Guest Blogger: Hilberry Alum Chris Nelson

Hello again, Hilberry patrons and friends! You may (or may not) have noticed that my signature doesn’t appear on correspondence from the Theatre this year; like my on-stage classmates Rob, Brian, and Christina, I graduated in May of 2010. My degree was in Theatre Management. While I was with the Hilberry Company, I worked in the box office, promoted a season with the Bonstelle Theatre, and finally, was the Director of Development in 2009-10. Here is a little insight into the past few months of my life.

One week after the final production of the 09-10 Season, I headed to Dayton and married my wife – I could not ask for a better graduation present. After a brief honeymoon, we returned to the Cleveland area to continue my job search.

In early fall, I began my job as Assistant Director of Parent and Family Giving at Oberlin College. Oberlin is a small, private, liberal-arts college located in Oberlin, Ohio. It’s a lot like the Hilberry in that the reputation and personal connections stretch across the country. My job, specifically, is to foster relationships with parents of current students and determine whether their philanthropic priorities align with the strategic goals of the college. It is very rewarding work to collaborate with parents in providing solutions and creating the framework for the college’s future. I spend one or two weeks each month traveling to meet parents around the country; most of them are members of the Parents Executive Committee, with which I assist. I am also co-leading a college-wide professional development presentation on communication in the workplace later this spring.

Oberlin College Building

But I haven’t abandoned the arts! When someone asks me why I left the arts to work at Oberlin, my answer is generally the same: the students and culture of Oberlin is full of so many performers, artists, composers, and entrepreneurs that it’s like I never left the theatre community. The Oberlin Conservatory is world-renowned (they recently returned from their sold-out tour in Asia) and the theatre program is thriving. The creativity on this campus gives me energy much like working in the theatre.

Thank you for supporting me through the Hilberry program the past few years – I made life-long friends, colleagues, and relationships during my time there. I hope that you are enjoying the current Hilberry Theatre season. And thank a theatre manager the next time you are at the theatre!

Theatre managers Chris Nelson, Alex Goodman, Jillian Zylinski and Nikki Allen at the 2009 President's Preview

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