A long time resident of Berkeley California, Louise Gund has built an accomplished career as a photographer, environmental activist, and Broadway Producer. Ms. Gund has spent years weaving her passion for storytelling and her love of beauty into her multi-faceted career, and her support of many organizations that share her values.
Education and Early Career
Louise Gund earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the School of Visual Arts in New York. Ms. Gund worked in New York as a Dance and off-Broadway Public Relations photographer. She later earned her Master’s degree in Holistic Psychology, and spent a portion of her career as a therapist for children, focusing on storytelling and Jungian sand tray work in her therapeutic approach.
Making a Name as a Broadway Producer
Ms. Gund’s love of storytelling began early in her childhood when she and a neighborhood friend wrote, directed, and performed plays in her backyard. In middle school Louise told stories in gym class to loyal classmates who came to hear the latest chapter of her continuing narrative. She took acting lessons as a young child participating in the “Curtain Pullers” program at the Cleveland Playhouse. During Ms. Gund’s childhood she often accompanied her father to theatre productions from Broadway. The magic of these plays left an indelible impression on Louise. Learning about the world at large through the lens of the stage, she has nurtured this passion her whole life, acting in high school productions and later as a dedicated supporter of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland Oregon, and the Berkeley Repertory Theatre. Desiring to share this medium with a wider audience Ms. Gund turned to theatre production, bringing plays to Broadway.
Since 2014, Ms. Gund has produced six Broadway plays and musicals, including All the Way, Sweat, Head Over Heels, Sylvia, Fiddler on the Roof, and Six Degrees of Separation. The shows she has produced have been nominated for four Tony Awards, three Drama Desk Awards, four Drama League Awards, and four Outer Critics Circle Awards. The 2014 production of All The Way which she co-produced took home both the Tony Award for Best Play and the Tony Award for Best Actor (Bryan Cranston), as well as the Drama Desk Award for Best Play.
After seeing Sweat performed at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 2015, Ms. Gund was determined to take this brilliant play by Lynn Nottage to Broadway. She has admired Lynn’s work since she first saw Ruined. The characters Lynn creates in Sweat convey a powerfully lived experience which enables the theater goer to enter her story, and feel empathy for the different characters. Lynn’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play is centered on the working class of Reading Pennsylvania. It is about class, race, and the dignity of labor. Sweat is an important window into today’s America. As Andrezej Lukowski wrote, “Sweat is a thesis on the decline of the working class in the twenty-first century”. Sweat opened off-Broadway at the Public Theater in 2016 and transferred to Broadway in 2017. Some months later Sweat was performed at the Donmar Warehouse in London in 2018. It was so well-received in London that it moved to the West End for five weeks. Also, it was nominated for an Olivier Award in 2019.
A Dedication to Environmental Activism
Ms. Gund is also an environmental activist. Throughout her life she has collaborated with several organizations that work to protect forests, clean water, air, and preserve endangered animal populations. Ms. Gund was a pioneer in her support for the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, helping to protect the population of endangered gorillas in Rwanda. Louise was greatly moved by the film “Gorillas in the Mist”, which was based on Dian Fossey’s work and close relationships with gorillas in Rwanda. For several years Ms. Gund worked as a lobbyist to save old growth forests, clean water, the Artic National Wildlife Refuge, and wolves, birds, and bears. Ms. Gund promotes sustainable farming and sustainable forest techniques.
Ms. Gund’s love of music and the arts has sustained her throughout her life. Therefore, she has wanted to work with several arts organizations whose work she admires. Ms. Gund has served on the Cal Performances Board of Directors, an organization that brings artists in three disciplines (music, dance, and drama) to the Berkeley stage and to the students at the University. Louise serves on the Board of Directors of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Along with Louise’s theatre interest, she has loved Opera for many years. Ms. Gund serves on the Board of the San Francisco Opera, and has enjoyed collaborating with them on several excellent productions. The quality of art at the San Francisco Opera is truly remarkable. Because of Louise’s life-long commitment to environmental issues, she spent many years on the Board of Earthjustice, the largest law firm for the environment. She is now an honorary life trustee of Earthjustice.