In This Episode

Anna and Erik talk about the challenges of leading an organization through the loss of its founder. They also discuss how the Dance Theatre of Harlem came back from its hiatus and received its biggest gift yet, a $4 million grant from the Mellon Foundation, to hire more dancers and grow its administrative staff.

 

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We were all devastated. It was hard for me to figure out how to lead an institution through a grieving process.

ABOUT ANNA

Anna Glass has been involved in the performing arts as both an artist and arts administrator for over twenty-five years. She currently serves as the Executive Director of the Dance Theatre of Harlem where she co-launched a collaborative initiative, with Virginia Johnson, addressing racial inequity in ballet.

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Erik Gensler: Arthur Mitchell, the beloved founder of DTH, died in 2018.

Anna Glass: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Erik Gensler: Do you remember what his final words were to you and the people around him, you know, to keep the spirit of that company alive?

Anna Glass: Yes, so … gosh. Mr. Mitchell, he … the plan was that he was going to be the Grand Marshall of the African American Day Parade. There's a big parade that happens in Harlem in September of every year,and he was the Grand Marshall and Mr. Mitchell does nothing small.

Erik Gensler: (laughs)

Anna Glass: Everything is big. And so, he had two floats and he had designed what these floats were going to be. There was a Firebird theme and there was, you know, big Arthur Mitchell theme and he knew exactly what he wanted to see. He wanted there to be students on this float. He wanted company members, alumni, parents. He wanted it to be filled. And so, he … we spoke on the Thursday or Friday before he passed away. He called me to tell me that he wasn't feeling well and that he didn't think he would make the parade and the parade was on Sunday, but he wanted a report and that I was to call him immediately the next day. He wanted to hear how it went. And so, I said, “Yes, Mr. Mitchell,” and he gave me the list, “This person, this person, and make sure you call this person and this person.” “Yes, Mr. Mitchell, I'll do all of that.” And I said, “Okay, great,” and he said, “I love you.” And I said, “I love you too,” and I hung up and I called, I told Virginia, I said, “Something's up,” I said, because Mr. Mitchell, prior to that, he … over the summer, you know, he was in the studio, we were getting ready for the 50th anniversary. And Mr. Mitchell, he's a visionary and he wants to see things the way he wants to see them and we'd had a couple of moments over the summer where he was mad at me. I mean, mad at me and just, like, “What about this and what about this?” and, “This isn't right.” And so, when he hung up, when he said, “I love you,” I told Virginia, I said, “Something's up.” And I hadn't meant, like, “Something's up, there's something bad about to happen.” I had meant, “Something's up, he was really nice to me. What's up with that?” And we were giggling about it. I said, “You know, Mr. Mitchell told me he loved me.” And he said, “Oh, yeah, yeah,” but we were sort of just giggling about, “Oh, boy, he's turned a corner. That is so funny.” And so, the parade is happening. I'm texting photos to his caretaker. We're all here. We had … I knew better when he put the parade in my hands. I made sure we all were wearing T-shirts that match. So, we, like, did a rush job and got T-shirts printed, “Dance Theatre of Harlem 50th.” We were all in our t-shirts. Everybody was, like it was a uniform. We were clean and “Mr. Mitchell style” and his caretaker said, “He saw the photos. He's very proud. This is great. He wants to talk to you on Monday.” And then, I'd gotten the word, “Well, you know what, he's not feeling well. It's probably … let’s try him the next day. And then we got a call that he had slipped into a coma and he was gone. Then he was gone, and it was the hardest … (crying) It's the hardest week.

Erik Gensler: Arthur Mitchell, the beloved founder of DTH, died in 2018.

Anna Glass: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Erik Gensler: Do you remember what his final words were to you and the people around him, you know, to keep the spirit of that company alive?

Anna Glass: Yes, so … gosh. Mr. Mitchell, he … the plan was that he was going to be the Grand Marshall of the African American Day Parade. There's a big parade that happens in Harlem in September of every year,and he was the Grand Marshall and Mr. Mitchell does nothing small.

