Gwendolyn (Wendy) Whiteside joined the Ensemble of American Blues Theater in 1998 and has served as Artistic Director since 2010. She has overseen and produced 40 productions (28 unique mainstage shows and 11 years of It's a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!). In 10 years, 14 productions received Joseph Jefferson Awards or nominations for outstanding play, musical, or solo performance. Under her leadership, American Blues added Artistic Affiliates and diversified its base of artists. She created the nationally-recognized "Blue Ink Playwriting Award", implemented community service into the company's mission, and adapted the free arts education program "The Lincoln Project" for Chicago Public Schools serving over 4,000 students annually. She fiscally led American Blues through its 2009 rebirth and built the operational budget from zero to $1 million. She also secured the company's first-ever operating reserve fund and operating endowment.
Whiteside served numerous panels for the National Endowment for the Arts and sat on the national Board of Directors for Network of Ensemble Theatres and League of Chicago Theaters. She's a graduate of Northwestern University, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (MFA), and a Kellogg Executive Scholar in Nonprofit Management (Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University).
As an actress, she's received 5 Joseph Jefferson Awards and nominations; 2 After Dark Awards; 2 Broadway World Chicago Awards. She's directed Chicago's holiday favorite It's a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago! for 5+ years. Her written work has appeared on stage, in literary magazines, and scraps of paper batted around by her cats.
photo by Joe Mazza / brave lux