We are committed to becoming an inclusive and anti-racist organization where everyone can thrive.
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American Conservatory Theater is an essential gathering place that brings artists and communities together to inspire and provoke
ENGAGE the spirit of the San Francisco Bay Area.
ACTIVATE stories that resonate.
PROMOTE a diversity of voices and points of view.
EMPOWER theater makers and audiences to celebrate liveness.
INCLUSION: We see as essential, and embrace a diversity of voices and perspectives in all that we do. Transparency, collaboration, trust, and respect are core.
TRANSFORMATIONAL LEARNING: We value continuous evolution of ourselves, our art form, and our community. We are open to change, surprise, risk, and the best ideas.
PARTICIPATION: We are invested in all who engage and collaborate in our work – artists, audiences, staff, students, volunteers, donors, and the community as a whole.
RIGOROUS FUN: We are serious about the impact of our work and simultaneously experience joy in what we do.
A.C.T. commits to becoming an inclusive and anti-racist organization where everyone can thrive. The moral imperative that drives our commitment is the transformational power of art made possible when true inclusion is realized, when a diversity of perspectives and experiences is respected, and when oppressive systems are collectively dismantled - leading to better art, more supportive and welcoming environments, and improved outcomes for all.
As part of a theatrical ecosystem with underpinnings of systemic racism and anti-Blackness, we acknowledge our organization’s history as a predominantly white institution. We also acknowledge that A.C.T. has caused real harm and trauma, consciously or subconsciously, directly or indirectly, adversely impacting our colleagues, students, audiences, staff and members of our community. We take these injuries seriously, and we are working to make meaningful, lasting changes that dismantle and eliminate the inherently oppressive structures and practices in our culture, our organizational structure, our business practices and our work, on and off the stage.
We are doing the work through listening, educating ourselves, responding, and adjusting to be better as an organization and individuals. We are holding each other accountable with clear actions, goals and measurable results. This work is ongoing and we acknowledge the tension between moving quickly, being inclusive and making change that will have lasting impact.
Our EDI Strategic Plan, created in early 2020, is a framework for this work. We focus upon Cultural Competency, Investing in our People, Employee Led Groups, Artistic Programs & Our Community, and Intentionality and Accountability.
We recently expanded our plans and commitments with input from We See You White American Theater and the Bay Area BIPOC Equity Action Plan. We are grateful for the work and labor that has gone into developing these plans and hear the feedback from BIPOC colleagues. Members of our staff, students, faculty and board have reviewed and provided input. Our EDI plan is a living and working document for A.C.T. and is not intended to be a checklist as the work is never done. Past actions are noted so that we and future generations of A.C.T. stakeholders can see what has been implemented or attempted and continue to build upon these intentional efforts.
For more, please visit our Indigenous Community page on our website.
We are committed to becoming an inclusive and anti-racist organization where everyone can thrive.
Explore our list of resources to get involved.
We promise to listen, reflect, adapt and participate in the change.
We believe Black Lives Matter, and we can make a positive difference through direct action and care.
Read our land acknowledgement and find resources on how to support Indigenous communities.
A.C.T. Stands with the AAPI Community.
Learn more about our anti-racist casting practices and how to participate within A.C.T.
Director of Human Resources and Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion
Chrystal Ellis Sweazey serves as the Director of Human Resources and Equity Diversity and Inclusion at the American Conservatory Theater with over ten years of leadership and organizational development experience. In addition, she sits on the board of CalSAC, a nationally recognized non-profit whose mission is to build a more just and equitable California through leadership development and advocacy for youth.
She was recognized for her commitment to education and leadership development by the California Department of Education in 2016. In addition, she holds a certificate from the University of Cambridge Judge Business School's DEI Strategies for Business Impact program.
Chrystal resides in the Bay Area, California, where she enjoys the great outdoors and spending time with friends and family.
Chrystal sits on the Cultural Competency and Investing in Our People subcommittees.
Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion Manager
Alejandra Maria Rivas is a theatre artist and administrator from unceded Tongva and Kizh land (Los Angeles) currently living in on unceded Muwekma|Chochenyo|Ohlone land (East Bay). They initially came to A.C.T. in August 2019 as the Conservatory Fellow, upon which they joined the EDI Staff Committee as a Fellow Representative. She has since worked in the Conservatory and Education & Community Program departments as an associate and later, coordinator. She maintained an active role on the EDI Staff Committee throughout this time period.
