From One of AITAF’s First Employees, to US Navy Community Ambassador

AITAF StaffNews

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 From One of AITAF’s First Employees, to US Navy Community Ambassador

FEBRUARY 21, 2022 - Erica Newhouse, AITAF’s Program Director, has been appointed by the US Navy to join a new cohort of Community Ambassadors. As one of two ambassadors selected for the state of New York, her role will be to provide feedback as the Navy endeavors to communicate in new ways with the broader public and bridge the military-civilian divide. 

Erica’s participation in this exclusive group means that AITAF can look forward to additional opportunities to engage with the Navy and Marine Corps and we’re excited to have a prominent voice in the ongoing military-civilian conversations. AITAF is prepared to grow in a way that matches the needs of our military community and this platform will add to our ability to reach more service members with powerful artistic experiences. 

“We’ve stayed true to our mission throughout the years, and I feel honored to have the chance to connect more service members and their families in this way.”

 

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Erica is a Juilliard-trained actor, and before AITAF, she performed professionally and taught acting at Sarah Lawrence college. Her interaction with the military community was limited to a childhood connection with a Gulf war vet and performances for Theater of War in Kuwait, Qatar and at bases across the US. Throughout her evolving role at AITAF, she has learned that only 1% of the US population is currently serving in the armed forces, which to Erica means that "we continue to need advocates and bridge-makers to address the military-civilian divide.”

Facts about Erica

In one way or another, Erica Newhouse has been involved with AITAF since the early days. Whether as an actor, director, caterer, or in her current role as Program Director, Erica has taken the AITAF mission to heart.  

Starting part-time in 2017 when AITAF was producing 7 events annually, Erica is currently AITAF's longest-tenured employee.  Five years later,  AITAF is a team of five and on Monday, February 21, we’ll embark on the 50th event Erica has planned when we return to Fort Leavenworth for the third time. 

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As part of the AITAF military exchange, Erica has enthusiastically participated in mountain warfare repelling drills, army medic injection training and departed the USS Carl Vinson by cargo plane off the coast of San Diego! All of these experiences she says has made her appreciate the skills and expertise of our military service members.

About Arts in the Armed Forces

Arts in the Armed Forces was founded in 2008 by actor and Marine, Adam Driver, and actress, Joanne Tucker. Its mission is to honor and enrich the lives of the US military community by offering powerful shared experiences in theater and film. Featuring professional artists and contemporary American content, we create space for meaningful dialogue, igniting connection and deepening our capacity for understanding around our common humanity.

     “The sense of community, camaraderie and mission driven goals are similar in the acting world as they are in the military.” Erica says, on the topic of what she’s learned from her time spent with the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines on her trips.  “While the stakes are different, we share a lot in common, and the importance of bridging those connections is as important now as it has been in the past.”

AITAF’s core program consists of contemporary American plays and monologues presented by theater-trained actors. Works are chosen that feature diverse themes, ages, ethnicities, and experiences to create a complex and unique experience for the audience.

In 2018, arts programming expanded beyond live play readings to include film screenings and an annual award for military and veteran writers called The Bridge Award, conceived  by Erica.

Importantly, after each of AITAF’s performances, the creative team interacts with the audience through a question and answer session as well as a more informal mingling period.  

In 2020, in response to COVID-19 safety protocols, AITAF pivoted from live events to virtual film screenings, enlisting an artist to choose a favorite film and discuss it via Zoom with a military audience. In 2021, they returned to live programming with their signature event in celebration of Veterans Day, AITAF on Broadway. 


While slow and steady is has been Erica’s personal motto, when she speaks about the early stages of AITAF, the sense of urgency and purpose is clear. It has remained clear over the years, and with this new appointment, will help continue AITAF’s mission to honor and enrich the lives of the US military community by offering powerful shared experiences in theater and film.

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Media Contact:

Lindsay Miserandino

Executive Director, Arts in the Armed Forces

miserandino@aitaf.org

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