SHEPHERDSTOWN – A classroom in the Center for Contemporary Arts at Shepherd University has been named in honor of Catherine Irwin, longtime Contemporary American Theater Festival fundraiser and manager.
The naming of the Catherine Irwin Studio during a dedication ceremony on Friday was made possible through a generous gift from John and Jenny Allen to Shepherd’s Create the Future campaign.
Allen serves as a vice chair of the campaign. The Allens’ gift recognizes and honors Irwin for her devotion to supporting and nurturing artists and their work throughout her career.
Speakers during the ceremony included Shepherd President Suzanne Shipley; Ed Herendeen, founding director of the Contemporary American Theater Festival; and Bob McMillan, chair of the Create the Future campaign.
Irwin is the director of CATF Casting the Future Initiative, a joint fundraising venture with Shepherd University. She served as CATF managing director from 1999 to the fall of 2004, where her responsibilities included management of finances and the annual budget, marketing, staffing and fundraising.
Under her leadership, CATF saw exponential increases in audience size, media coverage and contributions, officials said. Irwin’s theater management career includes 15 years at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., where she was the director of development for three years, participating in two capital campaigns and leading a six-member team that raised $3 million dollars annually.
For 11 years, Irwin was managing director of the Living Stage Theater Company, Arena Stage’s outreach program.
She has worked as a consultant for the Round House Theatre in Maryland during its preparation for a capital campaign and has facilitated retreat planning sessions for the African Continuum Theatre Company in Washington, D.C., and Child’s Play in Arizona. She also served as a consultant for the Meadow Brook Theatre in Michigan.
From 1996 through 1998, she served as director of development for the Hospital for Sick Children in Washington, D.C.
Irwin, who attended Grand Rapids Junior College in Michigan, served as a fellow with the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation Join Together program, was the national vice president of the National Organization for Women and was a national advisory committee member of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
A member of the Leadership West Virginia Class of 2001, Irwin is an active member of the Shepherdstown Rotary Club and the Gateway New Economy Council of the Eastern Panhandle and serves on the board of the American Conservation Film Festival.