When women join the Women’s Board of the Goodman Theatre, they tend to stay. In fact, today’s board still boasts of members who helped found it 40 years ago.
The Women’s Board was founded in 1978 to expand the community and financial base of the Goodman Theatre. The current 55 members are among Chicago’s most active and philanthropic women. They share a passion for theater and play an essential role supporting Goodman Theatre productions and education programs. Since its inception, the board has raised more than $43 million.
“This is truly such an exciting time to be a part of the Goodman,” says Joan Clifford, gala co-chair, immediate past chair of the Goodman Theatre’s Board of Trustees, Life Trustee, as well as past president of the Women’s Board. “There is so much going on — so much to be proud of.” Clifford is co-chairing the gala with Swati Mehta and Alice Sabl.
Goodman Theatre, Chicago’s oldest and largest not-for-profit theater, has won international acclaim for the quality of productions, the depth and diversity of artistic leadership, and the excellence of its many community and educational programs. Under the guidance of Artistic Director Robert Falls and Executive Director Roche Schulfer, the Goodman is committed to producing both classic and contemporary works, giving full voice to a wide range of artists and visions.
“Like the Goodman, the Women’s Board is very inclusive,” explains Cynthia Scholl, current board president. “We have all ages, ethnicities, neighborhoods, married women, single moms — we have it all. I’m not sure I would have met many of these women had it not been for the board. It’s truly an exceptional group.”
The Women’s Board is in full planning mode for their annual black-tie gala taking place on Saturday, May 19, at 6:30 p.m. at the Fairmont Hotel in Chicago for an anticipated guest list of more than 500. Funds raised are earmarked for the education and engagement programs sponsored by the Goodman.
“Our theme is ‘Ruby Night’ because a ruby represents the 40th anniversary,” Clifford says. “We have a fantastic ruby ring from Neiman Marcus that we’ll be raffling off at the gala — I would really like to win it.”
Even if you’ve been to the Goodman Theatre’s gala before, no two years are the same.
“Been there, done that doesn’t apply to the Goodman’s gala. While our venue stays the same, the atmosphere will always be different,” says Scholl. “The décor is over the top. And, this year, we have Renée Elise Goldsberry, the Tony-award winning actress for her role as Angelica Schuyler in the Broadway musical ‘Hamilton,’ as our entertainment. It’s going to be such a fun evening of dinner, music, and dancing — a real party.”
With more than a decade of involvement on the Women’s Board for each of them, Clifford and Scholl say it’s the Goodman’s mission and staff that keep them engaged.
“No matter what your role is — large or small — you feel as if you’re part of something bigger than yourself,” says Scholl. “There is such a sense of family among the Goodman staff and that spills over to those of us who support this special place.”
Goodman Theatre is committed to using the art of theater for a better Chicago through its depth and breadth of programming, much of which is free to the participating students and teachers.
“I became involved with the Goodman because I had a daughter who was into theater and I wanted to learn more about this world. And I have,” says Clifford. “But what has been most meaningful to me has been to watch the Chicago Public School children come for a performance and be completely moved by what they see. Then to hear the questions they ask — this is when I realized the positive impact the Goodman is making on the community.”
To learn more about the Goodman Theatre and its upcoming performances or to purchase tickets to the gala, visit goodmantheatre.org.