Three Protégé-Mentor Teams Selected for OPERA America's 2021 Mentorship Program for Women Administrators
OPERA America is pleased to announce the three pairs of protégés and mentors selected for the organization’s Mentorship Program for Women Administrators, now in its fourth year. The Mentorship Program for Women Administrators provides promising opera administrators an opportunity to be paired with industry leaders who can help them overcome barriers to advancement and develop plans for professional growth.
This year’s participants are:
- Protégé: Katherine Baltrush Little, Associate Operations Director, San Francisco Opera
- Mentor: Anh Le, Director of Marketing and PR, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis
- Protégé: Mary Birnbaum, Associate Director, Artist Diploma Program, The Juilliard School
- Mentor: Andrea Puente-Catán, Director of Major Gifts and Hispanic Initiatives, San Diego Opera
- Protégé: Alison F. Turner, Trustee and Treasurer, Opera Memphis
- Mentor: Francesca Zambello, Artistic and General Director, The Glimmerglass Festival; Artistic Director, Washington National Opera
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 during 2021 and 2022 through remote and in-person sessions, including meetings at Opera Conference 2022 in Minneapolis.
The Mentorship Program was created in 2018 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 female professionals in opera and to design programs that nurture and advance talented women.
“There have been notable changes in gender parity across the opera field in recent years,” stated Laura Lee Everett, chief programs officer at OPERA America. “However, there is still progress to be made. Initiatives like the Mentorship Program for Women Administrators can bolster the careers of women working in opera and help take them to the next professional level.”
In 2021, women hold 47% of general director positions at opera companies of all budget sizes, but only 17% of general director positions at companies of the largest budget size. The percentage of women in general director roles at mid-sized companies has increased notably in the past five years, suggesting progress, as skilled women at smaller companies are hired into increasingly larger organizations.
“Participating in the Mentorship Program prepared me to take the next step in my career,” said Julia Noulin-Mérat, a 2019 protégé who co-led a small-budget opera company at the time. “The invaluable skills and experiences I gained while working with my mentor played a big part in my eventual appointment as the general director and CEO of Opera Columbus.”
The 2021 Mentorship Program is supported by OPERA America’s fifth annual Backstage Brunch fundraiser.
Other OPERA America programs focused on the advancement of opera administrators include the Leadership Intensive and the Mentorship Program for Opera Leaders of Color. To learn more about leadership development programs at OPERA America, visit operaamerica.org/LeadDev.