CWU senior lecturer and production manager awarded The Gold Medallion


Jerry Dougherty has been volunteering with KCACTF for 15 years Photo by Frankie Benka, Spokane Falls Community College

Megan Rogers, News Editor

Jerald (Jerry) Dougherty, senior lecturer and production manager at CWU, received the Gold Medallion Award from the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) on Feb. 22 because of his volunteer work with the organization.

“I appreciate being acknowledged for a lot of hard work I’ve been working as a volunteer with the American College Theatre Festival,” Dougherty said. 

According to the KCACTF website, the Gold Medallion Award “honor[s] individuals or organizations that have made extraordinary contributions to the teaching and producing of theatre and who have significantly dedicated their time, artistry and enthusiasm to the development of the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival.”

Dougherty said he has been volunteering with KCACTF since 2011 and usually helps with the behind-the-scenes work there, like planning, organizing and scheduling the events.

“For the last the two previous years, we did both of the festivals online,” Dougherty said. “Coordinating a week-long online conference slash festival was a huge undertaking and a steep learning curve.”

Dougherty said that with this award, he is humbled that his contributions have been seen because in the world of theater, directors and performers tend to be recognized, but not always  the people behind the scene. 

“People go in and see the shows, and they see the actors but [don’t think] about, ‘gee, I wonder who figured out how to build that beautiful piece of scenery that’s on stage that everybody’s singing,’” Dougherty said. 

Department Chair of the Theatre Department, Head of Design and Professor, Christina Barrigan, said she was happy for Dougherty when he won the award and that it was an amazing recognition.

“He has been working on pulling together the schedule, and that’s the thankless task to be honest, because not only are you pulling together faculty and staff who want to create workshops and experiences from nine different states,” Barrigan said. “But you’re also pulling together probably about a dozen different competitions in acting and musical theater and all of the design.”

According to Barrigan, this task is essential, yet the labor might go unseen.

Jerry Dougherty (left) received The Gold Medallion award Photo by Frankie Benka, Spokane Falls Community College

“We all thought that it was richly deserved, because we all deeply appreciate the work he does to keep that festival together,” Barrigan said. “This wonderful moment of validation for the service he’s put in over the last 15 years doing that job.”

Advising students for the KCACTF

Dougherty said that during his time with the KCACTF, he has helped students at the festival. Caesar Trejo, a sophomore at CWU majoring in theatre studies and Sequoia Good, a junior studying theatre production and design, were two of the students he helped. 

Trejo said that he was the prop designer for “Everybody,” a play CWU did earlier in the fall, and Dougherty helped him figure out how he would present props at the KCACTF. 

“My presentation had to do with the Lifetime Achievement Award prop that is used in the show,” Trejo said. “Jerry helped me figure out how to make a poster and he helped me further develop the idea a little bit.” 

According to Trejo, Dougherty is both nice and knowledgeable. 

“Going to him to ask any questions like, ‘hey, how do I do this?’ ‘how do you think this would work?’,” Trejo said. “He always gives me such good feedback.”

Trejo said when he heard that Dougherty won the Gold Medallion Award, he thought it was well-deserved. 

“He does so much, not just for the Central, but also for the [KCACTF] Festival,” Trejo said. “I speak very highly of him. He’s always willing to help students out, and I am so glad that he’s part of the department.”

Good’s presentation was on stage management for the production of “Everybody.” Good said she came in not knowing a lot about stage management, but Dougherty taught her a lot. 

“For the presentation, he taught me how to put together a prompt book…which is like documentation for the entire show,” Good said. “He stayed after hours to help me put the book together.”

Good said that she wouldn’t be in the theater department right now without Dougherty.

Contributions to CWU

Dougherty said that he has been at CWU since 2005 and primarily teaches production design and production and management classes, but also works as the production manager. 

“I coordinate all of the behind-the-scenes stuff for all the shows that we do,” Dougherty said. “I’ve been charged with the schedule and the budget and the planning for all of the technical elements for the curriculum that we deliver.”

According to Barrigan, Dougherty mentors students in different management positions like stage and production and is always very interested in offering students support structures that allow them to find their own way through the experience.

“He’s demonstrated over and over again in the classroom and even in these kinds of more hands-on production roles, that he’s very invested in the success of the students,” Barrigan said. 

Barrigan said that he is very focused on safety, which is wonderful because according to Barrigan, not a lot of graduate theater training is centered on safety. 

“Jerry [is] amazing in the way that he is constantly focused on how to make our spaces safer,” Barrigan said. “Both physical safety and emotional safety.”

Because Dougherty is a non-tenure track faculty member at CWU, Barrigan said that it is not part of his workload to do service work like it is for a tenure track faculty member.

“He has taken on this role because he believes so strongly in the mission of KCACTF,” Barrigan said. “The strength of his belief in the benefit to our students and to the students in the region of that festival is what has motivated him to take on that work and continue to do that work.”

Before CWU

According to  Dougherty, he grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia. He studied theater and hospitality management as an undergraduate at East Stroudsburg University in Pennsylvania and studied design and production as a graduate at the University of Texas.

Dougherty said it wasn’t until college that he really developed a sense of wanting to do theater and technical theater, because it isn’t a job that everybody knows about. Originally, he said that he wanted to run nightclubs. 

“I got a work-study job in the theater building scenery,” Dougherty said. “Once I started seeing all of the processes behind the scenes, I really fell in love with it because it’s problem solving. It’s building things. It’s working with the people.”