Deirdre Harrison, chief operating officer
Deirdre Harrison became Chief Operating Officer for Eighth Blackbird in 2018, after having served as their Interim Director of Development for six months. Previously, she was the Director of Development for the MacArthur-funded shared advancement staff project Creative Partners, Director of Development and Communications for Rush Hour Concerts/Make Music Chicago through its merger with the International Music Foundation, and for several years Music Institute of Chicago’s first Director of Community Engagement. Additional non-profit administration experience includes launching Global Citizenship Experience Lab School and work as Director of Admission and Financial Aid for Baker Demonstration School. Deirdre earned a double BA at Yale after completing her theater training at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. A dual American-Irish citizen, she worked in the UK, EU and US for many years as an actress and director . Deirdre performs all over Chicagoland with her literacy chamber band, The Lucky Trikes, and serves as board treasurer for performance ensemble MOCREP.
Kelley Dorhauer, business manager
Kelley joined as Business Manager of Eighth Blackbird in 2014 and also works in this capacity for the acclaimed Blair Thomas & Co./Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival. Prior to working with these companies, Dorhauer was the Concert Business Manager of Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music and Accounting Projects Coordinator of Lyric Opera of Chicago. She received her masters degree in saxophone performance from DePaul University and undergraduate degree from Elmhurst College in music business. Dorhauer freelances as a saxophonist in several Chicago area groups including Heisenberg Uncertainty Players.
Annie Toth, operations manager & Blackbird Creative Lab deputy director
Annie joined the family in 2013 as part-time Company Manager and since 2017 also serves as both Operations Manager and the Deputy Director of the Blackbird Creative Lab. Annie coordinates the sometimes complex travel schedules of the ensemble and collaborators, and works closely with the team and presenters to assist with various production needs. Annie comes to 8BB with 6 years at CASA, a non-profit that advocates for foster children in Cook County, under her belt. She earned her B.S.W. from University of Montana, where she also studied music and worked at a Russian travel agency.
In her down time, she moonlights as the songwriter for the Chicago band Weatherman, and started the composer interview forum, Secret Weapon. She loves riding her bike to work, listening to hip hop, and reading detective novels.
Justin Peters, studio manager
Alex Monroe, grants manager
Alex joined Eighth Blackbird in November 2016. A native of St. Louis, MO, he holds degrees in percussion performance from Northwestern University (M.M.) and Truman State University (B.M.) and is completing a certificate in Philanthropy and Nonprofit Management from the Northwestern School of Professional Studies. Prior to joining Eighth Blackbird, Alex served as General Manager of the Lake Forest Symphony in Lake Forest, IL. Alex is a strong advocate of new music and collaborative art. In 2014, he co-founded beyond this point, an experimental percussion group specializing in cross-disciplinary work.