Barry Kendall

Political adviser; Co-Founder, The Collected Works

1996 Alumni


English and Biology, 1996
(Why I didn't do theater, I'll never know.)
San Francisco, CA
MA, Religion and Theater, Yale
PhD, Drama, Stanford
Political adviser
Co-Founder, The Collected Works 

Since Emory

I ran 7 Stages Theater for 3 seasons, then did a joint masters in Religion and Theater at Yale, then a PhD in Drama at Stanford.

Current activities

Since Stanford, I have worked in politics. Currently, I'm spearheading an effort to build a statewide donor alliance that will make aligned, strategic investments in the state's permanent, progressive political infrastructure.

I sing baritone with the International Orange Chorale ( and this year I co-founded a San Francisco theater company called The Collected Works ( Our first production, Gombrowicz's Princess Ivona, will be in January 2013. I'll be playing the King. 

Highlights at Emory

I directed and acted in lots of musical theater in my first couple of years, including Big River, How to Succeed..., and the title role in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in the fall of my freshman year (Joseph, that is – not the coat). Later, I wrote and directed my own full-length physical theater piece called Ring-a-Rosie, and I worked closely with both Pat and Vinnie. The incomparable Michael Evenden directed my honors thesis. 

In retrospect

Theater Emory opened my eyes to a range of theatrical experiences and aesthetics that were far outside what I had ever known before. I learned the value of artistic experimentation.

As you might imagine, the transition from theater to politics is not too difficult! My background in theater has helped me become a sought-after communications adviser and coach to members of Congress and other elected officials, major advocacy organizations, and leaders in the private sector as well. It's also helped me know how to plan and pull off effective large-scale events, whether public rallies or major conferences. Finally, in a world that's dominated by policy wonks, I find that my perspective as a creator and critic of culture helps those around me recognize that, as I often say, "Culture leads politics, and politics drives policy."

And …

I began to feel most secure and satisfied in my career when I began to create my own opportunities, rather than waiting for others to provide them for me. I've started organizations, companies, book projects, conferences, and more. The entrepreneurial path is never easy. Sometimes you will want and need to take a break, and you should! But the more you take matters into your own hands, the more alive you will feel, and your art, whatever it is, will feel that way too.