Executive Committee

Marilyn Strauss
Founder and Chairman

Marilyn Strauss is a former Broadway producer who co-produced five plays, earning a Tony award for the Irish drama Da, an Off-Broadway award (Obie) for Getting Out, and a Tony nomination for the musical Pump Boys and Dinettes.

While residing in NYC for ten years, she traveled through Europe and Asia, lecturing on American plays and theater producing. Ms. Strauss returned to Kansas City at the urging of a fellow producer, the legendary Joseph Papp, founder of the New York Shakespeare Festival. He gave her the mission to have her home town join the ranks of the 120 cities with Shakespeare festivals in North America. Ms. Strauss first started a support club, and refusing recompense, worked full time to create the only Shakespeare Festival in a three state area. After six years as Artistic Executive Director, and, experiencing the deep satisfaction of the public’s embrace of the plays in the park, she turned the reins over to two talented and capable Artistic and Executive directors. The Heart of America Shakespeare Festival’s founder is still active in the organization, serving as Chairman of the Board, and is also an enthusiastic member of several other arts groups in the metro area.

Patricia Davison

Lisa Wendelburg
Vice President, Education

TJ Lynn

Dan Bukovac
Past President

Shirley Bush Helzberg
Past President

Scott Ashcraft, M.D.
Vice President

Charles McCann

Linda Word
Immediate Past President

Don Dagenais
Past President

R. Crosby Kemper III
Past President


Bernadette Ashcraft
David Earls
Gabe Egli
Allan S. Gray II
Addie Harte
Patience Jones
Tom Mentzer
Susan Porter, M.D.

Kelly Privitera
Sue Shinneman
Michael Smoots
Cindy Pratt-Stokes
Anna Marie Tutera
Blake Wendelburg
Bill Ye