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Bruce E. Whitacre

Outgoing Executive Director

Since joining Theatre Forward, then known as National Corporate Theatre Fund, as Executive Director in 2002, Whitacre has expanded theatre access programs on Broadway and across the country, managed a successful sponsorship program that has brought over $15 million in benefits to theatres, including media, luxury goods and financial services partnerships. Theatre Forward, which represents 19 outstanding resident theatres and is supported by over 40 corporations and firms, forges strong and productive partnerships between the not-for-profit theatre community and corporate America. Media partnerships with Clear Channel,, USA Today, and Ovation TV, technology programs through Sharp and Cisco have brought visibility and technology to theatres. Theatre Forward just concluded Impact Creativity, a campaign to sustain and grow theatre education programs that improve workforce preparedness.  This effort was supported by the Hearst Foundations, Ernst & Young, and Wells Fargo, among others.

Prior to Theatre Forward, Whitacre was Managing Director of New York’s Signature Theatre Company for four seasons. He began his career in theatre in the Script Department of Manhattan Theatre Club, and he has been a dramaturg at the Mark Taper Forum, ASK Theatre Projects, and other venues. His corporate experience includes accounting, budgeting and administration in the publishing and banking industries, as well as a three-year stint with the United Nations World Food Programme in Rome, Italy. He holds an MFA from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and a BS in Business Administration from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Bruce E. Whitacre will retire as Executive Director in April 2020.

Gretchen Shugart

Incoming Executive Director

Gretchen Shugart’s professional experience encompasses finance, entrepreneurship, technology, operations management, and leadership.

As CEO, Gretchen spent seventeen years building, Inc., a media and technology company, from start-up to its 2017 sale.  During her tenure, the company acquired U.K.-based WhatsOnStage; launched OvationTix©, a SaaS business providing ticketing, fundraising, and CRM tools to hundreds of performing arts organizations; executive produced the Drama Desk Awards and became a leading provider of theater information and tickets to millions of consumers nationwide.  Following TheaterMania’s sale, Gretchen served as President, Arts & Culture of acquiring company AudienceView, ensuring a smooth transition to new ownership.  For the last year, Gretchen has been providing consulting services to several early stage ventures.

Previously, Gretchen worked at JP Morgan Chase predecessors MHT and Chase; M&A advisory firm CEA; Bank of Montreal and as President of eMediaCapital LLC, an advisory firm.

Gretchen has been a board member of Theatre Forward for over a decade, serving as President from 2011 to 2018.  She currently serves on the Brooklyn Museum of Art’s Advisory Council and is Co-Chair of the museum’s Council on Feminist Art. She is a mentor in Columbia University’s Masters in Technology Management program.  Past board positions include the Vineyard Theater, TADA!, and the Advisory Board of California Institute of the Arts.

Gretchen and spouse Jonathan Maurer reside in Manhattan and have two grown children.

Carl Sylvestre

Director of Development

Prior to joining Theatre Forward, Carl had a consulting practice advising and supporting a variety of New York nonprofits in the arts and social services sectors. Previously Carl served as the Director of External Affairs at The Studio Museum in Harlem, Director of Planning and Development at New York Theatre Workshop, and other fundraising and management positions in the cultural sector. Carl has an M.B.A from the University of Glasgow Adam Smith Business School, an M.A. in Theatre from Hunter College and a B.A. in Comparative Literature and Culture from Columbia University.

Emily Miller

Director of Strategic Partnerships & Programs

Prior to joining Theatre Forward, Emily Miller worked for the producers of numerous Broadway shows including Wicked and Hairspray. As a freelance producer/general manager, Ms. Miller has produced numerous shows Off-Broadway and at the New York Musical Theatre Festival. She holds a B.A. in Arts Administration from New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study.

Liv Amundsen

COMMUNICATIONS & Patron Services Associate

Prior to joining Theatre Forward full-time, Liv served as the Development Fellow. Previously, Liv worked for a handful of nonprofit theatre organizations in administrative and artistic capacities. She holds a B.A. in Theatre and Psychology with a concentration in Acting from Muhlenberg College.

Alex Doxey


Prior to joining Theatre Forward, Alex has held a variety of administrative positions in the nonprofit and theatre world. Most recently she served as a Fellow at Hispanic Alliance, a non-profit based in Greenville, South Carolina. She holds a B.S. in Applied Mathematics and Spanish from Furman University.

Michael P. Lawrence

Gala Planning, Lawrence Company Events