Ronna Reynolds: The Bushnell--a sacred place in both my personal and professional life--has been a passion for over a half century. As a child, I had my first piano recital in its Seaverns Room and my glee club singing debut on its Mortensen stage. Throughout my youth, I came to the Hall often, and it was here that I experienced my first opera(Love of Three Oranges), my first play(The Miracle Worker), my first symphony concert( The Hartford Symphony Orchestra under the baton of the colorful Fritz Mahler); and I had my first real date attending a Kingston Trio concert here when I was a sophomore in high school.
My work history at The Bushnell began in 1978 and, over the past 38 years, has included a wonderful variety of responsibilities in marketing, development, strategic planning and executive administration... a deeply satisfying career through which I have privileged to witness the profound value--both intrinsic an instrumental – – of the arts. Each year, I have seen hundreds of thousands of individuals whose spirits have been elevated by the artists on our stages. As importantly, I have thrilled to the manifold impacts of the Bushnell's public programming which collectively elevates the spirit of our community far beyond our walls… in schools, hospitals, senior housing centers, social justice agencies, prisons, youth organizations, corporations and more. I honestly consider myself one of the luckiest people on earth; and there isn't virtually a day that goes by that I am not grateful for a career which enables me to help unleash the boundless power of the arts to the benefit of Hartford and its many residents that call the Capital City "home."
Yolande Spears is the Senior Vice President of Education & Community Initiatives at The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, Connecticut’s premiere performance venue for Broadway theatre, music, dance, children’s theatre, and special events. As SVP of Education, she co-created the Bushnell’s award winning PARTNERS® program which received recognition from the National Endowment for the Arts, US Department of Education, the Connecticut Quality Innovative Award, and the Connecticut Department of Education. In her role as SVP of Community Initiatives, Yolande has developed numerous family literacy and enrichment programs. In recognition of this work, The Broadway League selected The Bushnell to be the first venue to roll out their Family First Nights program, a national endeavor designed to make Broadway programming accessible and affordable for underserved families in the Greater Hartford area. Along with her administrative leadership, Yolande has been a guest speaker at numerous organizations throughout the United States, Canada, and China. In August 2005, Plays for Living commissioned her to write two short plays for a corporate client. Subsequently, her short story, “Buttered Biscuits” was published in the bestselling motivational series, Wake Up & Live the Life You Love. Yolande’s other book, The Gift, was published in the spring of 2012, and won the National Grand Prize Award for children’s literature in June 2013.