Kimberly Senior to Receive Special Jeff Award

Kimberly Senior to Receive Special Jeff Award

“The theatre world is full of creative people with lots of conflicting ideas. When three agree on something, it’s a breakthrough. When 73 do, it’s almost a miracle,” says Jeff Awards Committee Chair David Liesse, “Yet 73 members of the Chicago theatre community co-signed a letter nominating Kimberly Senior to receive this year’s Special Jeff Award for the Non-Equity Wing.”

The 73 artistic directors, directors, actors, designers, and administrators wrote that Senior “has spent her career making the kind of theatre that defines this community in Chicago,” and that while she has done important work as a director and producer for non-Equity theatres across Chicago, “Kimberly’s most important and most lasting legacy in Chicago is the way she has tirelessly championed and fought for many careers other than her own.”

The Jeff Committee agreed, and Senior will be this year’s Non-Equity Special Award recipient, “In recognition of an outstanding director, whose creative vision and collaboration have inspired countless emerging Chicago theatre artists.”

“It’s so exciting,” says Senior, who had no idea the letter had been circulated. “To think that anyone noticed things I’ve been doing for 21 years is really moving for me.”

That Senior has spent 21 years in Chicago theatre was itself a surprise – she originally came from her native New Jersey for a temporary summer position at Steppenwolf – but, “the city enchanted me…the community has nurtured me so well.”
While Senior is perhaps now more often associated with larger, Equity theatres, she was a founder of Collaboraction, spent a decade as an artistic associate at Strawdog, was the first board president of The Hypocrites, and four of her five Jeff nominations – four for Direction, one for Scenic Design – have been in the Non-Equity Wing.

With Equity theatres, Senior has previously been an artistic associate with Chicago Dramatists and Next Theatre, and currently is an associate artist at Timeline, and a resident director at Writers Theatre. She was for ten years an administrator and resident artist for Steppenwolf’s Theatre for Young Adults. In addition to directing dozens of acclaimed productions in Chicago and across the country, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Disgraced, she has been an educator at numerous Chicago theatres and is an adjunct faculty member at Columbia College, where she received the 2010 Excellence in teaching Award. Senior has also taught numerous classes at DePaul and the University of Chicago.

Senior will be formally honored at the Non-Equity Jeff Awards Ceremony, which will be held Monday, June 6, at Park West in Chicago. Ticket information for the event can be found at

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