GET TO KNOW US: KATHRYN LANNING HERMAN
Houston Arts Alliance
Ever wanted to put a Houston Arts Alliance (HAA) name to a face? In this series, we introduce you to our staff, providing a little insight into who they are, and diving into what it is they do. We hope you’ll get to know us! This month the spotlight is on Kathryn Lanning Herman.
DEPARTMENT: Executive Office / Administration
RESPONSIBILITIES: As the Executive Assistant to HAA’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), my primary responsibilities are to work with the CEO and HAA Board of Directors. I work closely with CEO Jonathon Glus on a wide variety tasks. I manage his schedule, handle most correspondence, arrange travel, manage various special projects, coordinate the weekly directors’ meetings, and other assignments as needed. For the HAA Board, I work very closely with the Chairman of the Board, the officers, and other board members. I manage board meeting agendas, logistics, information distribution, and board files, record the meeting minutes, and monitor our adherence to the bylaws. I do the same work for 4-5 committees of the board, and I organize and train other staff members to do the same for their committees. No two days are alike because there is always a lot of juggling and prioritizing to be done.
DEGREES / CERTIFICATES: BFA, University of St. Thomas
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB IN THE ARTS? Technically, my first arts job was as a madrigal singer when I was still in high school, but that was only during the holidays. My first longstanding job in the arts was when I was a senior in college and worked as Assistant Stage Manager for Houston Ballet. I helped the stage manager and production team with the usual duties of the position, but I also worked in the AV library and shoe room. Not only was I able to leverage my experience at Houston Ballet as course credit towards my fine arts degree, but I also had the incredible experience of working on the world premiere of Trey McIntyre's Peter Pan. To this day, I still prefer to watch ballet from the wings. (Side note: I worked at Houston Ballet when Lauren Anderson performed the lead in Cleopatra. Now I work with her as one of our HAA board members.)
WHAT IS YOUR PAST EXPERIENCE WORKING IN THE ARTS & CULTURE? I am a stage manager and have done everything from the norm—plays, musicals, dance performances, and operas—to more unusual productions like a pharmaceutical convention, a drag queen beauty contest, and multiple martial arts exhibitions. Some of my favorite projects were for Bayou City Concert Musicals, Theater Under the Stars, Houston Ballet, Main Street Theater, and Gilbert & Sullivan Society. The same skills and aptitudes that made me a good stage manager—organization, multi-tasking, calm-under-pressure, problem solving, clear communication, et cetera—serve me very well in my work with our CEO and the Board of Directors.
WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT WORKING AT HOUSTON ARTS ALLIANCE? It’s a tie between two things. I’ve been with HAA for ten years, and I have learned so much about the tremendous variety of the arts in Houston. As a native Houstonian, I completely took it for granted that other cities had the same kind of arts scene. I’m also a graduate of the High School for Performing and Visual Arts, and I’m immensely proud to see many of my classmates and other alumni working and succeeding in the arts.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE CULTURAL INSTITUTIONS / ATTRACTIONS / EVENTS IN HOUSTON? It’s very difficult to choose a favorite in Houston because we have a wealth of high quality arts and culture groups and events. I absolutely love METdance (Houston Metropolitan Dance Company), and I hate to miss any of their shows. I also love Bayou City Concert Musicals (BCCM) because of their commitment to doing under-performed musicals and using local Houston talent. I was involved with BCCM in its infancy, and their quality of performances keeps getting better and better.
DO YOU HAVE ANY PETS? Yes, six! I have a cockatiel named Francis, a parakeet named Daisy, and four cats: Luna, CeeCee, Dooley, and Ronald. I have always loved animals, and I could talk about my pets for hours if you let me. I am so passionate about animals that I also lead the Blessing of the Animals event at my church, Trinity Midtown.
IF YOU COULD PAINT YOUR OFFICE ANY COLOR YOU WANTED TO, WHAT WOULD IT BE? My favorite color: yellow! I think it’s impossible to be angry, irritable, or sad when you look at the color yellow. It’s cheerful and uplifting.
WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE TV SHOW GROWING UP? Star Trek: The Next Generation. I am a huge dweeb, and I still watch it whenever it comes on television. The day I met my husband, we had a prolonged conversation about who was the best Star Fleet captain. (Captain Jean-Luc Picard, of course.)
IF YOU CLOSE YOUR EYES AND BE ANYWHERE ON EARTH WHEN THEY OPENED, WHERE WOULD YOU BE? Brazil. I wanted to go there even before the Rio Olympics took place. The country calls to me because it is so massive, magical, and exotic. Its people and culture fascinate me, and the wide variety of ecological systems are home to an incredible range of birds and animals. I want to travel down the Amazon River, explore the rain forests, attend Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, and experience its people, food, and culture.
WHICH MUSEUM (IN THE WORLD) IS YOUR ABSOLUTE FAVORITE? WHICH ARE YOU DYING TO GO TO? I went to the Art Institute of Chicago for the first time last year, and I was amazed to see in person so many of the artworks I had studied in college. It is my new favorite, and I am dying to go back because I didn’t get to see everything. I also went to the National Museum of American History years ago, and I would love to go back to it and visit the other 19 museums that make up the Smithsonian Institution.