“There are words for everything in the mind but if you speak with your heart, your work will grow continuously.”

As I sit at my desk at PlayMakers Repertory Company, thinking about the moment in the wake of our Associate Director of Communications Connie Mahan’s death, the proverb encompasses the impact she has had on PlayMakers and the greater North Carolina community.

We received the news hours before our Season Kick-Off, usually a joyous event, to which subscribers and guests were invited to hear more about the upcoming season from Artistic Director Vivienne Benesch and members of the PRC staff. The term “dramatic arts” felt fitting. Connie was a member of the family, seeing the best in everyone and pushing them to realize their maximum potential.

When Connie pushed you, you had no choice but to oblige. Behind her focused poise was a nurturing teacher whose wit and laughter were the high point of the day. She had a unique and precise way with words, on paper and in even the briefest interactions.

Instinctively, Connie knew you and your writing voice. When I profiled Vivienne for American Theatre, Connie’s edits seemed to open up the possibilities for Vivienne to expand her ideas. Working on that profile still ranks among my favorite collaborative processes. I’d open Connie’s notes and breathe a sigh of, “Of course that’s what I meant”.

She saw me grow, in a short amount of time, from a reviewer for PlayMakers to a member of the PRC family. When I had few tasks to do during the day, I’d support Connie and Rosalie in the marketing department. In the few pockets of time when we were not talking about publicity, we shared a love of Turner Classic Movies, Doris Day films, our favorite cheap champagne brands to buy at Harris Teeter, and annoyance with people not responding to emails in a timely way. The day after we received the news that Connie passed, I turned on Turner Classic Movies to find they were running a Doris Day marathon.

Connie could live in the present while thinking ahead into the future. Everything seemed strategically planned in her mind, as if she saw right through you to your potential to succeed. She kept going because there was always so much more work to do to connect people to the power of seeing live performance. She believed that theater unites people, and that the joy of a theater administrator was found in observing the crowds every opening night or waking up to see a glowing review.

I am so lucky to have known Connie Mahan. To have been in the presence of such a talented, hard worker is a gift one doesn’t fully recognize until the day that gift is gone. I can almost hear her editing this article over my shoulder. She wasn’t a fan of waxing eloquent about things, and would want everyone to reminisce about her with short, brief statements. For her, I write these:

A master communicator who left people speechless.

A lawyer who argued the best for people.

She had the humor of Auntie Mame and the grace of Doris Day.

A passionate thinker whose head and heart were connected in everything she did.

A selfless promoter of anyone she worked with.

Gone but not forgotten.

Jackson Cooper is the assistant to the producing artistic director at PlayMakers. A memorial site for Connie Mahan is now online.