Michael Rohd is founding artistic director of Sojourn Theatre, a sixteen-year old ensemble-based company and a 2005 recipient of Americans for the Arts’ Animating Democracy Exemplar Award. He is the recipient of the 2015 Otto Rene Castillo Award for Political theater, and of the 2015 Robert Gard Foundation Award for Excellence. He devises and directs new work around the nation and is on faculty at Northwestern University where he helps lead the MFA Directing Program. He wrote the widely translated book Theatre for Community, Conflict, and Dialogue (15th printing, Heinemann Press, 1998). His work with CPCP Sojourn, and in non-arts sector settings around the nation focuses on social practice and civic practice cross-disciplinary projects through collaboratively designed arts-based engagement and participation strategies. He is the 2013-2016 Doris Duke Artist-in-Residence at Lookingglass Theater Company in Chicago. Recent/Current projects include leading a two year Sojourn Artist-in-Residence collaboration with Catholic Charities USA poverty reduction sites around the US; collaborations with Steppenwolf Theater, Bush Foundation, Lincoln Center, Singapore Drama Educators Association and Americans for the Arts; and, working with theaters and universities around the country to mount locally specific projects based on Sojourn's model performance/engagement process/production How To End Poverty in 90 Minutes.
Soneela Nankani is Managing Director for the Center for Performance and Civic Practice. In addition, she continues to serve as Managing Director of Sojourn Theatre as she did for two years prior to helping found CPCP. She brings many years of experience in the fields of economics, finance and urban health policy to her role at CPCP, most notably her experience designing, writing and administering grants for arts-based health programs at the Center for Urban Health Policy and Research. Soneela has worked nationally as a community dialogue facilitator, teaching artist and co-creator/performer in capacity-building and place-based projects beginning in 1992 with Michael Rohd’s Hope Is Vital in Washington DC. She is an actor and ensemble member with Sojourn Theatre. Sojourn projects include: Passing Glances, Seven Great Loves, Witness Our Schools, Islands of Milwaukee and Sojourn’s Artist-in-Residence collaboration with Catholic Charities. Additionally, Soneela is an accomplished actor, writer, singer and voiceover artist; having performed widely in New York and regional theater, television, film and commercials. Favorite projects include work with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Classic Stage Company and Tectonic Theater Project. She is a prolific audiobook narrator with over 50 titles to date.
Soneela was the recipient of Columbia University’s Research Fellowship in Acting in 2006, which resulted in a year-long apprenticeship with Columbia’s Head of the Acting and voice pioneer, Kristin Linklater. She holds a Bachelor’s in Economics and Theatre from the University of Pennsylvania and an MFA in Acting from Columbia University. Soneela lives in Brooklyn, NY.
Director of Design
Shannon Scrofano is a Los Angeles-based designer whose work includes live and interdisciplinary performance, public dialogues, installation, exhibition, curation and media projects, throughout the US and internationally. She collaborates with communities, organizations and other artists to explore capacity-building and place-based design practices for activating local potential.
As the Director of Design for the Center for Performance and Civic Practice, she is developing online and material platforms for new research in civic practice, and field-building tools to explore past and future models for artists and designers in residency at civic and non-profit organizations. She currently teaches at California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), was visiting faculty at Brown University in 2015, and has been a guest lecturer / artist-in-residence at more than a dozen institutions including Georgetown, Northwestern, Duke, and the Art Institute of Chicago, and has presented at festivals and conferences including the Prague Quadrennial, Portland Institute of Contemporary Art, and the University of Goldsmiths in London.
Project Coordinator, Catalyst Initiative
Rebecca Martinez is a Brooklyn-based ensemble member of Sojourn Theatre and works as a creator/performer, choreographer, facilitator, and teaching artist. Rebecca has worked with companies such as Milagro Theatre, Oregon Children’s Theatre, INTAR, Brave New World Repertory Theatre, Culture Project IMPACT Festival, FringeNYC, One Minute Play Festival, the 52nd Street Project, Hybrid Theatre Works, Cherry Lane and the Lark. Rebecca is a Co-Curator of Working Theater’s Directors Salon, a member of the Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab, INTAR’s Unit52, the SDCF Observership Class and is a member of the Latina/o Theatre Commons Steering Committee. Awards include four Portland Theater Drammy Awards (Ensemble Acting: 7 Great Loves and The War Project: 9 Acts of Determination – Sojourn Theatre; and Choreography: 7 Great Loves – Sojourn Theatre and The Brother/Sister Plays – Portland Playhouse) and the Lilla Jewel Award for Women Artists.
Research Assistant and Project Coordinator, HTEP
Sara Sawicki is a Chicago-based theatre artist who has worked nationally with Sojourn Theatre, most recently as a performer/facilitator in the professional premiere of HOW TO END POVERTY... in collaboration with Portland Playhouse. Sara is a founding company member and Co-Artistic Director of Buzz22 Chicago where she directed the professional premiere of Laura Jacqmin's GHOST BIKE. Other credits include projects with one step at a time like this in collaboration with Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Actors Gymnasium, Manual Cinema and Thirteen O'Clock Theatre.
Partners + Advisors
Laura Zabel is executive director of Springboard for the Arts, an economic and community development agency whose programs help artists make a living and communities tap into the resource that artists provide. Springboard recently launched a national platform to share stories and resources, and its programs have been replicated in over 50 communities across the country. Its projects also include Community Supported Art, which connects artists directly with patrons; the Artists Access to Healthcare program; and the Irrigate project. Zabel is a 2014 Bush Foundation Fellow and recipient of the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits Visionary Leader Award.
Animating Democracy is a program of Americans for the Arts, is under the co-direction of Barbara Schaffer Bacon and Pam Korza. Animating Democracy inspires, informs, promotes, and connects arts and culture as potent contributors to community, civic, and social change.
Board of Directors
Art of the Rural
Portland General Electric Foundation
Center for Performance and Civic Practice, Sojourn Theatre
Springboard for the Arts
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
The Nathan Cummings Foundation
The Civic Practice Lab is supported by funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, granted to LookingGlass Theater.