Photo courtesy Actors Theatre

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Some departures seem to catch the community by surprise and suggest a greater loss than just one more arts administrator moving away. The announcement that Jennifer Bielstein is leaving Actors Theatre feels like one of those.

Les Waters, Artistic Director of Actors Theatre of Louisville, and Beth Davis, President of the Board of Directors, announced Tuesday, January 5, that Bielstein is departing after serving as Managing Director of Actors Theatre of Louisville for the past ten seasons. Bielstein has been named Managing Director of the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, Minnesota, effective April 2016.

Les Waters said, “It has been an honor and a privilege to work with Jennifer during my time here at Actors Theatre. She has shown great passion and dedication and will be tremendously missed.  Her arts experience and leadership is unparalleled.  The Guthrie Theater is very lucky to have her join their team.”

Jennifer Bielstein said, “Actors Theatre is an incredibly strong and important organization and Louisville is a wonderfully welcoming and supportive city. I am grateful for the experience I have had here working in collaboration with Les Waters, our staff, board, artists, donors, volunteers and the broad array of people who are active in this community. I am proud of all we have accomplished together and I know that Actors Theatre is in a great position going forward.”

“In partnership with Artistic Director Les Waters, Jennifer Bielstein’s successful decade-long tenure enhanced the mission and reputation of Actors as a nationally recognized regional theatre and a major force in American playwriting,” said Beth Davis, President of the Actors Theatre Board of Directors.  “We are confident we will find another Managing Director of Jennifer’s caliber, who is equally community-minded and passionate about theatre — and who, along with the Artistic Director and the current team of nine executive staff, will guide the continued evolution of Actors Theatre. The Board is in the process of forming a search committee to conduct a national search for her successor.”

During Bielstein’s successful decade-long tenure she has accomplished much to put the Theatre on strong footing for the future. Bielstein’s leadership and focus on long-term results enabled the Theatre to successfully weather challenging economic times and to also make strategic investments in software and analysis to provide for data-based decision making around audience and donor growth. Her commitment to transparency and inclusion has influenced the organization’s culture to become more collaborative which is important for success in today’s business environment.

Bielstein’s focus on serving audiences and artists has led to a smooth patron experience with the introduction of the KFC Yum! Center to downtown Louisville, improved signage on the Theatre’s façade, new apartments to house visiting artists, a partnership with Chef Edward Lee to open MilkWood restaurant and more.

Motivated by a genuine passion for the arts, she has developed a rich network of stakeholders for the Theatre. She has given her time to serve in leadership roles in the arts locally and nationally with the League of Resident Theatres, Theatre Forward and the Arts and Cultural Attractions Council.

Jennifer Bielstein serves on the boards of the Louisville Downtown Development Corporation, Greater Louisville, Inc., Theatre Forward, and the Arts and Cultural Attractions Council and is Vice President of the League of Resident Theatres. Ms. Bielstein was recognized with the Pyramid Award of Excellence in Leadership from the Center for Nonprofit Excellence, received the honor of being voted Today’s Woman magazine’s Most Admired Woman in the Arts, and was acknowledged in both Louisville Magazine’s 15  Metro People to Watch and Business First’s 40 Under 40. She is a member of the 2008 Leadership Louisville’s class and recently served as a review panelists for the National Endowment for the Arts. Ms. Bielstein moved to Louisville from Chicago, Ill., where she was most recently the executive director of Writer’s Theatre and also worked for Steppenwolf Theatre Company, About Face Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Apple Tree Theatre, and Lincoln Park Zoo and served on the board of the League of Chicago Theatres. Ms. Bielstein is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in business administration and theatre, Stanford Graduate School of Business’s Executive Program for Non-Profit Leaders in the Arts, and Bellarmine University’s Masters in Business Administration where she received the MBA Faculty Merit Award and was inducted into Beta Gamma Sigma, the honor society for business programs.