Baltimore Center Stage’s managing director, Michael Ross, will retire from his leadership role at the end of June, the theater announced on Tuesday.
Artistic Director Stephanie Ybarra will lead Baltimore Center Stage while the theater’s board of trustees and staff explore “long-term leadership models,” theater officials said. They expect to announce those plans in the fall of 2021.
Ross took on the role of managing director at Baltimore Center Stage in 2002, later leaving to serve as managing director at Westport Country Playhouse in Connecticut in 2008. He returned to the managing director position at Baltimore Center Stage in 2016.
“Having been fortunate enough to make a career out of my love of theater, I am deeply grateful for the role Baltimore Center Stage has played in my life, and deeply humbled to have worked alongside visionary artistic directors Irene Lewis, Kwame Kwei-Armah and now Stephanie Ybarra,” Ross said in a statement. “I have been in a dream job—twice! —in a city with a theater I love. I am overwhelmed with gratitude and respect for all the people who make up Baltimore Center Stage: the industrious and ever-impressive staff, the incredibly committed and generous Board of Trustees, and our loyal and always thoughtfully engaging audience.”
Sandy Liotta, president of the theater’s board of trustees, praised Ross for his combined 11 years of leading the theater.
“Michael’s impact on Baltimore Center Stage is far-reaching and exemplary,” Liotta said in a statement. “His congeniality while mentoring me and so many others is only exceeded by his caring for colleagues and the theater. I’m grateful for his spirited leadership and he will be hugely missed. Happily, we have the great good fortune of another dynamic leader in Artistic Director Stephanie Ybarra guiding us to a brightly lit and compelling future.”
Ybarra, who joined Baltimore Center Stage in 2018, worked with Ross to ensure the theater’s to fiscal stability, increase their national profile, reimagine programming, and navigate the pandemic, theater officials said.
Reflecting on her time working with Ross, Ybarra said with him she found not only a creative partner but a friend as well.
“I have often referred to myself as the luckiest Artistic Director to have been able to share so
much laughter and thought-partnership with Michael during our joint tenure,” she said in a statement. “He has been an unyielding advocate for Baltimore Center Stage and for me; it’s been a privilege to march through the challenges and triumphs of leading this organization together. I’m grateful for the years of collaboration and the many years of friendship to come.”
Baltimore Center Stage will celebrate Ross’s contributions to the theater at their 35th annual benefit gala on June 5.