On the committee, they supported the Cultural Competency subcommittee in the trainings and language guide creation and the Employee Led Groups subcommittee organizing affinity spaces (Anti-Racist Book Club, BIPOC Affinity Space), cultural events (Lunar New Year celebration, Indigenous People's Day celebration, Latine History Month gathering), and community engagement (opening the Strand at SF PRIDE).
She has been eager for the EDI Manager position to support A.C.T. and all of its departments and is humbled to be part of the inaugural role. Moving forward, she will support all of the subcommittees and guide the EDI Staff Committee along with Chrystal Ellis Sweazey (Director of Human Resources and EDI). She will spearhead EDI training, events, and programs for A.C.T. as well as EDI budget requests, internal training requests, a (new!) newsletter, strategic plan implementation, EDI data collection, etc.
Alejandra hopes to keep accessibility, intersectionality, equity, diversity, inclusion, and belonging at the forefront of A.C.T.'s practices so that A.C.T. can live up to the phrase, "This is your theater!" They hope A.C.T. can be a hub and home for artists, designers, crew, audiences, students, alumni, faculty, teaching artists, staff, volunteers, the Bay Area community, and more.
Alejandra sits on the Cultural Competency, Investing in Our People, Intentionality & Accountability, Employee-Led Groups, and Artistic Programs and Our Community subcommittees.
Producer of Performance Residencies & Rentals
Hello, my name is Aleksej Aarsaether! It looks like a tough name, I know, but just think Alex-Say Darth Vader minus the ‘D’ and an ‘S’ instead of a ‘V.’ I am a proud Norwegican (a made up word my little sister invented when she was three-years-old: it means a Mexican born in Norway) and I am the Producer of Performance Residencies and Rentals within the Artistic Team of A.C.T. Prior to joining A.C.T. I was a Dean’s List MBA graduate from Oxford University where I also received a certification in Social Impact from the Skoll Center for Social Entrepreneurship. I have worked in theatres across the U.S. — from The Hangar, Shakespeare Theatre Company, and Center Theatre Group — and was the top performing salesperson at The Art of Applying: a graduate school consulting firm specializing in BIPOC and underrepresented applicants. My professional, volunteer, and artistic pursuits are driven by my passion for cultivating the next generation of entertainment leaders and artists, particularly from underrepresented communities whose unheard stories and unique insights must be heard. You can learn more about me, my mission, and my work on my website: aleksejaarsaether.com
Aleksej is on the Employee-Led Groups and Artistic Programs & Our Community subcommittees.
Fran (they/them) is the Conservatory Manager at A.C.T. They hail from an immigrant community located in Stanislaus County; they have volunteered as a canvasser and community organizer to advocate for humane working conditions and fair pay for their community. Fran completed a year of service in AmeriCorps to assist the Fresno Unified School District in developing and implementing support frameworks for queer youth. They provided emergency response services for COVID-19 and the 2020 wildfires with the Red Cross and the Central California Food Bank. They are a former Board member of MoPride, a Center that provides affirming events and resources to queer youth and adults. Fran is also a founder and core leader of IN THE MARGIN, a nonprofit that works to uplift marginalized voices in the arts and beyond. They look forward to contributing to the EDI committee.
Fran sits on the Intentionality & Accountability and Artistic Programs & Our Community subcommittees.
Literary Manager & Casting Associate
Katie Craddock is the literary manager and casting associate at A.C.T. Previously, as the artistic associate at Berkeley Rep, she supported season planning, casting, and dramaturgy, mentored artistic fellows, moderated discussions, taught playwriting and dramaturgy to teens, served on the board/staff antiracism taskforce and the staff DEI education committee, and facilitated the making of new plays at The Ground Floor. Favorite projects so far at A.C.T. include The Headlands, Vietgone 2: Poor Yella Rednecks, The Wizard of Oz, and workshops of commissions by Aleshea Harris, Anne Washburn, and Kate Attwell.
Katie sits on the Employee Led Groups and Intentionality & Accountability subcommittees.
Amy Dalba is A.C.T.’s General Manager and has served on the Staff EDI Committee since 2016 including serving as the committee’s Treasurer in 2019 and 2020. Amy also serves on the LORT EDI Committee and supports the LORT EDI Mentorship program which focuses on matching BIPOC mentors in leadership roles in the Performance Arts Industry with BIPOC mentees currently working at LORT Theaters. The Mentorship’s mission is to expand and promote racial diversity in leadership roles at LORT theaters across the United States.
