Dates: Saturday and Sunday, October 28 and 29, 2017
Location: The Elayne P. Bernstein Center for the Performing Arts at Shakespeare & Company, Lenox, MA
Applications: Open until July 21, 2017
Application Closes: Friday, July 21
Applicant/Scholarship Awardees Notified: Friday, August 4
Payment Due: Friday, September 1
Scholarship requests are included on the application. All scholarships are made possible by donors who supported the Berkshire Leadership Summit Scholarship GoFundMe crowdfunding campaign.

Berkshire Leadership Summit

This first pilot Berkshire Leadership Summit is informed and supported by research that American Conservatory Theater commissioned from the Wellesley Centers for Women.


In August 2016, the results of research on why there is a gender imbalance in leadership of non-profit regional theater were presented by Wellesley Centers for Women (WCW) at the Women’s Leadership Conference in San Francisco at American Conservatory Theater. WAM Theatre Artistic Director, Kristen van Ginhoven, was an early supporter of the study and attended the conference.  The HowlRound blogpost about the study can be found here.

Inspired by that conference, the idea was born to create The Berkshire Leadership Summit, a pilot, two-day event, for women aspiring to, or already in, leadership positions (in early, mid and late career) in the non-profit theatre in both the artistic and management tracks.

This pilot Summit will provide deep dive, nuts and bolts sessions into four areas that female theater professionals identified as main barriers to the next step in leadership. This Summit continues the work of shifting consciousness and perception around women and leadership in the non-profit theatre world.

The Summit has three central aims: providing participants with an experience that grows their network of allies,  enriching vocabulary that supports the current industry while advocating for their future as women leaders, and expanding concrete skills to apply on their path to leadership.

With this in mind, the Summit will focus on these four key areas:

  • Fundraising – eg. the ability to go from a $200,000 company to a $2,000,000 company
  • Producing – eg. the ability to produce a high budget event from the ground up
  • Relationship Building- eg. the opportunity to meet the people who work at the theatres that will hire you for leadership positions
  • Awareness Building  |  Creating Opportunity- eg. deep dive into what is needed to shift the consciousness and perception around women and leadership?   

The Summit also aims to offer shorter working sessions around other areas identified in the study and at the conference as barriers to leadership including:

  • Interviewing: exploring the vocabulary of the current world
  • Search firm process: advocating for your future
  • Reading a financial report/balance sheet
  • Building relationships/Working effectively with your board
  • Strategic Planning
  • Defending your artistic choices
  • Intersectionality- including it in the room
  • Where is the feminine in leadership?
  • Who is your coalition?
  • What is the financial impact of women’s leadership?
  • What do you bring into the room that distinguishes you as a leader?

We acknowledge gender discrimination is a complex topic. As a first step, this inaugural two-day pilot Summit is targeted to people who navigate the field as women (eg. transgender, cisgender, gender non-conforming) in early to mid-career who are theatre professionals on the path to leadership.

Stay tuned for more details on this first pilot Berkshire Leadership Summit coming soon…..

We see the operation of a glass ceiling, a metaphor for the barriers facing women stuck at middle management where they can see the top but cannot reach it.” WCW Study

The Berkshire Leadership Summit Steering Committee includes Kristen van Ginhoven, Artistic Director of WAM Theatre; Akiba Abaka, Audience Development Manager at ArtsEmerson; Rachel Fink, Managing Director of Theatre Bay Area; and Shafer Mazow, who currently works at the Exploratorium in San Francisco and was a lead developer and organizer of the Women’s Leadership Project and convening.

The BLS Advisory Committee includes Ineke Ceder and Sumru Erkut, authors of the Wellesley Study, Elena Chang, Associate Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at TCG, Mandy Greenfield, Artistic Director at Williamstown Theatre Festival, Carey Perloff, Artistic Director at American Conservatory Theatre who commissioned the Wellesley study, Laura Penn, Executive Director of the Society of Stage Director and Choreographers and Martha Richards, Executive Director of WomenArts.

AKIBA ABAKA (Steering Committee) is the audience development manager at ArtsEmerson.  A distinguished director, dramatist, producer, actor and arts educator, Ms. Abaka has over 20 years of experience in bringing theater to diverse communities throughout Greater Boston.  As a practitioner she is committed to utilizing theater for the purpose of community development and civic transformation.  Her service to the field include; Lead Theater Teaching Artist, Citi Performing Arts Center; Board Member, Boston Children’s Theatre; Community Member, Boston Children’s Chorus Innovation Team; and Host Committee Co-chair, Theatre Communications Group National Conference.

