Be bold enough to dream, naïve enough to believe and tenacious enough to make it happen.
—Patrick M. Sheahan, Ph.D
The Nutcracker Meet and Greet. Image credit: Rance Ristau Photography, courtesy of Ballet San Antonio.
What was the defining moment in your past that set you on the career path you ended up following?
I put on my first ballet slippers at age 4, played my first note on the cello at age 9, was bit by the acting bug in college and then moved to Chicago to pursue a lifelong dream of being on the stage. However, I first needed a job. I earned a position at UBS and attempted to make all the auditions I could, but it was not feasible with the demands of the job. In a slight change to my dream of being on the stage, I landed a job stage managing a play. And I loved it. I loved working behind the scenes.
This work, which I pursued for another 10 years, evolved from stage managing plays, to producing theater, serving on boards and ultimately, to my first opportunity to turn my passion into a career, serving as the Executive Director of the Chicago Dancing Festival.
Every role is important in the collaborative nature of the performing arts, and I am tremendously proud to have a hand in producing the astonishing work our patrons see on the stage as CEO of Ballet San Antonio.
What makes you unique in your industry?
I worked with a manager who had a diverse and ever-changing career path. When asked how he achieved his success, his answer was simple, “I kept saying yes.” These words guide me, keep me open to possibility, willing to embrace change, to be cautious, but not fearful. The result is a background which includes performing, backstage work, board service and business—a unique blend of skills and experience that have proven to be an asset in arts administration.
Evin Nicole Eubanks, Lisa Galo Westmoreland, Cheryl Strayed, Carla and John Brozovich. Image credit: Rance Ristau Photography, courtesy of Ballet San Antonio.
What is one way you hope to impact your community in the future, either personally or professionally?
It is important to keep and grow arts programs in our schools, to provide our youth with opportunities to discover who they are. Participation in arts programs will expand their future by opening up possibilities. Skills such as creativity, confidence, perseverance, collaboration, expression and accountability will cross the boundaries of all professions, supporting their individual success and our success as a community.
If you could sit down with any woman in the world–either from history or who is currently living–who would that be and what would you discuss with her?
Former San Antonio Mayor Lila Banks Cockrell on keeping perspective (how she did it, the way she did it, when she did it).
This profile was (Em)powered by Ballet San Antonio.
Edited from an interview by Eleanora Morrison.