Nonprofit Leader Spotlight

Rob Goodman, managing director of First Stage Children’s Theater in Milwaukee

Name:   Rob Goodman

Title:  Managing director

Nonprofit organization: First Stage Children’s Theater

Nonprofit Address: 325 W. Walnut Street, Milwaukee, WI 53212


Mission of the organization: First Stage Children’s Theater touches hearts and transforms lives by creating exceptional theater experiences for young people and families through: Professional theater productions that engage, enlighten and entertain; Theater Academy training that fosters life skills through stage skills; and dynamic in-school education programs that promote learning through theater.

Annual volunteer/fundraising event:  Make Believe Ball on Saturday, Feb..27, 2010

What makes your organization unique?  "First Stage’s serves children and families in the southeastern Wisconsin region and beyond in three unique ways.  First, First Stage provides professional theater performances at affordable prices for children and their families, bringing new and beloved stories to the stage that engage families well beyond the curtain call. Second, First Stage’s Theater Academy – the largest program of its kind in the nation – offers school year and summer sessions for children ages three through 18.  While the Theater Academy teaches children the physical, vocal and emotional skills needed on stage, it ultimately cultivates the vital skills that will help them in everyday life, such as cooperation, empathy, confidence and focus. Third, our in-school education goes well beyond a field trip to see a First Stage play. Our educational programs – including pre- and post-show workshops, enrichment materials, and dynamic classroom programs using dramatic activity to teach all areas of the curricula – are designed to help educators address the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction Standards and the Milwaukee Public School Learning Targets."

What is one key thing needed for leadership in the nonprofit sector? "Collaboration is essential.  Partnering with fellow arts groups, businesses, community leaders, and the like is important in not only combining resources to keep costs down, but in reaching new constituents, fostering relationships within the community, and in creating great art, whether it is on stage or in the classroom."
Is your organization in search of board members?
"Not immediately, but interested individuals should contact us.  There are many opportunities to serve on Board committees."

How can business people/the community help your organization?

  • By subscribing to our season

  • By enrolling their children in our Theater Academy

  • By encouraging their children’s teachers to attend our plays and book our classroom workshops

  • By attending our annual Make Believe Ball

  • By donating to our annual campaign

  • Spreading the word on your experiences with First Stage! 

Why do you think people should volunteer or become a board member? "Whether or not you are currently employed with a business or organization, volunteering is a wonderful way to be involved and connected within your community. Anyone who volunteers their time has a significant impact on an organization and the community at large. Find something you’re passionate about, or something you’d like to learn more about and give it a try. Giving back is always more rewarding than receiving, and the impact has a ripple effect."

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