I talked with our Events Coordinator, Tara, about her life before JOURNEYS and how her experience in the theater industry has helped her to become a top-notch non-profit events coordinator.
Take a look at her amazing story and what she had to say!
"You just have to tailor what comes next in your life. I used to work in live theater. I was a professional stage manager for 20 years. I've worked all over regionally, from Brunswick, Maine; West Virginia; Florida; Pennsylvania; Upstate New York; Rhode Island; and Little Rock, Arkansas. I’ve worked on West Side Story, Beauty and the Beast, Steel Magnolias. If you’ve seen a musical, I’ve probably worked on it!
Being a stage manager is being the person in charge backstage. You cue when the lights go, when the set moves – you're the puppet master. I don’t create what’s on stage, but I make it all happen. I keep the show consistent and running on time.
I actually ended up in Chicagoland because I was on tour. It was called Cruel Intentions: The ‘90s Musical. It was a lot of fun. We rehearsed in New York, then we went Upstate, then to Rhode Island for one night, and then we got on a plane and came to Chicago for two weeks. That was the first time I'd ever been to Chicago. I saw a little bit of Chicago and ended up coming back after the tour to see a friend, and thought “this has everything I love about New York without any of the things I don’t.” I fell in love with the place.
After working in Chicago theaters for a while, I ultimately left theater because I wanted a different pace. Working six, sometimes seven days a week is hard, and when you’re on tour you’re sleeping in buses or hotels, and it can be difficult to get time off. I ended up making a list of all the things I knew how to do, and then I typed those things into the computer and it suggested event coordinator as a career, since it’s practically the same thing as stage managing, which is pretty true. When I was in New York I also did a lot of charity fundraisers, like Broadway Backwards for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, as well as a World AIDS Day fundraiser event when I was in the New Paltz Players.
Being the events coordinator at JOURNEYS is interesting because you have to keep all the event balls in the air all the time. With the Superhero 5K, Women’s Luncheon, and Leap Into Hope. Then there’s the Annual Meeting and Golf Outing coming up. I feed them all a little bit every day.
This week I am researching party favors, projectors, and photo booth apps for Bid. Then I need to follow up with some donations for Bid as well and reach out to other donors. Sometimes there might be a site visit for a new venue, sometimes it's researching something that we need to buy for either the agency or for the event, sometimes it's securing sponsorships or donations. And then of course running the events! That’s when I really feel like I’m in my element. It’s like I’m backstage again."
-Arranged by Roxanne Gentry, Marketing Associate