Dawn Bless

Staff • Instructional Programs Manager

Dawn Bless recently joined Urban Gateways in fall of 2021. She has been part of the arts education field since 2007. After earning a B.S. Degree in Public Relations in 2002 from Illinois State University, she transitioned from non-profit development to being a Teaching Artist within the non-profit sector.

She has worked as a multi-disciplinary Teaching Artist with After School Matters (Theater, Spokenword), Black Ensemble Theater (Theater), The Chicago Park District (Visual Arts, Theater), and various schools and other community, youth, and/or faith-based organizations. More recently she has worked as a theater director and choreographer of various musicals with a cast of up to 300 young people.

Her professional arts background spans over 20 years in Musical Theater, TV/Film, Visual Arts, Playwriting, Spokenword, and Jazz.  Credits include the 1st National U.S. Broadway Tour of WAITRESS.  She is a 2018 Joseph Jefferson nominee and Black Excellence Award winner for her portrayal of Patti Labelle in Chicago’s Black Ensemble Theater’s A NEW ATTITUDE. Other credits include Mazeppa in Porchlight Theatre’s GYPSY and THE BLACK CLOWN at Harvard University’s American Repertory Theater, with a reprised run at NYC’s Lincoln Center. Other theaters include: Goodman Theatre, Congo Square Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Theo Ubique, West Virginia Public Theater, and Greenhouse Theater. Television credits include various commercials, as well as “Chicago PD”, “Hot Date”, and HBO’s “South Side.”

Her philosophy is that art is a door. What drives her work as an arts administrator is to utilize arts experiences as tools of personal growth for young people and the arts community as a whole.