Introducing Carla Bryant, PBD Director of Development

Here’s a short list of some of Carla Bryant’s accomplishments in a distinguished and diverse career that ranges from human capital strategy to marketing to education. Her first job was assistant manager at the Army and Air Force Exchange Service in the DC area; she graduated from college at the age of 20, and was managing 200 people out of the gate. As a federal government contractor in Washington, DC, she obtained several multimillion-dollar contracts by utilizing strategic business development practices to support federal agencies. She provided a variety of human resource services to the Department of Defense, including writing legislation for 750,000 employees. She put together a comprehensive strategic workforce planning initiative for the US Forest Service that changed how the agency develops and reports on its recruitment and retention goals.
 
She’s enjoyed all of it. But her passion since childhood has been the performing arts, particularly theatre. “My parents inculcated a love of the arts,” says Carla. “When I was growing up in Palm Beach County, there wasn’t a lot going on in the arts. But my brother and I both studied theatre as children. We sang, danced, and acted in various school plays and local productions. That’s how my love of theatre started.” 

The daughter of educators, Carla was born at Florida A&M University Hospital; both her parents were pursuing their master’s degrees at the college. She was a year old when the family, which included her older brother, Carleton (now a senior editor with The Washington Times), moved to West Palm Beach. Not surprisingly, in addition to encouraging participation in the arts, her parents instilled a love of learning. Carla would go on to attend Cardinal Newman High School, where she was a National Merit scholar with some of the highest scores in the nation at the time. She then attended Florida State University on a full academic scholarship.
 
Although her career took her in other directions, Carla remained involved in the arts by serving on various boards, including the Burt Reynolds Institute for Theatre Training, Florida Stage, and Caldwell Theatre Company. She engaged in various fundraising initiatives and media campaigns, and also supported the development office of the Kravis Center during its inaugural season. “I think a lot of us who are on the administrative or production side of show business are frustrated actors,” she says. She also served as department chair at Palm Beach State College’s Film and Television School. 
 
The theatre community in Palm Beach County is tight-knit, a world in which everyone seems to know everyone else, and Carla eventually met PBD Managing Director Sue Ellen Beryl and Producing Artistic Director William Hayes. For the past few years, they consulted with her on a variety of subjects, impressed by her wide area of expertise. When they created the new executive position of director of development, they sought her out to see if she would be interested in the job. She joined PBD on May 4.
 
“Carla is uniquely qualified for the position,” says Sue Ellen. “Not only does she have the necessary development experience, but she also brings high-level business skills to the table. Her West Palm Beach roots are another advantage, as she has developed deep ties to and earned the respect of business and political leaders over the years. We couldn’t have found a more suitable candidate.”

For Carla, the job couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. “I’ve been back in West Palm Beach for about five years, but I was traveling to DC two weeks out of the month,” she says. “I was somewhat disconnected from the community, and it started to bother me. I was looking to make a change; I wanted to find a way to reconnect to my hometown. And I really needed something that allowed me to touch my humanity and to allow others to feel their own humanity. It was important for me to do something different, and intellectually and emotionally, the arts have always saved me. So, I was very happy when this job came along.”
 
She had considered pursuing a career in the arts, but despite the singing, dancing, and acting lessons, she was aware that she was “horrible at all of it.” Instead, she decided to major in merchandising. “It was a way for me to maintain some level of creativity, but also learn a lot about business as well,” she says. She also has a master’s degree in Human Resource Development from Palm Beach Atlantic University.
 
Carla has worked in the corporate world and had her own business. She has done organizational and business development consulting, and designed and facilitated training curricula in a variety of areas. “I really wanted to grab life by the lapels and shake it as hard as I could, and I think my collective resume reflects that,” she says. No matter the position, she believes that, in addition to focusing on the work, building relationships is key. “That’s definitely true of my work with PBD, and I'm starting from scratch to a degree because I have been away. So, I’m building relationships in the arts community, with board members, and with my peers.” 
 
Her knowledge of data analytics is also a huge plus for PBD. “One of the key focuses for me is developing donation campaigns for targeted audiences,” she says. “So, I've been spending the last four months analyzing the data. I am delineating our various audiences, everyone from board members to subscribers who have never donated. Data analytics has become a very critical piece for the fundraising industry.”     
 
Carla took the job after the pandemic necessitated the shutdown of PBD and all other theatres, adding to both the challenge and the urgency of her work. “Bill and Sue Ellen have built a fantastic relationship with current patrons and donors, and Dramaworks has a wonderful reputation, so that eased the way for me to come in and build on those relationships and solicit donations,” she says. “With all our programming currently online, our greater task is to maintain the interest of our current patrons and find new patrons and donors. And I’m confident we’ll succeed, as we continue to expand our online programming with wonderful content." 
There will be no Dramalogue: Talking Theatre! this Friday, September 18, the first night of Rosh Hashanah. For those of you who celebrate the holiday, “Shanah Tovah.” Dramalogue resumes on September 25, when the guest will be Estelle Parsons

The next Drama(in the)works, on Monday, September 21 at 7:30pm, is how it feels to fall from the sky by Dominic Finocchiaro. After witnessing a woman plummet from the sky, five strangers in New York form a support group to process what they have seen. A melancholic dramedy about loneliness, loss, and the unending possibility of salvation through human connection.
 
Dominic Finocchiaro Full-length plays include angel's share, brother brother, brut, complex, The Found Dog Ribbon Dance, Gold Person, how it feels to fall from the sky, The Lucky Ladies, mother’s son, and Trees in their youth. His writing has been produced and developed around the country, including at Roundabout Theatre Company, The New Group, Actors Theatre of Louisville, the Echo Theater Company, the Civilians, Clubbed Thumb, the Lark Play Development Center, National New Play Network, Portland Center Stage, the Flea Theater, the Kennedy Center, PlayPenn, Seven Devils Playwrights Conference, Dixon Place, and The Amoralists. MacDowell Fellow and Ucross Fellow. BA from Reed College, MFA from Columbia University. Lila Acheson Wallace Fellow at the Juilliard School.
 
Mark and Diane Perlberg are the executive producers of Drama(in the)works. Penny Bank and Roe Green/The Roe Green Foundation are the associate producers.
 
Tickets to Drama(in the)works are free, but reservations are required. Visit www.palmbeachdramaworks.org or call the box office at 561.514.4042, x2. And donations to PBD are always welcome! 
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 21 AT 7:30PM

After witnessing a woman plummet from the sky, five strangers in New York form a support group to process what they have seen. A melancholic dramedy about loneliness, loss, and the unending possibility of salvation through human connection.

Sponsored by:
Mark and Diane Perlberg, Executive Producers
Penny Bank, Associate Producer
Roe Green and The Roe Green Foundation, Associate Producer

Tickets are available beginning today online or by calling (561) 514-4042 ext. 2
To view the past Dramalogue: Talking Theatre! programs featuring
J. Barry Lewis Colin McPhillamy The Lubben Brothers
Margery Lowe Rob Donohoe Karen Stephens
Elizabeth Dimon