The board of directors of PrideArtsthe Uptown-based theater company focused on presenting queer stories on live stages and virtual platformsannounced the appointment of Amber Mandley (she/her/hers) as Managing Director, a new position.
Mandley joins Artistic Director Jay Espano (he/him/his) and Director of Operations Michael Starcher (he/him/his) to complete the company's management team.
Mandley has served as director of administration for Chicago Abused Women Coalition, and Development Director for BUILD, Inc. a nationally respected gang intervention, violence prevention and youth development organization based on Chicago's West Side. Since 2003, she has been a consultant to various non-profit agencies on leadership and fund development.
The company also announced the addition of three new board members. Courtney Williams (she/her/hers) is the director of communications for the Obama Foundation, leading internal and external communications, media relations, and executive communications. Roux Nolan (he/him/his) is a global business development specialist and Principal of Food.Partners. And social advocate Eva Skye (she/them), who identifies as queer/femme, was among the first residents of the Town Hall Apartments for LGBTQ seniors.
Williams, Nolan and Skye join ongoing board members Cheri Tatar, Elayne LeTraunik, Fr. Gary Lawler, Espano, Starcher and John Olson, and returning member Daniel Hickey.
PrideArts endured controversy in 2020, when David Zak, executive director of Pride Films & Plays (PFP, PrideArts' main tenant), resigned amid various allegations about his work style. Later that year, PFP Artistic Director Donterrio Johnsonwho was hired over the summer in the wake of Zak's departureresigned. In part, Johnson stated in a letter, "I joined this company with the idea that DZ [David Zak] would be resigning and we would be taking this company in a new direction to heal and provide a safe haven for our community. But in the past days I've been made aware that the company doesn't intend to stay true to that agreement."
When asked about Zak's status, Olson emailed Windy City Times that Zak "has completely resigned from PrideArts. He is running the Pride Film Fest under a separate entity he started called Open Space Arts. That's the organization he started and, under which, produced his play The Kramer Project this past summer. The Pride Film Fest has been spun off from PrideArts and the two are not affiliated any more."