On Monday, October 4, the National Center for Girls’ Leadership at Stuart hosted the first Women In Leadership Speaker Series of the year, called "Her Artistic Vision," in support of the Upper School Leadership Endorsement in Arts & Humanities. Our student hosts, Dana Thompson '25 and Sonya Jin '22, led a Q&A session with Charlotte La Nasa ’12, a playwright, theater maker and dramaturg; Sarah “Dewi” Caswell ’10, DEIA advocate in the arts and hospitality industries; and Taneshia Nash Laird, president and CEO of Newark Symphony Hall.
One of the universal themes throughout the panel discussion was the benefit of taking advantage of connections and doing “all the things!” The three women have very different careers in the arts, but they all got there by staying true to their passions, leveraging connections and staying curious.
Below were 10 other key messages from the discussion:
- Follow the path that keeps you most interested and intrigued.
- Know your strengths and lean into your weaknesses.
- Make opportunities for yourself by connecting with other professionals and creating your own professional development.
- Be a curious and creative problem solver. Think of a problem as a puzzle and a good challenge.
- In the arts there is always a chance to try again.
- Be adaptable and patient.
- It’s important to advocate for yourself.
- Learn to balance your passion with a sustainable lifestyle so you don’t burn out.
- Think of your artistic practice as a business
- Soak it all in!
Learn more about our panelists below (pictured left to right):
Sarah Dewi Caswell ’10
Sarah "Dewi" Caswell is a DEIA advocate in the arts and hospitality industries. Having spent over a decade in various customer service and team leadership roles, she has worked to connect executive level strategy directly to customers and vice versa by crafting initiatives that focus on traditionally marginalized communities. By day, she works for a box office software company as a Client Training Specialist, training arts organizations on how to use the software and make the most of their patron engagement systems. In her spare time, she consults with arts industry workers on how to make the industry more equitable and accessible for all.
Dewi lives in Brooklyn, NY with her recently adopted rescue dog, Ellie, whom she is training as a service dog.
Charlotte La Nasa ’12
Charlotte is a theater maker based in DC. Directing credits include Anacostia Playhouse, Rorschach Theater Company’s Kleksography, Mosaic Theater Company’s #Enough Festival and Shepherd University, as well as assistant directing at Contemporary American Theater Festival and American Shakespeare Center. She has served as a new play dramaturg at Contemporary American Theater Festival, Prologue Theatre Company, 4615 Theater Company's DMV Q-Fest and The Garden Script Development. Her work as a playwright has been developed with Adventure Theater in Glen Echo, Maryland. Before coming to DC, Charlotte served in an inaugural role as the first full time theater director at Saint James School in Hagerstown, MD, and also interned at New Dramatists and in the literary office at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center.
Taneshia Nash Laird
Taneshia Nash Laird is president and CEO of Newark Symphony Hall, the vintage 1925 performing arts center in Newark, N.J. As a social change agent, Taneshia centers cultural equity in her work. In her career in the public, nonprofit and private sectors, she has been a city and state official for economic development, a regional director for the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce, the executive director of the Arts Council of Princeton, and co-founder of the MIST Harlem venue in NYC.
An in-demand speaker about the intersection of arts, entertainment and economic development, Taneshia is a member of the board of the National Independent Venue Foundation and co-chairs the Save Our Stages Implementation Task Force of the National Independent Venue Association. She is also president of the board of Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation, the influential community arts nonprofit co-founded 25 years ago by siblings Danny, Russell and Joey “Rev. Run” Simmons.
Taneshia is an adjunct professor in the B.S. in Entertainment and Arts Management degree program at Drexel University and a visiting professor in the M.F.A. in Creative Arts & Technology at Bloomfield College.