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UI Professor Quinnett Receives Top Honor for Kennedy Center Theatre Festival

March 08, 2017

Professor Kelly Quinnett, head of performance at UI Theatre Arts, was awarded the Golden Medallion, considered one of the greatest honors in theater education, during the Region 7 Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) in Denver, Colorado, in February.

The award recognizes Quinnett for her extraordinary contributions to the teaching and producing of theater and for her significant dedication, artistry and enthusiasm toward the development of KCACTF. It was one of 16 awards given to UI faculty and students during the annual festival. 

Quinnett has been involved with the festival for more than 25 years and has held several positions including respondent, Irene Ryan auditor, vice chair of Region 7, chair of Region 7 and as chair curating the festival with nationally acclaimed guest artists and performances.

As a college student, Quinnett received the National Irene Ryan Scholarship in 1990 in Washington, D.C., and was put under contract by ABC TV, which launched her commercial career. However, Quinnett has found lasting fulfillment as an educator, she said.

“Truly, the KCACTF has provided me with my most cherished gift, being a teacher and serving my students with a safe space to discover who they are and develop a confidence to express themselves in any context,” Quinnett said. “It is my great joy to bring opportunities to my students and colleagues in order to enhance and inspire them.”

During the weeklong Region 7 event, more than 50 UI students joined colleges and universities from Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Northern California and Nevada, competing for scholarships and awards in performance and design, and participating in workshops and seminars in new methods and techniques in theater.

The UI award-winning students are:

  • Brynna Soth of Spokane, Washington, earned the Irene Ryan Musical Theatre Award.
  • Sean Hendrickson of Richland, Washington, and Lauren Hirsch of Sacramento, California, earned the George R. Cadwell Undergraduate Scholarly Paper Award for essays on Stanislavsky and their experience training in Russia at the Moscow Art Theatre School.
  • Sam Transleau of Delray Beach, Florida, earned the Scenic Design Meritorious Achievement Award for “As You Like It.”
  • Keely Wright-Ogren of Orange City, Iowa, earned the Sound Design Meritorious Achievement Award for “Medea: Her Story.”
  • Hanah Toyoda of Hayward, California, earned the Allied Design Meritorious Achievement Award for “Medea: Her Story.”
  • Michael Brandt of Council Bluffs, Iowa, earned the Stage Management Meritorious Achievement Award for “A Hedda Gabler.”
  • Jessica Thomas of Coeur d’Alene earned the Stage Management Meritorious Achievement for “Medea: Her Story.”
  • Hunter Price of Sandpoint earned the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society Directing Fellowship Award.
  • Kevin Neighbors of Highlands Ranch, Colorado, earned the Irene Ryan New Play Acting Award.
  • Kylee Teal of Mountain Home earned two awards. She received the Irene Ryan Mark Twain Comedy Acting Award and was named the Irene Ryan Alternate.
  • Quinlan Hanrahan from Richland, Washington, earned the Arts Leadership Meritorious Achievement.

In addition, the UI Theatre Arts program, part of the College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences, received a “Participating Production” award and the "Golden Handtruck" award for the smooth load in of “Medea: Her Story.” 

For more information, contact Theatre Arts at 208-885-6465 or visit

Media Contact:
Kelly O’Neill
Media Relations, Theatre Arts Department

Kelly Quinnett

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