Erik Gensler: (laughs)

Anna Glass: Everything is big. And so, he had two floats and he had designed what these floats were going to be. There was a Firebird theme and there was, you know, big Arthur Mitchell theme and he knew exactly what he wanted to see. He wanted there to be students on this float. He wanted company members, alumni, parents. He wanted it to be filled. And so, he … we spoke on the Thursday or Friday before he passed away. He called me to tell me that he wasn't feeling well and that he didn't think he would make the parade and the parade was on Sunday, but he wanted a report and that I was to call him immediately the next day. He wanted to hear how it went. And so, I said, “Yes, Mr. Mitchell,” and he gave me the list, “This person, this person, and make sure you call this person and this person.” “Yes, Mr. Mitchell, I'll do all of that.” And I said, “Okay, great,” and he said, “I love you.” And I said, “I love you too,” and I hung up and I called, I told Virginia, I said, “Something's up,” I said, because Mr. Mitchell, prior to that, he … over the summer, you know, he was in the studio, we were getting ready for the 50th anniversary. And Mr. Mitchell, he's a visionary and he wants to see things the way he wants to see them and we'd had a couple of moments over the summer where he was mad at me. I mean, mad at me and just, like, “What about this and what about this?” and, “This isn't right.” And so, when he hung up, when he said, “I love you,” I told Virginia, I said, “Something's up.” And I hadn't meant, like, “Something's up, there's something bad about to happen.” I had meant, “Something's up, he was really nice to me. What's up with that?” And we were giggling about it. I said, “You know, Mr. Mitchell told me he loved me.” And he said, “Oh, yeah, yeah,” but we were sort of just giggling about, “Oh, boy, he's turned a corner. That is so funny.” And so, the parade is happening. I'm texting photos to his caretaker. We're all here. We had … I knew better when he put the parade in my hands. I made sure we all were wearing T-shirts that match. So, we, like, did a rush job and got T-shirts printed, “Dance Theatre of Harlem 50th.” We were all in our t-shirts. Everybody was, like it was a uniform. We were clean and “Mr. Mitchell style” and his caretaker said, “He saw the photos. He's very proud. This is great. He wants to talk to you on Monday.” And then, I'd gotten the word, “Well, you know what, he's not feeling well. It's probably … let’s try him the next day. And then we got a call that he had slipped into a coma and he was gone. Then he was gone, and it was the hardest … (crying) It's the hardest week.

Erik Gensler: Yeah.

Anna Glass: (Crying) Because … gosh, I wasn’t anticipating that … But it was hard because you learn how to run an organization. You don't know how to run an organization through a grieving process. And, you know, Mr. Mitchell … I had known him since I was … since I was 30, maybe 29. I was in my late twenties when I first met him and I had done a fellowship program at the Kennedy Center and he wanted me to run DTH when I came out of the fellowship program. And I was like, “Are you out of your mind?” I'm like, “I'm in my twenties. I don't know anything,” and I politely declined, but he would keep on bringing me around and have me sit in on meetings and stuff. And so … and we kept in touch. Even though I didn't take the position, we kept in touch and I took another position and I would invite him to come see my shows and he would come. And so, I loved him even though he was just, like, dogged, man. I mean, that man, he could put you in your place really quick, but be right. Maybe harsh, but be right. And so, it took the wind out of all of us (crying) to imagine-

Erik Gensler: Yeah.

Anna Glass: … moving forward without him.

Erik Gensler: And the responsibility of that.

Anna Glass: Yeah, yeah. And then, you know, we were all just devastated. We were all just devastated and it was hard for me to figure out, how do I lead an institution through that?

Erik Gensler: Oh, gosh. And what did you learn?

Anna Glass: It was okay to cry. You know, it was okay to be sad. And he would want us to keep pushing. We had to still be excellent in what we do. And it's why, what we say our value statement is, “Access, opportunity and excellence.” That is what we stand for and that is what he created, was, he believed that Dance Theatre of Harlem should be a place where all people had access to this art form, this beautiful art form, and have an opportunity to participate in this beautiful art form and that he wanted to show the world that, not only could we participate, but we could execute at a level of excellence. And so, it's not only what we do on stage, but it's what we do in the office. It's how we engage with people.

