Press Released: 17 Jan 2023

OPERA America Announces Participants of the 2022‒2023 Mentorship Program for Women Administrators

OPERA America is pleased to recognize the leadership achievements and dedication of three women administrators who have been selected as protégés in the 2022‒2023 Mentorship Program for Women Administrators. The Mentorship Program, now in its fifth year, provides rising opera administrators an opportunity to be paired with industry leaders who can help them overcome barriers to advancement and develop plans for professional growth.

The 2022‒2023 protégé-mentor partnerships are:

  • Protégé: Megan Elk, Engagement Producer, Lyric Opera of Chicago
    Mentor: Barbara Lynne Jamison, General Director/CEO, Kentucky Opera

  • Protégé: Katrina Fasulo, Director of Development, Opera Saratoga
    Mentor: Julia Noulin-Mérat, General Director and CEO, Opera Columbus

  • Protégé: Jessica Gonzalez, Marketing Manager, Houston Grand Opera
    Mentor: Tamara Vallejos, Director of Marketing, The Juilliard School

See below for profiles of the participants.

Each protégé-mentor team will develop a personalized plan for professional development based on the goals of the protégé. They will work together through remote and in-person sessions, including meetings at Opera Conference 2023 in Pittsburgh, PA.

Two of the mentors, Julia Noulin-Mérat and Tamara Vallejos, were protégés in the 2019 class of the Mentorship Program. “The invaluable skills and experiences I gained while working with my mentor,” reflected Noulin-Mérat, “played a big part in my eventual appointment as the general director and CEO of Opera Columbus.”

“The 2022-2023 cohort of the Mentorship Program for Women Administrators exemplifies the value of the program, with two program alums now serving as Mentors,” stated Laura Lee Everett, chief programs officer at OPERA America. “The program was created to bolster the careers of women working in opera and help take them to the next professional level. The protégés of this program represent the future of opera leadership, and we look forward to watching this latest cohort soar.”

Established in 2018, the Mentorship Program for Women Administrators was designed to help advance the goals of OPERA America’s Women’s Opera Network, an action-oriented affinity group dedicated to addressing and advancing gender parity in the field. The Women’s Opera Network seeks to provide ongoing support for emerging women professionals in opera and to design programs that nurture and advance talented women. To learn more about OPERA America’s Women’s Opera Network, visit operaamerica.org/WON.

OPERA America is committed to increasing gender parity across the field. In addition to the Mentorship Program for Women Administrators, the organization offers Opera Grants for Women Composers, Opera Grants for Women Stage Directors and Conductors, and additional programming of the Women’s Opera Network. More information about OPERA America’s grant programs is available at operaamerica.org/Grants.

Other OPERA America programs focused on the advancement of opera administrators include the Mentorship Program for Opera Leaders of Color, Leadership Launch, Leadership Intensive, and New General Directors Roundtable. To learn more about OPERA America’s leadership development programs, visit operaamerica.org/LeadDev.

About the Participants

Megan Elk, Protégé
Engagement Producer, Lyric Opera of Chicago

Megan Elk (they/them) is a mezzo-soprano, producer, and arts administrator whose work spans the traditions of opera, musical theater, cabaret, and ensemble-devised theater. Elk has appeared onstage regionally with Cleveland Public Theatre, New World Performance Laboratory, the Cleveland Orchestra, Opera Cleveland, Sugar Creek Symphony and Song, and Porchlight Music Theatre. They are a proud member of Chicago Cabaret Professionals and serve as a volunteer member of the board of directors at Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre. Elk also serves as curator of performances at Davenport's Piano Bar and Cabaret in Chicago. In addition to their performing and producing credits, Elk is a vocal music educator of nearly 20 years. They are passionate about making opera and new music theatre available to communities that have traditionally been denied access to cultural participation. Most recently, they served Lyric Opera of Chicago as a teaching artist in Chicago Public Schools for nearly five years before being promoted to engagement producer. Their key interests as both an administrator and practitioner include the democratization of classical music and the meaningful enactment of IDEA-driven values within arts organizations.

Barbara Lynne Jamison, Mentor
General Director and CEO, Kentucky Opera

Barbara Lynne Jamison became the sixth general director in Kentucky Opera’s history in 2018. A visionary builder by nature, she has spearheaded multiple new initiatives, including commissions, engagement programs, innovative creative placemaking projects, and productions that provide meaningful experiences for people not served traditionally by opera. In addition, she has introduced a groundbreaking community-led approach to producing mainstage opera and engagement programs by inviting and centering the voices of the community through deep, ongoing partnership. In 2021, Jamison led the move for the company’s operations into a newly renovated opera center, which houses Kentucky Opera’s administrative offices, youth educational spaces, and a large multi-use community hall. She currently serves her local community as a Juneteenth Jubilee commissioner, chair of the Arts and Culture Alliance, and member of the Louisville Rotary Club’s Leadership Team, among other groups. An alumna of OPERA America’s Leadership Intensive (2014), Jamison continues to be involved in OPERA America’s Women’s Opera Network Steering Committee and Government Affairs Working Group, and she has served as a speaker and panelist at the organization’s conferences and forums.

