SARASOTA, FL – Julie Leach has been named executive director of Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe. Leach, who has served as the WBTT board chair since 2010, will help guide the theatre company through continued growth, physical plant and artistic enhancements, and a planned capital campaign.
“I could not be more excited to accept the responsibility of co-leading this fine organization with Nate Jacobs, WBTT’s founder and artistic director,” said Leach. “As board chair, my responsibilities included making sure that the organization had the resources it needed to achieve its mission, overseeing compliance with financial and government requirements, and offering guidance on strategic planning, fundraising, programming, operations and donor cultivation. As executive director, I’ll be able to be more hands-on with the operations and work side-by-side with our talented, dedicated and caring staff. Plus I’ll have a unique vantage point from which I’ll be able to watch the careers of our young aspiring artists develop.”
The move comes at a crucial time for WBTT: the organization has come off of a wildly successful 15th anniversary season, from its opening celebration at Van Wezel with 1,500 attendees and a six-figure net profit (Leach co-chaired this event), to numerous sold-out shows, national honors for Jacobs, and its second-ever invitation to perform in this summer’s National Black Theatre Festival in North Carolina.
“Julie has been a strong and steady leader for WBTT – not an easy task particularly considering the massive and strenuous undertakings of the past season,” said Jacobs. “From our opening 15th anniversary celebration through our exciting theatre season to the recent National Black Theatre Festival, Julie has always been there to offer her significant expertise in finance, education and management. She has been integral to our success in recent years and I’m excited to work with her to ensure we continue reaching for greater heights.”
The WBTT board of directors will be holding a special session this month to select a new chair.
Leach, who earned her MBA in Finance and Statistics from the University of Chicago, is a retired CPA who served as audit manager for Deloitte in Dallas, Texas, in the 1980s (she left that position to focus on raising her children) and also ran her own CPA and investment advising business. She served as the director of religious education for the Horizon Unitarian Universalist Church in Carrollton, Texas, from 1995-2000. The family moved to Sarasota in 2000 when Julie’s husband, Brock, became the CEO of Tropicana.
Leach is currently the treasurer – and is a past president – of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Sarasota, where she has been a member and deeply involved in its social justice work since 2000. She is also a past president of the board of trustees and current president of the endowment board of Saint Stephen’s Episcopal School.
She and Brock have two children: a daughter, Beth, who is a high school science teacher living in Providence, Rhode Island, and a son, Josh, who is a Unitarian Universalist seminarian who recently graduated from Harvard Divinity School.
About Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe:
The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe of Florida, Inc. is the only professional black theater company on Florida’s West Coast. The mission is to produce plays that promote and celebrate the African-American experience, attract diverse audiences, while using its productions as a vehicle for supporting African-American artists and building the self-esteem of African-American youth. For more information on WBTT, visit the website at westcoastblacktheatre.org or call (941) 366-1505.