TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Tuscaloosa Children’s Theatre is excited to announce the hiring of Stacey Messina as its new Executive Director, the first in the organization’s 34-year history.
Mrs. Messina will work with Drew Baker, who has served as TCT’s Artistic Coordinator since 2009, and the 28 members of TCT’s Board of Directors who represent many areas of the community and provide countless hours of support and work to the theatre. The Board has been a “working board” since TCT’s creation in 1986, with two of its founding members, Dee Ward and Shelley Jones, remaining on the board since.
“We have been fortunate with very dedicated and hard-working volunteers and the creative direction of Drew and other area artists throughout our history, but with the growth of the theatre and looking forward to our first home at the proposed Saban Center, the board felt it time to hire a director to help take us to the next level,” Board President Marianne David said.
Mrs. Messina’s extensive background and success in public relations, nonprofit advocacy and fundraising will aid TCT in reaching development goals, broadening audiences and programming, and adapting to challenges presented by the current COVID-19 pandemic. Her love of the arts and involvement in several children’s organizations and efforts over the years won the board’s full support.
“Mrs. Messina brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in the nonprofit sector, and a passion for helping children both in her career and her volunteer service,” said Emily Leigh, chair of the board’s search committee. “We are confident in her abilities to help TCT achieve new heights.”
The Messina family moved to Tuscaloosa from DeWitt, Michigan in July 2019. Her husband, Joseph P. Messina, is Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences at the University of Alabama. They have two children, Sophie, 12, and Josiah, 7, and a Springer-Doodle named Ivy.
“Shortly after moving to Tuscaloosa, my husband and I took our kids to see TCT perform Annie JR and we were blown away by the high quality of the production – from the costumes and sets to the choreography and talent of the children,” Mrs. Messina said. “It was a wonderful experience and I’m thrilled to join an organization that engages and enriches children in ways that will benefit them throughout their lives.”
A journalist by training, Mrs. Messina spent a decade as an award-winning reporter and columnist before becoming communications director and consultant for nonprofit children and family organizations in mid-Michigan. In that capacity as well as through service on various boards and committees, Mrs. Messina created and managed successful public relations and development campaigns, including helping to secure a $65 million boost to expand preschool access for low-income families, a $25 million school bond for safety and technology upgrades, and raising $60,000 in one evening to fund pediatric hospice and palliative care. She also helped write grant proposals and manage grant awards from several national foundations such as The Kresge Foundation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
In Alabama, Mrs. Messina has served on the Campaign Cabinet of the University of Alabama’s Performing Arts Academic Center and as a senior advisor to the UA School of Music Board of Advisors. Her educational background includes a bachelor’s degree in journalism and political science from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a master’s degree in strategic communications and graduate certificate in digital media from Michigan State University.
As executive director of TCT, Mrs. Messina will be charged with preparing and executing fund-raising and development goals and strategies as well as managing daily operations that enable the theatre to produce shows, workshops and summer camps. She also will provide leadership on the theatre’s move into the proposed Saban Center, an innovative community partnership bringing together the Tuscaloosa Public Library, Children’s Hands-On Museum, and a community black-box theater in a unique public-private partnership under the roof of what is currently the Tuscaloosa News Building. As part of the City’s Elevate Tuscaloosa Initiative, the Saban Center will bring STEM programs together with theatre, literature, outdoor recreation, and interactive learning for children and families in Tuscaloosa.
“Particularly in these uncertain times, the arts can help children understand and express their feelings and find joy despite the disruptions in their daily lives,” Mrs. Messina said. “Having the Saban Center to look forward to provides hope and excitement for Tuscaloosa, TCT and the children and families who will benefit so greatly from it. I am honored to have been selected for this role and look forward to taking TCT to the top.”
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