About Face Theatre Names Rob Abernathy New Board President

Friday, October 10, 4:50 PM written by AFT Theatre

CHICAGO (October 6, 2014) – About Face Theatre is pleased to announce the appointment of Rob Abernathy as President of its Board of Directors effective immediately. Abernathy, who has served as the Board’s Vice President since 2011, replaces Bill Michel, who is stepping down after nine years as Board President. Michel will continue to serve on the Board of Directors.

New Board President Rob Abernathy (left) along with 3 new board members Carmelo Barbaro, Chris Schmidt and Tom Sondergeld.
New Board President Rob Abernathy (left) along with 3 new board members Carmelo Barbaro, Chris Schmidt and Tom Sondergeld.

“As we head into our 19th season, About Face Theatre has found ways to thrive and grow in Chicago, not least of which is the opening of our exciting new administrative and artistic hub in Edgewater,” comments Rob Abernathy. “With a powerful new board of 19 dedicated and diverse Chicago leaders allied with AFT’s expanded staff, re-engaged financial supporters, artists and youth, we will continue to produce exciting and relevant new plays, as well as support our youth and outreach programs, of which I am especially proud. These are exciting times for About Face and I’m thrilled to take on the presidency of its board,” adds Abernathy.

“Rob Abernathy is passionate about the power of theatre to change our perspective on the world,” comments About Face Artistic Director Andrew Volkoff. “It’s Rob’s direct and passionate connection to About Face and the work we do, as well as his sharp business skills and commitment to growth in all arenas, that will make him an outstanding leader of the organization. Rob takes the reins of stewardship from Bill Michel, who has served on the board for 12 years – nine of them as President. We are honored to have had Bill at the helm and are thrilled he will remain on the Board. He holds the distinction of having worked with every artistic director in AFT’s history and his unbelievable commitment to the organization and its mission has seen the company through numerous successes and challenges. Bill and Rob are devoted to About Face and I know their close work in the past will set the stage for Rob’s successful leadership moving forward,” adds Volkoff.

About Face Theatre is also pleased to welcome three new board members: Carmelo Barbaro, Chris Schmidt and Tom Sondergeld.

About Rob Abernathy

Rob Abernathy is originally from Southeast Missouri, attended Memphis University, and later DePaul University in Chicago. He received his Certified Financial Planner designation from the College for Financial Planning in Denver, CO in 1991.

Prior to opening his own financial planning firm in 1981, Rob served as CFO and Secretary Treasurer of a large manufacturing firm headquartered in Memphis, TN. In 1983, Rob moved his financial planning practice to Waddell & Reed, a national financial planning and investment management firm. He currently is the managing principal of one of Waddell & Reed’s top five divisions, with locations in Chicago’s loop, Oak Brook, Oakbrook terrace, and Brookfield, IL. As alumnus of Waddell & Reed’s Leadership Council, he has been instrumental in helping to guide his firm’s vision, policies, procedures, and cultural change as they evolved to serve the financial planning needs of the consumer and the advisor.

Rob’s chosen area of expertise and focus is the development of educational and support systems to assist financial advisors in building successful financial planning practices. For over 25 years he has utilized his strong coaching and facilitating skills to help design and direct a variety of initiatives that have been widely adopted by financial planners nationwide to help them reach new levels of performance and sustainable growth. He has been recognized consistently for contributions as a leader and educator, not only in his firm but also in the professional organizations in which he has served.

Rob is an active member of the Financial Planning Association of Illinois, where he previously served in their leadership as the Chairman of their Board of Directors. The Alliance Forum, a professional cooperative of the ten largest FPA chapters selected Rob to chair their leadership development team and to travel nationally instructing in leadership training, systems development and sponsors development.

As a recognized leader in financial planning practice management, he is a frequent presenter at seminars and professional groups, speaking on the value of financial planning for individuals and their families, and on how financial advisors can organize their lives and practices to better serve their clients.

Rob served in the local leadership of Chicago’s Human Rights Campaign as a member of their Board of Governors, working primarily to engage and energize new donors to HRC as members of its Federal Club.

About Face Theatre has been a major focus of Rob’s volunteer leadership efforts since 2009. In his prior role as Board Vice President, Rob assisted in the development of supporters, expansion of the board, and building systems and procedures for the governance and administration of the company.

Rob and his partner, Peter Vamvakas, a full time Chicago actor, support many LGBT organizations and causes with their attendance and financial contributions: i.e. Equality Illinois, TCRA, Lambda Legal, Youth Outlook, etc.

About Face Theatre creates exceptional, innovative, and adventurous plays to advance the national dialogue on gender and sexual identity, and to challenge and entertain audiences in Chicago, across the country, and around the world.