Statera Mentorship: Meet the Boston Regional Coordinators

Mentorship is at the core of Statera's mission of taking positive action to bring women* into full and equal participation in the arts. Statera Mentorship is now in the Boston Area and we’re thrilled to introduce you to the Boston Regional Coordinators. Here are some quick stats before we dive in:

Boston Chapter Founded: Winter 2019
Dates: Class I runs from July 1 - December 31, 2019
Application deadline: Class I mentor/mentee applications are due by June 1, 2019
Website: Statera Mentorship: Boston Area
Instagram: @StateraArts_Boston
Facebook: Statera Mentorship

Boston Regional Coordinators (left to right) Sarah Morrisette, Julie Hennrikus, and Caroline Cronin.

Boston Regional Coordinators (left to right) Sarah Morrisette, Julie Hennrikus, and Caroline Cronin.

STATERA: What do you see as the greatest need and/or the most common need for mentorship relationships?

Sarah: It’s so easy to feel isolated and alone in this industry. So much energy is spent comparing ourselves to each other through closed doors and amplifying the “us vs. them” syndrome. I believe we have so much to gain from working together instead. From celebrating each other's triumphs and learning from each other’s mistakes. Theatre is the most collaborative art form and we should reflect that in the way we work behind the scenes. I believe that by lifting each other up, we lift up ourselves. Mentorship relationships are a fantastic tool for creating opportunities and amplifying voices.

Julie: I give talks about making a career in the arts, and I often tell folks that this journey isn’t like other career paths that are highways with entrances, exits and rest areas. We’re all on a roller coaster ride. It is thrilling, and makes life more exciting, but the ride is constant, and exhausting. You’re not doing anything wrong if you feel overwhelmed, or if you need to work three jobs to make it all work. Often, too often, folks who have had amazing careers don’t think they should be mentors because they are still juggling. That’s wrong. We can all learn from each other. Folks who have been on the ride for a long time have a lot to offer.

Caroline: There is power in numbers and connectivity. We are all incredibly unique and valuable humans, and I think mentorship is a beautiful way to bring together people (in our case women) who already have so much to give individually, and who will be able to give so much more as a pair and then as a part of a movement.

STATERA: Tell us about your work in the theatre / or in the arts.

Julie Hennrikus: I’ve had a really interesting career so far. Like so many others, I wear more than one hat at a time. Recently I created Your Ladders, which is a subscription site for artists to learn business skills, get trainings, and have a supportive community on their artistic journey. I also teach arts management classes as adjunct faculty at different colleges. Finally, I am on my own journey as a published mystery author.

Sarah Morrisette: I am a Boston based actor, educator and collaborator. I’m currently the Education Associate at New Repertory Theatre, the professional theatre in residence at the Mosesian Center for the Arts in Watertown, MA and the Resident Theatre Teaching Artist at Hyde Square Task Force, a youth community development organization in Jamaica Plain. These two positions have kept me extremely busy this past year!

Caroline Cronin: I have floated a bit around between London where I went to graduate school, New York City, and now I am back home in Boston pursuing my acting career here.

STATERA: Can you share about your journey to the Boston arts scene?

Sarah: I was born and raised right outside of Boston, so the city is very much my home. After graduating from Ithaca College in 2013 with my BFA in Acting, I was unsure what I wanted to do next. I had started studying Theatre of the Oppressed and felt a strong connection to social justice theatre. I lived in Mozambique, teaching theatre to youth and co-directing and producing a dance drama about personal stories of HIV/AIDS. I also did an internship at the Center for Theatre of the Oppressed (Centro de Teatro do Oprimido) in Rio de Janiero, Brazil and studied the techniques of Augusto Boal from the place it all originated. Since studying in Brazil, I have worked with various international projects, bringing my skills in social justice theatre techniques. These have included collaboration with Kathleen Mulligan, David Studwell and Theatre Wallay in Pakistan working on the Voices of Partition Project and the 4th annual meeting of Theatre of the Oppressed in Tome, Chile. In 2016 my boyfriend and I moved to Jamaica Plain. Boston seemed like the perfect place to dive back into performing and to create community.

Caroline: My journey here has just started! I wasn't very happy living in New York so I decided to come home for a little bit and see if I can break in here. I've been back home for less than a year so the past few months I have been trying to audition, and start making connections with anyone I can.

Julie: I’ve worked in the arts for over thirty years. Early on, I worked in small commercial theaters, as a company manager and a box office manager. I also ran the box office for the Institute of Contemporary Art for their 1990 Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Moment exhibition. I created what is now the Harvard Box Office. Then I went on to program 19 spaces, including Sanders Theater, as part of the Office for the Arts at Harvard. I moved on to Emerson College, where I was the General Manager and Director of Marketing of Emerson Stage. I also started teaching arts management courses while I was at Emerson. I moved on from there to run StageSource, a service organization for the New England performing arts community. That was an amazing opportunity to understand the needs of the sector on the front line, and to create resources to help. While I was at StageSource, we created the Gender Parity Task Force, the A11Y Initiative (to support Deaf artists and audiences), and the Gender Explosion Initiative (supporting and amplifying trans and non-binary artists). We started the Line Drawn Initiative, addressing sexual harassment in the performing arts community. I still work with the initiative, and am proud of the work that is being done.

STATERA: What is your own most memorable mentorship experience?

Caroline: This is about to be mine.

