The Inkwell proudly introduces you to its Board of Directors.

Manny Strauss, Board Chair

Manny Strauss has been a resident of the Washington area since 1988. From 2003-2007, he co-published Washington Theater Review with Betsy Karmin. Manny has also served as the Special Advisor to the President of theatreWashington and Managing Editor of theatreWashington.org, and as Acting Managing Director of No Rules Theatre. He previously served as a Trustee at Round House Theatre, a member of Theater J’s Council, and a member of the Board of Act Two Performing Arts (now Act Two @ Levine).

Manny has been a securities lawyer for more than twenty-five years, having practiced with global law firms, in large public companies, and at the Securities and Exchange Commission. He is a graduate of Cornell University (B.A.) and the Cornell Law School where he was a member of the Cornell Law Review.


Jessica Burgess, Founding Artistic Director
Giant Rabbit, LLC

Jessica was the founding Artistic Director of The Inkwell, and in that role developed, programmed, and produced theatrical and educational programs, including month-long festivals, panel discussions, full-scale theatrical productions, staged readings, networking events, educational programming, and script development activities. She also designed and facilitated innovative online training program to recruit and engage 100+ volunteer script readers to evaluate 300+ scripts annually.

Jessica is also an accomplished freelance director, with credits that include world- and area-premiere productions at: Active Cultures (MD), Actors Theatre of Louisville’s Humana Festival (KY), Adventure Theatre (MD), Catalyst Theater Company (DC), the DC Beckett Centenary Festival (DC), Forum Theatre (MD), Hatchery Festival (DC), Imagination Stage Teen Ensembles (MD), Round House Theatre’s Kitchen Series (MD), Rorschach Theatre (DC), Solas Nua (DC), Theater Alliance (DC), Theatre Lab (DC), and The Inkwell (DC). She has directed developmental workshops and staged readings at Active Cultures (MD), Texas State University’s Black & Latino Playwrights Conference (TX), Catalyst Theater Company (DC), Duke Ellington School of the Arts (DC), eXtreme exchange (DC), Hatchery Festival (DC), The Hub (VA), Just Theatre (CA), Woolly Mammoth’s PlayGround (DC), Rorschach Theatre (DC), San Francisco Playhouse (CA), Washington Shakespeare Company (VA), Young Playwrights Theatre (DC), and The Inkwell (DC).

She has held staff positions at Round House Theatre, Olney Theatre Center, and Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, and she has sat on the Board of Directors of Active Cultures Theatre, on Forum Theatre’s Artists’ Council, and on the Round House Theatre Artists’ Roundtable. She is a proud alumna of Middlebury College, George Mason University, and of the 2005 Lincoln Center Directors’ Lab. She now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she works in the high tech industry helping nonprofit organizations better serve their missions online.


Lindsay Haynes Lowder, Founding Company Member
Surgical Care Affiliates

Lindsay Lowder is a founding company member of The Inkwell and was a professional actress in the DC area from 2002 to 2011. With The Inkwell, she has served in several capacities – as an actor, the Business Manager, the logistical leader of the recurring submissions process and now as a member of the Board of Directors. In Washington, DC, she worked with many different companies in over 40 professional productions.
Lindsay has deep experience in project management, marketing, events planning, and learning design, with a focus on the health care field. She worked for eight years at the Ambulatory Surgery Foundation, organizing an annual conference for more than 3,000, as well as other duties. She currently works as a managed care contract negotiator for Surgical Care Affiliates.

Lindsay is an alumni of Middlebury College, where she received a Bachelors of Arts majoring in theatre. She recently returned to the Boston area where she lives with her husband, their one-year-old daughter, and their dog.


Sheila Hennessey
Higher Talent, Inc.
Professional Actress

Sheila Hennessey is a professional actress in the Washington, DC area, appearing onstage with various local companies, and in film and television roles with productions that include HBO’s The Wire and Homicide: Life on the Street. She earned her Master of Fine Arts degree in classical acting at the Shakespeare Theater’s Academy for Classical Acting at the George Washington University. Working on the other side of the camera, she was Associate Producer for the documentary film Rediscovering Alexander Hamilton, which aired nationally on PBS in 2011, as well as a development consultant for a variety of documentary projects for Manifold Productions, Inc.

Sheila is an executive search consultant with Higher Talent, Inc., a national executive search firm specializing in the recruitment of senior executives for nonprofit organizations and higher educational institutions, focusing primarily on positions within fundraising and advancement. Earlier in her career, she served as executive director of a nonprofit association overseeing downtown revitalization efforts, was an associate consultant with the strategic consulting firm Bain & Company, and spent several years in public relations and corporate communications. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Earth Resources from Stanford University.


Sara Jaffe
Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts

As a member of Wolf Trap Foundation’s Senior Council, Sara represents Wolf Trap in the community and positions the organization for success and growth in its philanthropy program to support Wolf Trap’s first-class arts and education programs. Sara leads a dedicated team of 20 Development Officers to secure more than $12 million in contributed income and sponsorships annually, as well as build a growing endowment — all through the generosity of individuals, corporations, foundations, and government sources.

Sara has dedicated the past 15 years to advancing arts and culture in the Washington, DC region, raising more than $40 million to benefit a variety of organizations large and small, from The Shakespeare Theatre Company to Signature Theatre, where she spent nearly 10 years and helped it grow into a Tony-award winning theater with a new state of the art performing arts venue, to the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia.

Born and raised in Dallas, TX, Sara received a BA with high honors in Theatre and Dance from Trinity College in Hartford, CT. Sara is currently a member of the Board of Visitors of The Hockaday School, the Board of Directors of The Inkwell, and she is a member of Leadership Arlington. In 2012, Sara was honored with WJLA’s Working Woman Award. She resides with her husband, David Ostroff, and their daughter Hannah, in Arlington, Virginia.


Simone Wu
Choice Hotels International, Inc.

Simone Wu serves as senior vice president, general counsel, corporate secretary and chief compliance officer for Choice Hotels International, Inc., one of the world’s largest lodging franchisors. In this role, Ms. Wu provides leadership to the business as the primary legal advisor to the company’s senior management team and board of directors, and serves as an integral part of the leadership team. As general counsel, her responsibilities include advising on all legal matters including major domestic and international contracts and transactions, and matters relating to securities compliance, SEC filings and governance, licensing, and litigation.

Prior to joining Choice Hotels in February 2012, Simone served as executive vice president, general counsel, and secretary for XO Communications, a leading nationwide provider of advanced communications, managed network, and IT infrastructure services. She has also held legal and business executive roles at MCI and AOL, and practiced corporate transactional and communications law at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.

Simone received a degree in political science from the University of Michigan and a law degree from Columbia University. She serves on the boards of directors for the Washington Metropolitan Area Chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel and the Minority Corporate Counsel Association.


The Inkwell’s Leadership Team — Lee Liebeskind and Anne M. McCaw — also serve on the Board of Directors.