Boardmember: Kathleen McCaffrey
March 3, 2021
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I am a Senior Vice President of Original Programming at HBO, where I’ve worked for the past 12 years shepherding a number of series including PERRY MASON, LOVECRAFT COUNTRY, EUPHORIA, THE DEUCE, I KNOW THIS MUCH IS TRUE, GIRLS, and upcoming series THE UNDOING, THE NEVERS and INDUSTRY. During my tenure at HBO, I’ve played a significant role in several of the company’s leadership and mentoring programs, including spearheading the creation of Project HBO, our immersive internship program, and acting as an advisor to talented, up-and-coming storytellers in the HBO Access Program. I was also at the forefront of forming HBO’s Women’s Employee Resource Group and am the Executive Advisor for GenHBO, an Employee Resource Group that focuses on fostering and supporting a younger generation of HBO Employees. Outside of the (now virtual) halls of HBO, I serve on the ATX Television Festival Advisory Board as well as the New York Television Festival Board.
Originally from New Jersey, I spent a majority of my childhood inside a dance studio, where I trained rigorously for both the competition circuit and occasional Broadway audition – which is what brought me to New York, where I attended NYU (and ultimately “retired” from dancing/theater!). After college, I moved to Los Angeles and started my career as an agent trainee in the mailroom at United Talent Agency, where I worked for just under five years before coming to HBO.
What motivated you to join the TGF Board? What makes the organization stand apart from other nonprofits?
I was introduced to The Gabriella Foundation years ago by my friend and fellow Board member Allan Haldeman, and the foundation’s mission immediately resonated with me given my background in and passion for dance. I was drawn to TGF because I wholeheartedly believe in everything they stand for in terms of their goals, vision, and ability to deeply impact the lives of its young dancers and their families. I think it’s imperative that those of us who are lucky enough to work in the arts give back to the communities that championed our journeys here – not only does TGF afford me the opportunity to give back to the dance community, it also provides a resource for underserved children all over Los Angeles to be able to transform their lives through high-quality dance education. TGF has been incredibly successful in its ability to provide dance instruction to ethnically diverse, economically disadvantaged children.
What does your background in entertainment bring to Board service?
I grew up less than an hour’s distance from New York City, and was lucky to have access to musical theater and dance; I started dancing at a very young age and studied seriously through college, even spending years teaching dance as my after-school and summer jobs. My whole family was involved (my sister was also a dancer, and my mom ran the front desk of our studio) and dance was, put simply, the center of my world. It’s what drove me towards the entertainment business, and I can’t deny that the skills I honed from my years dancing have aided my success as an executive in a perhaps too-rigorous, very-academic environment. These combined experiences give me a unique passion for and understanding about the benefits of dance (which I consider both an art and a sport), which sets me up well to serve on the TGF Board. What’s more, my connections within the entertainment business have provided me with incredible, generous friends and colleagues whose shared enthusiasm for and dedication to the performing arts are also a helpful resource for TGF’s various programs and events.
What are some of the benefits and/or strategies you have gained by serving on an arts nonprofit Board?
Though I still feel like a Board-newbie, in the short time that I have been part of the organization I have found it to be an incredibly fulfilling – and actually quite an emotional – experience. I will admit to hating – just hating – asking people for money as a general rule, so when it came time to galvanize donors to give in light of our annual gala being Covid-canceled, I was fairly uncomfortable…
To my great surprise, not only were people more than willing to jump in and lend their support (financially and otherwise) with incredible generosity, but countless people I contacted for support also engaged in unexpectedly deep and meaningful conversations not only about TGF, but also about how dance has touched their lives – I had no idea that reaching out for a donation would be so rewarding, and on so many levels