Educational Theatre Foundation Adds Six New Trustees

Headshots for the six new ETF trustees, including: Michael Barra, Dipika Guha, Carly Hughes, Paolo Montalban, Quentin Sanford, and Jeff Whiting.

From Left to Right: Michael Barra, Dipika Guha, Carly Hughes, Paolo Montalban, Quentin Sanford, Jeff Whiting.

Introducing Our New Trustees

The Educational Theatre Foundation (ETF) is excited to welcome a new class of trustees, a diverse and accomplished group of artists and theatre professionals that brings a unique blend of talent, expertise, passion, and commitment to enriching the lives of students through the arts.

The new appointments mark a shift in the roles of the board of trustees. The ETF board now includes artists who will serve not only as trustees but also as high-level mentors and advocates in the entertainment industry. Their varied backgrounds and achievements in the arts offer invaluable resources and perspectives to the diverse student populations served by ETF.

Michael Barra, Founder & CEO of Lively McCabe Entertainment (LME), brings a wealth of experience from The Walt Disney Company, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and The Araca Group. As President Emeritus of The Players, he contributes a robust background in arts, educational, and cultural institutions. A respected MBA and contributor to Fortune Magazine, Barra has published articles on theatrical copyrights, the pandemic’s impact on the global theatrical industry, and the rise of big media on Broadway.

Dipika Guha, raised in India, Russia, and England, is a globally acclaimed playwright known for works like “Yoga Play,” “The Art of Gaman,” and “In Braunau.” Currently commissioned by Manhattan Theatre Club, South Coast Repertory, Barrington Stage, and Berkeley Rep, Guha has contributed to prestigious institutions like New Dramatists and the Ma Yi Writers Lab. A Hodder Fellow at Princeton University, she earned the Venturous Award for her play “Passing.” In television, her credits include “American Gods,” “Sneaky Pete,” “Black Monday,” and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” Guha holds a BA in English Literature from University College London, was a Frank Knox Fellow at Harvard University, and attained her MFA from the Yale School of Drama.

Carly Hughes, celebrated for her stage and screen prowess, has been seen in four seasons of ABC’s “American Housewife,” Netflix’s “Insatiable,” and Lifetime’s recent holiday film, “The Christmas Edition.” Hailing from St. Louis, Missouri, she received the prestigious Princess Grace Award in 2003. Hughes’ Broadway credits, spanning eight shows, include standouts like Velma Kelly in “Chicago,” the Leading Player in “Pippin,” and Lucille/Shirley in “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.” Beyond the stage, she contributed to the 2015 GRAMMY®-winning Best Musical Theater Album for her song “Will You Love Me Tomorrow.” Hughes’ diverse talents extend to regional theaters, and she shares her culinary expertise through her Instagram series “Cooking with Carly.”

Paolo Montalban, best known for his portrayal of Prince Christopher in Disney’s TV movie musical “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella,” continues as King Charming in “Descendants 4.” Recognized for TV roles in “Madam Secretary,” “The Blacklist,” “Nurse Jackie,” and “Law & Order: SVU,” Paolo has film credits in “Just Wright,” “American Adobo,” and the award-winning “Asian Persuasion.” On Broadway, Montalban played Florenz Ziegfeld in “Funny Girl,” contributed to stage recordings like “The Unsinkable Molly Brown,” and collaborated with Stephen Sondheim on the revival of “Pacific Overtures.” A Lortel Award nominee and Lunt-Fontanne Fellowship recipient, he was named one of People Magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People in the World” in 1998. A Rutgers University graduate in Psychology, Montalban actively supports AAJC-Advancing Justice and Hollaback! for Bystander Intervention training.

Quentin Sanford, President and Founder of Broadway Media, spearheads innovations in performing arts technology, offering licensed media resources like scenic projections and choreography guides. An entrepreneur, he founded DesignWorks, licensing original Broadway IP to schools, and owns Stage Gear, a national AV rental company. A dedicated philanthropist, Sanford actively supports breaking down arts barriers and expanding theatre education. Sanford graduated from California State University and resides in California with his wife and three children.

Jeff Whiting, an acclaimed director, choreographer, and producer, boasts a diverse portfolio spanning Broadway, TV/Film, and global concerts. His Broadway contributions include “Bullets Over Broadway,” “The Scottsboro Boys,” “Hair,” “Young Frankenstein,” and “Big Fish.” Whiting has showcased his talent in various productions, such as James Taylor Live at Carnegie Hall and national tours like “Hairspray” and “The Producers.” As a business innovator, he founded Stage Write Software, serves as President of Open Jar Studios, and presented his philosophy of “Open Jar Thinking” in a TED Talk.

Embarking on a New Era

“I am thrilled that these six amazing artists and theatre professionals will be joining the Educational Theatre Foundation Board of Trustees as we embark on our next chapter to ensure equal access to quality theatre education for all students across the country,” said ETF board chair Matt Conover. “Access to theatre will allow students the chance to develop life-long skills like collaboration, self-confidence, empathy, and social and self-awareness. I look very much forward to working with Michael, Dipika, Carly, Paolo, Quentin and Jeff, as well as our current Board members, and know we have only just begun to make a difference.”

The first initiative from the ETF board will be the implementation of the Thornton Wilder Playwriting Award, which, in addition to a cash award, will pair young playwrights with trustee Dipika Guha in a mentoring program. Initiatives like these are reflective of the foundation’s belief in the power of mentorship and the importance of diverse voices in shaping the future of theatre education.

Underlining their dedication to ETF’s mission, each new trustee will serve two consecutive three-year terms, ensuring continuity and a lasting impact on the foundation’s educational and outreach initiatives.