Steppenwolf Theatre names Brooke Flanagan new executive director

Flanagan becomes the first woman to hold the post in the company’s 45-year history.

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Brooke Flanagan has been named the new executive director of Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre.

Brooke Flanagan has been named the new executive director of Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre.

Courtesy Steppenwolf Theatre

For the first time in its 45-year history, Steppenwolf Theatre Company has named a woman as executive director.

Brooke Flanagan will step into the post currently held by David Schmitz, who will exit mid-July. Schmitz, who served in the capacity since 2015, is headed to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival as its new executive director.

Flanagan previously spent seven seasons at Steppenwolf Theatre as director of major gifts, and currently is the managing director at Chicago Shakespeare Theater.

“We are grateful to be able to continue to commit to our city and community by inviting a leader who has a deep love and understanding of Steppenwolf, its mission and its values,” said Steppenwolf artistic director Anna D. Shapiro in a statement.

In Friday’s announcement, Flanagan said, in part: “The vision for our expanded campus on Halsted Street — one that will add a new platform for intimate storytelling that reflects the diversity of Chicago and expands our capacity to connect with young adults and teachers through our education programs — is needed now, more than ever. On the other side of this time of social distancing, neighborhood theaters like Steppenwolf will play a pivotal role in uniting our communities through art.”

The new facility, just south of the theater on North Halsted, is part of a multiyear expansion costing a total of $73 million, the Sun-Times reported last year. The multi-year project includes the already open 1700 Theatre and Front Bar.

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