Katrina Fasulo, Protégé
Director of Development, Opera Saratoga

New York City native Katrina Fasulo is an arts leader and fundraiser who currently serves as the director of development at Opera Saratoga. As a graduate of the University of Michigan (B.M.A. in vocal performance, arts management, program in entrepreneurship) and Seattle University (M.F.A. in arts leadership), Fasulo leverages her background at the intersection of artist/administrator and practice/academia to achieve strategic goals. Within her local community, she is an active arts volunteer and advocate, having served on multiple granting and artistic funding panels alongside participating on a steering committee working to diversify classical arts audiences and bolster community engagement. Fasulo has previously worked with organizations including Opera NexGen, Seattle Opera, Seattle Symphony, the 5th Avenue Theatre, UMS, Opera MODO, The Glimmerglass Festival, and Loft Opera. She finds fulfillment in supporting artists, fostering belonging and inclusivity on and off stage, and building audiences for sustainability through authentic cultural experiences. Her commitment to understanding field trends and growing audiences of opera in intentional ways is a palpable continuation of her thesis "Opera Under Reconstruction: Strategic Responses for Audience Engagement."

Julia Noulin-Mérat, Mentor
General Director and CEO, Opera Columbus

Julia Noulin-Mérat is an American, French, and Canadian producer and designer who is in her third season as general director and CEO of Opera Columbus. Previously, Noulin-Mérat served as associate producer at Boston Lyric Opera and co-artistic director of Guerilla Opera, and she is currently the creative director for the Hong Kong-based More Than Musical. Julia has worked on over 400 opera, theater, and television productions, including 27 new operas and 22 new plays, and is the principal designer at NM Studio. She has served on the adjudication panel for OPERA America’s Robert L.B. Tobin Director-Designer Prize and is an alum of OPERA America’s Mentorship Program for Women Administrators (as a protégé) and Leadership Intensive. Noulin-Mérat holds a Master of Business Arts Administration and an M.F.A in production design from Boston University, a finance and leadership certificate from Harvard Business School, and a fundraising development specialization from UC Davis, among other credentials. Her work has been featured in Opera News, LiveDesign, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal, to name a few.

Jessica Gonzalez, Protégé
Marketing Manager, Houston Grand Opera

A proud first-generation college graduate, Jessica Gonzalez has worked for several nonprofit performing arts organizations nationwide, including The Glimmerglass Festival, Apollo Chamber Players, Opera in the Heights, Association of Performing Arts Professionals, and Houston Grand Opera. Before her career in arts administration, Gonzalez studied opera at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, performing roles such as Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus, the Queen of the Night in The Magic Flute, and Countess Almaviva in The Marriage of Figaro. She earned a master’s degree in arts leadership from the University of Houston, where she was a Presidential Endowment Fellowship scholar and was elected to serve on the Dean's Student Advisory Committee. Additionally, she was selected to participate in The Dallas Opera's 2020 Hart Institute of Women Opera Administrators, which seeks to identify America's next top opera leaders. Currently the marketing manager at Houston Grand Opera, Gonzalez attributes much of her personal and professional growth to studying and performing opera and is dedicated to supporting the art form.

Tamara Vallejos, Mentor
Director of Marketing, The Juilliard School

Tamara Vallejos is an arts administrator with more than a decade of experience in marketing and communications at organizations including Seattle Opera, the Aspen Music Festival and School, and Opera Colorado. She currently serves as director of marketing at The Juilliard School, where she focuses on supporting recruitment and admissions efforts across the school. Whether she’s promoting a performance season or working in the education space, Vallejos is most passionate about a data-driven, human-centered approach that prioritizes audiences above all else and focuses on what they need to feel informed, empowered, and welcomed. Prior to transitioning into marketing, she was a music journalist who contributed to NPR, SPIN and Los Angeles magazines, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and several other regional and national outlets. Vallejos was born and raised in Los Angeles and earned her B.A. in English from Washington State University and her M.A. in arts journalism from Syracuse University. She previously participated in OPERA America’s Mentorship Program for Women Administrators as a protégé in the 2019 cohort.

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