Erik Gensler: I understand the company was born in response to the death of Martin Luther King. So for those not familiar with the company and its history, can you talk a bit about DTH in a historical context?

Anna Glass: Dance Theatre of Harlem was founded—co-founded—by Arthur Mitchell and Karel Shook. Arthur Mitchell was a legendary ballet dancer with New York City Ballet. He was one of the first Black dancers—principal dancers—of that company, and really, with a prominent company across the world. And Mr. Mitchell really was connected to the Harlem community. He was born in Harlem, raised in Harlem, and in 1968, he learned of the assassination of Dr. King and asked himself, “What is my reflection of Dr King's dream? How do I contribute to that?” and decided that he was going to create Dance Theatre of Harlem and initially started Dance Theatre of Harlem in a basement of a church. It was classes. It was only meant to be a school, initially. He felt that if he gave young people the opportunity to participate in the art form of ballet, they would learn perseverance. They would learn how to believe in oneself and that young people could take those tools and be citizens of their community. You know, Harlem back then was not the Harlem of today and felt that it was really important that children of color, Black children in particular, had the ability, the opportunity, to participate in this art form. He started teaching classes the summer of ‘68 and Virginia tells the story—Virginia Johnson, Artistic Director—tells a story that … I believe it was the fall of ‘68 she learned that this man, Arthur Mitchell, was teaching classes up in and she was a student at NYU and so, she decided, “You know what? I'm going to go up in Harlem.” In February of 1969, Mr. Mitchell decided to incorporate Dance Theatre of Harlem and that's when the company began.

Erik Gensler: Wow. The New York Times said, “Dance Theater of Harlem has always represented something bigger than ballet, that Black dancers could thrive in classical dance.”

Anna Glass: Ballet back then was a very different art form than it is today. There were very strict beliefs on who could participate, what type of bodies could participate, what kind of people from economic backgrounds can participate, and there was a belief that Black people, in particular, did not have the skills, that they did not have the bodies to participate in the art form. And Mr. Mitchell really sought out to dispel that myth and, really, frankly, he was ahead of his time. You know, in a lot of ways, these conversations that we're having today about diversity, equity, inclusion, Mr. Mitchell really was at the forefront of those conversations.

Erik Gensler: Yeah. So, he started in the late sixties. Can you talk about the evolution of the company as it grew, what that looked like through the ‘70s and ‘80s?

Anna Glass: Sure. So, when he first started the company, there was only a handful of dancers that were in the company and Mr. Mitchell had a really close relationship with Mr. Balanchine and through that relationship and as the word spread that there was a place for Black people to participate in the art form, the numbers grew and Mr. B. was really generous and supported the institution. He was really one of the early supporters. I believe he was on the advisory board or may have actually been on the board very, very early on and he would allow the company to perform many of the early works that he created for New York City Ballet. And that was really a training ground for the company, that Mr. Mitchell really … he brought that aesthetic up to Harlem and to these dancers. But he also felt it was really important that the Black culture was also a part of this art form. And so, in the ‘70s, that's when Geoffrey Holder created Dougla and Mr. Mitchell felt very strongly that our culture could be reflected in this art form. And so, he provided opportunities for choreographers of color to be part of this part of this institution. And so, from there it grew and we traveled all over the world. Some of the most amazing tours were happening in those early time periods. Nelson Mandela, in the fall of apartheid, Nelson Mandela reaches out to Arthur Mitchell. He sends him a letter saying, “I would like Dance Theatre of Harlem to come to South Africa.” And this is around the transition. He had recently been released from prison. The fall hadn't even actually happened yet. And Mr. Mitchell said, “Yes, I will come. However, these are the conditions: the theaters have to be fully integrated, that there could not be segregated seating, and he wanted to ensure that the company was doing education work in the townships as well as in the highfalutin white communities, that he wanted all people to experience what Dance Theatre of Harlem was. And so, that really … he was on a mission. He was on a mission and the company grew, the ballets got larger. Mr. Mitchell put his own money into DTH and so, he was a very savvy man and he bought real estate in Harlem and how he was able to keep the organization afloat, he would sell a piece of property off.

Erik Gensler: Wow.

