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Recognizing 100 CEOs & C-level Executives

Geri Wright

Managing Director

Arizona Theatre Company

Location: Phoenix and Tucson, AZ

Founded: 1966

Industry: Non-Profit Arts Organization

Only a few short months after Geri Wright stepped into her role as managing director of the Arizona Theatre Company, the pandemic hit and the theater world, including Arizona Theatre Company, went dark.

Wright and her team used the pause as an opportunity to reset the culture, creating a new mission, a new vision statement and new values. 

The pandemic forced some staff cuts, and the organization sold the historic building that housed its offices. But ATC revamped its operations, enhanced fundraising and changed its subscription ticket sales model, allowing it to finish the year in the black and pay off debt.

While Wright’s leadership was a key driver in making those changes, she credits the team around her with whatever success she achieves.

“You are only as good as the people with whom you surround yourself,” Wright said. “A successful leader does not lead alone; they put smart people in place, continuously communicate and support in order to accomplish objectives. It is critical that you empower people to make decisions so that you can focus on the vision for the company and the strategies to accomplish goals. No one leads in a silo.” 

Now in its 54th year, ATC aims to create world-class productions to inspire curiosity, creativity, empathy and joy. ATC is a member of the League of Resident Theatres, the largest professional theatre association of its kind in the U.S., and the only LORT member theater to produce in two cities, Tucson and Phoenix. 

Under Wright’s guidance, ATC restructured and has a balanced budget for the first time in years. 

In the coming years, ATC intends to grow awareness and support in Phoenix and Tucson and to launch a capital campaign for its own theater in Phoenix. ATC also intends to expand education programs, including the Arizona Theatre Company Academy, and build on the outreach to both children and adults. It will partner with both Arizona State University and the University of Arizona, and potentially other colleges throughout the state, to offer apprenticeship programs and grow as a civic and cultural leader. 

Wright’s work has touched several Arizona nonprofits, including the American Red Cross, Act One and the Heard Museum. She was instrumental in securing the largest unrestricted corporate gift the national American Red Cross organization had ever received. Wright was executive director of Act One, a nonprofit that organized field trips to the arts for students from underserved schools. She more than doubled Act One’s budget and put it on a stable financial track. She led several successful capital campaigns during her 11 years at the Heard Museum, expanding facilities and opening new exhibitions.    

“Strengthening my own skillset by continuously learning and cultivating leadership skills in others are a passion and my highest priorities,” Wright said. “I am hopeful that as I grow, so do the leaders around me. In my opinion, a strong, influential and successful leader is a servant leader and that is the heart of my work.”

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Did you know?

Geri’s passion is connecting with people. Her genuine enthusiasm for the things she cares about is contagious and inspirational to all who work with her. She loves to be surrounded by the things she loves, especially her horses Blue and Fleet, who she can see from her A-frame second-story office window in the turnout below. She’s passionate about spending time with her granddaughters, and she especially loves taking them to see live theatre.


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