Party Watch

Mayor's political consultant takes on new role as Theatre District head honcho

Mayor's political consultant takes on new top role at Theater District

What: Reception welcoming Theater District CEO Kathryn McNiel.

Where: Massa's Restaurant.

The 411: Top executives from the Theater District's resident arts organizations gathered with Mayor Annise Parker to welcome Kathryn McNiel as the district's new CEO. Parker joked that "It's a good thing that I'm not on the ballot any time soon or I would be very unhappy" as McNiel was instrumental in directing the mayor's successful runs for the city's top office. McNiel has closed her political consulting firm to take on the new role.

The district represents nine arts organizations in four venues in downtown Houston, with more than 1 million visitors a year.

"Downtown Houston is changing enormously. We need to be in a position to take advantage of that," said Houston Grand Opera managing director and Theater District board chair Perryn Leech, who hosted the reception.

Who: Theater District execs included Houston Symphony CEO Mark Hanson, Theatre Under The Stars CEO John Breckenridge, Society for the Performing Arts CEO June ChristensenAlley Theatre managing director Dean Gladden, Houston Ballet general manager Jim Nelson, and Da Camera artistic administrator Ab Sengupta.

Also on hand were Miller Outdoor Theatre managing director Cissy Segal, Houston city council members Dave Martin and Stephen Costello, METRO board member Dwight Jefferson, Central Houston president Bob Eury, C.C. Connor, Susan Elmore, Michael Massa and Grant Martin.

Perryn Leech, Kathryn McNiel and Annise Parker at Theater District reception
Seated from left, Perryn Leach, Kathryn McNiel and Annise Parker posed for a "class photo" with arts organization executives. Photo by Clifford Pugh