The Englert names long-time arts advocate as new development lead

IOWA CITY, IA December 6, 2023 —The Englert Theatre welcomes Paige Harwell Samek as its new Senior Development Manager following the position’s vacancy earlier this spring. As a long-time member of the local arts scene, Samek brings over a decade of experience in community advocacy, fundraising, and business management.

As the new Senior Development Manager, Samek will serve as the lead bridge between The Englert and its pool of donors, sponsors, and community partners. She will also spearhead the fundraising and grant management efforts to build a sustainable and thriving future for the organization and the Johnson County arts community.

“I am so happy to be back in Iowa City fulfilling this role and immensely thankful for the chance to work at The Englert alongside a group of talented, intelligent, and thoughtful individuals,” said Samek. “After being away for eight years, I have found a fresh appreciation for Iowa City and the people who make this town beautiful. I am thrilled to roll up my sleeves and get to work at such an artistic hub and creative landmark of Iowa City.”

From 2003 to 2015, Samek resided in Iowa City, earning a BFA in painting from the University of Iowa. During that time, she was active in the arts community, curating art shows out of her home (with proceeds donated to United Action for Youth) and performing as lead singer in a local punk band. Samek also played a role in launching local hotspot Trumpet Blossom Cafe with owner Katy Meyer, serving as General Manager until her move to Savannah, GA.

Samek became a small business owner in Savannah, establishing a jewelry brand, Drainbowland. Her business experienced significant growth when she began aligning it with fundraising initiatives, notably The Drainbowland + Friends Raffle. She curated numerous campaigns in this effort, collaborating with over 60 multidisciplinary artists and local businesses that generously contributed to grassroots organizations and nonprofits.

“I can’t be more excited about welcoming Paige to our team. She’s been deeply passionate about the Iowa City arts community for a long time, and her energy and enthusiasm are an asset to our community,” said John Schickedanz, The Englert Theatre’s Executive Director. “Paige’s experience with Drainbowland will be instrumental as we look toward the future of fundraising at The Englert. She’ll play a critical role in our work to increase access for marginalized communities and youth and expand our educational opportunities.”

This fall, Samek relocated to Iowa City with her family after a summer visit rekindled their appreciation for the Midwest. In her free time, she can be found skateboarding, cooking biscuits in the kitchen, and spending time with her husband and son.

To say hello to Paige, please email her at or send her a message at 319-519-6734! Visit for more information on how to support The Englert.

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