Meet the Staff
Jennifer Levine, Manager of Donor Events and Corporate Relations
By Theresa MacNaughton, Community Engagement Associate
I’m originally a New Yorker, but my heart has been in New England for quite some time. I was born in Manhattan and spent most of my childhood there. I went to high school and college in Westchester, New York and graduated with a BFA in Theatre Design/Technology and Stage Management from SUNY Purchase. Most of my jobs since college have taken me to smaller cities and towns, beginning with the quaint Weston, Vermont – where a great little playhouse runs an ambitious and exceptional summer theater. That’s when I knew I would end up in New England. So when the opportunity presented itself to make a home in Connecticut, it felt right.
Tell us about the first time you experienced live theatre and how it impacted you.
My mother will tell you I have been seeing Broadway shows since before I could walk, but sadly I don’t have any lucid memories of those times! The first show that I recall having any impact on me was Rent. I was one of those teenagers who saw it 5+ times and listened to the cast album on repeat, reenacting the songs and scenes with friends who all had the words memorized. At the time, the conversation surrounding its story was a hot topic; and schools like mine were using it as a teaching tool, which I don’t believe fell short on me.
Tell us more about your day-to-day responsibilities as the Manager of Donor Events and Corporate Relations.
Day-to-day as the Manager of Donor Events and Corporate Relations can go from 0-60 in just moments. Often, the morning can be spent catching up on emails and aiming to accomplish a reasonable list of tasks revolving around the next upcoming event. There is a lot of collaboration with other departments and individuals, so planning is essential to ensure there is enough time to successfully coordinate whatever lies ahead. However, when that certain email or phone call comes in – throwing a wrench in the plan or adding another exciting layer to it – changes are made immediately.
In your last position, you served as a Company Manager, where you interacted directly with visiting artists. How different is it for you now to work directly with donors – and are there any similarities?
There are similarities in the role, but clear differences in the work. Interacting with donors and artists is similar in the sense that it is my goal and responsibility to develop and sustain meaningful relationships as a representative of the organization (or simply as a person). As a Company Manager, the opportunities to develop those relationships often sprouted from necessity or unconventional situations. Donors bring something different to the table, which is their passion for the work we do.
You are presently coordinating Hartford Stage’s first fundraising golf tournament. Can you tell us a little more about it and how it may impact corporate relationships within the Hartford community?
This golf tournament is both terrifying and exciting to me at the same time. Now that the pieces are falling into place, thanks to the many folks who have educated me on the world of golf, I truly believe it is going to be a success, and more importantly, a lot of fun. We have already begun to make an impact, as the majority of golfers joining us for the tournament are members of various corporations within the Hartford region who do not have an established relationship with Hartford Stage. Our goal is to change that, and I think that our combined charisma and initiatives to get them into the theatre for at least one show this season will keep them coming back.
What personal goals do you have for planning and creating future events at Hartford Stage?
I haven’t had much time to think on this, as we have gone from Gala to Golf in the blink of an eye, but I can say without a doubt that shaking things up is on my list. I know I cannot be alone in my ability to grow bored of the same, and find reasons to not do something I have already done before. We see a lot of the same guests at many of our events, so it will be important to keep them fresh and exciting, to not only retain those returning, but also to open up doors to those we may not have already reached.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
The finished product. There is quite a bit of hair loss when it comes to stewardship and/or planning a fundraising event. Seeing it all come together, both physically and financially, is what makes it all worth it.
What show are you most looking forward to sharing with donors this season?
The Engagement Party – this play keeps you on the edge of your seat for all the right reasons. Just when you think it’s going to turn left, it turns right, and includes an important message along the way. On top of that, the design team is stellar. I think I know what we are in for, visually, and it will be nothing but jaw-dropping. Finally, if you needed another reason, Darko (Tresnjak) is directing it.
Do you have other talents or passions outside of working in theatre?
I don’t claim any talents, but I am passionate about my dog, Ralph (who does have his own Instagram), and cooking. I’m highly addicted to most cooking reality shows, which have contributed to my large collection of cookbooks and curiosity to recreate the delicious things I eat when dining out.
What is your personal motto in life?
It’s not a phrase I find myself speaking aloud, but “life is too short” is certainly the way I justify trying not to get caught up on the small things that might stand in the way of doing something enjoyable.