July 21, 2005

Court Theatre announces new executive director

Court Theatre, the professional theatre in residence at the University, recently announced that it has named Dawn Helsing as its new executive director. Helsing, who will begin her new duties in the fall, is currently the director of development for Centerstage, a leading professional theatre group in Baltimore. Helsing will replace Diane Claussen, who left Court Theatre to become the managing director at the Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey.

Helsing's appointment comes after an eight-month national search led by Albert Hall & Associates, based in California. University and Court Theatre officials, including Lorna Ferguson, Chair of Court Theatre Board of Trustees, chaired the search committee.

Ferguson said that the search committee "worked delicately for months" to find the perfect candidate for Court Theatre's executive director. She added that the committee was looking for someone able to develop stronger relationships with the University, as well as with local and city community members, cultivating broad financial development for the theatre, and creating a strong partnership with the theatre's artistic director.

Helsing's experience in fund-raising and building relationships made her a perfect match for the Court Theatre, Ferguson said. "Dawn is regarded by significant figures in the non-profit world as one of the most promising theatre administrators of her generation," Ferguson added. "The Board of Directors is tremendously excited about the future of Court Theatre."

Helsing, reflecting on her future duties, said that she is committed to better integrating the Court Theatre's Strategic Plan, developed by Court Theatre's Board of Trustees; its staff; and University officials.

High on Helsing's agenda is becoming familiar with the University, theatre, and Chicago communities, since, she noted, a theatre's base of support comes from its community, which allows the theatre to fulfill and produce its artistic goals.