North Texas Performing Arts announced on February 25 that Sara Egelston Akers, the Founder of its Plano Children’s Theatre, is retiring at the end of May 2022.

Sara Egelston Akers founded Plano Children’s Theatre over three decades ago. From that foundation, NTPA has become the largest youth theatre in the country. Sara served as PCT’s Executive Director and oversaw its theatre operations since 1991.

In 2015, Sara stepped down from theatre management responsibilities and took on the role of overseeing NTPA’s fundraising, community outreach and diversity efforts. Today, she serves as NTPA’s Vice President of Community Outreach.

“Sara’s impact on the performing arts across North Texas has been profound, and her work has impacted thousands of families,” says NTPA’s Chief Executive Officer Darrell Rodenbaugh who has managed NTPA’s operations since 2015. “Sara is a gifted educator, counselor, leader, artist and dear friend. We wish her the very best of happiness as she moves into this next phase of her life.”

Sara Akers, founder of Plano Children’s Theatre, is retiring. Pictured here in this older photo, Sara teaches children at PCT upon its founding. | Courtesy of North Texas Performing Arts

“North Texas Performing Arts has been a blessing to my life,” says Sara Egelston Akers. “Our staff, artists, students and their parents are so very precious to me, and I feel so honored to see this incredible community come together to experience and love the performing arts. I am proud of what we have built and am so thankful to our Governing Board and our CEO for their amazing work and support.”

Sara’s Plano Children’s Theatre was one of the first dedicated youth theatres with a focus to put children on stage, adopting a casting philosophy that any child could play any role, taking an early leadership role in diversity and inclusion.

Her work to employ drama as a means of therapy for students with disabilities made her a pioneer in a study that has since become mainstream, especially thanks to NTPA’s Starcatchers troupe, which offers adaptive performing arts programs for students with disabilities.

“Sara Akers has been a vital and creative contributor to Plano’s performing arts landscape, and we are so thankful for her leadership and impact over the past three decades,” said Plano mayor John Muns.  “The city and entire North Texas region owe Sara a debt of gratitude for the many gifts she has shared with us. We are thrilled to honor her as she moves to the next chapter in her life.”

The Willow Bend Center of the Arts grand opening. Mike Mazur, Darrell Rodenbuagh, Sara Akers, and Steve Flad. | Courtesy of North Texas Performing Arts

Sara will continue to serve on NTPA’s Governing Board of Directors, direct and teach, participate in its Arts Advisory Council, the NTPA Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force and other efforts.

NTPA’s Governing Board through its management succession plan appointed twenty-year development veteran Patricia Gregory in the role of Senior Director of Development two years ago with the responsibility of overseeing NTPA’s fundraising and development operations.

“Sara Akers has made an indelible impact on the arts in North Texas during her thirty-year career. She has ignited a passion for the arts within tens of thousands of children, encouraging them to reach their full potential.” says Katherine Wagner, Chief Executive Officer of the Business Council for the Arts. “There is no doubt that Sara has made our families and communities stronger and better through her vision, inspiration, determination and hard work. She is much loved for her heart and her contributions.”

NTPA has established the “Sara Egelston Akers Legacy Fund” which will provide support for NTPA’s needs-based scholarships, enabling youth from all backgrounds and abilities to have access to the best-in-class performing arts experiences provided by North Texas Performing Arts.

More information can be found at NTPA.org.

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