Amy sits on the Intentionality & Accountability and Investing in Our People subcommittees.
Director of Conservatory, Director of San Francisco Semester Program
Peter J. Kuo (he/him/his) is a theatre director, producer, writer, and educator focusing on raising the visibility of marginalized communities. Achievements include being part of TCG's Rising Leaders of Color cohort, a directing residency at The Drama League, directing assistantships at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Williamstown Theatre Festival, South Coast Repertory, and Geffen Playhouse.
He has directed for A.C.T., Weston Playhouse, East West Players, and Playground. He is a co-founder of Artists at Play, an Asian American theatre collective that produces Los Angeles premieres of works for Asian Americans. Following the success of his Live Video Theatre production of Madhuri Shekar's In Love and Warcraft for A.C.T.'s MFA program, he taught several workshops Live Video Theatre Techniques through Perseverance Theatre Company.
Peter sits on the Employee-Led Groups and Intentionality & Accountability subcommittees.
Director of Education & Community Programs
Juan Manzo (Citizen Artist) is an Arts Education professional & advocate with almost two decades of experience in the field. He has led arts education programs and professional development workshops in Arts Integration for teachers and young people in New York and California. Juan has worked as a Teaching Artist and Arts Education Consultant for multiple organizations including StageWrite, The Old Globe, San 2020-2021 4 Francisco Opera, Young Audiences of the Bay Area, La Jolla Playhouse and Center Theater Group. As a member of the Board of Directors for the Arts Education Alliance of the Bay Area, he has worked for a stronger and more equitable arts education community in the Bay Area. A strong believer in using the arts for creative engagement and problem solving, he is deeply committed to ensuring access to the arts to all students regardless of socioeconomic status or race.
Juan sits on the Investing in Our People and Artistic Programs & Our Community subcommittees.
Director of Dramaturgy and New Works
JOY MEADS is Director of Dramaturgy and New Works at American Conservatory Theater. A.C.T. credits include The Headlands and Communion by Christopher Chen, Fefu and Her Friends by María Irene Fornés, Gloria by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Wakey Wakey by Will Eno, Testmatch by Kate Attwell, Her Portmanteau by Mfoniso Udofia, and The Great Leap by Lauren Yee. Prior to ACT, she was the Literary Manager and Artistic Engagement Strategist at Center Theatre Group, where her dramaturgy credits included the world premieres of Marco Ramirez’s The Royale, Ngozi Anyanwu's Good Grief, Rajiv Joseph's Archduke, Jordan Harrison’s Marjorie Prime (2015 Pulitzer Prize finalist), and Forever by Dael Orlandersmith. Previously, she was Literary Manager at Steppenwolf Theatre Company and Associate Artistic Director at California Shakespeare Theater. Meads has developed plays with Oregon Shakespeare Festival, NYTW, Berkeley Rep, Denver Center, the O'Neill, Ojai Playwrights Conference, BAM, Portland Center Stage, South Coast Rep, and Campo Santo, among others. Joy has worked on new plays with playwrights including Dael Orlandersmith, Will Eno, Sheila Callaghan, Naomi Iizuka, Aleshea Harris, Dominique Morisseau, Lucas Hnath, Paula Vogel, Rajiv Joseph, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Kimber Lee, Qui Nguyen, Jocelyn Bioh, David Adjmi, Universes, and many more. She is a co-founder of The Kilroys (www.thekilroys.org) and a proud native of Oakland California, city of artists and activists.
Joy sits on the Artistic Programs & Our Community and Cultural Competency subcommittees.
Audience Services Manager
Meg Murray manages the Audience Services department for American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco. She brings to her role skills honed through 20 years of management and technology consulting, 15 years of stage and production work and a decade of performance and producing in San Francisco. She's keenly focused on delivering inclusive, safe and meaningful experiences as theater evolves.
Meg sits on the Investing in Our People and Intentionality & Accountability subcommittees.
Chief Financial Officer
Jim Sivori has spent the last 2 years as CFO of the American Conservatory Theater, 12+ years as CFO and Co-Founder of a global advertising agency and 10 years as CPA at PricewaterhouseCoopers, with significant experience in driving integrations, operational buildouts, market launches of new products and services and establishing employee policies and procedures to enhance staff development and job opportunities.
Jim sits on the Intentionality & Accountability and Investing in Our People subcommittees.