The Women’s Opera Network (WON) Mentorship Program is an ongoing initiative to promote the advancement of women leaders in the field of opera administration. This program will provide a unique opportunity for the most promising female professionals to be paired with administrative leaders who can help them achieve their professional growth goals.

Three female professionals will be paired with established leaders in their areas of interest for a 12-month professional Mentorship Program beginning in January 2019. Protégés will be selected based on their demonstrated career arcs and potential to make a significant contributions to the opera field. Mentors will be selected by OPERA America based on the career tracks and needs of the protégés.

Mentors will share their knowledge and experience to guide protégés in a positive and nurturing environment, while identifying barriers and achievement gaps. Mentors and protégés will then establish and execute action plans for professional growth. OPERA America will provide travel funding for the protégés to meet with their mentors at Opera Conference 2019 in San Francisco from June 13–16, as well as support mentorship teams with a structured program and additional resources for in-person and remote mentoring sessions.

The 2019 protégé/mentor pairings are:

Protégé: Rebekah Diaz, Founder, KahLee Consulting: Community Engagement in the Arts
Mentor: Ana De Archuleta, President and CEO, ADA Artist Management

Protégé: Julia Noulin-Mérat, Associate Producer, Boston Lyric Opera
Mentor: Cheryl Hickman, General and Artistic Director, Opera on the Avalon

Protégé: Tamara Vallejos, Director of Marketing and Audience Development, Opera Colorado
Mentor: Lisa Middleton, Vice President, Marketing and Communications, Lyric Opera of Chicago

The 2018 protégé/mentor pairings were:

Protégé: Piper Gunnarson, Executive Director, On Site Opera (New York, NY)
Mentor: Annie Burridge, General Director and CEO, Austin Opera

Protégé: Katie Preissner, Director of Production, Opera Colorado
Mentor: Clare Burovac, Director of Artistic Operations, Portland Opera

Protégé: Mitra Sadeghpour, Director of Opera, University of Northern Iowa
Mentor: Stacy Brightman, Vice President, Education and Community Engagement, LA Opera

2020 applications will be available in fall 2019
Sample Guidelines: 2019 Women’s Opera Network Mentorship Program Guidelines (.PDF)

For more information regarding the Mentorship Program, please download a copy of our 2018 press release (PDF).
Please direct questions about this program to Brenda Huggins, learning and leadership manager, at BHuggins@operaamerica.org.
Protégés will commit to a full calendar year of participation in a mentorship partnership with prominent leaders in the opera field. Each protégé will be matched with a mentor based on her expressed needs and interests.

Eligibility: (Updated Sept. 26, 2018)
  • Protégés must be committed to a management career at an OPERA America or Opera.ca member organization and seek mentorship to achieve the next level of their career development.
  • Commitment: Protégés are expected to make both a mental and physical time commitment to the Mentorship Program, including attendance at Opera Conference 2019 in San Francisco from June 13-16, 2019.
  • All applicants must be affiliated with an OPERA America or Opera.ca member organization.
Each mentor will commit to a full calendar year of participation to nurture and guide one female future leader in the opera field. Mentors will be chosen based on the expressed needs of selected protégés.

  • Mentors must have a leadership role at an OPERA America member company and possess skills, talent and experiences aligned with protégés’ needs.
  • Positive Character: Mentors will maintain a positive attitude and outlook toward the field and are open and willing to share knowledge, wisdom and experiences.
  • Communication Style: Mentors need to know how to gently (or not so gently) nudge protégés in a nurturing and flexible environment. Creating memorable events and providing good listening and observational feedback are essential.
  • Commitment: Mentors are expected to make both mental and physical time commitments to the mentorship program and protégés, including attendance at Opera Conference 2018 in San Francisco from June 13–16, 2019.
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