Chicago Improv Productions Says, “Yes And” to Cari Maher as Executive Director

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Cari Maher takes over as new executive director of Chicago Improv Productions, which produces the College Improv Tournament and other educational programs.

Chicago Improv Productions’ founder, Jonathan Pitts, announced that Cari Maher will be his replacement effective October 1, 2020. "Cari has been a great improviser and teacher for Chicago Improv Productions (CIP). I spoke with her about taking over back in May, and the timing is right with the start of our new fiscal year. She has the skill set CIP needs in an Executive Director to move the organization onward into the future. I have every confidence that she will do a great job," said Pitts. Cari has been with Chicago Improv Productions since 2018 as a teacher, performer and assistant producer of the yearly College Improv Tournament, one of CIP’s capstone programs. “Working with Jonathan for the past two years has been a great experience. I look forward to growing CIP in the coming seasons, building on the previous work that has given us a solid foundation,” said Maher.

Most people would not be looking to start a new venture amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, but Maher is excited for new opportunities. “Improv has always been about imagination, making something out of nothing. In that way, improvisers have always been a bit nomadic. Now we’re just finding a way to do it all in a virtual space.” Plans for programming include pioneering online-only arts education programs to bring improv not just to the Chicagoland area, but throughout the entire state of Illinois.

Maher has set her sights on setting up the next generation of improvisers to be adaptable in whatever field makes them happy, while continuing to prioritize competitive compensation for teachers and performers, enabling artists to make a living from the stage. “In the past we have focused on live events, such as the Chicago Improv Festival and Chicago Podcast Festival, but our main focus moving forward will be education outreach with an emphasis on equity on stage and in the classrooms.”

Currently, CIP is continuing their partnership with Urban Gateways to bring their signature “Make Em Up” shows to school audiences via Zoom throughout the 2020 school year. Other collaborations include bringing educational workshops to local high schools through Yes And Festival as well as personalized corporate Big Brothers Big Sisters workshops. “The mission of CIP has always included honoring the past and celebrating the moment while looking toward the future. Right now we have to focus on the future in order to stay relevant and it is a challenge I look forward to taking on.”

CHICAGO IMPROV PRODUCTIONS has been bringing educational workshops, shows, and more to local schools for over 20 years. This past summer, CIP held the finals of its 13th College Improv Tournament, a production involving 120 college teams across 12 regional cities. A recipient of the Driehaus Grant, CIP provides programming to other nonprofits, including Urban Gateways and Big Brothers Big Sisters as well as Chicagoland area high schools.

CARI MAHER is an actor, improviser, coach and teacher who has been based in Chicago for over 10 years. Along with her work with CIP she is currently a teaching artist at Chicago Danzetheater Ensemble as well as an independent consultant for local improv teams. She has worked as an Associate Artistic Director and Producer specializing in feminist and politically driven work. She has produced and performed her work at The Crowd Theater, The Annoyance, The Den Theater and The Second City.

JONATHAN PITTS is a creator, director, producer, teacher and an award-winning international improv theatre artist from Chicago with over 30 years experience. The Founder of Chicago Improv Productions, Jonathan also co-created and produced the Chicago Improv Festival for 20 years. Jonathan has taught and performed internationally in more than a dozen countries, as well as 25+ cities across the U.S.

For more information on Chicago Improv Productions, please visit or to schedule an interview, please contact Cari Maher at 317-308-0084 or email

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Lauren Carrane

Cari Maher
Chicago Improv Productions
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