The Opposite of Goodbye: A Note from Katy

May. 31, 2018

Dear TONYC Spect-Actors, Friends and Neighbors,

I am writing today to share big news. In late fall, I will be stepping down from my position as the Founding Executive Director of Theatre of the Oppressed NYC.


I love this organization and the important work we do together more than I can express, which makes this an emotional announcement for me. However, much of the emotion is excitement! TONYC has grown and strengthened so much in the last seven years, that I, along with the TONYC community, believe that it’s a perfect moment to make space for new leadership.

At TONYC, we believe in change! We believe change is both possible and necessary, and that it requires us all to act creatively. We also believe in sharing power, and in shared leadership. We have witnessed the consequences of assigning power and responsibility to only a few people in a community, when in actuality, TONYC’s community has been built and is held up by a multitude. We are so grateful to you for being part of our community and participating in our work over these past years, and in the years to come.

Since its inception in 2011, we have grown TONYC from a small collective of volunteers to a bold organization with 10 theatre troupes, 24 full- and part-time staff, a budget of $800,000, a Legislative Theatre series, and a new permanent office and workshop space in the Theater District. See more of TONYC’s key accomplishments over the past seven years below.


With TONYC now in a stable position and growing at a healthy pace, the timing is right for a transition. We aim to identify a new leader with the fundraising, management, and strategic ability and experience to take TONYC to the next level, transitioning the organization from start-up phase to growth and sustainability phase. In alignment with our commitment to racial justice, anti-oppression, and leadership development throughout our organization, it’s time to open up the executive director role to new leaders who may be directly impacted by the issues we address in our work. I will remain deeply involved in Theatre of the Oppressed work and supportive of TONYC, with a focus on further refining and piloting the Legislative Theatre process in communities across the United States  and internationally — in this civically-challenged moment!


We have formed a transition committee made up of both staff and board members, and are holding regular stakeholder meetings with our entire community to inform the transition process and the goals of the search. We are taking our time in this process and making lots of space for celebration, visioning, and input! And we’re grateful to be working with great folks at Community Resource Exchange who are helping guide us through this process.

The job posting is open! Please help us share it widely within your community of activist-administrators — especially those who understand the power of art to propel structural change, and believe that fun is a key ingredient for the revolution!

With love and gratitude,
Katy Rubin, the Transition Team, and the TONYC actors, jokers, staff and board


P.S. We’ve accomplished so much! Just a few of the many things we’re proud of include:

In 2013, TONYC launched the first large-scale Legislative Theatre process in the United States, bringing together New Yorkers impacted by structural racism, classism, homophobia, and other systemic oppressions, alongside advocates, activists, residents, and elected officials.

From New Orleans, Louisiana to Jackson, Mississippi to Sydney, Australia, we have trained and supported communities in their development of the Theatre of the Oppressed techniques.

We have engaged in rigorous leadership development since our founding, leading to the hiring of 12 staff facilitators (to date) from within our actor community.

In 2017, we published the first Legislative Theatre Report, chronicling the impact that Legislative Theatre has had on policy in New York City and civic engagement among thousands of New Yorkers. Our work has also inspired other groups to try the same techniques internationally.

We launched a Rapid Response forum theatre troupe to support grassroots campaigns around the city and deepened our practice of Creative Advocacy to bring fun, storytelling, accessibility and creativity to the ongoing movements for justice.

In 2017, we purchased a permanent office and workshop space in the Theatre District, providing our organization with stability and sustainability that are very rare for a nonprofit of our size. Our new home allows us to grow our programs and our team in a way that will deepen our ability to work towards equity and justice, impact city policy, and increase civic engagement.