Former Journey Theater student Stephen Pick takes the helm of the youth and community theater organization
Michael McCormic, Jr.
VANCOUVER — After a search that began in March of this year, Journey Theater Arts Group has welcomed a new executive director to the staff of the prolific performing arts organization. Having recently graduated with a masters degree from Boston University, Stephen Pick, 29, joins the company’s administration with plenty of experience in both performing arts and business management.
Pick grew up in Clark County, where he first became involved in theater through Journey, which operated under the name “CYT Vancouver” at the time. As a former student of the program, Pick says he is eager to begin learning the ropes and familiarize himself with the way the company is run.
“My first priority is to learn the organization,” Pick says. “What do we do? What do we do well? What are our priorities? What are some gaps? What are some opportunities? What do people want out of the organization?”
Taking the reins of the company from Interim Executive Director Bethany Larson, Pick claims that his ability in artistic leadership is one of the most valuable assets he brings to the table. As the administrative head of Journey Theater, which produces twelve professional-level youth theater musicals every year, Pick will oversee everything from set and lighting design to managing business accounts and fundraising.
While these may be a daunting mix of responsibilities, Pick says he is nonetheless looking forward to building personal connections through his leadership role.
Pick explains, “I enjoy working with people and I love to nurture and to learn what an individual can use from me and what I can learn from that individual.”
In 2011, Pick founded Valley Repertory Theatre in Newberg, OR, after completing his bachelor’s degree in acting and directing at George Fox University.
“There was a vacancy; there was no theater for people to be part of,” Pick says. “My roommate and I, after graduating, decided, lets start this thing. We ran four shows a year for about four years before I went to graduate school.”
Pick attended Boston University to pursue a master’s degree in directing and arts administration. It was during this time that Pick had an epiphany regarding his career path. Having realized that, though many in the theatre realm dream of going to Broadway, his gifting might be better used back home, Pick, his wife, Jessie, and two daughters, Maddie and Lillian, made the decision to move back to the Northwest.
“I was going to follow the career. So, New York, or wherever that led, but about half way through my graduate career I started realizing I really do theater for the people I do it with,” Pick says.
With the decision made to return to Washington and with a profound appreciation for the relationships that are built through the theater community, Pick decided to pursue the position of executive director at Journey Theater when he learned that the organization had an opening.
In fact, having been involved in the program throughout his growing up years, Pick says it was Journey that first piqued his interest in performing arts.
“I had never been involved in theater before starting with Journey and I was totally hooked,” recalls Pick. “I loved the atmosphere, loved the environment. The art was awesome, as well, but I think what brought me and kept me was the community experience.”
It is that same sense of community that Pick hopes to maintain and nurture as executive director. As such, he will be holding three open forums over the next month in the main Journey Theater locations — Vancouver, Portland, and Beaverton. Through these events, Pick hopes to foster conversation between the administration and the Journey Theater families to find the best way that the organization can serve its students and patrons.
Additionally, Pick says that one of his main goals as executive director is to ensure that Journey operates under sustainable business practices in order to protect the resources and people that make the company operate.
As Pick puts it, “First and foremost is that, whatever direction we head, we do so sustainably and in a way that doesn’t burn us out long term. I think any change we make, any direction we move has to be in increments that we can implement and sustain. I think that’s so important because this organization’s biggest asset is people.”