Sarah Denhardt Cissna

Sarah Cissna Adjunct Faculty at the George Mason University Arts Management program

Title: Principal, The Side Lobby LLC





Sarah has been directing events and productions for over 15 years. Prior to transitioning into special events, Sarah spent ten years as a theatrical director and producer, working at regional theatres across the country.

In 2007, Sarah combined her artistic and production backgrounds and transitioned into the field of special events. She served as the Director of Special Events at Arena Stage and later as the Special Events Manager at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company before joining corporate PR firm Curley Company as the Director of Special Events.

In July 2013, she launched The Side Lobby LLC, a consulting firm that helps organizations help the world, one event at a time. Working with a variety of mission-driven organizations, The Side Lobby helps teams that are especially challenged by budget and staff size.

In addition to her work in special events, Sarah is an active member of the International Special Events Society, and attained the Certified Special Events Professional designation 2012. A native of the Washington area, Sarah grew up in Fairfax City and has been a Capitol Hill resident since 2002.

LinkedIn Profile



BA, The College of William and Mary

MFA, Catholic University of America

Certificate – Events Management, George Washington University

Professional Affiliations

CSEP: The Certified Special Events Professional (CSEP) designation recognizes event professionals who have successfully demonstrated the knowledge, skills and ability essential to plan and execute all components of a special event. Less than 500 professionals have attained this prestigious designation worldwide.

Courses Taught

AMGT 402/504 Professional Development

AMGT 602 Seminar in Arts Management

AMGT 640 Programming/Project Management for Arts

AMGT  706 Festivals and Special Events

AMGT 740 Internal Internship

AMGT 790 External Internship