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Newly appointed to WAM's board of directors are Lynn Festa, Wendy Healey and Arwen Lowbridge.

WAM Announces Expansion of Theater Leadership

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Talya Kingston has been named associate artistic director and Max Galdos-Shapiro will join WAM as general manager.

LEE, Mass. — WAM Theatre embarks on its ninth season with the announcement of two new members of the WAM Leadership Team and three new members of its board of directors.

Talya Kingston has been named associate artistic director and Max Galdos-Shapiro will join WAM as general manager. Together with Artistic Director Kristen van Ginhoven and Philanthropy and Outreach Coordinator Gwendolyn Tunnicliffe, they comprise the leadership team at WAM Theatre.

Newly appointed to WAM's board of directors are Lynn Festa, Wendy Healey and Arwen Lowbridge.

"We are incredibly proud to have created two new leadership positions at WAM Theatre," van Ginhoven said. "As a growing company, we were amazed by the number of remarkable resumes we received for these two roles. There are many talented theatre professionals in our area who are ready and eager for leadership growth. We feel lucky to have added Talya and Max to our team, and we hope more pathways to leadership open up in the future."

WAM Theatre worked with consultant Joan Coombs from Noble Work Consulting to create a thoughtful and intentional interview process. A blind submission process, neutral interview questions, and a researched scoring system were used to ensure equity in the final decision-making.  

Originally from Britain,Kingston is a dramaturg, playwright and educator with a particular interest in new play development and theater for social change. Prior to joining WAM, she was a visiting professor of theater at Hampshire College. She has also held the positions of education director at Hartford Stage and of Educational Programs coordinator at the New Conservatory Theatre Center in San Francisco.

Kingston's writing on theater has appeared in Theater Journal, The Moving Voice, European Stages, HowlRound and the Valley Advocate. She is a member of Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas and the Northampton Playwrights Lab, and holds an MFA in dramaturgy from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

"I'm thrilled to join WAM at a time when it is more important than ever to empower women and girls by listening to their stories," Kingston said. "I have spent 20 years working at the intersection of theater and education, and I believe that theater is a powerful medium to inspire empathy, incite conversation, and activate change.  Above all, I love a good story well told, and the community that is created in its telling.”

Galdos-Shapiro is a Berkshire-based educator and theater-maker with experience in both creative and technical work. His recent credits include serving as production manager for WAM Theatre's production of The Last Wife and assistant director for Passage, a new play written and produced by Kickwheel Ensemble Theater. When not in the theater, Galdos-Shapiro works as an environmental educator teaching ecology and outdoor skills to young people.

"WAM not only tells important and compelling stories, but also does this while supporting women and girls both locally and abroad," Galdos-Shapiro said. "At a time when the fight for gender rights is at the forefront of our societal consciousness, I am delighted to have this opportunity to be a part of the WAM team."

Festa has been a certified hand therapist since 1995 and has been a clinician in a variety of settings for more than 29 years. She combines her work as an OT/CHT with providing training to other health care providers in promoting wellness and limiting burnout. She has given national presentations and webinars on this topic, and runs workshops with an emphasis on empathy and compassion, using evidence-based studies and strategies. She lives in Lenox with her husband.

Healey has been in the banking and financial technology business for more than 20 years.  She has worked for Lee Bank since December of 2015. She has been active with local chambers of commerce her entire career and has served on the board of three of them, as well as serving as the president of the Avon Chamber of Commerce. She has a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Connecticut, where she majored in English Literature, as well as a master's of business administration from the University of Connecticut. She lives in an 1832 home on an old dairy farm in Colebrook, Conn., with her partner Scott and their three rescue dogs.

Lowbridge has been in the performing arts since age 5, when she started studying dance. She had a 20-year career in the nonprofit arts world that began with live performance and spanned to include theatrical production, arts administration, nonprofit management, fundraising, grant writing, teaching, and mentoring young artists. She earned her BFA in acting with honors from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts and a certificate in fundraising and development from Rollins College's Crummer School of Business. She is now a financial adviser with Baystate Financial and is pursuing her Certified Financial Planner designation. She lives in the Berkshires with her husband and volunteers at the Berkshire Botanical Gardens.

Based in Berkshire County WAM Theatre is Where Arts and Activism Meet. The company was co-founded in 2010 by Canadian director, actor, educator, and producer Kristen van Ginhoven. WAM's vision is to create opportunity for women and girls through the mission of theater as philanthropy.

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