Director of Innovation and Engagement
Cathleen has been attending non-profit meetings since the age of 2. Bundled up with her mother, a former nun-turned-homeless activist-turned-ordained minister, Cathleen knows innately what community-based collaboration looks like. By the time she was 18, Cathleen was working part-time at Community Ministries of Montgomery County fielding emergency financial assistance requests and participating in meetings organized to stem the coming tide anticipated by the Welfare Reform Act. But Cathleen liked to make people laugh most of all. One of her earliest memories was calling and leaving after-hours messages on the answering machine at Community Ministries. Endless tape of a 4-year-old singing and telling jokes was, while adorable, not helpful for overall operations of a non-profit. So, after a gap-ish year working as a dishwasher in Galway, Ireland, Cathleen traveled to Chicago to study improvisation at The Second City and immerse herself in the Off-Loop Theater scene. From Chicago, Cathleen was hired as an actor at Improv Asylum in Boston where she performed original sketch and improv comedy weekly for many years. Always drawn to Viola Spolin’s early, experimental years as a creative and enterprising social worker, Cathleen sought opportunities to connect dispirit communities through improv and theater both through original, devised work and teaching. She found a home for her studies at Goddard College where she designed a rigorous Performance Studies degree through careful collaboration with her mentors that asked difficult questions around power and privilege that she wrestles with to this day. New York City called Cathleen in 2008 to continue growing her original, two-woman sketch comedy show, ultimately enjoying an Off-Broadway run at Ars Nova. Opening Act was the first job Cathleen landed in NYC, being hired as an Assistant Teaching Artist for the Clara Barton High School program. In 2013, Cathleen was hired as Program Director and advanced to Director of Programs when it was realized that Opening Act had grown to have more than one program. After a decade with Opening Act, Cathleen stepped down as Director of Programs to afford her partner a wonderful work opportunity that took them outside of NYC. Gratefully, Cathleen has been able to continue on as Associate Director of Impact and Communications, enabling her to continue to contribute meaningfully to an organization and community that embodies YES, AND… fully and deeply.