Staff Highlight: Andy, Community Engagement Manager + Disney Runner
Andy serves as Starlight’s Community Engagement Manager and helps run programs at Starlight that focus on training in the performing arts–the Blue Star Awards, Starlight Stars, Vincent Legacy Scholarships, Starlight Stars of Tomorrow, and a UMKC College Credit Course for high school students.
In the course of a year, the Community Engagement department engages more than 60 schools, just as many teaching artists, and thousands of students. Andy is always on the lookout for ways to strategically grow and improve these programs.
The variety in his day-to-day responsibilities is one of the things Andy enjoys most about his position! In a given day, he might go from debating which characters are the lead roles in Guys & Dolls, to helping a student find acting classes, to talking about career paths for scenic designers.
“Each day is unique, and we are constantly activating different parts of various programs. It keeps things exciting and fresh.”
The Award Goes To…
Of his professional responsibilities, one of his largest is helping put on the annual Blue Star Awards. The 2023-24 Blue Star Awards season rolled out some of the program’s largest changes in over twenty years.
Andy assisted in expanding student-submitted categories, creating a pathway for schools that don’t stage musicals to participate, and revamping the categories.
“After years of planning, I’m excited to see how these changes allow the program to engage more schools and high school students,” said Andy.
Any teachers or administrators interested in learning more about the Blue Star Awards program can reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org!
From Starlight to Broadway
Last November, Andy saw Kimberly Akimbo on Broadway. The cast included 2021 Blue Star Award winner (and 2023 Tony Award nominee) Justin Cooley.
“I’ve had the opportunity to see previous Starlight program participants on tour and Broadway, but Justin’s speedy path to originating a role was wild to watch happen,” Andy said.
Closer to home, his favorite productions at Starlight include Pippin (2015), Hairspray (2006 & 2018), Hello, Dolly! (2019), and Xanadu (2011, with onstage seating).
When You Wish Upon a Star
When Andy isn’t being a rockstar in the offices at Starlight, he engages in various hobbies, including running Disney races and visiting Disney parks in Florida all the way to Tokyo,
“I run, but I would call it more of a means-to-an-end than a hobby,” Andy said. “I’m a Disney fan and I use their park races as a reason to go on trips. So, while I’ve run half marathons and a full marathon, it’s mostly so I can take a picture with Mickey Mouse and get a shiny medal.”
His most recent summer binges were season one of “Welcome to Wrexham,” season two of “The Bear,” and “The Muppets Mayhem.” His takeaways: “I still don’t understand the rules of soccer, professional kitchens are intense, and nothing beats Muppet content.”
Other hobbies include playing Pokémon and attending as many Starlight shows and concerts as possible.