Bronx resident dubbed executive director of Inside Broadway

Mayor Eric Adams presents a proclamation to Inside Broadway at City Hall on July 17, 2023. In February, Bronx resident Katie McAllister (second from r.) was named executive director of the nonprofit.
Photo courtesy Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office.

Bronx resident Katie McAllister has two passions in life: Broadway and arts education. In February, she was named executive director of the nonprofit Inside Broadway.

Previously the program director of Inside Broadway for more than 17 years, McAllister will now be spearheading Inside Broadway’s programming throughout the year. The nonprofit serves over 75,000 students throughout five boroughs through the in-class residency programs, after school workshops, summer theatre camp, senior citizen program and the popular “Creating the Magic” series.

Inside Broadway serves over 75,000 students throughout five boroughs through the in-class residency programs, after school workshops, summer theatre camp, senior citizen program and the popular “Creating the Magic” series.Photo courtesy Inside Broadway

In 2022, Inside Broadway celebrated its 40th anniversary, reaching nearly 3 million New York City public school students over four decades.

“The arts are for everyone, no matter where you come from or who you are,” McAllister said. “As a kid, being in theatre gave me a sense of self and a community to be a part of. The arts give students the chance to explore new worlds through the creative process and help to build empathy and understanding for themselves and others.”

Katie McAllisterPhoto courtesy Inside Broadway

McAllister, 59, grew up in Pasadena, Md., where her dad, Roy McAllister, worked for Trans World Airlines and her mom, Joan McAllister, had a job in a factory. McAllister was first introduced to acting when she would watch Judy Garland and Fred Astaire on TV with her mom. She added that her mom had a great singing voice and passed that onto her.

Seeing people perform gave her such a good feeling, she told the Bronx Times. McAllister had rhythm, beats and the yearning to perform running through her blood.

In high school she did full productions of Shakespeare and according to McAllister, her school was the first in Maryland to do cabaret.

While a student at the University of Maryland, McAllister worked at a summer theater camp for kids with disabilities, which she said changed her life.

“I realized that I loved performing, but it didn’t feed my soul the way that teaching children changes them, especially for children with disabilities,” McAllister said. “More than anything, it helped their confidence, and gave them the chance to be like everyone else.”

She obtained a bachelor’s degree in musical theater and a master’s in special education. Shortly after getting her degree, McAllister was cast in the “Sound of Music” as sister Sophia and relocated to the Big Apple in 1988.

While she did a few off-Broadway shows, her heart was with teaching, she said.

In 1990, McAllister moved to Inside Broadway for the “Be the Artist” program and joined full-time as a teaching artist staff of the nonprofit shortly thereafter. A few years later she launched the Inside Broadway Summer Theatre Camp, which has become quite a hit for the kids. It launched as Broadway Boot Camp in 2008 with a different format and became Summer Stock Jr in 2013.

Photo courtesy Inside Broadway

McAllister loved how the nonprofit offered free programs to students throughout the five boroughs including 31 schools in the Bronx where she resides. She and her colleagues teach the students how to run their own shows, write pieces and most importantly, help them grow as actors.

With nearly 35 years at Inside Broadway, McAllister has seen many students go onto careers in the arts, including one who was cast in “West Side Story” and another who went to the Juilliard School in Manhattan.

Seeing Inside Broadway grow and expand over the past four decades shows how much of an impact it has had on children in New York City, McAllister said.

“These are skills and experiences they are going to form and take with them for the rest of their lives,” McAllister said.

McAllister, who has lived in Pelham Parkway for 19 years, is passionate about bringing arts services to students of all abilities and is the recipient of the Herbert Birch Friendship Award for excellence in arts and education for exceptional children. She volunteers for Friends of Pelham Parkway and is a founder of Paws on Pelham Parkway, which organizes events that serve both pets and people.

However, she told the Bronx Times she doesn’t regret not being on Broadway.

“While acting is really fun, I’m a big believer that we are put on this earth to be a part of the world and to make sure that you are connecting with others,” she said.

McAllister looks forward to her new role as executive director and knows she will continue to make a lasting impact on the youth of NYC.

“I’ve been with Inside Broadway a long time,” she said. “It’s part of my DNA and I love what we do. I love how we connect with our community and school parents.”