Erin Gaffney Memorial Award

Julia King, 2015 recipient of the Erin Gaffeney Memorial Award.

Julia King, 2015 recipient of the Erin Gaffney Award, pictured with the Gaffney family, her mother, and former Dean, William Reeder.

This award is named in honor of Erin Gaffney, MA in Arts Management in 2007, who was instrumental in advancing new programming within the College of Visual and Performing Arts, graduated with High Honors, and was the first recipient of the Dean’s Award.  Erin Gaffney passed away on July 10, 2008. The award is presented to an outstanding student who exemplifies Erin’s respect for self, for others, and for the power of the arts to transform.

On May 19, 2007, Erin Gaffney was awarded an MA in Arts Management. She graduated second in her class with a 3.92 GPA. While here in our program, she received the very first dean’s award at the honors reception for Arts Management. She was accepted to and completed the Oxford University Honors Program. She created and implemented the first Filmmakers Film Festival at Mason and was instrumental in guiding the professional community of filmmakers and the academic community here at the university in creating the Friends of Film.

Erin was, as are all of our Arts Management students, a special human being. With a passion for the arts, for life, and concern for her fellow man, for family, for decency, and for the very best in performance and exhibition, Erin knew how to find joy and promote hope. She was that lighted candle in the dark. Her beauty transcended the physical and was evident in the way she lived, the way she transacted her daily life, and the way she related to each and every one of us.

For just a moment on July 10, 2008, that candle moved to a different place and all appeared dark. Erin passed away—the victim of a tumor that overwhelmed her brain but never her spirit even to the very end. Erin’s spirit remains with all of us who were blessed to know her personally and so that candle now has done what each of us has the power to do: pass along the potential of being a light to others. So Erin lives on in the hearts of her family, friends, and fellow students, and in the Arts Management program.

–Richard Kamenitzer, Program Director Emeritus, Arts Management, July 11, 2008

Award Recipients

Gabrielle Tokach

MA in Arts Management 2017, Erin Gaffney Award 2017

Gabrielle Tokach is the Public Relations Manager at the Contemporary American Theater Festival, recognized by The Washington Post as “one of the nation’s most satisfying seasonal destinations for original drama.” She is also an active member on marketing communities for community theaters and visitor centers. While attending George Mason, she served on the executive committee of the Graduate Arts Management Society, an organization dedicated to enhancing the student experience by providing activities beyond the classroom. Gabrielle was presented with the GMU’s Erin Isabelle Edwards Gaffney Memorial Award in 2017. She earned her Bachelor’s degree from West Virginia Wesleyan College and has worked with Arvold Casting, Scrappy Cat Productions, and Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company.

Berlin

Juliana Baioni, Arts Management MA 2016, completed three international internships.

Juliana Baioni

MA in Arts Management 2016, Erin Gaffney Award 2016

Juliana Baioni started her affair with the arts at a young age, participating in as many visual and performing arts activities as possible from elementary through high school. While pursuing her bachelor of music degree in flute performance at Washington Adventist University in Takoma Park, MD, Ms. Baioni became involved in the behind-the-scenes work with the New England Youth Ensemble, headquartered at the university, as librarian and assistant to the directors. This experience caused her to pursue an awakened interest in arts management, which led her to become a part of the Arts Management Graduate Program at George Mason University in Arlington, VA.

 

Julia King Alumna of George Mason University Arts Management Program.

Julia King, Arts Management MA 2015, at the American Shakespeare Center.

Julia King

MA in Arts Management 2015, Erin Gaffney Award 2015
Group and Education Sales Manager at American Shakespeare Center

How has the Erin Gaffney Award influenced your life and career?

The award acknowledged my work in theater and social justice – my passion always will be using theatre in nontraditional settings, like Shakespeare in correctional settings to foster new skills and create a stronger community…read more

Jessica Jellish Smith

Jessica Smith Jellish, Arts Management MA 2013, at a workshop in Beijing.

Jessica Smith Jellish

MA in Arts Management 2013, Erin Gaffney Award 2013
Special Events Showroom Director, Party Rental LTD

How has winning the Erin Gaffney Award influenced your life and career?

Richard Kamenitzer, Program Director & Associate Professor Emeritus, described Erin as “a lighted candle in the dark.” For me personally, I strive every day to live that kind of life. To be a leader, to inspire, to guide. To live a passionate life dedicated to the arts…read more

Erin Gaffney Award RecipientsYear
Award Recipient2017
Juliana Baioni2016
Julia King2015
Krystal Oliver2014
Jessica Smith Jellish 2013
Natalie Holmes2012