A woman with braids on one side and beaded earrings and necklace, wearing a yellow sweater

Shay Wafer

Executive Director
WACO Theater Center
Los Angeles, CA


Shay Wafer, has demonstrated a stalwart dedication to the arts and community development through many years of service to the field. Her passionate vision is balanced with pragmatic experience, as she has held senior level positions at a number of non-profit arts organizations with a focus on African Diasporic programming and community engagement. Currently the Executive Director of WACO Theater Center in Los Angeles, Shay was the Executive Director of 651 ARTS in Brooklyn and the founding VP of Programs for the August Wilson Center for African American Culture, a multi-disciplinary center and museum in downtown Pittsburgh. Prior to that, she served as the managing director of Cornerstone Theater Company, LA Theatreworks and the St. Louis Black Repertory Company. She also was a founding partner of Marla Gibb’s Crossroads Arts Academy and Theatre. Ms. Wafer has engaged in additional community and volunteer activities throughout her career including serving on the Board of Directors of National Performance Network (currently the Board Chair), Theatre Communications Group and as a New England Foundation for the Arts National Theatre Project and National Dance Project Advisor. Wafer has served as a peer panelist for The National Endowment for the ARTS, MAP Fund, Doris Duke, Mellon, Kresge and Bush Foundations, among others.  She holds a BS from Howard University in Early Childhood Education and a MFA from the Yale School of Drama, Theatre Management program.

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