Executive Director Michael McStraw is a member of and outstanding advocate for the Chicago performing arts community. As a professional dancer, semi-professional musician, arts administrator, dance educator, board member, and arts patron, Michael has been a positive and constant influence in the community for the past 30 years. Raised in Western Pennsylvania, his life includes a BS degree in Geology from Allegheny College, a Master of Fine Arts degree in Modern Dance from the University of Michigan, and a stint as an agricultural extension agent in the Peace Corps in Sierra Leone, West Africa. He danced extensively with the area’s premier contemporary dance companies, including Mordine & Company Dance Theater, an organization he also managed, Jan Erkert & Dancers, and DanszLoop Chicago, of which he is a founding member. Michael was a member of and soloist with Chicago Master Singers for over 12 years, and has performed extensively at numerous area churches and synagogues. Michael’s return to full-time arts administration ends a successful 17-year career in the pharmaceutical industry, most notably with G.D. Searle and Takeda Pharmaceuticals North America. He is an experienced marketing, operations, and project management professional with special skill in developing strategic long-term solutions for complex business issues. Michael is Executive Director of Jazz Dance World Congress, has twice served three-year terms on the Illinois Arts Council Dance Panel, and was just elected as a Board member for Audience Architects, Chicago’s dance service organization.