Collaboraction, a social justice theater company that uses theater and digital media to incite change and grow equity in Chicago, today named Saudia Davis as its new Executive Director.
A multi-entrepreneur, producer, developer, creative entrepreneur, and creative strategist, Davis comes to Collaboraction with over 25 years of experience in the creative sector focused on the business of entertainment. As a non-profit leader, the combination of her corporate background, passion for ideation, connectivity, problem solving and resource development enable her to generate impact. Davis was the Founding Director for The Center for Creative Entrepreneurship based out of 2112 Incubator and is recognized for leading the development of a 1,000-seat theater development, Kehrein Center for the Arts, KCA, in Chicago's Austin neighborhood, where she also created the vision for how the venue operates focused on community engagement. As a producer/developer, she defines her business practice as Reel to Real, REEL Film/TV Development and REAL Estate Development. She creates places for artists to play on stage and in front of the camera. Davis is excited to share her insights in creative entrepreneurship along with some innovators and thought leaders in her first book, “33 Ways Not to Screw Up Creative Entrepreneurship.”
“I have been a fan and supporter of Collaboraction and their ability to cultivate change for over 10 years,” said Davis. “Collaboraction was the theater company that inspired the development for the Kehrein Center for the Arts. In my position as Executive Director, I am thrilled to affectionately enhance an already amazing organization.”
"The Board and Hiring Committee concurred that Saudia would be an enormous addition to Collaboraction's growth trajectory with our ambition to spread our unique culture of community-driven theatre. Collaboraction's growth and success in our mission to create positive social change hinge upon an inspirational leader and Saudia is it! It will be a pleasure and a gift to work closely with her," said Collaboraction Board President Darlene Jackson.
“Collaboraction is delighted to welcome Saudia Davis to our team as Executive Director at a perfect time for her to contribute her incredible attributes of leadership, vision-building and development as we manifest our mission to use theater, film and crucial conversations to cultivate social change,” said Collaboraction Artistic Director Anthony Moseley.
Davis succeeds Dr. Marcus Robinson, who earlier this year was named Co-Director of Enrich Chicago, an Anti-Racism consulting and training provider in the Chicago arts and culture sector. Robinson has joined Collaboraction’s board of directors.
About Collaboraction: Changing the map and removing barriers within the theater industry
Collaboraction, Chicago’s theater for social change, collaborates with a diverse community of Chicagoans, artists and community activists to create original theatrical and virtual experiences that cultivate dialogue and action around the world’s most critical social issues. Since the company’s founding in 1996, Collaboraction has pushed artistic boundaries working with more than 4,000 artists to bring over 100 productions and events to more than 150,000 unique audience members, and has inspired measurable positive change on social justice in Chicago and beyond. Collaboraction’s work includes Sketchbook, Peacebook, Crime Scene, Forgotten Future and Gender Breakdown.
Collaboraction has been acknowledged for innovation and inclusivity by using theater as a tool for social change with numerous awards including, most recently, a 2020 Foster Innovation Award from Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, the 2020 Multi-Racial Unity Award from the First Unitarian Church-Chicago, a 2018 Stand For the Arts Award from Comcast & OvationTV, and an Otto Award from New York’s Castillo Theatre.
Collaboraction’s Together Network presents exclusive virtual content like Becoming, a live web show for anyone looking to be active anti-racists (first Tuesday of every month at 6 p.m. CT), and Crucial Connections, a live, interactive talk show that brings social justice warriors, artists and community residents together for crucial conversations (third Thursday of every month, 8 p.m. CT). Learn more at collaboraction.org/together-network.
In September and October, Collaboraction presented its 6th Peacebook Festival in person at Kennedy-King College in Englewood and the Kehrein Center for the Arts in Austin. Each event included a selection of world premiere Gifts of Peace Solos created and performed live and in-person by a diverse line-up of leading peace visionaries, including Tony Award-winner Karen Olivo.
In August 2021, Collaboraction returned to live performances with The Light, a new ensemble of six high-achieving Chicago youth artists and activists, as part of the Chicago Park District’s Night Out in the Parks program. Visit collaboraction.org/the-lIght to see where The Light will perform next.
Collaboraction continues to use the theater at Kennedy-King College in Englewood as its mainstage producing home. Meanwhile, the company has initiated a search for its next home for live performances, community building and video production, exploring Chicago neighborhoods historically overlooked like Englewood, Austin and Lawndale.
Collaboraction’s Board of Directors includes Darlene Jackson, Columbia College Chicago (Chair); Andrew Balderson, Balderson & Co. (Treasurer); Pat Merryweather-Arges, Rotary Club (Secretary), and Dana N. Anderson, writer, director and actor; David Cherry, All Stars Project; John Clark, Cordogan, Clark & Assoc.; John Curley, Paradigm Presents; Sandra Delgado, writer and actor; Justin Frick, AV Chicago; David Genovese, iFly Chicago; Jeremy Getz, AV Chicago; Jason McAllister, Paragon Tech; Sarah Neukom, ESP Presents; Steven Philpott, XtraMedium; Sammy Rangel, Life After Hate; Dr. Marcus Robinson, Enrich Chicago; and Matthew Woodburn, Chop Shop/1st Ward.
Collaboraction is supported by The Chicago Community Trust, the National Endowment for the Arts, Illinois Humanities, Paul M. Angell Foundation, Marc & Jeanne Malnati Family Foundation, Joseph & Bessie Feinberg Foundation, the Bayless Family Foundation, Spreading Hearts, AV Chicago, and the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency. Collaboraction is supported by a grant of U.S. Department of Treasury funds through the City of Chicago. (The opinions, findings, conclusions and recommendations expressed by Collaboraction are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Treasury or the City of Chicago.)
Want to spark social change in Chicago and beyond?
Become a CollaborActivist! Join the company’s new member program that supports digital workshops and live programs, helps pay artists equitably, and provides a brave space for diverse voices who create transformative performances on critical social issues. CollaborActivists receive exclusive invitations to monthly social events (virtual and in-person), free or discounted tickets, special swag, and updates on Collaboraction’s community impact. Become a CollaborActivist for as little as $1 a month at collaboraction.org/collaboractivist.