Bethesda, MD (April 7, 2022) Chairman of the Board of Imagination Stage Patrick O’Neil and president-elect Kim W. Barnette, PhD announced today that transformational arts leader Jason Najjoum will be the new CEO of Imagination Stage effective April 4, 2022. Najjoum’s hiring concludes a transition that will see him with Founding Artistic Director Janet Stanford co-lead the 42-year-old organization in a post-COVID future. They will focus on strengthening acclaimed established programming in professional theater and performing arts education for children and youth, as well as growing new efforts, including Theater for Change (the groundbreaking social justice work of Imagination Stage), digital outreach and programming expansion in Washington. , CC.
In this leadership role, Najjoum is responsible for overseeing all management aspects of the organization, with a focus on strategic planning, fundraising, marketing, community relations, operations, people development and organization, and governance of the Maryland and DC boards.
Najjoum is an organization engineer who achieves transformation goals. He is guided by a deep curiosity of people and systems, a value of reciprocity and more than 12 years of management experience in all sectors. Most recently, as General Manager of Synetic Theatre, Najjoum led it to financial stability, improved artist and audience experience, and innovative community programming during the COVID-19 pandemic. He was also the production manager of the New York Theater Barn, an award-winning non-profit theater that incubates new musicals. Jason has held roles at the Yale Repertory Theatre, Baltimore Center Stage, ABC Television and Broadway. His artistic background is complemented by several transformative experiences in the private sector, including at McChrystal Group, a global organizational development firm, and at Bridgewater Associates, the world’s first hedge fund.
Najjoum earned an MFA/MBA in Theater Management from Yale University, co-chaired the National Landing Business Improvement District Equity Committee, and is a member of Leadership Greater Washington.
O’Neil thinks Najjoum is “the perfect person to lean on the founder Bonnie Fogelis the bold dream of bringing the arts to all young people, regardless of background or ability. Jason shares this vision and is poised to expand Imagination Stage’s impact outside of its Bethesda roots to DC and beyond. Jason’s energy, entrepreneurial vision and strategic approach is the perfect formula for Imagination Stage at this inflection point in its 42-year history.
Fogel shares O’Neil’s enthusiasm: “Imagination Stage’s new leadership team, comprised of CEO Jason Najjoum and founding Artistic Director Janet Stanford, will position Imagination Stage to capitalize on new challenges and opportunities in Washington. , DC, in the areas of Theater for Change and Digital Content and Distribution, as the organization approaches half a century.
Janet Stanford, who had held the position of artistic director producer for 15 months, welcomes Najjoum and the transition to a dual management structure in which she will bear the title of founding artistic director. According to Stanford, “As Imagination Stage recalibrates post-pandemic to meet the current needs of our children and youth, we need a leader with strong business, theater, fundraising, and entrepreneurial skills. . Jason Najjoum is that person. I’m confident that as the Board’s Choice for the position of General Manager, Jason will help us build an imaginative scene that will thrive in the 2020s and beyond.
Najjoum’s hiring was overseen by a board committee headed by O’Neil, Barnette and Catherine Leggett. Barnette said, “I’m thrilled with the exciting energy and fresh perspective that Jason Najjoum will bring to Imagination Stage. As the new CEO, he is already focusing on how to bring the vision of Imagination Stage to 50 years into reality! Jason is particularly aligned with our commitment to anti-racism, ensuring that diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility initiatives are a priority in everything we do, and strengthening the expansion of theater arts education to youth throughout the DC metro area.
“The main guiding force in my own development has been immersion in the arts and humanities – both to reinforce the ways in which I can uniquely serve society and to show me how I can grow,” says Najjoum . “Therefore, as a leader unlocking the untapped potential of visionary organizations vital to their communities, I can think of no better organization to serve at this time than Imagination Stage. Together with Janet and our incredible Board and our staff, we will spread the power of performance and play as a means of youth development, leading the charge towards connectivity and democracy as a bulwark against oppression. I can’t wait to get started!
Another major executive hire sees Triza Cox in the newly created position of Associate Artistic Director of Theater for Change. She will play a central role in this growing program, which includes the ¡Óyeme! and 10 Seconds workshops, plays and films, among others.
As a professional theater artist specializing in theater design and community theatre, Cox has contributed her creative and academic skills to various productions and educational activities across the country. His holistic approach to developing, directing, and writing artists has enabled him to create new art in many of the most underserved and underserved communities across the country. Through her training and experience, Triza Cox has skillfully directed theater projects that address equity and disparity as well as the elevation of artistic aesthetics. Cox is a proud member of the Actors’ Equity Association, an associate member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, and is the South Carolina Ambassador for the Dramatists Guild. She holds a master’s degree in theater performance from the University of Louisville.
Cox also has an impressive background in public health. Most recently, she was the Leadership Team/Community Services Coordinator for Circle Park Behavioral Health Services in Florence SC. A trained prevention specialist, working at Trinity Behavioral Care in Dillon, SC, she coordinated needs assessments to identify problem behaviors in the community.
Of his work at Imagination Stage, Cox says, “For over a decade I have worked as a theater artist, often in marginalized communities, with the goal of democratizing access to the arts. I did this work independently, but it’s truly a gift and an honor to be with a company that has the same dedication to making the world a better place.
Cox will work closely with Joanne Seelig Lamparter, Artistic Director of Education and Theater for Change of Imagination Stage. Seelig Lamparter, who played a pivotal role in founding Theater for Change in 2014 and managing its development since, says she is “delighted to have Triza join us. Her strong background in public health combined with her artistic skills as a director, playwright and teacher make her an ideal leader to work alongside our artists, administrators and many community partners as we see the continued expansion of our theater work for change across the region. His fresh outlook, creativity and sharp administrative skills make him the ideal person for the job.
Stanford agrees: “Triza comes to Imagination Stage with a wealth of experience in theater and public health. Together with Joanne, Triza is poised to oversee the exponential growth of the work we do with teens across the DMV. No one understands better than her the power of theater to give young people a voice and find inspiration for their future.
About the Imagination Stage
Founded in 1979, Imagination Stage has grown from an after-school program serving 17 students to one of the largest youth-focused arts organizations on the East Coast, reaching 75,000 children and families each year and with a budget of approximately $4. .5 million dollars. Imagination Stage resides in a beautiful 40,000 square foot building in the heart of Bethesda and features extensive programming in Washington, DC and Montgomery County.