Straz Center for the Arts Executive Staff (updated 01/28/13)
President, Chief Executive Officer
Lisi joined the Straz Center in 1992. Through her leadership, the Straz Center has significantly expanded its programming, established financial stability, retired an accumulated debt, and has met the goals of three five year, long-range plans. Lisi’s arts management philosophy includes a belief in, and a commitment to, the community and to ensuring outreach, accessibility, and audience development for the entire community through multicultural and educational programming.
Lisi has directed more than 40 productions and has written six plays. She holds a Master’s Degree in theater and communication arts from St. Louis University, and has done doctoral work in theater at the University of Minnesota. She studied opera at the Juilliard School of Music and with the Metropolitan Opera. Previously, as Executive Director of the prestigious Shubert Performing Arts Center in New Haven, Connecticut, the Shubert enjoyed artistic and financial success.
In May 2002, the League of American Theatres and Producers honored Lisi with the Samuel J. L' Hommedieu Presenter of the Year Award for "bringing the magic of live theater to thousands of area residents through a variety of audience development and education programs." In January 2008, Lisi received the prestigious Patrick Hayes Award for Lifetime Achievement from ISPA, the International Society for the Performing Arts.
Chief Operating Officer
Shepard joined the Straz Center in 1990 as Production Manager. In 2005 he was named Senior Vice President and Chief Operational Officer. Shepard oversees all aspects of the Straz Center’s general programs and services, which includes advancing the center’s strategic mission and the administration of the following divisions: patron services, production services, security and safety, facilities, retail and food and beverage. Under his leadership, the center opened the Dr. Pallavi Patel Performing Arts Conservatory, the first addition to center since it opened in 1987. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Fine Arts with a concentration in theater production from Earlham College. Shepard currently serves on the Board of Directors of the International Association of Assembly Managers.
Mary Beth Rossi
Chief Financial Officer
Rossi joined the Straz Center in 2004 as Chief Financial Officer. She holds degrees in finance and accounting from the Rochester Institute of Technology and Nazareth College of Rochester, and is a licensed Certified Public Accountant in Florida and New York, as well as a Certified Management Accountant. Her experience includes almost 23 years of accounting, financial management, planning and analysis along with systems technology for multi-million dollar corporations, as well as public accounting work. Before her appointment as CFO, Mary Beth worked as a key financial advisor and controller for various divisions of Cardinal Health, BF Goodrich and Johnson & Johnson.
Vice President of Development
Britton joined the Straz Center in 1991 as associate director of development, and after serving in various fundraising capacities, she was named Vice President of Development in 2001. Britton oversees all areas of fundraising for both the Straz Center and TBPAC Foundation including annual giving, corporate and foundation relations, endowment and planned giving, public funding and special events. Under her leadership, the Straz Center surpassed its $30 million capital campaign goal in October 2004. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in business and English from Wittenberg University and received her M.B.A. from The University of Tampa. She is active with several civic and professional organizations and in 2008 received the Wittenberg University National Alumni Citation Award.
Vice President of Marketing
Kilgore joined the Straz Center in 2001 and oversees marketing, public relations, publications, video services, graphics, group services and ticket services. Kilgore came to the center from The Tampa Tribune, where he served as Marketing Director. He is a past chair of the Broadway League’s Road Marketing Forum, the 2009 recipient of the Broadway League’s Outstanding Achievement in Road Marketing award and a past chair of the Performing Arts Center Consortium’s Marketing group. He has served on many Tampa Bay area community boards and organizations, including the Florida Aquarium, Tampa Theatre, MOSI, the Super Bowl Task Force, the NHL All-Star Weekend (chair), Silverspoons and Sandcastles (chair), UT Board of Fellows, the Tampa Downtown Partnership, Tampa Bay & Co., the John Lynch Foundation, the United Way and the Merchants Association of Florida. He graduated from the University of South Florida with a degree in Mass Communications in 1973 and received the USF Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1993.
Vice President of Education and Humanities
Leigh joined the Straz Center after a lengthy and varied career in education and the arts. She holds degrees in education from Columbia College, Missouri, and theater from University of South Florida. She taught Drama in the Bennington College summer program in Vermont. She has more than 20 years experience in professional theater and has also opened two spaces from the ground up – The LOFT Theater and the Off Center, now the Shimberg Playhouse. While focusing on providing opportunities for emerging artists, her mission has always been spotting, cultivating, nurturing and encouraging talented artists, designers and technicians. She is a certified Florida teacher and a member of the Screen Actors Guild.