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BW arts management grad named to Erie Reader's 40 Under 40

The magazine recognized Casey Corritore ’21 as one of “40 young entrepreneurs, creative thinkers, and leaders shaping the future of Erie.”

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Just two years out from her graduation at Baldwin Wallace University, Casey Corritore ’21 is making her mark in the nonprofit arts scene in her hometown of Erie, Pennsylvania.

Erie Reader named Corritore one of “40 Under 40,” an annual list of “40 people who have had a hand in helping to make Erie a more knowledgeable, fair, and beautiful place by being themselves and doing what they believe in." She was chosen from among 300 nominees.

Influencing Erie arts

Corritore, a BW arts management & entrepreneurship graduate, burst onto the Erie arts scene in spring 2022, tasked with helping to reimagine the grantmaking process for her new employer, Erie Arts & Culture (EAC).

As the organization’s program officer of capacity building, Corritore researched emerging grantmaking practices with the goal of “completely rethinking and restructuring the agency's approach to grantmaking to make it more equitable,” she says.

“At EAC, I administer all of our grantmaking programs in a six-county service region, working one-to-one with artists and arts organizations to identify their needs, set actionable goals, and connect them to relevant resources,” Corritore explains. “Based on those conversations, if an educational resource doesn't already exist, I'll create a program to address those needs.”

Brewing up success with persistence

Corritore did not land this influential role right after earning her degree, so her story is also a lesson in persistence, diligence and overcoming self-doubt.

“After graduation, I purchased a one-way ticket to Colorado. I quickly realized that the philanthropic scene was much more active back on the East Coast, so I moved back to my hometown and worked as a barista, with my sights set on returning to Cleveland.

“Over the course of the next year, I applied to a ridiculous number of Cleveland-based fellowships and entry-level jobs, and I continued to make coffee, freelance and network,” she continues. “When EAC's Capacity Building role opened up, imposter syndrome almost stopped me from applying. But I quickly realized that, because of BW and internships, I had practical experience in almost every area of the job description.”

Powerful resume-building at BW

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Casey Corritore began volunteering at arts events like Cleveland’s Brite Winter festival as a BW undergrad; she is pictured here with event mascot, Fluri.

Some of the BW experiences that set her up with that real-world experience include a “transformational” grant writing course where she partnered with a Cleveland-based nonprofit and “created programming informed by community need” and wrote a grant proposal to a Cleveland family foundation.

“Richard Peterson, the course instructor, instantly became one of my career mentors.”

The director of BW’s arts management program, Professor Bryan Bowser, then connected her to Near West Theatre for a virtual grant writing internship where she wrote two successful funding proposals in support of that organization’s youth programming.

“This history of academic training and funding success launched me into a freelance grant writing career the summer after graduation,” Corritore recalls.

Walking the walk

Corritore also jumped into the region’s thriving arts scene as a BW undergrad and continues to stay involved outside her role at EAC.

“I connected with Brite Winter's founding director during BW's Music Festival Production class, and I've been volunteering regularly since as a grant writer and event support staff. Through that connection, I started volunteering with Ingenuity Fest.”

She also volunteers and plays cello with the Mercyhurst Civic Orchestra in Erie and is a member of Young Erie Philanthropists, Young Erie Professionals and PEAK Grantmaking.

Perfect fit

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Corritore has not only forged a career supporting the arts but is also involved as an artist herself, pictured here (left) with her cello.

Corritore, who was described by one 40 Under 40 nominator as “a beacon in the arts community,” believes she landed right where she belongs.

“Today, I get to utilize every aspect of my personal and professional skillset while serving the community that raised me. It's a perfect fit!”

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