Anna Glass: And these pieces of property were what allowed him to execute on the vision that he had for the institution, to create the kind of ballets that he wanted to see on stage. We had patrons, for sure, back in the day, but we did not have an endowment. We weren't sitting on tons of cash. Mr. Mitchell was hustling every day to bring money in, but he made just so much materialize out of sheer grit, sometimes.

Erik Gensler: Yeah. And so, into the nineties, the company was touring internationally.

Anna Glass: Yeah.

Erik Gensler: And what about the presence in New York?

Anna Glass: The presence in New York was strong. The school had grown. We were, at that time, performing at City Center. That was our home. We were touring. Folks that are currently with DTH will share stories about, you know, trucks traveling across the country. We had a strong presence in communities like Detroit, Washington, D.C. We were really a staple on the road and, really, we're providing folks this opportunity to experience what was possible, that we were giving another take on what ballet looks like. And we were really a force. It was amazing. Truly visionary.

Erik Gensler: Absolutely, yeah. And I understand from 2004 to 2012, the company had to go on hiatus.

Anna Glass: Yes. So, I think, a couple of things happened. Mr. Mitchell invested in a ballet. It was a huge, huge undertaking and I think it was, frankly, too much for the organization to manage. Times were shifting. I don't think that we were prepared for the shifts that were happening in the funding community, shifts that were happening in the presenting community. We were a very, very large company. I think, at that time, we were 44 dancers and did not have the financial support up under us. Mr. Mitchell was a force of nature and there’s sometimes only so far you can take that. And finally, I think the organization was in a lot of debt and there was just not an ability for the organization to overcome that. And so, the company was put on hiatus. It was meant to be a short period of time and it grew, you know … at first, I think they said it might be couple of months and then it turned into a year and then it turned into eight years.

Erik Gensler: Was the school was going at that time?

Anna Glass: The school was still going at that time, but it was a real loss, I think, to the field and to the community to not have the professional company performing.

Erik Gensler: Sure.

Anna Glass: And I think it had impacts in ways that we are still seeing today, that the absence of having Dance Theatre of Harlem, there was a generation of young people who had no clue, had never heard of Dance Theatre of Harlem, had never heard of the Firebird or Dougla and did not have examples of themselves out there.

Erik Gensler: The representation.

Anna Glass: Exactly. Absolutely.

Erik Gensler: Yeah. So, how did the company come back?

Anna Glass: So, there were some dedicated individuals that felt it was really important. There were dedicated individuals on the board. Mr. Mitchell, himself, wanted to see the company come back. There were strong foundations that felt it was very important and they galvanized together to create a plan. A lot of funders came together and pooled money that would allow a modified version of the company. So, we knew that we could not be 44 dancers and all of the production support that it takes to support that large of a company. And so, there was conversations about, what does Dance Theatre of Harlem look like today? And it was determined that in order for us to be able to respond to the market and respond to the field, that we needed to be a smaller company. And at that time, it was 18 dancers and the number really just sort of reflected what we felt the market could bear. And so, it was about being nimble, holding true to our mission, which is ensuring that all types of people, all types of communities, have the ability to see Dance Theatre of Harlem. It meant that we had to be the kind of institution that could have low fees if we are in a Macon, Georgia and—I apologize to my friends out in Seattle and Detroit and D.C.—but large fees when I'm in their cities. But we just had to be a different kind of institution. And what was great was that everyone was on board. Everyone understood the importance of having Dance Theatre come back and we were just really willing to roll up our sleeves.

Erik Gensler: What is your history with the company? When did you come into the picture?

Anna Glass: So, I came into the picture in 2015. The company was struggling. Even though the organization had the professional company back, we weren't quite figuring out how to truly make it work. There were issues with how we were supporting the company. So, every ballet company, I say, every dance company, there is some sort of subsidy that is happening to support the company. For most institutions, it's their school, that their schools are economic engines and they support any losses that you see with a professional company. DTH doesn't function that way. While we are a tuition-based school, it has always been our mission to open our doors. And so, we provide, I will say, an immense amount of tuition support. We would love to be doing more, but you have to balance how much you can give away and how much you need financially to survive. But our school, while it does make a profit, does not raise enough, does not bring enough money in to subsidize the company a hundred percent. And what we discovered was that the organization had a structural deficit and it was really the weight of the company. And so, I was brought in to figure out how to fix that. And so, initially, it was a consulting gig and I brought in Sharon Luckman

Erik Gensler: Right, I think that's how I got involved.

