Harris N. Ferris
Harris N. Ferris has served as Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s executive director since 2006. During his tenure, Ferris has expanded the company’s national and international profile, fortified its financial position and dramatically reduced debt. In partnership with the artistic director, Ferris curated a series of new productions and programs that have elevated the company’s artistic profile and community impact. Under his leadership, PBT completed a $21.2 campaign to establish PBT School’s first student residence, construct the Byham Center for Dance and build endowment and innovation funds for repertory, education and scholarship programs. A former ballet dancer and New Jersey native, Ferris’ career began in Buffalo, New York, where he was both principal dancer and executive director of the Empire State Ballet. He went on to serve as managing director of Princeton’s American Repertory Ballet in New Jersey and executive director of the Nevada Ballet in Las Vegas, in each case strengthening touring, finances and artistic scope. Ferris attended Bard College, earned a Bachelor of Arts from SUNY Buffalo, and a Master of Business Administration from Rutgers University. He serves on the Pennsylvania Humanities Council and the Greater Pittsburgh Nonprofit Advisory Committee.
Director of Operations and Finance
As a loyal Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre employee of 35 years, Jay has spent his entire adult life working in a very demanding profession. As director of operations and finance, he has helped lead the organization to increasing levels of service, recognition and support while fulfilling its mission to enrich the cultural growth of the community. He continues to focus his attention on accurate and timely financial reporting and cash flow management which are critical for each department in order to reach the strategic objectives of the organization. Jay provides reliable financial analysis, robust projections research and compelling recommendations to assist the leadership team in making artistic, development and financial decisions to achieve growth projections. Jay served as a board member of the Canon McMillan School District from 1993 through 2009 while serving as past Treasurer and Board President and served on the grant review panel for the PA Partners in the Arts.
Director of Development
Christy Rowing’s leadership in economic and community development has led her to develop program, organizational and financial plans alongside boards of directors and lobby at all levels of government for her organizations. She has extensive experience in special event management and fundraising, and has collaborated with government and private agencies to develop funding for projects from urban redevelopment to human services. Her non-profit work has included food pantries, holiday programs, foster care homes, hunger and nutrition programs and health care. Christy comes to PBT from City of Washington Citywide Development Corporation in Washington, PA, where she served as executive director since 2016. She also served as special events manager for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of Pittsburgh and is currently active as an executive service corp member for Bayer Center for Nonprofit Management. Christy lives in Mt. Lebanon with her family.
Director of Marketing & Communications
Tanaz Walendziewicz, a native of Homestead, Pa., held the role of ticketing manager at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre since 2010 before her promotion to director of marketing and communications in 2019. She graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre with a Communications minor. After graduation, Tanaz served as assistant box office manager for the Seaside Music Theatre in Daytona Beach, Fl. She returned to Pittsburgh to work with the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council as the box office manager for ProArtsTickets and with the Pittsburgh Pirates as a ticket office assistant. During her tenure at PBT, Tanaz worked closely with the director of marketing to develop audience growth and patron loyalty programs, including the establishment of PBT’s Platinum Subscriber program. She has supported the transition of PBT’s in-house telemarketing team and helped increase earned revenue 30 percent. Tanaz resides in North Huntingdon with her husband and two sons.
Director of School Operations
Since September 2007, Aaron Rinsema has served as the director of school operations for Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, where he is responsible for planning and managing the school budget, marketing initiatives, volunteer activities, student and parent relationships, school committee activities and daily school operations such that the school’s overall goals are achieved.
Under Aaron’s leadership, PBT School saw the opening of its first student residence hall, Byham House, in the Fall of 2010. Since starting at PBT, Aaron has been part of a leadership team that has increased total annual school enrollment and tuition revenues by more than 50 percent. During his tenure, Aaron has strengthened the school’s finances and expanded its national and international profile.
Aaron’s career began in Spokane, Washington, where he was both a member of the chorus and the arts administrative intern for Spokane Opera. Subsequently, he joined the Department of Education, Community Relations, and Diversity with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, then the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra as its education manager and later, Ballet Arizona, first as Education Manager and later as school business manager.
Aaron earned a BFA in Arts Administration from Whitworth University in Spokane, WA and has been actively involved in the field of arts administration for more than 20 years.
Director of Education & Community Engagement
Kathryn L. Gigler, M.S., has dedicated her career to education and advocacy. Her graduate work in cognitive neuroscience has provided her with extensive experience in research design and data analysis, including behavioral interventions related to mindfulness and movement in older adults and caregivers. Her detailed program analysis and diverse curriculum creation has helped to advance the educational programming of nonprofit and for-profit organizations. Kathryn served as executive director of the Women’s Center at Elizabeth City State University and was integral in the formation of the first LGBTQ+ community organization in the region. She’s worked as an educator and victim advocate for both Pittsburgh Action Against Rape and the YWCA of Greater Chicago, where she’s advocated for survivors of violence, provided resources for loved ones and created workshops on post-traumatic stress. She seeks to continue Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s transformative work in community education, accessibility and equity.