In 2008, Encore’s Board of Directs established this annual award in honor of our long-time Executive Producer Celeste Groves, whose “celestial” record of volunteering gives us all a high standard to live up to. Since 1979, Mrs. Groves has served as president, treasurer, administrative officer, box office manager, executive producer and head of Encore’s production committee. Mrs. Groves has been executive producer for more than 85 shows, with a combined audience of more than 150,000. Prior to her retirement, this Arlington resident had a long and successful career as an educator in the Arlington Public School System. Celeste was honored in 2007 with the James B. Hunter Community Hero Award for Lifetime Achievement for her work with Encore.
The 2017 Celeste Award winner was Dana Schindler, who joined us for the annual Benefit Breakfast all the way from her current home in Canada. Her daughter Christine, an Encore alum of many productions, was also present for her mother’s award and speech.
On Tuesday, April 8, 2014, friends and supporters celebrated together in honor of Encore Stage & Studio’s 47 years of Theatre by Kids, for Kids. Encore Stage & Studio also honored Robin Baxter with the 2014 Celeste Award for outstanding volunteer. Robin Baxter served as Board President from 2006-2009 and as a Volunteer Executive Director 2009-2010, and is currently a member of Encore’s Programing Committee. Robin’s early life was enriched and formed by children’s theater participation, beginning with playing “Widget” the elf in The Elves and the Shoemaker in community children’s theater here in Northern Virginia. Through three other community and children’s theater productions, and then in high school (Madison, in Vienna) joining Thespians and playing Anne Frank (in The Diary of Anne Frank) and Puck (in Midsummer Night’s Dream), Robin learned all the great things that Encore provides its participants: teamwork, confidence, literacy, public speaking, history, culture… the list goes on.
During her time as President of the Encore Board, Robin and a great team of officers, board and staff members contributed in achieving the following accomplishments:
– Development/increased public support
– Educational opportunities for Board and Staff
– Moved Board towards Governing Board from Working Board
– Development of Strategic Planning
– Celebrated 40th Anniversary of Encore
– Procured & produced original drama, The Jamestown Adventure
– Modernized Bookkeeping & began process to hire professional bookkeeper
– Increased offerings of programs
– Result: Passed along a much healthier Encore to the next generation of leaders
On April 9, 2013, Encore Stage & Studio honored Rebecca Mann with the 2013 Celeste Groves Award recipient for outstanding volunteer. Rebecca has coordinated our concessions operations since the summer of 2007. She has made countless trips to Costco, schlepped sodas, and inventoried tiny packs of cookies. In estimation she has bought, stored and inventoried over 36,000 concession items.
The 2012 Celeste Award was presented to Patrice Comey on March 20, 2012 at Encore Stage & Studio’s 2nd Annual Sunny Side Up Benefit Breakfast. This award recognizes Patrice’s continuing dedication to our organization and her vision of Encore’s future. She was instrumental in pushing to adopt much needed innovations thereby establishing a firm foundation upon which we can build our future. Like so many, Patrice started in our organization as a consistent, responsible, and friendly parent volunteer when her children became involved in our production program. Patrice joined Encore’s Board of Directors in August 2008 and quickly made an impact on our organization by lending her talents to our Development committee that same year. With her leadership qualities made plain, she was elected as Vice President. Before moving to Connecticut in 2010, Patrice spearheaded our first online annual fundraiser, which has raised over $25,000 for our organization to date. She initiated, organized, and led our successful corporate outreach drive, and helped pave the way for modernizing our ticketing & box office procedures, including the transition to an online box office and credit card system for our patrons. Most of all, Patrice brought a forward-thinking voice to our Board which was critical in helping our organization to achieve our current successes.
Past recipients are Larry McClemons, Leslie Lynch, and Sherry Gainer.
Photos by Clarence Chan and Aileen Pangan