RACHEL FINK (Steering Committee) is the Managing Director of Theatre Bay Area, one of the largest regional performing arts service organizations in the nation, serving more than 300 theatre companies and 2,000 individual artists across the region. As managing director, she is responsible for Theatre Bay Area’s business life including finance, revenue generation, operations, human resources, marketing and communications. Prior to joining Theatre Bay Area Rachel Fink was the director of Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s School of Theatre where she led its educational programming for 16 years. These programs served over 23,000 students (ages 5-adult) annually throughout Northern California and included tuition-based arts training; Teen Council , a nationally-recognized engagement initiative; “claimyourARTS,” a teen-driven arts advocacy campaign; a highly-competitive fellowship training program; and on-going staff development and audience engagement programs. A strong advocate of arts leadership development and cultural policy, Rachel was chosen to be the first U.S. delegate for the British Council’s Cultural Leadership International Programme and selected for the inaugural class of the American Express/Aspen Institute Fellowship for Emerging Nonprofit Leaders. She is a member of the 2016 artEquity cohort and has served on the board of Theatre Bay Area, chaired its Theatre Services Committee, and planned numerous professional development convenings for emerging arts leaders. She has spoken on conference panels for Theatre Communications Group (TCG) and TBA, and served on grant review panels for the National Endowment for the Arts and TCG. She was also recognized for her regional work as a 2013 “Face of Theatre Bay Area.” Prior to moving to the Bay Area, Ms. Fink was the managing director of the Yale Cabaret and had worked at theatres across the United States including the Yale Repertory Theatre, International Festival of Arts & Ideas, Long Wharf Theatre, and the Cleveland Play House. Ms. Fink has taught at Berkeley Rep, Case Western Reserve University, and the Cain Park School of the Arts. Ms. Fink received her BA in Theatre Arts from Case Western Reserve University and her MFA in Theater Management from the Yale School of Drama.
SHAFER MAZOW (Steering Committee) is Senior Grants Manager at the Exploratorium where serves as the strategic lead for the museum’s R&D work in the Lab, which includes the Center for Art and Inquiry, Environmental Initiative, Living Systems, and Human Phenomena. Before joining the Exploratorium, he held the position of Director of Institutional Giving and Strategy at American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) where he lead all foundation, government, and corporate fundraising for annual productions and programs as well as the strategic development of special initiatives, including the Women’s Leadership in Residential Theater research project, the Community Space-Sharing Initiative, the Stage Coach community-based theater program, the New Strands commissioning and development program, and the Citizen Artist curriculum for the Master of Fine Arts degree. He served as a Board Member of the National Corporate Fund and on the planning committee for the San Francisco Arts Town Hall. Prior to A.C.T., he was Senior Director of Development Strategies and Services at Mills College. Shafer holds a B.A. in English from Wellesley College and a M.F.A. in English and Creative Writing from Mills College.​
KRISTEN VAN GINHOVEN (Steering Committee) WAM Theatre: The Bakelite Masterpiece, In Darfur (New England Premiere), Emilie (New England Premiere), The Old Mezzo (World Premiere), The Attic, The Pearls and Three Fine Girls and Melancholy Play. Elsewhere: Waxworks (Williams College), The Whale (Adirondack Theatre Festival), 10 Minute Play Festival (Barrington Stage Company), Petticoats of Steel (Capital Repertory Theatre), Footloose (Cohoes Music Hall), Children’s Hour (Siena College), Vendetta Chrome (Emerson College). Selected assistant directing: The Physicists, 42nd Street (Stratford Shakespeare Festival of Canada), Two Men of Florence (Huntington Theatre) Sleuth, Absurd Person Singular (Barrington Stage Company). Training: Dalhousie University (BA), Queen’s University (BEd), Emerson College (MA). Et cetera: Kristen is an associate member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers and a theatre artist for the International Schools Theatre Association. She was a member of the 2013 Lincoln Center Director’s Lab and is a member of the Michael Langham Workshop for Classical Direction at the Stratford Festival of Canada. Kristen is the co-founder and Artistic Director of WAM Theatre. Website: