This award is given to an individual who has made a meaningful volunteer contribution to PA Presenters or to the presenting field as a whole. Leading a tour or working on a strong routing would not necessarily be the one single exemplary qualification to earn the award. The award should be given to an individual who goes “above and beyond” the performance of their regular paid responsibilities and regular expectations of a PA Presenters member.
Between 2009-2012 PA Presenters annually acknowledged a Pennsylvania presenter who had provided exemplary service to the organization. In 2012, the board of directors moved to open up this annual honor to recognize any of our incredible members working in any part of the field, as well as outside of the state, who contribute to the work of PA Presenters.
A piece of art created in Pennsylvania is given as a token of achievement to the winner.
Select awards presentations can be found on YouTube.
Deb Baker 2019
Deb Baker, Director of Special Events at Slippery Rock University has had 35+ years of experience developing and implementing performing arts events. Deb has been at SRU for the past 14 years and was employed as Director of Events (arts presenter, special event planner, venue manager, arts administrator educator) at Allegheny College for the 17 years prior. Deb oversees all public performance elements of the SRU program and is committed to expanding the arts opportunities/education in the region. Deb is a member of several professional associations, served on grant panels, accepted numerous guest speaking engagements and is a founding member of PA Presenters and one of Pa Presenter’s past- presidents.
Deb received her B.S in Education and a graduate Certificate in Art Therapy from Boston University. Her M.S. in Student Personnel Administration is from Indiana University, Bloomington.
Phillip Horn 2018
Philip Horn served as Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts (PCA) for 25 years. Horn's leadership has expanded the reach of state arts funding across the Commonwealth. The PCA was the first agency of Pennsylvania state government to deploy an electronic grant application. With the creation of the groundbreaking public/private partnership, Pennsylvania Performing Arts on Tour (PennPAT) 1997-2014, PCA collaborated with The Heinz Endowments, The Pew Charitable Trusts, the William Penn Foundation, and the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation to form the first statewide partnership of Pennsylvania's major public/private funders in support of the arts. He fostered the development of the Pennsylvania Cultural Data Project (PACDP), a revolutionary cultural data collection and reporting tool. His innovative cultural tourism strategies have resulted in bringing such noteworthy events as the First National Performing Arts Convention to Pennsylvania.
Joanne Rile 2017
Rile Artists Management was formed in the 1970′s by Joanne Rile with a small roster of artists and a serious commitment to quality and diversity in the performing arts. Rile Artists’ first advertisement in the Musical America directory listed only three artists, headed by the African American pianist Natalie Hinderas. Since then her artists’ roster has grown to include dance companies, chamber music ensembles, choral groups and soloists from both the United States and abroad. In addition to her commitment to the artists, Joanne Rile has promoted arts education and funding through her leadership roles in many arts presenting and management organizations. She currently resides in Jenkintown, PA with her husband, John Rile.
Deborah Sacarakis 2016
Deborah Sacarakis is the artistic director at Zoellner Art Center at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania (USA). She has directed the presenting program at the university for thirty-four years and led Zoellner Arts Center through its dedicatory and inaugural seasons. She is advisor for the university’s Visiting Lecturers Committee. Deborah has served on the board of directors for the Mayfair Festival of Allentown and for Pennsylvania Presenters, a state-wide service organization. She served terms on PA Presenters executive board as president and vice-president. She has served on grant adjudication panels for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the New Jersey Council on the Arts, Dance Advance of Philadelphia and the Berks County Arts Council.
Deborah holds a B.A. in Theatre from Lambuth University in Jackson, Tennessee.
Randall Presswood 2015
Randall has been working in music and theater since he was 16. An Actors Equity Association Stage manager and trained lighting designer, Presswood brings 40 years of experience and education to the table as a theater technical director, stage and lighting designer, architectural consultant, educator and entrepreneur. Randall has facilitated projects with multi-million dollar budgets to projects with budgets of just a couple of thousand dollars.
