At 25, Isabel Dawson has already conquered the Quad Cities and she’s looking for larger, greener pastures.
The executive director of the nonprofit Genesius Guild for the past two years, Dawson is stepping down and planning to move out of the area.
Her full-time job (since July 2020) is administrative coordinator for Ruhl & Ruhl Realtors, at its headquarters at 5704 Utica Ridge Road, Davenport. She has called it a “jack of all trades” position, as assistant to the CEO, president and office manager.
“I am looking to move to an area where I can work full time in the theatre industry,” Dawson posted this week on Facebook. “So far I’ve been applying for a lot of assistant production management positions. I’m open to most of the country, generally looking at bigger cities.”
Doug Tschopp — director of Augustana College’s Entrepreneurial Center — was Genesius executive director for 15 years (2006-2021), has been involved in the nonprofit for 27 years, and worked closely with Dawson at Augie, where she majored in theater and business management, graduating in 2020.
“We will be searching, but first we are looking at the duties and deciding if some should be separated to make the position more of a producer — an idea that Isabel had and had always been on my mind as well,” he said Wednesday of finding a new Genesius chief.
“Isabel is awesome. She instituted some new policies and procedures that were needed,” Tschopp said. “Brought in her energy and love for theater and did a great job of re-establishing the productions post COVID.”
Dawson was nervous to come into the role (first as Tschopp’s assistant in 2021), as he wanted someone with a business expertise to take on the position.
“I think Doug knew I had the business/theater balance, but a lot of people saw a young outsider being brought in,” Dawson said in a 2022 interview. “I can respect that. I’m here to keep things moving.”
“I just knew her skillset was super strong, her interest in local theater,” he said of Dawson’s fit for Genesius Guild. “With COVID and everything – at some point, it would be time for me to step back anyway. I didn’t know how active I was able to be.”
For Tschopp’s public relations class at Augie, Dawson assembled a 99-page plan for Q-C theaters to cooperate, called the QC Performing Arts Collective. The idea for a cooperative organization was like Quad City Presenters, which Genesius founder Don Wooten originally formed 50 years ago, but she didn’t know about.
“She developed the full business plan — she’s all about her research and knowledge,” Tschopp said. He was also immensely impressed when Dawson alone won the $4,500 first prize in the Augustana Business Plan Competition, for inventing a new bra for women with unevenly shaped or sized breasts.
“I have been so thankful for this opportunity to produce theatre, and especially enjoyed working with our high school and college interns,” Dawson said recently on Facebook. “We even pulled off ‘Othello’ this year!”
The Genesius Guild is a unique QC theater specializing in free classical drama, at Rock Island’s Lincoln Park. Founded in 1956, the group performs Greek drama, Greek comedy, the works of Shakespeare, and other classical authors most every weekend throughout the summer.
For more information on Genesius, visit its website HERE.