The Gold Medallion Award is the most prestigious regional award given by KCACTF and is considered one of the great honors in theatre education. KCACTF Region 5 includes Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Downey will be presented with the award during the KCACTF Region 5 virtual ceremony Jan. 23.

“I am very grateful to the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Region 5 for awarding me a Gold Medallion,” said Downey. “To have my work recognized by an organization for which I have the highest respect is truly an unanticipated gift.”

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 KCACTF. Recipients have demonstrated a strong commitment to the values and goals of KCACTF and to excellence in educational theatre.

“Dr. Downey is an incredible educator whose teaching enriches students’ lives. It is gratifying to see the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival reward her accomplishments at such a high level,” Bruce Kelley, Ph.D., dean of the College of Fine Arts, said. “They are recognizing what we have long known. Dr. Downey is an amazing instructor who cares for and challenges her students. Her work and dedication is inspirational. I am so thankful she is a part of the USD College of Fine Arts.”

Downey is the coordinator of dance curriculum and instruction and department choreographer in the Department of Theatre at USD. In addition to teaching the dance curriculum for the Musical Theatre Program, she designed the USD dance minor initiated in 2013. Downey directs the Showcase of Dance, produced every other spring semester, which features the creative scholarship of student choreographers, dancers, designers and technicians.

Downey has served KCACTF Region 5 as an associate producer (2009-2015) and producer (2016-2020) of the Professional Auditions and Technical Interviews event. She also has served as a regional respondent for nine years. Her work with Region 5 showcasing student creative scholarship through auditions and interviews to regional and national producing organizations complements her work on the USD campus facilitating undergraduate research and creative scholarship through mentoring and facilitating scholarship opportunities for student performers and technicians.

Downey earned a Bachelor of Science in Education from Missouri Western State University, a Master of Arts in Theatre from the University of Central Missouri, a Master of Arts in Dance from Ohio State University and a Ph. D. in Theatre from the University of Missouri-Columbia. 

Downey’s research interests include exploration and practice of the pedagogy of dual function of content in which disciplinary content and intellectual character, taught through the lens of habits of mind, develop simultaneously. Her research in dance and movement includes the study of fascia and tensegrity and their role in creating an aesthetically and anatomically connected body in motion. She is a published author of “Thinking through Script Analysis” which she co-authored with Suzanne Burgoyne, Ph.D., and served as technical editor for two other theatre texts. Her creative scholarship takes the form of choreography and directing. She has choreographed or directed over fifty productions regionally, nationally and internationally since joining the USD Theatre faculty in 2007.

The KCACTF is a national theater program involving 18,000 students from colleges and universities nationwide which have served as catalysts in improving the quality of college theater in the United States. The KCACTF has grown into a network of more than 600 academic institutions throughout the country, where theater departments and student artists showcase their work and receive outside assessment by KCACTF respondents. 

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