General Manager Emika Abe has announced that she will not be renewing her contract with Woolly Mammoth and will be leaving the theater at the end of June 2022. She came to Woolly from the Alliance Theater (Atlanta, GA), where she had been the associate director director.
“The decision to leave Woolly at that time was extremely difficult,” Abe shares. “Over the past three years, I have had the opportunity to partner with a visionary leader in the person of Maria Manuela Goyanes; I have had the greatest support of a fantastic Board of Directors; I been able to work alongside a passionate staff, and produced shows on our stage, in the community and online that impacted our artists, our audience and me. difficult time of the pandemic has pushed me to evaluate the different components of my life, and it’s time for me to make more space for other passions and interests, both personal and professional. I’m proud to leave the organization in a strong position, both artistically and financially. I continue to believe so deeply in Woolly Mammoth and the people it attracts, and I look forward to supporting the theater in another capacity in the years to come. .”
Emika joined Woolly Mammoth in October 2019 and soon after helped lead the organization through the unprecedented challenges the pandemic imposed on the theater industry. She secured government funding of over $2.5 million, which has allowed Woolly to continue operating and making impactful art throughout the pandemic, such as the world’s first five-screen co-production. THIS IS WHO I AM, a live theatrical presentation on Zoom; and Woolly on Demand, a series of collaborative digital productions.
During her tenure, Emika spearheaded a new strategic plan for Woolly. Under his leadership, Woolly increased both BIPOC’s representation on the board and access to audiences of different abilities and financial means; launched the Miranda Family Fellows program; and produced the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical A STRANGE LOOP, now on Broadway. Most recently, Woolly hosted its most successful fundraising event in organizational history and announced its bold 2022-23 season. By laying the groundwork for transformative policies and practices that tackle oppressive systemic practices in theatre, Emika has worked to establish Woolly as a leader of change in the industry.
“We are grateful to Emika for her transformative leadership and incredible vision,” said Chris Babb, Chairman of Woolly’s Board of Directors. “Her ability to keep Woolly committed to her mission and to serve our staff, artists and patrons during a time of overwhelming uncertainty was no small feat. We will miss her and support her wherever her new path will take us. We at Woolly look forward to building on his successes as we embark on our next chapter under new leadership alongside Maria Manuela Goyanes.”
“Woolly wouldn’t have come through the pandemic successfully without Emika Abe, there’s no doubt about that,” says creative director Maria Manuela Goyanes. “Her legacy at Woolly Mammoth is most certainly profound, given how much she has helped us continue to do theater and thrive in such an uncertain time. I am thrilled with everything this next chapter will bring and send her so much love and support. Woolly has a bright future thanks to Emika, and I look forward to continuing her work with our next CEO.”
Woolly’s board appointed a task force to identify and find an interim chief executive. The Board selected Tom O’Connor Consulting Group to lead the search to fill the role on a permanent basis.
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Woolly Mammoth creates badass theater that highlights the amazing, empowering and enormous complexity of our world. For over 40 years, Woolly has maintained a high level of artistic rigor while daring to take risks, innovate and push perceived boundaries. One of the few remaining theaters in the country to maintain an artist company, Woolly plays a vital role in research and development within American theater. Plays created here have been performed in hundreds of theaters around the world and have had lasting impacts on the field. Co-directed by Artistic Director Maria Manuela Goyanes and Managing Director Emika Abe, Woolly is located in Washington, DC, equidistant from the Capitol and the White House. This unique location influences Woolly’s investment in active work towards equitable, participatory and creative democracy.
The woolly mammoth stands on occupied and unceded territory: the ancestral homeland of the Nacotchtank whose descendants belong to the Piscataway peoples. Additionally, the founding of this city and most of the original buildings in Washington, DC were funded by the sale of slaves of African descent and built by their hands.
ABOUT THE TOM O’CONNOR CONSULTANT GROUP
Tom O’Connor Consulting Group is a New York-based arts consulting firm providing organizational development, executive search, marketing strategy and leadership coaching services exclusively for arts organizations – with a particular focus on the public engagement, just culture and sustainable incomes. Its consultants have decades of experience advising and working within arts organizations around the world, with unique first-hand insights that enable them to bring about lasting change and support its movement forward. . For more information, visit www.tomocgroup.com.