High Line Names Theater Fest Artistic Director as New Leader

By Mathew Katz on October 15, 2013 3:50pm 

 Jenny Gersten will be the new executive director of Friends of the High Line, replacing co-founder Robert Hammond.
Jenny Gersten will be the new executive director of Friends of the High Line, replacing co-founder Robert Hammond.
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John Dolan

CHELSEA — Friends of the High Line appointed Jenny Gersten, the artistic director of the Williamstown Theatre Festival, as its new executive director, the organization announced on Tuesday.

Gersten will take over from co-founder Robert Hammond at a time when the park is continuing to grow — it began construction on its third and final section in late 2012. She will work with co-founder and president Joshua David to raise $125 million to fully develop the expansion, according to the announcement.

Gersten has been CEO and artistic director of the Berkshires-based festival since 2010, where she won a regional theater Tony Award in 2010 and helped the organization oversee a $7 million endowment. She also worked as an associate producer at the New York City-based Public Theater, where she produced Shakespeare in the Park.

"The High Line constantly reminds us to look at New York through new lenses and seek out transformative perspectives in our lives," Gersten said in a statement. "That ethos speaks to a long-held tradition in this ever-changing city, and I’m thrilled at the chance to live and promote it in my new position."

Hammond and David worked together to build the High Line since the pair first met at a community board meeting nearly 15 years ago. In February, Hammond announced he would resign as the park's head.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a frequent cheerleader for the elevated park, praised the choice of Gersten as a leader.

“Since opening, the High Line has quickly become one of the most exciting and treasured public spaces in New York City,” Bloomberg said in a statement.

“It’s a prime example of an abandoned space that has been transformed during our Administration, and I have no doubt that its success will continue under Jenny’s leadership, and that the High Line will flourish as a destination for innovative cultural programming and as a green oasis.”

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