Nancy Livingston Looks Ahead to A.C.T.'s Future

By A.C.T. Publications Staff

For former advertising copywriter Nancy Livingston, stepping down this year as chair of A.C.T.’s Board of Trustees represents the culmination of yet another successful campaign. The Cleveland-born Livingston has been involved with A.C.T. since 1976, when she came to The Geary to see Equus, starring Harry Hamlin. But her links with the theater really intensified when Fred Levin, a clothing manufacturer with whom she’d worked as a copywriter and account executive, asked her to join him one night at the theater. “I married the client,” says Livingston, laughing.

Nancy Livingston, Carey Perloff, and Fred Levin at
A.C.T.'s 50th Anniversary Gala. Photo by Drew Altizer.

Her partnership with Levin drew Livingston into Bay Area philanthropy, through their stewardship of the Shenson Foundation, a donor-advised fund established by two of Levin’s cousins. Today Levin and Livingston continue the founders’ legacy by giving to the visual and performing arts, Jewish social services, the St. Francis Hospital foundation, and other educational organizations.

After contributing to A.C.T. in the late 1990s, Livingston and her husband were invited to opening nights, where she met A.C.T.’s then Development Director Sharyn Bahn. On learning that Livingston was serving on the board of Cal Performances, Bahn invited her to join a marketing committee working with A.C.T.’s board members. “It was fun,” says Livingston. “I was able to be a consultant. I wrote copy for their annual gala, I got to know a lot of the board members and two years later, they asked me to join the board and the rest was history.”

Livingston’s energy, grit, creativity, and collaborative skills saw her rise rapidly through the board ranks, first vice chair, then associate chair, and finally chair of the Board of Trustees in 2010. Her legacy includes leadership of the Carey Perloff Creative Venture fund, a strategic plan for A.C.T., an endowment campaign that raised more than $30 million, and a city-wide campaign to renovate The Strand Theater. In all that time, she has worked hand in hand with Perloff. “Carey was a terrific partner,” says Livingston. “With her enthusiasm, she’s an outrageous fundraiser and the two of us were a great team.”

As A.C.T. looks to its next generation of trustees, Livingston is confident about her successors. “I’m very pleased with who’s coming up in the officers. Board Chair Kirke Hasson and President Kay Yun are fabulous and I think A.C.T. is poised to do great things.” The former advertising guru may be stepping down as chair, but she’ll continue to serve on the board while looking forward to 2017–18’s artistic line-up. “We’ve got a great season that really reflects what Carey stands for,” she says. “We’re taking a chance on new artists with A Walk on the Moon. We’re producing old favorites, like Pinter. We’re working with Pulitzer Prize winner Suzan-Lori Parks. And we have America’s foremost Shakespearean actor in Hamlet. It’s a terrific season and a wonderful transition for what comes next.”

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