Albany Park Theater Project is delighted to announce an expansion of our leadership team. Beginning in September, 2021, Miguel Rodriguez will join APTP as Co-Executive Director, a new role that Miguel will hold together with co-founder David Feiner. We’re also thrilled to announce Reena Bajowala as the new president of our Board of Directors and Jennifer Choi as a new member of the Board. Read on for a letter from David and remarks from Miguel and Reena.
Dear APTP Friends,
I write to you today with great excitement to share joyful news about Albany Park Theater Project’s next chapter.
In September, APTP alum, current board member and extraordinary educator Miguel Rodriguez will join our staff as Co-Executive Director, a new leadership role that Miguel and I will hold together. As part of this leadership evolution, I’m also delighted to announce Reena Bajowala as the new president of APTP’s board of directors.
For the past 14 years, Miguel has worked as an educator, first at schools in New York City and, since 2015, in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood. Miguel has been a language arts teacher, a special education teacher, an assistant principal, a trainer and coach of other teachers – and he launched drama programs at each of the schools where he worked.
In addition to this professional expertise, Miguel brings to the executive leadership of APTP his personal journey as a lifelong Albany Park resident, as a graduate of Volta Elementary and Roosevelt High School, and as an APTP teen ensemble member from 1999 to 2003. Miguel is a member of the 2020-21 Surge Fellowship cohort, which unites, accelerates and empowers emerging leaders of color in education. He’s also one of the kindest and most thoughtful people I’ve ever known and brings an irresistible, inspiring, fun-loving and people-loving spirit to all he does and everyone with whom he connects.
Miguel joins us as Co-Executive Director during a period of considerable growth for APTP, making this an ideal time to expand our leadership. Our school-based programs nearly doubled in size during the pandemic. Miguel will join Maggie Popadiak and Gustavo Duran (both also alumni of APTP and of Albany Park’s public schools) in crafting and realizing a multi-year vision for the future of APTP@School in collaboration with our Chicago Public Schools partners.
At the same time, our performing ensemble returns to in-person creation this month in preparation for the Summer 2022 premiere of Port of Entry, a new immersive performance that will in many ways be our most ambitious production ever (watch your email for more on Port of Entry in a couple weeks). Miguel will enrich our creative community of teen and adult artists with his love of Albany Park and his passionate commitment to honoring its stories and empowering its young people.
Our new Board President, Reena Bajowala, has served on APTP’s board since 2015, most recently as Vice President. She is an attorney and partner at Ice Miller, where she serves on the Racial Justice Task Force and leads the firm’s Pro Bono program in Illinois. A 2013 Fellow of the Leadership Council of Legal Diversity, Reena has also been recognized for her pro bono work on human trafficking, fair housing, civil rights and access to justice. In 2018, she received a Distinguished Alumni award from the Public Interest Law Initiative, and in 2014 she received the inaugural Corporate Partner Award from the Shriver Center on Poverty Law.
Reena succeeds Debbie Reznick, who will remain on the board and executive committee. Debbie has nourished both growth and stability, guided complex conversations about the evolution of APTP, helped raised hundreds of thousands of dollars, supported numerous alumni as they explored jobs and careers, introduced hundreds of friends and colleagues to our work – and that only scratches the surface. When Debbie formally called our board to vote Reena and Miguel into their new roles, she commented, “It has been one of the great honors and joys of my life to serve Albany Park Theater Project. I could not be more excited and hopeful about this next phase in its development under the joint leadership of Reena, Miguel and David.” Debbie, we all say a tremendous “Thank you!” and we are so grateful that you will remain a member of our board.
When Miguel starts as Co-Executive Director in September, and as Reena assumes the leadership of our board, they will partner with an incredible staff and board that makes APTP happen every day with their skill, their commitment and their love – you can learn more about our team here.
As many in the APTP community know, Laura Wiley and I co-founded the company and served as co-directors until her death in 2007. At milestone moments for APTP, people often ask me whether Laura and I envisioned this when APTP first started in 1997. While I couldn’t have imagined this particular moment 24 years ago, I can say that it is indeed a dream come true to have the opportunity to continue APTP’s legacy and contribute to its next chapter alongside Miguel, a beloved alum from our earliest years who has so fully lived APTP’s values and aspirations.
On behalf of Miguel and Reena and everyone at APTP, I want to thank you for being part of our community – as ensemble members, audience members, collaborators, partners and supporters. We look forward to writing the next chapter with you.
Meet Our New Co-Executive Director: Miguel Rodriguez
It is somewhat surreal for me to write these notes to introduce myself to the APTP community – a place that has always felt like home. For those who’ve followed my journey from the beginning, you know that 21 years ago APTP transformed my life: I was the first in my family to go to college; I became an award-winning educator; and I successfully led a school for the last four years. When I reflect on the last 15 years of my career, I can clearly see the influence APTP had in my classroom and with my leadership serving schools in New York and Chicago. The “I come from” circles I held in every new classroom, the centering of community stories whatever I was teaching, and always believing in our youth’s highest potential…these practices are the APTP way.
Come this fall, I am honored to step into the role of Co-Executive Director alongside my mentor and longtime cheerleader, David Feiner. As a child and current resident of Albany Park, it brings me joy that a queer Latino will be taking the proverbial reins and leading the organization into the next chapter. Now more than ever, uplifting the voices of BIPOC and queer folx matters. I’m humbled to be part of an organization that recognizes this and is actively working to ensure that our voices take center stage.
Meet Our New Board President: Reena Bajowala
APTP is an organization that transforms and innovates. In today’s climate, marginalized voices are at risk of getting drowned out, and APTP continues to elevate untold stories and amplify muffled voices. Particularly as a woman of color from an immigrant family, APTP’s mission has moved me deeply. I am thrilled to step into the role of board president and continue the important work of propelling APTP forward into the world of tomorrow. I could not ask for better collaborators in this journey than Miguel and David. For the last several years, I have had the opportunity to see both of their leadership styles up close, and could not be more excited for what is in store for APTP in 2021 and beyond.