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BW alumna rises at local theatre organization

In just her second job out of college, Melissa Waddell '19 has risen to director of development for Cleveland Public Theatre.


Melissa Waddell '19
Melissa Waddell '19

Melissa Waddell '19 has used the diverse knowledge, mentors and skills she gained as a student at Baldwin Wallace University to launch her professional career to new heights.

She states that the coursework at BW taught her the ropes of her field and gave her meaningful connections outside of the university — connections that presented her with numerous professional opportunities during and following her undergraduate studies.

Waddell graduated with a major in arts management & entrepreneurship, with minors in theatre and accounting, before attending Regis University to receive her master's degree in nonprofit management in 2022.

BW Career Networking

In her senior year at BW, she completed an on-campus internship with the Office of Academic Grants. Her mentor for that internship, Annie Heidersbach, as well as two of her professors, Kathleen Cerveny and Paul Putman, helped her land a position as the philanthropic coordinator at the Cleveland Foundation.

Of the experience, she said, "Annie and Paul continued to provide guidance and additional connections, supporting me even more as I worked towards my master's degree. Thanks to both the arts management program and my work in BW's honors program, I had incredibly strong foundational knowledge as well as some research experience that prepared me perfectly for the next step in my education."

Passion Supported by Undergrad Experience

Waddell (right) with her CPT coworkers
Melissa Waddell (right) with Cleveland Public Theatre coworkers

Waddell's dreams of working at a "mid-sized, community-focused arts organization" brought her to Cleveland Public Theatre (CPT), a nonprofit organization that uses theatre programs and performances to nurture compassion and consciousness in the Cleveland community. 

She started at the organization as associate development director, which saw her assisting with the creation and implementation of fundraisers for the nonprofit. Shortly after her arrival, she was elevated to director of development.

Waddell shared that she "will always be grateful to BW's [Carmel Boyer] business school and the professors there for preparing me so well for the financial elements of my job."

She also appreciates that "the arts management major requires students to minor in an art form; having a strong understanding of theatre and theatrical production consistently enhances my ability to collaborate with and support my colleagues."

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