I first got to know the Black Ensemble Theater as a member of the audience. I loved the energy and spirit of the shows and the engagement of the audience. Founded by Jackie Thomas in 1976, B.E.T. produces all original musicals showcasing stories that work to eradicate racism—-a part of their mission. Additionally, Jackie has created outreach programs helping 10,000 kids a year through the public schools that use theater to develop conflict resolution skills, train future actors, writers and directors, and give kids another reason to stay in school.
After a few years of knowing Jackie, she approached me and my then-husband, Senator William Marovitz, about co-chairing a capital campaign for B.E.T. so that they could have their first permanent theater. We agreed to take on the task of raising the funds as capital campaign co-chairs and, in 2011, the new B.E.T. Cultural Center was opened and Jackie’s dream became a reality.
For me, working on behalf of unique organizations that are not already well-supported is especially rewarding. I had done it before in chairing the effort to raise $30 million to build the Ruth Rothstein Core Center, which integrates education, prevention, access to clinical trials, outpatient care, and support services for people with HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases.
In these cases, being able to help facilitate the physical manifestation of a dream---whether Jackie Taylor’s or the doctors and nurses at County and Rush---is an amazing gift.