Ellis Finger 2014
Ellis Finger was the Director of the Williams Center for the Arts at Lafayette College in Easton, where – since its opening in 1983 to June 2014 – he has directed programs in classical music, jazz, world music, dance and theater. He is active in several regional and national arts organizations, including Chamber Music America, the Association of Performing Arts Presenters, and Pennsylvania Presenters. His educational background is in Germanic languages, and he first moved to the Lehigh Valley in 1973 to begin a teaching career at Lafayette.
Katie West 2013
Katie West is an experienced arts administrator, teacher and writer. Her background includes marketing and communications, grant-making, financial and personnel management, program evaluation and development, budgeting, social media management, dance teaching and dance criticism/writing. Katie was the Director of Pennsylvania Performing Arts on Tour (PennPAT) 1997-2014. She is currently a Program Officer at Delaware Division of the Arts.
Amy Dupain Vashaw 2012
Amy Dupain Vashaw serves as Audience and Program Development Director for Penn State University’s Center for the Performing Arts, a position she has held since 2001. Initially hired as Education Director in 1997, her primary responsibility is to create collaborative opportunities linking the artists on the Center’s season to the community, including Penn State University students, students in grades K-12, senior members of the community, and the community-at-large. Her primary goal is to create a mutually enriching experience for both artists and their audiences by providing the knowledge and tools necessary to fully engage in the artist’s work. Additionally, she works closely with the Center director in programming the season, with her special area of focus being family and children’s programming, and dance. She served as project director for a multidisciplinary project, The Secret Life of Public Spaces, recognized with a $250,000 grant from the Association of Performing Arts Presenter’s Creative Campus Innovations program.
Patrick Brogan 2011
Senior Vice President of Programming, ArtsQuest. A graduate of Temple University’s School of Tourism and Hospitality Management, and the 2014 recipient of the Outstanding Alumni Award, Patrick has been with ArtsQuest and/or Musikfest since he was 12 years old. Starting first as a street Busker (where he played Baroque Chants on Ukulele and Harmonica), Patrick quickly worked his way up to food vendor, then box office, and finally as stage manager to the old River Front Stage. A native of Allentown, Pennsylvania, Patrick says that the key to his success is “whatever I do…I’m all in”. Never more true than when they tapped the first keg for the new location of Musikfest in Bethlehem. When not producing the hundreds of events Brogan is responsible for each year, you can find him on the local volleyball court.
Bill Mandicott 2010
William Mandicott is the Assistant Vice-President of Student & Involvement at Frostburg State University. In his work at Frostburg State University, Mr. Mandicott oversees the artistic development of the Cultural Events Series (CES), an annual professional performing arts series. Throughout his 38 years in student affairs, he has been especially dedicated to performing arts presenting and management, community development and outreach programs, volunteer and service learning programs, leadership development and civic engagement, multicultural programming, and diversity initiatives. In 2007, Mr. Mandicott was appointed to the Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC) by Governor Martin O’Malley, and served as MSAC Chair for 2011 and 2012; he also served as Chair of MSAC’s 2014-2019 Strategic Plan. He is a board member of the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA), co-coordinator of Maryland Presenting Arts Network (MDPN) and has served on the grant review panel for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).
Hank Knerr 2009
Hank Knerr served as the executive director of the Lively Arts at Indiana University of Pennsylvania in Indiana, Pennsylvania, promoting, and presenting nearly 200 in-house and touring visual and performing arts events and projects each year. In his position, he also oversees extensive arts-in-education outreach activities, the IUP Community Music School, and performance facilities management. He currently serves as president of PA Presenters and is also on the board of NAPAMA (North American Performing Arts Managers and Agents) and PRAA (Pennsylvania Rural Arts Alliance). Previous positions include faculty and director of public relations for theater at Minnesota State University—Mankato, faculty and business manager for the theater at the University of Northern Iowa, managing director of the Mankato Ballet, general manager for the Mule Barn Theater in Missouri, and free-lance web designer and award-winning graphic designer. Highly active in state and national arts advocacy and arts-in-education programs, he has chaired several professional conferences and headed the planning for the 2014 Pennsylvania Governors Awards for the Arts.