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Dr. Jennifer Katona Named Executive Director

Dr. Jennifer Katona, a woman with reddish hair and pale skin, smiles at the camera in a garden setting.
Experienced educator, administrator, and advocate will lead the organization’s work to expand access to quality theatre education.

EdTA’s board of directors is pleased to announce Dr. Jennifer Katona as its next executive director. She begins her new role in early September.

Katona joins EdTA to lead its efforts to shape lives through theatre education, bringing more than 30 years’ experience as a theatre educator, teaching artist, advocate, scholar, administrator, and consultant. As founding director of the Educational Theatre Graduate Program at the City College of New York, she created a leading program to develop and credential future theatre educators. While at Norwalk Public Schools, she was responsible for the district’s arts education policies, staffing, and program design. She has advanced the field as a consultant and advisor to state-level departments of education, school districts, philanthropic initiatives, and companies in the entertainment industry. Her connection to EdTA began as a Thespian at South Hadley High School in her home state of Massachusetts.

"...We have great opportunities and a responsibility to support our teachers..."

“I am profoundly excited for this opportunity to lead EdTA, a vital organization committed to providing quality theatre education to all students and supporting theatre teachers, especially during this critical moment in schools,” said Katona. “As we move into the future following unprecedented challenges, we have great opportunities and a responsibility to support our teachers so that they can uplift their students by providing safe spaces for student expression and artistic exploration.”

As executive director, Katona will lead the nation’s largest association for educational theatre — positioning EdTA to expand access to quality theatre education with a forward-looking vision that aligns its members’ myriad perspectives and voices. She will also serve as president of the organization’s fundraising arm, the Educational Theatre Foundation.

“As we look toward our centennial in 2029, Jenn’s leadership will keep EdTA and our members focused on the future of theatre education. Given her extensive expertise, knowledge, and networks in our field, Jenn and the EdTA team will ensure that theatre educators have the resources that they need to ensure all students can access the lifechanging experience of theatre,” said board president Helen Duranleau-Brennan. “We are thrilled to welcome her to EdTA.”

Dr. Jennifer Katona speaks with teachers at an event.Katona’s longtime involvement in theatre education has also included extensive volunteer and consulting work. She’s a previous board chair for the Alliance for Theatre and Educators (AATE) and is an advisory council member for the Arts Education Partnership. She’s also served on the New York City Arts Advisory Council and, the Blue Ribbon Commission on the Arts for the New York State Department of Education, and has been a theatre evaluator for the National Endowment for the Arts.

She earned her Ph.D. in urban education policy from the Graduate Center at City University of New York, where she studied how arts education policy can effectively contribute to sustainable arts programming in urban school districts. She earned her MA in Educational Theatre from New York University and a BA in Theatre and English Composition from Fairfield University. She lives with her husband and three children in Norwalk, Connecticut.

Katona’s appointment follows an extensive nationwide search. EdTA board vice president Krista Carson-Elhai and Matt Conover, chair of the Educational Theatre Foundation board of trustees, steered a committee of current and past board members of both EdTA and ETF, current and past chapter directors, an EdTA staff representative, and two student Thespian officers. Carlyn Madden of Good Insight, a DC-based executive search firm for nonprofits and associations, partnered with EdTA on this process, which included discovery and recruitment periods leading up to the hire. ♦


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