It takes a lot of time and manpower to run a professional theater like Orlando Shakes day in and day out. Between production meetings and tight deadlines, we can sometimes forget the impact our non-profit organization has on the Central Florida community. One person who never loses sight of that is Dana Nichols, the Theater’s Director of Development.
Dana’s passion for helping people brought her to Orlando in 2002, when she began her undergraduate studies in Mass Communication and Nonprofit Management at UCF. She’s utilized that degree, along with an MBA from Rollins College, to gain experience at a variety of nonprofits including Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, Kids House, and the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando. “Working at a nonprofit gives you the unique opportunity to wear many different hats,” she said. “I love that I’ve been able to learn a great deal about so many different things like child welfare, community engagement, and the arts.”
When she’s not at the office, Dana spends most of her time with her adorable baby, Violet. She also runs her own Etsy shop, Chic Bunny Paperie, and enjoys photography and trying out new places to eat with her husband, Reid. “That’s become a little more challenging with a 16 month old,” she laughs.
One of Dana’s major roles at Orlando Shakes is overseeing the Theater’s upcoming 27th Season Gala: A Royal Affair (Sunday, September 20, 2015). As the organization’s largest fundraiser, the annual event is integral to our mission of providing the community with high quality productions like Monty Python’s SPAMALOT. To say this event is “important” would be an understatement, but Dana is up for the challenge. And, while she’s not new to Gala-planning, she’s excited about her first Orlando Shakes Gala. “What’s neat about planning events here is that we’re able to utilize what makes us unique–our performers and artists–to highlight what we’re raising money for.”
If you’ve been to an Orlando Shakes Gala before, you know to expect delicious food and great company, but Dana says to look out for some new twists too. Playing on the event’s ‘Royal Affair’ title, guests can anticipate an elegant evening fit for kings and queens, including a one-night-only cabaret performance featuring Les Miserables’ Michael Hunsaker and Broadway stars Davis Gaines (The Phantom of the Opera) and Dee Roscioli (Wicked) singing their most popular songs. Prior to the evening’s paddle raise, Dana and her Development Team will also premiere a special education-related video that will highlight what Orlando Shakes does for the youth in our community.
Wondering what priceless packages you’ll see in our silent auction? Two of Dana’s favorites are a weekend trip to Universal for four (“I still haven’t been to Diagon Alley!”) and, for the ultimate theater-lover, the unique opportunity to watch Bakersfield Mist from the stage manager’s booth.
Remaining Gala tickets ($150, $200, $250) can be purchased by phone at (407) 447-1700 ext. 1. Hope to see you there–in your formal wear!
Melissa Landy, Public Relations Coordinator