We're passionate about supporting Chicago plays and playwrights.
Brad DeFabo Akin, Executive Director
Brad brings over a decade of experience in new play development to Step Up Chicago Playwrights, as well as a lifelong passion for advocacy. Raised with a brother who is developmentally disabled, Brad learned at an early age how difficult it can be for some of us to make our voices heard and the transformative effect an advocate can have in another’s life.
Brad taught theatre workshops to incarcerated women in North Carolina, where he grew up. Out of those workshops sprang C.H.A.I.N.S., a theatre ensemble comprised of incarcerated women who devised performances that allowed them to tell their stories to audiences on the outside. The opportunity to tell their stories through C.H.A.I.N.S. - which stood for Creating Hope And Inspiring New Stories - had a profound impact on many of the women involved, connecting them to jobs and educational opportunities once they were released. Following his work with C.H.A.I.N.S., Brad went on to lead educational workshops for many diverse groups in both North Carolina and Illinois.
After graduating from Northwestern University, Brad was invited to join Chicago’s Steep Theatre Company, a critically acclaimed ensemble named the 2010 Broadway in Chicago Emerging Theatre Award Winner. In its 15 years within Chicago’s theatre community, Steep’s productions have been named in TimeOut Chicago's Top Ten Shows of the Year list five times, the Tribune's Top Ten List twice, the Sun-Times' best of the year list twice, and WBEZ's Top Ten Shows of the Decade. They were also nominated for 21 Jeff Awards, and won four Awards.
From 2005 to 2016, Brad served as the Literary Manager for Steep, leading it in it’s long-term commitment to developing new plays and introduce new playwrights to Chicago audiences. During his tenure, Brad initiated the Backyard Reading Series which helped develop and introduce 12 new plays to Chicago, a number of which went on to receive productions at theaters like Dog & Pony, The Side Project, and Chicago Dramatists. Brad also developed partnerships with the MFA Playwriting programs at Carnegie Mellon and Northwestern University, commissioning and developing new plays from some of the most promising new playwrights. Brad was instrumental in developing three world premiere productions at Steep during this time, as well.
Elizabeth St. Peter, Founding Director
Elizabeth received a Bachelor’s degree in Theater from Loyola Marymount University in California. While attending school, she worked at Mandalay Entertainment in Los Angeles and volunteered her time at the House of Good Shepherd, a domestic abuse shelter, as a Child-Friend Volunteer. She helped organize structured playtime for children and adolescents who were victims of domestic abuse. She also provided academic tutoring for children (2-15 years old) from diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds.
Mrs. St Peter has always had a passion for charitable work and donating her time and dollars. After graduating summa cum laude, she moved back home to Chicago and enjoyed five years working at the Health, Education, and Relief (HEAR) Foundation as the manager of programs and fundraising. During her time at the HEAR Foundation, she successfully planned, managed, and carried out the HEAR Feeds program which donated 80,000 lbs of frozen chicken two times a year to families in poverty on the North Side and South Sides of Chicago. She also planned their annual fundraiser, raising more than $100,000.00 annually for the organization.
She went on to found a nonprofit theater company called Step Up Productions in 2012 where she was the Artistic Director for 4 years. In her charitable work and theater productions, she recognized the growing need to promote acceptance of diversity and do her part to help shift people’s perspectives. She knew it was time to restructure the company to better serve the neighborhoods of Chicago by enabling playwrights to tell these stories. She is thrilled to be able to partner with Brad Akin and to start Step Up Chicago Playwrights. It is through theater that they hope to educate the world and stop the cycle of discrimination and unfair treatment of people.
Elizabeth is a graduate from The ACADEMY, a Conservatory Training Program, at Black Box Acting Studio. She is a proud member of The National Association of Professional Women where she was inducted into the VIP Women of the Year Circle for 2015/2016. She is also a Chicago based Actor and Real Estate Broker with Jameson Sotheby’s International Realty.