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TheatreWorks Silicon Valley's new executive director Debbie Chinn with artistic director Tim Bond. (Photo by: David Allen)

TheatreWorks Silicon Valley Names Debbie Chinn Executive Director

The former Pipeline Project managing director will succeed interim E.D. Karena Fiorenza in the position.

PALO ALTO, CALIF.: TheatreWorks Silicon Valley has selected Debbie Chinn to be the new executive director starting November 2022. She will succeed interim executive director Karena Fiorenza, who took the reins from Phil Santora in June after 15 years in the role.

Chinn has an extensive background in arts administration, having served as an arts activist, managing director, executive director, and as a member of the board of directors for several national arts organizations. Additionally, Chinn has worked in fundraising, strategic planning, fund development, community/civic engagement, artistic programming, board and staff development, social responsibility campaigns, and financial management. Chinn holds a B.A. from University of Southern California and has completed the Stanford Graduate School of Business’ Executive Program for Non-Profit Leaders.

“My admiration for TheatreWorks is now in its fourth consecutive decade,” said Chinn in a statement. “Since moving to this region in the early 1990s, I have long been aware of TheatreWorks’ consistent spirit of artistic innovation and commitment to providing a creative home for artists, artisans, and the greater community. This is an exhilarating moment for all of us in the arts industry as we come together to design a whole new model for what it means to be a regional theatre and a meaningful member of the communities that we serve. I am eager to return to my beloved theatre roots, to partner with Tim and this dynamic team, and to make history along the way.” 

Most recently, Chinn served as managing director behind Anna Deavere Smith’s Pipeline Projects, a sequel to Smith’s film and play Notes from the Field. Chinn also served as the board president of Theatre Bay Area and has previously served on the boards of Theatre Communications Group and Association of California Symphony Orchestras. As the managing director of California Shakespeare Theater, she led the successful fundraising efforts to launch Cal Shakes’s $8.5 million capital campaign, securing lead gifts and managing the strategic rebuild of annual fundraising campaigns to solidify major individual support. As executive director of Carmel Bach Festival, Chinn curated year-round artistic and educational programs that engaged the Salinas County community.  

Currently, Chinn is on the boards of the Chinese Cultural Center of San Francisco, San Francisco Community Music Center and Playwrights Foundation, the Advisory Council of West Edge Opera, and the Leadership Council for National Small Business Association. Additionally, she is the creative consultant for the writer William Kinsolving on the development of his new musical, That Week With the Bachs, to be presented at the Spacious Grace Festival in the nave of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco in February 2023. 

“I have admired Debbie Chinn from afar for many years and am excited to begin our partnership,” said TheatreWorks Silicon Valley artistic director Tim Bond in a statement. “I am energized by her passion, uplifted by her life story, and inspired by her innovative perspectives. Debbie’s leadership will be transformational for TheatreWorks as we embark on this next phase of our 52-year journey.”

TheatreWorks Silicon Valley was founded in 1970 by Robert Kelley and is currently led by artistic director Tim Bond. In 2019, they received the Regional Theatre Tony Award. TheatreWorks continues to champion new work, offering artists support and a home to develop new stories for American theatre. Additionally, TheatreWorks offers arts education and engagement programs for local schools in the surrounding Silicon Valley neighborhoods. As of 2020, the theatre’s budget was approximately $8.3 million.

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