June 21, 2021 – Executive search and non-profit consulting firm, KEES, has recruited Beth Kaskel as the new executive director of The Acorn Theater (The Acorn) in Three Oaks, MI. Sandra Thompson, who has held The Acorn’s executive director role for the last five years announced in November that she would be shifting from administration, fundraising and general management to focus specifically on artistic direction through talent booking. “A huge thank you to the search committee. As a growing organization, the time, effort, and energy required for this hire were enormous, and all committee members rose to the challenge,” said Heather Eddy, president and CEO of KEES. “Beth Kaskel will fit perfectly with the future vision of The Acorn and will lead it toward that vision, and beyond.”
“We are thrilled to bring a performing arts professional of Beth’s caliber to lead us into our next chapter as a nonprofit organization,” said Tom Abrahamson, chair of The Acorn’s board of directors. “Beth possesses an extraordinary breadth of leadership experience, ranging from the avant-garde Redmoon Theater — which was hailed by the Chicago Tribune as ‘impossibly inventive’ and described by the Chicago Sun-Times as ‘one of the only theaters that can keep a two-year-old and a 50-year-old equally enchanted and filled with wide-eyed wonder’ — to The Auditorium Theatre, established in 1889, and housed in a national historic landmark building.”
Ms. Kaskel is an arts management professional with 20 years of experience bringing communities together through the performing arts. She most recently served for six years as director of programming and director of operations for the world-renowned Auditorium Theatre in Chicago. Previous roles include general manager for American Theater Company, and general manager of Redmoon Theater. Ms. Kaskel also served on the board of directors of The League of Chicago Theaters from 2012-2018 and has held leadership roles in numerous professional associations.
In her new role with The Acord, Ms. Kaskel will provide leadership to The Acorn, ensuring the historic venue’s role as the premier site for concerts, festivals, community events and other arts and entertainment events in Harbor Country. She will be responsible for ensuring artistic and cultural programming of the highest caliber is presented (directly or in partnership with cultural and community organizations) and build revenue streams which support the current and growing artistic and operational needs. Ms. Kaskel will partner with local and regional artists, arts organizations, residents, visitors, community leaders and the general public.
“Being entrusted to lead The Acorn into the next chapter of growth is an honor,” said Ms. Kaskel. “Performing Arts play a vital role in making our world a better place. The Acorn’s mission of community engagement among residents and visitors of all ages resonates with me in its opportunity to enhance the local Three Oaks and Harbor Country communities. It will be incredibly exciting to have the privilege to present and produce the highest caliber programming at The Acorn,” she said. “I look forward to meeting and working with the board, staff, artists, and audiences who already love this great performing arts center, while also attracting new patrons and collaborators.”
The Acorn Theater, a non-profit organization, is a performing arts venue that brings high-quality, professional, live entertainment to its audience in the southwest Michigan and greater Chicago areas. It annually hosts a singer songwriter competition and a Spectacular Tournament of Playwrights. Its open mic nights showcase a variety of strong talent, and our educational workshops include songwriting and master classes in performance.
KEES, based in Naperville, IL, focuses on building transformative teams and leaders in the non-profit sector. The firm was founded in 2013 as an expansion of Alford Executive Search. It is women-owned and operated and provides a wide variety of services, including executive search, specialty and interim staffing, HR consulting and leadership development.
Ms. Eddy has worked with non-profits and institutions to build capacity for more than 20 years. For the past 12 years, she has focused on strengthening executives, boards, managers, and philanthropic leaders. She co-founded KEES and leads the organization’s team after serving for 17 years in multiple executive leadership roles with the Alford Group/Alford Group Executive Search, a national consulting firm that partners with non-profits and provides fundraising and organizational strategy consulting.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media