Anna Glass: That's exactly right.

Erik Gensler: Yeah, Sharon brought me to breakfast and she said, “I have a favor to ask you: would you like to work with Dance Theatre of Harlem?” and I was like, “Sharon, that’s not a favor.”

Anna Glass: I remember that so clearly because I had never run a dance company before and I actually did not really know Sharon before. And yes, yes. And so, I reached out to a friend and I said, “Do you happen to have contact information for Sharon Luckman? And she said, “Yeah,” and I reached out randomly to Sharon and she was, like, so clear: she was retired.

Erik Gensler: Yeah. She was the—for people who don't know—the Executive Director of Ailey for many, many years and helped that company recover from severe financial challenges and brilliant, brilliant.

Anna Glass: Brilliant.

Erik Gensler: Such a great leader.

Anna Glass: And so, I called her up and I said, “Sharon, this is what's happening. I have no clue. You have done this before. Will you come in and at least help me figure out what's going on?” and she generously said yes, but it was very clear that she had a shelf life on this, that she was retired, and that it was time for her to just enjoy her life.

Erik Gensler: She worked so hard.

Anna Glass: Very, very. And we got in there and we split up the institution and I remember talking to her recently, saying, “God Sharon, how did we do this?” And, you know, we split the institution up and Sharon focused on the season and the marketing, which is why she was working with you. She worked really closely with the school and I was in sort of development, finance world and there were places where we would meet and we would really kind of just break it down and like strategize and ask tough questions. And we were really not sure what was possible. And I think what we discovered really quickly was that it wasn't what Dance Theatre of Harlem was doing. It was how Dance Theatre of Harlem was doing what it was doing that season. There had been anticipated a $900,000 deficit and the year ended with a $200,000 surplus. And part of it was Sharon and the season just was … it just was gangbusters. There were some really exciting things that had happened. We had tweaked some areas and what we walked away with is feeling like, “Okay, wait, maybe there's some possible … maybe it's not doom and gloom. Maybe we just need to tweak some areas “

Erik Gensler: Was it because of ticket sales?

Anna Glass: Well, part of it was that we had changed locations, so this was our … the predecessor, my predecessor, had made that change. So, we were sort of walking into that. So, the organization, the season, had been, prior to that, at Jazz at Lincoln Center. City Center has a much stronger dance following and it was a better fit and it was a homecoming for us. But this was also the first year that we had worked with you guys. We really weren't investing in digital marketing at all. You know, up until that point, everything was mailing stuff. And I think that transition helped quite a bit. I think that there were just a lot of different things that got honed in at the right time.

Erik Gensler: So, if you had to boil it down, what are some of the lessons you learned from Sharon?

Anna Glass: Oh, my gosh, Sharon. You can't walk away from a meeting without identifying what is the task and who is doing it. We would have these meetings and we would just be talking, and this is … I'm talking about the staff and they will remember this very clearly. We'd be talking, you know, battin’ around ideas and that would sort of just be the end of the meeting. And Sharon would say, “No, who is doing this? When is this going to be completed by?” And that discipline, I think, has been really key. And then, the other thing that is just really great about Sharon is we have connected a couple of times and I have always been … there's always been a “woe is me” moment where I'm like, “Sharon, I don't know what I'm doing,” and she … what I love about her is she is so down to earth and you never feel like she just has this special brain. She'll say, “Well Anna, I don't know what I was doing either.”

Erik Gensler: Yeah, that's the secret. I mean, it's really the secret to leadership, too. And, I mean, I admit it all the time, like, I am a flawed human being just like everybody else trying to figure it out. And once you just, like, own that and admit to that, there's no secret.

Anna Glass: It's true. I think, frankly, it's where … why Dance Theatre is where it is right now, is that I know I am not the smartest person in the room. And I think the one thing that I do well is find the people who are much smarter than me to help me figure out whatever the issue is.

Erik Gensler: Yeah, that's great leadership.

