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CPH Announces New Interim Managing Director & Chief Financial Officer

Posted February 15, 2021 in Press Releases

(Cleveland, OH) Cleveland Play House is pleased to announce the leadership plan to support the 105-year-old institution’s executive management for the remainder of the 2020-2021 operating season. This plan brings to the CPH team an Interim Managing Director and a Chief Financial Officer.

After a thoughtful process involving both Cleveland Play House Board of Directors and Staff, CPH today announces the appointments of Collette Appolito Laisure as Interim Managing Director and Anita H. Cook as Chief Financial Officer. Laisure and Cook will lend their leadership and executive expertise to the 2015 Regional Theatre Tony Award recipient for the next several months to address organizational needs and pave the way for a smooth transition to a permanent Managing Director. Both women will also participate in CPH’s ongoing equity, diversity, inclusion and anti-racism efforts.

The CPH Board of Directors plan to begin a national search for a permanent Managing Director in the spring of 2021.

Interim Managing Director Collette A. Laisure will partner with Board Chair Anne Marie Warren and Artistic Director Laura Kepley to support the Board and Staff with overall business operations. Laisure and Kepley will co-lead the organization during the transitional period. Previously, Laisure served as Vice President and Executive Director of the PNC Fairfax Connection from 2012 to 2017, spearheading the strategic and operational direction of the thriving community resource center located in Cleveland’s Fairfax neighborhood. Collette served as the President and Executive Director of The Presidents’ Council and has held board leadership roles at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Foundation, Cleveland Public Theatre, Fairfax Renaissance Development Corporation and Karamu House. Laisure also served as Director of The City of Cleveland’s Office of Equal Opportunity, where she managed a budget of $1 million and was responsible for administering and monitoring compliance with the Female- and Minority-owned Business Enterprise program. She is a member of Leadership Cleveland’s Class of 2008, and a 2008 Crain’s Cleveland Business Woman of Note.

Board Chair, Anne Marie Warren says, “Collette brings an extensive resume of non-profit executive leadership, a decade of board and committee service to Cleveland theatres, and deep connections to the Fairfax neighborhood and The Presidents’ Council.”

Artistic Director Laura Kepley says, “I am grateful to CPH Board Chair Anne Marie Warren and the Executive Committee for creating this thoughtful interim plan to support the staff and the organization during this time of transition. The pandemic still has us navigating a good deal of uncertainty, but Collette’s calm, open, collaborative nature and her years of leadership experience will help steer the ship though these choppy waters. I look forward to partnering with her on our exciting plans for CPH’s return to in-person programming.”

Chief Financial Officer Anita H. Cook steps into the new leadership position at CPH to assist the Interim Managing Director and Board Executive Committee with CPH’s financial operations. CPH’s new CFO position will report to the Interim Managing Director. Cook has had diverse experiences leading the strategic planning and financial stability of prominent service agencies in Greater Cleveland. A retired CPA, Cook served as Executive Director of West Side Catholic Center from 2011 to 2017, where she successfully led a historic $2 million capital campaign for the Ohio City institution. A resident of Cleveland, she serves on the boards of Better Health Partnership, Neighborhood Family Practice and Community of Hope, as well as the finance committee of the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless. Cook is also a member of Leadership Cleveland’s Class of 2014.

Warren says, “A deeply experienced leader, Anita has served in executive and financial leadership roles at leading service agencies in Cleveland. Her CPA and finance acumen will support ongoing work to strengthen and streamline CPH’s business processes.”

Kepley says, “Since the theatres went dark in March of 2020, CPH has been focused on building equitable foundations that will support and sustain our future and allow us to serve our diverse community with excellence and compassion. Key pillars are Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, Human Resources, and Financial Health.” Kepley continues to share, “We are so fortunate to have Anita Cook joining us for the next 5-6 months as Chief Financial Officer. With her background and her executive experience, she will fortify our financial systems so that CPH emerges a more flexible, fleet, and prepared organization that can adapt and grow in this rapidly changing environment.”

With the sudden and unexpected loss of former Managing Director Kevin Moore on October 24, 2020, the CPH Board Executive Committee began the process of creating an interim plan to support the company in December 2020. The Committee reviewed over 50 candidates. An interview team comprised of CPH Board and Staff were deeply impressed with Laisure and Cook.

Warren says, “Both of these talented women are well-known and trusted in the community, have not-for-profit executive leadership experience, a love of theatre, and will bring open, steady, and collaborative approaches to the work ahead.” Warren continues, “both women will be a tremendous asset to CPH over the next 6 months while the company searches for a permanent Managing Director.”

Both Laisure and Cook assume their new roles at CPH on February 15, 2021.

ABOUT CLEVELAND PLAY HOUSE

CLEVELAND PLAY HOUSE, founded in 1915 and recipient of the 2015 Regional Theatre Tony Award, is America's first professional regional theatre. Throughout its rich history, CPH has remained dedicated to its mission to inspire, stimulate, and entertain diverse audiences across Northeast Ohio by producing plays and theatre education programs of the highest professional standards. CPH has produced more than 100 world and/or American premieres, and over its long history more than 12 million people have attended over 1,600 productions. Today, Cleveland Play House celebrates the beginning of its second century of service while performing in three state-of-the art venues at Playhouse Square in downtown Cleveland. Cleveland Play House is made possible in part by state tax dollars allocated by the Ohio Legislature to the Ohio Arts Council (OAC). The OAC is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically. Cleveland Play House is supported in part by the residents of Cuyahoga County through a public grant from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture. To learn more, visit: www.clevelandplayhouse.com.

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