SF Ballet's Board of Trustees
In June, Sunnie Evers and Bob Shaw were elected as co-chairs of SF Ballet’s Board of Trustees. A dynamic duo at the head of SF Ballet leadership, Sunnie and Bob are magnetic and passionate about the arts. You may find Sunnie, an art historian and professor, as well as a longtime member of the Development and School committees, in the halls on the second floor, enthusiastic as she watches SF Ballet School rehearsals. And Bob—a Managing Director in the Banking, Capital Markets and Advisory group at Citi—exudes a warmth and charisma that can put anyone at ease. Recently, we caught up with Sunnie and Bob to talk about their first few months at the helm, corporate social responsibility, and why they call the Bay Area home.
What do you hope to bring to SF Ballet as co-chair of the Board?
Sunnie: More than anything else, I hope to share my passion for dance, admiration for Helgi and Kelly, and long history with the Ballet. I also hope to attract new members to the Board and further engage the present Board, all in support of Helgi’s artistic vision.
Bob: Like Sunnie, I like to continue building upon our current strengths—artistic vision and talented dancers—and create more visibility for SF Ballet locally, nationally, and globally. Our programming, the choreographers we work with, and our performances are as good as they have ever been, so I am interested in helping us continue to elevate our global brand.
It is not too often that a performing arts organization has co-chairs at the helm. Was this something that you asked for?
Sunnie: I am thrilled to partner with Bob; he and I bring very different skills to the table. His financial expertise is essential to the stewardship of the SF Ballet Association, while I bring years of experience in education, the arts, and philanthropy. What we share is a deep love of the art form.
Bob: Absolutely, I would not have taken the position without Sunnie as a partner. She is one of our most tenured subscribers, donors, and Board members. Her knowledge of the Company and our School is a natural complement to my previous position as co-chair of the Finance Committee. Together we generate a lot of synergy in our contributions.
If there is one character or ballet on the 2020 Season that you identify with most at this moment, who or what is it and why?
Sunnie: Helgi’s Romeo & Juliet is one of my favorite ballets; the music is exquisite, the choreography brilliant and dramatic, and the setting is Renaissance Italy—what could be better? I don’t want to say that I identify with Juliet, that would be too depressing, but every time I see it, I cry. It’s a timeless story that Helgi captures beautifully.
Bob: I would have to say I identify with Romeo, as a fellow hopeless romantic. (My wife Diedre identifies with Juliet, and we both hope it doesn’t end the same way for us!!).
What is your favorite thing about the Bay Area?
Sunnie: The temperate climate and livability of the city. When I first moved here in the 1970s, I missed New York, but now that San Francisco has become a true cultural center, I don’t feel the need to rush back to New York for the arts.
Bob: Everything! We have world-class performing arts, museums, sports teams, academia, and strong cultural diversity. In the Bay Area we are also blessed with amazing weather, natural beauty, and access to stunning outdoor experiences.
Bob, you come to us from the finance world. Why should a corporation, as part of its work in corporate social responsibility (CSR) include the arts in its portfolio when there are so many other causes that need help?
Through our School and community programs, San Francisco Ballet is very involved in several key CSR pillars, namely, diversity and inclusion, low-income engagement and support, community development, and education. As we continue to expand our School and Education programs, we hope to partner with local corporations and foundations that share our vision. While many corporations and foundations have narrowed their focus around CSR initiatives, the pillars are not mutually exclusive, and the importance of the arts is a powerful gateway to these other compelling causes.
Sunnie, you are a professor and have been on the School Committee board for a number of years. Where would you like to see us expand in the future?
Over the years, I have watched the SF Ballet School become one of the finest in the world and expand its outreach to bring a love and knowledge of dance to a broader San Francisco community. I am committed to helping SF Ballet bring dance further into diverse communities, and giving students the opportunity to study at SF Ballet School.
Header Image: Tom Horn, Sunnie Evers, Kelly Tweeddale, Debra Bernard, and Robert Shaw at SF Ballet’s 2020 Opening Night Gala // © Drew Altizer