LEWISTON, Idaho – Lewis-Clark State College theatre professor Nancy Lee-Painter was awarded the prestigious Kennedy Center Gold Medallion for Region VII during the Kenney Center American College Theatre Festival on Feb. 21 in Eugene, Ore.
According to KFACTF, this is the highest award the festival gives and is considered a great honor in theatre education. Region VII covers Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Alaska, northern California, and northern Nevada.
Each year, the eight KCACTF regions honor 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. Recipients also have demonstrated a strong commitment to the values and goals of KCACTF, and to excellence in educational theatre.
Lee-Painter has taught at LCSC since 2003 when she was hired as a part-time adjunct to teach core classes and oversee theatre productions. She is now a full-time professor and each year takes LCSC students to the KFACT region festival.
“It feels amazing,” Lee-Painter said of the award. “I’m just doing the thing I love to do and what I believe in, and to be recognized for it is just icing on the cake. It’s a very special thing and it’s very humbling.”
Lee-Painter has been active with KFACTF for nearly 20 years and served six years as an officer, including three years each as Region XII National Playwright Program chair and vice chair. At the time she served as NPP chair, Kelly Quinnett of the University of Idaho served as the region’s overall chair. It was Quinnett who nominated Lee-Painter for the award. The nomination also included letters of support from former and current LCSC students as well as from Mary Flores, dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences at LCSC.
Lee-Painter said she didn’t know about the award until her name was read during the ceremony. However, Quinnett tipped off David Lee-Painter, Nancy’s husband, and Flores about it ahead of time. David then had their two daughters and Nancy’s parents fly in to attend the ceremony, while Flores made up a story about a convention she was attending in the area and had a half day free to join Nancy at the festival.
“My husband orchestrated my whole family being there,” Lee-Painter said. “He somehow very carefully was able to hide the family back in the caterer’s hallway of this building we were in until close to the announcement. Magically, all of a sudden they were all standing behind me so when I saw them it was a huge surprise. And Mary Flores is an excellent liar. She didn’t tell me until after the award that she had come over for that reason.”
Lee-Painter said the award means a lot to her. She said the honor serves as reaffirmation with the work she is doing at LCSC and with students.
“And honestly, I just lost it,” Lee-Painter said of accepting the award. “I was so overcome. Just the surprise. And the kindness of it. It’s the kind of the award where they read a little something about you so everyone knows why you are nominated. There were letters of support from former students and colleagues within the organization. And Mary wrote this really wonderful letter of support, so it was very humbling.”
As part of the honor, Lee-Painter received a limited print medallion that features John Kennedy on one side and the words “Presented by Richard Nixon in 1971” on the other side.