Raleigh Little Theater has announced this morning the appointment of Patrick Torres as its new artistic director. Torres will be the theater’s 14th artistic director since its founding in 1936, and the first person of color chosen for that position. The selection comes on the heels of a national search, following the death of longtime artistic director Haskell Fitz-Simons in May, 2013.

An award-winning arts educator and director, Torres comes to Raleigh from Austin, Texas, where he has served as middle and high school program director for Creative Action, an arts education organization, since 2011. His production of Cormac McCarthy’s The Sunset Limited for Trinity Street Players was a finalist in Austin’s B. Iden Payne Awards for outstanding drama production in 2013.

Before his time in Texas, Torres worked for nine years as an arts educator in the Washington, DC area. An after-school playwriting program Torres developed as associate artistic director for the city’s Young Playwrights’ Theater was honored by First Lady Michelle Obama when it won a National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award in 2010.

In 2009, Theatre Communications Group designated Torres a Young Leader of Color for developing assessment tools to measure student learning in the arts.

During his time in Washington, Torres also served as a directing fellow and teaching artist at Shakespeare Theatre Company, after completing a Masters of Fine Arts degree in directing from the University of Southern Mississippi and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at Texas State University.

Reflecting on the selection process, Raleigh Little Theatre’s executive director Charles Phaneuf noted, “We had a number of strong candidates, from around the country—and around the world, since one of our applicants was from China. But when we revised our mission statement last spring, we clarified what’s unique about our theater’s role in the Triangle: our mission to educate. I think it should be clear why he’s a great fit for us; the person we’ve picked is a really great educator.”