NEWS RELEASE — Weathervane Playhouse has a new leadership team.
The Akron nonprofit theater announced Sunday that it has selected Melanie YC Pepe (on the right in the photo) as artistic director and Lisa Mansfield (on the left in the photo) as managing director.
The two, who each have worked at the theater for nine years, take over the duties handled by former Executive Director John Hedges. He left in September to become executive director of Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre in Carmel, Ind.
The Weathervane Board of Trustees had conducted a nationwide search to find Hedges’ successor. More than 100 total candidates applied for the positions, resulting in four finalists for managing director and three finalists for artistic director.
Pepe and Mansfield will assume their new roles in mid-May.
Pepe currently serves as Weathervane’s director of education and producer of the theater’s Emerging Artists Series. She has focused on building youth education through performance during her nine years with the theater.
“This is about taking a series of already good productions and performances [and] making them great through new and strengthened partnerships with area artists and talented volunteers,” Pepe said in a statement.
Mansfield serves as education programs coordinator and has also served as patron services manager during her nine years with the theater.
“Weathervane exists far beyond our playhouse walls, and we’ll be working hard to take theater beyond the Merriman Valley and across Northeast Ohio,” Mansfield said in a statement.
The new, two-director model appoints artistic and education responsibilities and oversight to the artistic director, while the managing director oversees the business, marketing, fundraising and general theater operations.
“It is a testament to the quality of the Weathervane staff that, after a three-month nationwide search, the individuals chosen to lead Weathervane are, proudly, two of our own,” trustees President Lucy J. Randles said in a statement. “With their collective experiences, leadership and passion for Weathervane, we are well-positioned to meet the challenges and capitalize on opportunities in the future. We are also extremely proud of and grateful to Janis Harcar, who has served Weathervane for an amazing 22 years, and who, for the last eight months, has successfully led Weathervane staff and volunteers as Interim Executive Director.”
Pepe, who lives in Akron, earned a bachelor’s of fine arts degree from Kent State University, where she currently serves on the advisory board for its School of Theater and Dance. She is enrolled in a graduate certificate program at Cornell University.
She has produced more than 35 theatrical shows and has acted, directed and designed more than 50 and two independent films.
Mansfield, who lives in Akron, also serves as president of the Akron Board of Education, having been elected in 2009 and again in 2013. She earned a bachelor’s degree in secondary education with a concentration in English and history from the University of Akron and is pursuing a minor in nonprofit studies from Kent State University.
Lucy J. Randles, HCAlucy@aol.com, 330-573-8209
Thank You, Janis Harcar
For 22 years you have steered Weathervane Playhouse through challenging waters — some might, at times, call them tidal waves! You never even flinch when confronted with a challenge. You meet it head on and somehow you are always able to calm the waters.
During those 22 years, you have been able to guide the staff through two capital campaigns that led to major building renovations requiring the temporary relocation of a production to Coach House Theatre. Somehow you found a way to keep all the staff in the building during both construction projects.
You have been the bridge that guided the staff through the departure of three Executive Directors while driving the Playhouse forward and assuring donors, subscribers, patrons and volunteers that the show would always go on at Weathervane.
Your broad experiences and institutional memory have been stabilizing forces for a staff that grew from an executive director, a technical director, a box office manager, education director, and a part-time maintenance/janitorial person when you first arrived to our current staff of 14. It is apparent that you have instilled and fostered in each of them your generous spirit and passion for Weathervane.
You make the Weathervane staff and family feel safe, no matter what the threat. You are an amazing, caring and generous woman, Jan, who never hesitates to jump in when you are needed, whether it be cooking rigatoni or ham for an Annual Meeting or special event or stepping in as Interim Executive Director when the Weathervane staff so needed someone at the helm whom they could trust and believe was as passionate and committed to Weathervane as are they.
Thank you, Jan, on behalf of the Weathervane Board of Trustees, for leading the Weathervane family as Interim Executive Director these past eight months and for what you do for and so freely give to Weathervane. You have and continue to make an extraordinary difference.
Lucy J. Randles, President, Weathervane Board of Trustees