Anna Glass: Yeah. Well, I mean, it's also what I observed from Sharon, is that it is okay to say, “I have no clue.”

Erik Gensler: I thought that was … Well, two things about Sharon. One, to your first point, I remember there was a sign on her door and it echoes exactly what you're saying, when the sign said, “A goal without a deadline is just a wish,” that every time you went into your office … And I said this on the podcast with her, but from the second … You know, Ailey was Capacity Interactive's first client and by Capacity Interactive, I mean me, and she owned, always, that she knew nothing about digital marketing, but she trusted me and I was not going to let her down. And her team, her marketing folks, the same thing with … you know, she's like, “I don't understand this, but I know you guys have it,” and she never got in the weeds. She never questioned, at least not me. Perhaps, you know, Thomas could say, not that he has, but you know, she was just such good leadership, you know, they always say good theater directors are good at casting. I think it's similar for leadership, too. It's finding people who are really good at things and getting out of their way.

Anna Glass: That's right. That's absolutely right.

Erik Gensler: I know in January, you received a $4 million gift from the Mellon Foundation and the board will raise another million. $5 million cash infusion. You must be really proud of that.

Anna Glass: Yes, I can't even tell you. It's night and day from when Sharon and I walked into the building and to get to this place, where people recognize the importance of this institution, recognize the value of the work that we have been doing and the leadership of this institution and it's what we need right now. It's what we need. We are still digging out, in a lot of ways, from that hiatus period.

Erik Gensler: Sure.

Anna Glass: Both financially and in sort of goodwill in a lot of ways. You know, we've had to remind people that we are here still.

Erik Gensler: Yeah.

Anna Glass: And not only are we here, but we're thriving and we've been innovating before you all were having these conversations. So, this gift is really in addition to the capacity building support that it is going to provide us, it's also a real wonderful stamp of approval.

Erik Gensler: Yeah, it's amazing. How long were you working on that before it happened?

Anna Glass: You know, the funny thing is that when I started at DTH, I said to our dear friends over at Mellon that I wasn't going to ask them for money until I knew that we could survive on our own because we were really hand-to-mouth. And when Sharon and I were there, it really was about, “Hey, we're struggling to make payroll. Can you, you know, hook us up?” And so, I was very clear that I wasn't going to ask them for money. And then, they started asking me, “Well, when are you going to ask us for money?” And I was really struggling to, you know … I didn't want to create a project, you know. That wasn't the space that we were in.

Erik Gensler: Right.

Anna Glass: And I had this wonderful woman also introduced to me by Sharon, Rebecca Thomas, who did a real deep-dive financial assessment for us. And I have kept her since day one, just really helping us do the analysis. “Where are we today?” You know, “What’s going on? What do we need?” So, she did that work and we did an assessment of our school. We looked at all these various aspects of the institution and that got completed over the summer. All that work finally got completed. I knew exactly what was going on and where the institution was, and I put together this document for our colleagues over at Mellon and they saw that the timing was right. The timing was right now. I was not expecting what they did. I was shocked and I am forever grateful to them.

Erik Gensler: Yeah, it's amazing. It's really amazing. And that allows you to forge the path forward.

Anna Glass: Absolutely, absolutely. It allows us to invest in this institution in a real powerful, significant way, but it also is galvanizing our board. And I think that's a real key piece of this is that it wasn't that they dropped all this money in our laps to hire people and to increase our development team. It was also that they created an opportunity for our board to be excited in a new way. You know, our board is extremely loyal and has been really dedicated and excited. But also, you know, it is hard when you're pushing a boulder up the mountain and our board has been doing that since the company came back. And so, I think that this has been exciting for the entire institution. I think it really provides us the opportunity to talk about DTH in a very different way. It's incredible.

Erik Gensler: Let's talk about you and your leadership and growth. You studied law and dance and I'm curious if you've thought about what those two vocations have in common.

