education, and the Association of Theatre Movement Educators. She graduated with BAs in Theatre and Social Work from Eastern Mennonite University (and finds deep joy combining the two!), and earned her MFA in Acting from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro. She lives in the woods on the side of a little mountain, and can usually be found upcycling “junk,” lake swimming, and gardening, which she practices as an act of Resistance. www.KimStauffer.com
Nicole M. Young Martin (she/her) is a writer, performer, producer, musician, nonprofit manager and educator with over 25 years of experience as a practicing artist and over 10 years of working in higher education and the nonprofit sector. Having attended WAM productions in the past, Nicole is very excited to take on this new role with the WAMily. Nicole serves as the producer and host of the web series, Black Writers Read, teaches literature, developmental writing, and theatre for Bard Microcollege Holyoke, and works as the Community Investments Manager for the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts. She has received artist grants from various organizations including the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts & Assets4Artists, Easthampton City Arts, and Northampton Open Media. Nicole is a second-year doctoral student in Higher Education Leadership and Organizational Studies at Bay Path University and has a Bachelor of Theatre Arts from the University of Michigan Ann Arbor, an MFA in Theatre Management from Wayne State University, and an MA in English from University of Massachusetts Amherst. To learn more about Nicole, please visit www.nicolemyoung.com.
WAM Theatre is supported by the New England Foundation for the Arts through the New England Arts Resilience Fund, part of the United States Regional Arts Resilience Fund, an initiative of the U.S. Regional Arts Organizations and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, with major funding from the federal CARES Act for the National Endowment for the Arts. Recently, WAM was recommended for an American Rescue Plan grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
WAM’s sponsors include Adams Community Bank, Blue Q., Berkshire Bank, Berkshire Roots, Blue Spark Financial, Downright Pro, Greylock Federal Credit Union, Garden Gables Inn, Guidos Fresh Marketplace, Health Professional Coaching, Heller & Robbins Attorneys at Law, Interprint, Only in my Dreams Events, Onyx Specialty Papers, Outpost Productions, Prix Fixe, RB Design Co., T Square Design Studio, Toole Insurance, a. von schlegell & co, and the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts.
WAM Theatre’s 2022 Season is also supported in part by grants from Berkshire Regional Planning Commission, Berkshire Bank, Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, The Feigenbaum Foundation, Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC), Mass Humanities, Lee Bank Foundation, Scarlet Sock Foundation and U.S. Small Business Administration’s Shuttered Venue Operators Grant; as well as grants from the Dalton Cultural Council, Lee Cultural Council, Lenox Cultural Council, Pittsfield Cultural Council, Northern Berkshire Cultural Council, Otis Cultural Council, Sandisfield Cultural Council, and Washington Cultural Council.
ABOUT WAM THEATRE
WAM Theatre is a professional theatre company based in Berkshire County, MA, that operates at the intersection of arts and activism. WAM creates theatre for gender equity and has a vision of theatre as philanthropy.
In fulfillment of its philanthropic mission, WAM donates a portion of the proceeds from their Mainstage productions to carefully selected beneficiaries. Since WAM’s founding in 2010, they have donated more than $80,000 to 23 local and global organizations taking action for gender equity in areas such as girls education, teen pregnancy prevention, sexual trafficking awareness, midwife training, and more.
In addition to Mainstage productions and special events, WAM’s activities include innovative community engagement programs and the Fresh Takes Play Reading Series. To date, WAM has provided paid work to more than 500 theatre artists, the majority of whom are female-identifying.
As a civic organization that embraces intersectional feminism (feminism that acknowledges how multiple forms of discrimination overlap), WAM understands that to address one piece of systemic discrimination means we have to address them all. This is on-going personal and professional work at WAM for the staff and board, detailed in their recently released accountability plan.
WAM Theatre has been widely recognized for having a positive impact on cultural and community development in the region. WAM is the recipient of the Creative Economy Standout Berkshire Trendsetter Award and previously, was named Outstanding Philanthropy Corporation of the Year by the Western MA Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. Kristen van Ginhoven, WAM’s Producing Artistic Director, was honored by the Berkshire Theatre Critics Association (BTCA) with the prestigious Larry Murray Award, presented at the discretion of the BTCA Board to a person or theatre project that advances social, political, or community issues in Berkshire County.
For more information, visit www.wamtheatre.com