Kauffman Center recognizes team members on Employee Appreciation Day

Kauffman Center staff members, Barry, Mary Maxine, and Jenny, help out at the annual Future Stages Festival.

Kauffman Center is interrupting your regularly scheduled programming to introduce a few hardworking employees in anticipation of Employee Appreciation Day on March 1. Below are some details about some of the people behind the programming, the curtains, and the productions at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

First, meet Joanna Polley, the Kauffman Center’s Community Outreach Supervisor. She is largely focused on managing and growing the Open Doors program which provides Kauffman Center access opportunities for local schools, social service agencies, students, and families across the KC Metro.
“My favorite day every year is Future Stages Festival when the building is full of hundreds of young artists and families – many of which are experiencing the Kauffman Center for the first time!”

Click here to learn more about the Kauffman Center’s Open Doors program. 

The second employee under the spotlight is Trisha Drape, Development Manager of Individual Giving.
She assists with various membership and fundraising efforts including Spotlight, Spotlight Premier and Adventure Circle members. She also communicates directly with generous donors about their support and accommodates requests they have to make their experience at the Kauffman Center extraordinary.
“I love the day-to-day interaction with our members, many of whom have become friends. It is such a privilege to work with our city’s philanthropists and our members who understand the importance of the Kauffman Center and who want to ensure it thrives for years to come and for future generations.”

Click here to learn more about becoming a Kauffman Center Spotlight member! 

The next hardworking staff member is Barry Myers, Director of Patron Services. For Barry, it’s all about people, people, people! He oversees/is responsible for 31 full and part-time staff, 500+ volunteers and 400,000+ patrons annually. He’s a coach, mentor, advocate, listener, and problem-solver.
“No two days are EVER the same! Having worked in the venue management industry for 35 years now, I’ve seen a lot of things, but a couple of things come to mind from my time at the Kauffman Center – a woman who was knitting while watching a KC Symphony concert and a man who sat in the first row of the Orchestra section and was visibly conducting along with the conductor for all to see. I can’t say I’ve seen it all, but I’ve certainly seen a lot. [It] keeps things interesting!”

Meet Donna Miller-Brown, a Kauffman Center Production Manager. She acts as a liaison between productions and the Center, making sure performers have everything they need for a successful show. Donna loves to share some memories from her time working in production management, including a Broadway show that needed the entire stage covered in plastic for their water effect, and once, Carol Burnett needed 50 Casa Blanca lilies in a bowl on stage for a gag.
“[My favorite things about working at the Kauffman Center] are the special moments most people don’t get to experience—walking down the hall and listening to Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin warming up together or listening to a pianist working on a passage over and over again until it’s perfect. Also, on average, for every person you see on stage, there’s at least one person offstage also working. I wish productions would bring out all the dressers, carpenters, and electricians working on the show when they do bows so you could really see the entire ensemble.”

The final staff member is Jennifer DeFreece, Volunteer Manager. She oversees the 500+ Kauffman Center volunteers! Her position plays a key role in the Kauffman Center’s ability to staff performances and events, a function that contributes significantly to providing an exceptional patron experience.
“I love seeing how [volunteers] have goals for their volunteer position (i.e. reaching a certain number of hours). They are role models for everyone, and I appreciate their passion to serve our patrons every day.”

Click here to learn more about the Kauffman Center’s volunteer program!

Though there are only a few stories shared here, everyone that contributes to the success of this beautiful building is greatly appreciated. Because of the men and women who do what they do so well, the Kauffman Center can run as smoothly as possible. Happy Employee Appreciation Day!

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