Randi Benesch will be leaving her post as senior managing director of arts and culture at the Gordon Center for Performing Arts on June 16. Over the past five years, she and her team at the JCC have further cemented the Gordon as an institution by attracting larger audiences with new arts programming and top-notch events.
The last few years have seen the successful launches of both the JCC’s Habimah Arts Camp, which will be attended by more than 200 kids this summer, and of the Children’s Theater Production Company, which just finished its third mainstage production. More than 100 kids have auditioned for roles in the latter, 70 or more of whom have appeared in the program.
“I am so proud that we have been able to provide these engaging opportunities for children with the arts,” said Benesch. “They are learning the skills to perform, and it provides a platform to build confidence, learn about themselves and learn teamwork.”
According to Benesch, the most important part of the Gordon Center’s growing program is that it has built a “community within the community,” which has brought people with a passion for the arts closer to each other.
Very few JCCs across the country have a beautiful theater like the Gordon Center, said Benesch, “so it is really nice that we are maximizing its potential.”
The Gordon Center is the only performing arts center in Baltimore County that is not on a college campus.
“It really serves the whole community,” said Benesch. “It has been exciting to watch it come alive for people of all ages and cultures who take advantage of the programs.”
In the coming months, Benesch will be taking her talents back to Baltimore Center Stage as its director of advancement. She worked in its development department for eight years prior to joining the Gordon Center. She will be responsible for the oversight of all contributed income from corporations, foundations and individuals; will run special events and campaigns; and will serve as one of the theater’s key representatives in the broader community to help develop partnerships with nonprofits and philanthropic organizations in the area.
“Some people think that I’m crazy when I say this, but I miss fundraising,” said Benesch. “I miss working with a board of trustees. It is an exciting time for Baltimore Center Stage. They just finished a major capital campaign and did huge renovations to the theater — it is gorgeous — and I am eager to get back there and help them continue to sustain and grow their programming.”
Benesch said that it was a difficult choice to leave the Gordon Center because of her passion for both organizations, but she ultimately realized that the move was an ideal next step for her career.
Esther Greenberg, chief advancement officer at the JCC of Greater Baltimore, said that Benesch has been such a great addition to the team, and she is sad to see her go, but “I am excited because she has so much to offer the arts community. I know that she is excited to be involved with an organization that focuses strictly on the arts, so working at Center Stage, it is about the theater all the time.”
“It is very powerful when a leader like Randi exemplifies the brand of an organization,” said Barak Hermann, chief executive officer of the JCC. “Randi positioned the Gordon to become the premiere performing arts center in Baltimore County. Her ability to create partnerships and relationships and to think creatively has positioned the JCC to continue her legacy into the future.”