Jodi Beckwith and Allison Roberts first met on stage, performing in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory for Rochester Children’s Theatre. Years later, they found themselves working together at the University of Rochester Medical Center, using interactive drama to train medical students through the Experiential Learning Department. They were fast friends, and soon realized they also had a lot in common in terms of work history. Not only were they both accomplished performers who loved theatre, but they also had substantial experience as teaching artists and trainers: Jodi mainly in the educational field, and Allison in the corporate realm. As they watched scores of medical students respond to the role-playing techniques they were using, they talked about their interest in training, their growing concern about the world, and about the power of theatre to help people learn to communicate more effectively.
Allison had been working for a training company that closed down due to the untimely death of its CEO. Jodi had been facilitating arts-integration training and had directed a troupe of teen performance educators for Planned Parenthood, which she left after having children.
Conversations with friends and colleagues around Rochester revealed that there was a strong need for training in both the corporate and not-for-profit worlds – and it seemed no one was doing exactly the kind of work they felt strongly about. After many hours of brainstorming, soul searching, and talking with family members, they decided to combine their skills and passions to launch Impact Interactive!