Beth Duda, The Patterson Foundation

TITLE: Director

FOCUS AREAS: Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading

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PROFILE: Beth Duda is the director of the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading at the Patterson Foundation. This is the only one of the foundation’s initiatives that has its own designated director. She has been in this position since 2015 and previously worked for the Florida Studio Theatre and Periwinkle Puppet Productions.

Her professional bio shares:

In May 2015, Beth Duda became one of the driving forces of the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. The Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is an initiative for Manatee and Sarasota counties that is designed to explore new ways to deliver the support and resources children need to achieve reading proficiency early in life and build a strong foundation for future success. An award-winning playwright and educator, Beth's twenty years of experiences working with students in elementary schools as Director of Education for Florida Studio Theatre fuel her commitment to improving reading proficiency in our region and beyond.

Beth developed an innovative outreach program focused on literacy, emotional connections, and self-expression with a focus on children and young people who did not normally attend the theater — often children at the poverty level or below. Since the program's inception in 1992, Beth and her team of teaching artists reached thousands of students, teaching life lessons in collaboration, acceptance, and understanding. Beth also developed a performing arts program for special needs youth and piloted video conferencing workshops for K–5 classrooms.

Working with The Patterson Foundation, Beth directed the community dedication of Patriot Plaza, a 2,800-seat ceremonial amphitheater at Sarasota National Cemetery. Following the dedication, she conceived and directed "Celebrate Service & Sacrifice" at Patriot Plaza for an audience comprised of guests from 25 states and the District of Columbia.

Beth has written, co-written, and conceived several one-act plays including "Rumplestiltskin, A Modern Twist on a Classic Tale," "RAP-Punzel," "The Frog Prince," and "Jack and the Enchanted Beanstalk." Her full-length play, "Up To Home," was a semifinal selection at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center. In Beth's twenty-plus years of arts education, her sensitive and visionary approach to educating and learning has inspired students, parents, and teachers.

Beth was raised in Central New York and received her Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from SUNY-Oswego.

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