theatreWashington President & CEO Linda Levy announced today that she is retiring after serving the organization and Washington’s theatre community for 27 years.
Since December 2014, Levy has been on medical leave following spinal reconstruction surgery. While the surgery was successful, doctors discovered a serious neurological condition during the procedure that requires a long and difficult rehabilitation and healing process. According to her doctors, Levy’s prognosis is very good.
“Helping build the Washington theatre community has been the greatest privilege of my professional life,” said Levy. “This was a difficult decision, but restoring my health must be my fulltime job. I waited to share my decision until after Monday’s Helen Hayes Awards so this news would not distract the focus from right where it should be: on the theatre community.”
Kurt Crowl, Chair of theatreWashington’s Board of Directors, said “As I watched the enthusiastic parade of talent at the Lincoln Theatre Monday night at the Helen Hayes Awards, I was poignantly aware that Linda Levy was absent for the first time in 30 years. We all missed her gracious presence but recognized her contributions in every word and every action.”
Crowl continued, “We understand Linda’s decision to give herself the best chance to heal and are enormously grateful to her, for stewarding theatreWashington’s role in cementing the importance of theatre in the Washington region. We wish her the best in retirement and will be looking for new leadership soon. In the meantime, theatreWashington is in the capable hands of our outstanding staff and the Board of Directors.”
Levy also said, “What a thrill it is to encourage people to go to the theatre, to experience and expand their understanding of what it is to be human by opening up their eyes to new ideas and new perspectives. I am proud of what the Helen Hayes Awards and theatreWashington have achieved, nurturing a community with 14 theatres when we began in 1984 to become a thriving and vibrant theatre town boasting more than 90 companies. We helped put Washington theatre on the map — not just to drop a pin in that map, but to create a level of art that garners admiration and attention across the country and around the world.”
Levy was named President & CEO of the Helen Hayes Awards in 2008 and led the strategic planning process that resulted in the organization’s evolution to become theatreWashington in 2011. Much more than just a name change, the organization not only continued to focus on celebrating theatre through the Helen Hayes Awards but also added a bold new focus to promote Washington as a theatre destination.
Levy’s association with the organization began in 1985, as theatre coordinator and nominator (representing The Harlequin Dinner Theatre) in the Awards adjudication process. After leaving The Harlequin, she became a publicist and then marketing consultant to the Awards, then its Director of Marketing and Special Events, and then Associate Director. In May 2001 she was named Executive Director of The Helen Hayes Awards, following Betti Brown as only the second to hold that position during the organization’s then 17-year history.
Building on nearly three decades of service as The Helen Hayes Awards, theatreWashington is the unified voice of Washington area theatre and is the only organization dedicated solely to promoting, representing and supporting all segments of Washington’s professional theatre community – theatres, artists, company members and diverse audiences of all ages. The Helen Hayes Awards is a signature program of theatreWashington.
Here are this year’s recipients of the 2015 Helen Hayes Award.