The Kathy Bernhardt Volunteer of the Year Award
Honoring a rare, decades-long commitment to sparking creativity and enjoyment through the eyes and ears of Atlanta’s youngest theater-goers, the Kathy Bernhardt Volunteer of the Year Award pays tribute to one of the Alliance Theatre’s most dedicated patrons and her countless hours of volunteer support. For more than 30 years, Kathy Bernhardt was an usher for hundreds of children’s, youth and family performances. She chaired the Children’s Theatre Guild’s Christmas House fundraising event three times. Additionally, she served as a Board Officer and President for the Alliance Children’s Theatre Guild and for the STARS Volunteer Guild, and was a Board Member for the Alliance Theatre Board of Directors.
In 2015 Kathy and her husband Ken endowed the transformative Kathy and Ken Bernhardt Theatre for the Very Young at the Alliance. This innovative initiative continues through the annual staging of performances created for children 0–5 years old. By inviting the children in the audience to physically join the professional actors on stage, these plays foster priceless creativity and a life-long love for theater.
About the Award
The Alliance Theatre relies on hundreds of volunteers each year to carry out its mission of expanding hearts and minds, both on stage and off.
Volunteers do it all, from ushering to serving crew meals, to fundraising, to envelope stuffing, to serving as ambassadors for the theatre, to serving on various boards of directors and advisory boards, and more. The Kathy Bernhardt Volunteer of the Year Award annually recognizes one volunteer who exemplifies Kathy’s selfless, community-oriented volunteerism to the highest degree. Chosen by the staff and leadership of the Alliance, the award winner receives a commemorative plaque/sculpture, and has their name added to the web page honoring volunteers. The award is funded by an endowment established by her husband, Ken, a Life Director of the Alliance Theatre Board. The earnings from the endowment provide funds for a grant from the award recipient to the theatre, with the award recipient having the opportunity to direct the grant to their favorite program area at the Alliance.
2022 // Charles Sharbaugh
Nicknamed “Saint Charlie” at the Alliance Theatre for his tireless volunteer efforts on behalf of the organization, Charles Sharbaugh is the second honoree of the Kathy Bernhardt Volunteer of the Year Award. A longtime supporter and advocate for the Woodruff Arts Center, Charles was integral in the Alliance’s efforts to respond to the dire challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. His many contributions include helping the Alliance and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra secure significant funds through the Georgia Film Tax Credit, advising on matters such as affordable housing for arts workers in Atlanta and envisioning the future of Alliance youth and family programming, and exploring diverse avenues for federal support during the continued public health crisis. Charles is an enthusiastic ambassador for the Alliance’s productions and constant champion to the staff. Charles has dedicated his award grant to the Kathy & Ken Bernhardt Theatre for the Very Young.
2021 // Susan and Alan Stiefel
The first honorees of the Kathy Bernhardt Volunteer of the Year Award are Susan and Alan Stiefel. The Stiefels have served the Atlanta arts community for decades, working in a variety of volunteer leadership roles for many theaters and arts organizations. For the Alliance, Susan serves as the co-Chairperson of Theatre Advocates and Chairperson of Hospitality for STARS, the Alliance’s volunteer organization. Ever supported by Alan in this role, Susan organizes the Alliance’s tech meals and works with partner organizations in the community to raise awareness of the theater’s programs and productions. They also work extensively for the Suzi Bass Awards, Atlanta’s professional theater awards, serving as judges and as coordinators for the awards ceremony. Susan has served on the Suzi board and won the 2017 Suzi Volunteer of the Year Award. In 2020, Susan and Alan were honored with the Suzi Bass Lifetime Achievement Award. Susan has dedicated the award grant to the Alliance Theatre Teen Ensemble.