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The Art of Connecting Communities

Ahwatukee’s Colleen Jennings-Roggensack celebrates 30 years at ASU Gammage

“Money and titles, those are all great, but it’s passion that gets you up every morning,” says Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, an Ahwatukee resident of more than 30 years.

Jennings-Roggensack is vice president for Cultural Affairs for Arizona State University (ASU) and Executive Director of ASU Gammage. Her passion has transformed ASU Gammage into a highly respected theater and created several cultural participation programs that have fostered the theater’s mission of “connecting communities” over the last three decades.

Inspired by the connecting power of the arts, her contributions to the Valley’s arts and cultural scene are immense. Jennings-Roggensack has helped to show the world that ASU Gammage is not just a venue for shows and musicals, but a place for the community. Today, a variety of cultural participation programs that she fosters introduce thousands of local children to the live-theater and performing arts world.

Added to that, she has ushered in programs ranging from Military Family First Nights, which provide military families the opportunity to attend Broadway productions, to Journey Home, a four-week arts program for incarcerated women at the Maricopa County Estrella Jail. And with the introduction of artist residencies, creative professionals have a space to grow in their craft and share their works with students in workshops and master classes, according to ASU.

“I’ve been a part of ASU Gammage for more than half the life of the building,” she reflects. “I have a passion for my work and because of that I am grateful for the opportunities I have to share the power of the arts with others.”

One of Jennings-Roggensack’s proudest accomplishments is ASU Gammage’s relationship with Broadway Across America, the preeminent presenter of touring Broadway shows in North America, so that ASU Gammage now presents the best of Broadway.

“Broadway is the longest road in America,” she says. “It stretches from New York to Tempe and should be reflective of America.”

She is excited for the 2023-2024 ASU Gammage season that will include an array of diverse Broadway hits like “The Wiz,” “Hamilton,” “MJ the Musical,” “Tina,” and many more. “Every show this season features iconic stories full of heart,” Jennings-Roggensack says.

In addition to her work with ASU Gammage, according to the university, over the past 30 years, not only has Jennings-Roggensack transformed ASU Gammage, but she has left a larger cultural mark on the ASU community through her work with ASU Kerr, the ASU Homecoming Block Party, the ASU Annual MLK Celebration, ASU’s LIFT initiative, and the ASU 365 Community Union, among many other accolades.

None of this success would have been possible without Ahwatukee. “I love the ‘Tuk! We came to Ahwatukee in 1992 to have a fresh start and a place to raise our family,” she says.

Jennings-Roggensack is married to Dr. Kurt Roggensack, a volcanologist at ASU, and the proud mom of Kelsey Roggensack, her grown daughter who is an academic success in her own right.

“Ahwatukee was a wonderful place to raise her; her childhood here helped to guide her to become the successful young woman that she is today.”

And while she is excited to look back on an impressive career full of successful shows, partnerships, and countless accolades, she is even more excited to continue to inspire others.

“What we do at ASU Gammage brings joy and thought into other people’s lives, and I’m so grateful to wake up every morning and be able to do this,” she says. “However, it’s my team that makes everything happen. With our hard work and support from ASU President Michael Crow, we will continue our mission of connecting communities.”

ASUGammage.com

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