Monday night at the annual quarterly board meeting, Imagination Stage Board President Patrick O’Neil announced that Janet Stanford will be appointed the new Producing Artistic Director of Imagination Stage starting January 1, 2021. This new role will be the senior leader of Imagination Stage and will be responsible for the organization’s strategic direction. As Producing Artistic Director, Stanford will lead the organization to reach its mission to empower young people to discover their voice and identity through performing arts education and professional theatre.
“Throughout her tenure with Imagination Stage, Janet has led the organization from a community-based arts organization to a nationally significant regional Theatre for Young Audiences and arts education provider,” said Imagination Stage Board President Patrick O’Neil. “The organization faces some of its greatest challenges in light of COVID-19, and the board has full faith that Janet’s creativity, vision, and – most importantly – dedication to bettering the lives of DC-area children and families, will prove to be the right leadership for this unprecedented moment.”
This announcement marks a change in the leadership structure of the Imagination Stage team. As announced in February 2020, Executive Director Bonnie Fogel will assume a new part-time position, with the title of Founder, beginning on January 1, 2021. Fogel’s position as Founder will focus on fundraising, institutional advancement, as well as ongoing entrepreneurial endeavors.
Supporting and reporting to Stanford are two new senior leadership positions. Meghann Babo-Shroyer will assume the new position of Managing Director and Joanne Seelig Lamparter will step into the role of Artistic Director- Education and Theatre for Change. Babo-Shroyer, who is currently the organization’s Associate Managing Director, will lead the institutional development and financial management of Imagination Stage. Seelig Lamparter, currently Imagination Stage’s Director of Education and Theatre for Change, will continue her work to develop both educational and theatrical programming that speaks to the needs of DC families and children.
“Imagination Stage is at its heart dedicated to giving voice to children and youth – a mission that is more vital today than ever before,” said Stanford. “I am honored to lead a team of dedicated arts leaders who are all passionate about this mission. This new leadership structure not only allows us to reinvest in the team but positions us well to tackle new challenges and opportunities for years to come.”
The new leadership was approved by the board of directors on September 14, 2020, and will take effect on January 1, 2021.
Janet Stanford (Producing Artistic Director) is the 2017 winner of the Harold Oaks Award for Innovation in Theatre for Young Audiences (TYA). Since 1993, Janet has heightened the profile of professional theatre at Imagination Stage by commissioning more than 50 new works, adopting an Actors’ Equity contract, and successfully advocating for the inclusion of TYA productions in the Helen Hayes Awards. Janet has brought many distinguished artists to the theatre including artist/activist Rebecca Rice and playwrights David S. Craig, Charles Way, Karen Zacarias, Joan Cushing, Eric Coble, Barry Kornhauser, and Psalmayene 24. Under her leadership, the theatre has created educational plays for teens about biotechnology, introduced Theatre for the Very Young to audiences in the USA, co-produced and co-commissioned with other top TYA theatres both in the USA and abroad, and partnered with Health & Human Services organizations to bring theatre experiences to non-traditional audiences. Janet has traveled on grants from South America, to Europe, to Asia in search of new partners and inspiration for Imagination Stage programs. She has twice been nominated for Helen Hayes Awards for Best Director and has written several plays for children including The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe, Aladdin’s Luck, and Dickens’ Davy Copperfield.
Meghann Babo-Shroyer (Managing Director) joined Imagination Stage as Associate Managing Director in January of 2018. In her role as the financial manager, Meghann improved the $5 million dollar organization’s financial controls while supporting strategic planning, fundraising, and administrative operations. She has also played a key role in the pandemic crisis-response. Previously, Meghann was Director of Foundation and Government Relations at the Shakespeare Theatre Company. In this senior position, she met or exceeded her fundraising goals for five consecutive years. Meghann also worked for Olney Theatre Center, the DC Youth Orchestra Program, and has consulted for The A.R.T. She served as a grant panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts, Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County, and the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. Meghann was also a panelist at the TCG Envisioning the Future of Theater for Young Audiences convening. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Musical Theatre from Wilkes University and a Master of Public Administration from Indiana State University.
Joanne Seelig Lamparter (Artistic Director- Education and Theatre for Change) joined Imagination Stage in 2014. As Director of Education and Theatre for Change, she has led the organization’s school and community partnerships, theatre arts training programs, and the development of new work based on youth voices. Under Joanne’s leadership, Imagination Stage’s youth programming has been featured at international festivals, national conferences, at local universities and on Capitol Hill. An arts educator with more than 18 years of experience she has administered programs for The Smithsonian Institute, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, The National Building Museum, and Capitol Hill Arts Workshop. Joanne has a passion for arts education research and was a Research Assistant on the Cultures of Thinking project at Harvard’s Project Zero. Joanne has served as a grants panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts, Theatre Communications Group, the U.S. Department of Education, and the Maryland State Arts Council. She has taught in a variety of educational settings including theatres, museums, public schools, and juvenile detention centers. Joanne currently serves as a theatre education advisor for the PBSKids series, Pinkalicious. She holds a Master’s in Arts in Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre from Washington University.