Anna Glass: Oh, goodness. Well, I will tell you this: when I was in law school, I was dancing with the second company of Dayton Contemporary Dance Company and I … the Artistic Director and Founder, who was living at the time, was Jeraldyne Blunden, a phenomenal, legendary artist, visionary, very much like Mr. Mitchell. And I told her, you know, “I'm in law school, so I'm not sure how I'm going to balance performing and training and studying,” and she said, very clearly, “You are more valued both to me as an attorney than you are as a dancer,” which, as a dancer, you're kind of like, “Wait, what?” But I got what she was saying and basically she was like, “I'm not going to inhibit you from being able to succeed in law.” And so, I would have my books backstage, you know, in the dressing room, reading, staying up late. And what's interesting about it to me—and I think this is where the sort of the parallel is—is that discipline and that focus, that you have to have both in order to succeed. And it's truly how I got through law school and how I prepared for the bar and pass the bar here was, is, that discipline and focus. I think where they have similarities is, I'm sure some folks will be like, “Oh, this is interesting,” is the creativity gives you their structure within both. And then, you have to find those crevices and be creative and be willing to sort of look at things differently. And, I think, that's why I love both so much. You know, I never practice law. I had no intention of going to a law firm. I never wanted to be far away from the studio or the stage, but I use my law degree every single day.

Erik Gensler: Yeah, it's such a great skill to have.

Anna Glass: Yeah, I think my parents are probably happy that I did it, for sure.

Erik Gensler: What's the hardest thing you've had to overcome as a leader?

Anna Glass: Doubt. And it's an ongoing thing. I don't think I ever, you know … you don't get to a place where you're like, “I just don't doubt myself anymore,” but I also do the work and not let it dominate my experience or my ability to make decisions. There will be things like, “I'm not quite sure,” but it's also where talking it out … What I love about being at DTH, while the buck stops with me and, you know, I'm the one held accountable for everything, I do feel like there's a lot of collaboration. I have the ability to say, “I'm struggling with this. What do you think?” and not feel like, because I'm the boss, I'm supposed to have the answers. I am a human being at the end of the day.

Erik Gensler: What are you most proud of?

Anna Glass: I am most proud of my daughter and who she is becoming. She's seven. And I'm a working mom and I feel that her … she's grown up at DTH, you know. She started at DTH on her own, not her mom pushing, when she was three and I get to witness the power of Dance Theatre of Harlem in my own child.

Erik Gensler: Wow.

Anna Glass: And it's really remarkable. It's seeing her confidence, seeing her being able to articulate the importance, in her own little seven-year-old way, of DTH and her … how she's gravitating towards the arts. She loves to go to the theater. She loves to see dance. I feel very proud that I have my daughter experiencing this world and I know that children that are at DTH, at our school, that experience the company on the road, that they are also having that moment. It's what I'm most proud of.

Erik Gensler: This is a question I stole from Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday podcast. I don't know if you're a listener.

Anna Glass: I am a listener.

Erik Gensler: The Michelle Obama interview she just did, so good. Um, but she asks a lot, “What do you know is true?” And I love that question.

Anna Glass: Ooh, what do I know is true? Okay, so, since you've taken me taking me down the Super Soul Sunday road-

Erik Gensler: We’ve been going that direction the whole time.

Anna Glass: … now, I guess what I know is true and, you know, some days are harder than others, but love is really present. And that really sounds hokey. But even in my work, the days where we are laughing or I think that we all just sort of genuinely love what this institution is about. We love … there are days that are hard, for sure, but we love … I think we love being part of this movement that we have decided we're going to join.

Erik Gensler: Yeah, Mitchell's last words to you.

Anna Glass: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Erik Gensler: Like, the spirit of love. So, we've come to your last question and it's your “CI to Eye moment,” and the question is, if you could provide your advice to the leadership teams, executive directors, staff, and board of a thousand arts organizations, what advice would you provide to help them improve their businesses?

Anna Glass: I think it’s the big piece that I live by is, I don't know everything. Right? You cannot possibly know everything. Be willing to say, “I don't know and …” Be willing to explore what's possible. Be willing to reach out to other people for assistance. That I think is the only way-

Erik Gensler: It’s about vulnerability.

Anna Glass: Oh, well, I already cried today. So, yes, vulnerability is absolutely key.

Erik Gensler: Yeah. Thank you so much.

Anna Glass: Wonderful. Thank you for having me. I appreciate it.