Established at the recommendation of the Women’s Opera Network
Supported by OPERA America’s Backstage Brunch

The Mentorship Program for Women 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 these protégés 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 2020. Protégés will be selected based on their demonstrated career arc and potential to make a significant contribution 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 an action plan for professional growth. OPERA America will provide funding for protégés to travel to meet with mentors at Opera Conference 2020 in Seattle from May 13–16, 2020, as well as support mentorship teams with a structured program and additional resources for in-person and remote mentoring sessions.
Application deadline: October 17, 2019, at 11:59 p.m. EDT
Selected protégés will be notified by: November 8, 2019 Guidelines: 2020 Women’s Opera Network Mentorship Program Guidelines (.PDF)

Apply: All applications must be submitted online.
Protégé Application
Mentor Application

For more information regarding the Mentorship Program, please download a copy of our 2019 (PDF) or 2018 (PDF).

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 Education, Minnesota Opera
Mentor: Stacy Brightman, Vice President, Education and Community Engagement, LA Opera
Please direct questions about this program to Sarah Carter, director of learning and leadership, at
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.

  • Protégés must be committed to a management career at an OPERA America or 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 2020 in Seattle from May 13–16, 2020.
  • All applicants must work for an OPERA America or 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 2020 in Seattle from May 13–16, 2020.
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