Julie: As a teacher, I’ve had the opportunity to mentor a lot of folks over the years. One of my former students introduced me to their mother by saying “This is Julie. She tells us everything is going to be alright, and then helps us figure it out.” I am very proud to have been part of a number of journeys for folks. I’ve also been mentored, especially in my writing life. When I was writing my second contracted novel I mentioned that I was having trouble getting through the first draft to one of my mentors. She told me that a first draft was always like putting a log through a meat grinder--it never got easier. Then she said, “you’ve got this.” That was reassuring. I try and do the same thing when I’m mentoring folks. Let them know that the path isn’t always easy, provide some advice on how to navigate it, and then support them on their journey.

Sarah: I feel so strongly about the power of women mentorships. Many of my most memorable mentorship experiences stem from one special relationship I have to a former professor of mine, Kathleen Mulligan. Kathleen was my Voice and Speech professor at Ithaca College. During my time at school, we become close when she agreed to privately coach me on some vocal issues I was having. From the start she was an encouraging voice when I felt lost or unseen. After graduating, Kathleen invited me to join her project Voices of Partition, a collaboration with Theatre Wallay, a theatre company based in Islamabad, Pakistan. In January of 2015 we traveled to Islamabad together to conduct the first week of workshops with Theatre Wallay. There were so many moments on this incredible trip that to this day give me the chills. I remember sitting beside her on the flight as we descended into Islamabad. I was both scared of the unknown and felt on top of the world, pushing myself to take risks alongside someone I respected and cared for so much. Kathleen opened doors for me that have completely changed my life. To this day, our relationship is a reminder of the power of female connections.

STATERA: How did you become connected to Statera Mentorship? 

Sarah: Perfect transition! Kathleen introduced me to Statera. For many years Kathleen raved about the annual StateraArts Conference and how I “MUST” get myself there. After doing some research I was blown away that an organization like this even existed. I was completely in awe of the work this organization is doing and knew I wanted to be more involved somehow. During the conference, I attended a Statera Mentorship lunch to learn more about the program. By the end of the lunch hour, I was connected with Julie Hennrikus, who is now one of my fellow regional coordinators.

Caroline: A lovely friend of mine from college put me in touch with another lovely friend from college, Sarah, who had already begun working with Julie on the StateraArts Boston chapter. The second I heard about it, I knew I needed to be a part of it.

Julie: Because of the work I’ve done in the area of Gender Parity, Martha Richards reached out and invited me to a convening in Toronto. I met a great group of folks there, and we stayed in touch. She reached out again, and invited me to the Statera Conference last fall.

STATERA: Talk to us about your leadership style and why you're called to work in this capacity for your community. 

Julie: I am a good strategic thinker, but can also figure out tasks for folks. I’m also a good communicator, love to learn, and have a positive attitude. When I started teaching at Emerson, I found and fell in love with a new career path. I don’t just love teaching, I love lifting folks up on their path. There’s a part of me that understands folks need to be practical, but there’s a larger part of me that knows the only way we’re all going to get through this is if artists do their work. They’ve, we’ve, been called. The calling doesn’t always make sense. But the path is a joyous one. Not always happy, but joyous. If I can help someone feel better about their journey, and also provided resources and lessons to help them, I’m content with my path.

Sarah: I believe good leadership is based on strong communication, listening and trust. Through my studies of Theatre of the Oppressed and Paulo Friere’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed, I believe that the needs of the community must come from the community itself and a true leader listens to their neighbors and creates systems and practices that reflect their immediate needs. I hope to work alongside fellow women* artists in Boston to create a community that is inclusive, supportive and joyful. Our mentorship chapter will have specific needs that may not be present in other cities. I want to be thoughtful in recognizing our needs and be a strong advocate for women’s* voices in the Boston theatre scene.

STATERA: What recent personal projects or upcoming projects are you excited about?

Sarah: Yes! Feel free to check out the websites of both organizations I’m working with right now to learn more. New Repertory Theatre’s Classic Repertory Company will be wrapping up our current season at the end of May but next year we will be touring unique adaptations of Romeo and Juliet and The Scarlet Letter. Do you know a school, community center, library or other venue that would be interested in booking our production? Reach out to sarahmorrisette@newrep.org for more information!

Hyde Square Task Force is an incredible organization for inner city youth that you should know about, if you don’t already. Their mission is “to amplify the power, creativity, and voices of youth, connecting them to Afro-Latin culture and heritage so they can create a diverse, vibrant Latin Quarter and build a just, equitable Boston.” Check out the website this summer for updates about our devised theatre performance - written and performed by HSTF youth!

Julie: When I started Your Ladders, I wanted to create an online business school for artists. I’ve morphed that into a subscription model that provides courses, but also provides a path of learning that will support folks as they navigate their path. The founder rate is $19 a month, and gives folks access to all the classes, an online community, and monthly webinars. I’m really excited about this new model, and would love folks to join me!

Caroline: I am just wrapping up a production of William Shakespeare’s Othello with a company called Seven Stages Shakespeare in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Everyone in the New England MUST put Seven Stages on their radar. They are doing amazing things. 

Interested in learning more about Statera Mentorship? Visit www.stateraarts.org/mentorship.
And if you have questions, please visit
Statera Mentorship: Frequently Asked Questions.


*A NOTE ON INCLUSION AT STATERA

Women: Statera recognizes the limiting nature of the binary use of woman. We serve and welcome anyone on the gender spectrum who identifies either always or some of the time as a woman. We also serve and welcome those who identify as non-binary. 

Intersectionality: StateraArts works through an intersectional lens for gender parity. We understand and acknowledge that systems of oppression and discrimination are interdependent and span all social categorizations such as race, class, gender, ability, religion, parental status, size, age, and sexual orientation as they apply to a given individual or group. Addressing one spoke of systematic discrimination or disadvantage means holistically addressing them all.