Theatre and Film Arts faculty receives honor for excellence in educational theatre

Kara ThomsonKara Thomson MESA, Arizona – March 4, 2022 -- Kara Thomson, Mesa Community College faculty and co-director of the Theater and Film Arts department, received the most prestigious regional award given by the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) – the Gold Medallion. It is considered one of the great honors in theatre education.

“The Gold Medallion is the fanciest, shiny gold thing we have to offer her for significantly contributing her time, artistry and enthusiasm to KCACTF, and I know of no one who deserves this more,” said Jenny Kokai, KCACTF Region 8 National Playwriting Program Co-Chair and Weber State University theatre professor.

Thomson received the medallion at a virtual Festival Awards Ceremony on February 11, 2022.

The award is given each year to individuals or organizations who demonstrate a commitment to excellence in educational theatre and have contributed to the development of the KCACTF.

Each year, the KCACTF brings together students from colleges and universities across the country where they have an opportunity to attend workshops, share their work, and learn from professionals, faculty and other students.

KCACTF Gold MedallionKCACTF Gold Medallion “Kara worked with multiple leadership folks to create inclusive engaging lists of theoretical projects for students,” said Kokai. “She worked to find respondents who could offer generous and generative feedback so students could grow as artists.”

Thomson held many roles with the KCACTF national theater program during the past 13 years. Most recently, Thomson served as Design Technology and Management chair from 2018 to 2021, and three years prior as the vice chair.

Thomson’s other awards include the Kennedy Center Excellence in Theatre Education Award in 2011 and the Kennedy Center Faculty Fellowship for Design for Region VIII in 2008.

Learn more about the MCC Theatre & Film Arts program at

# # #

Media contact: Dawn Zimmer, or 480-461-7892

The Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) is a year-round program in eight geographic regions in the United States. Regional activities are coordinated through eight KCACTF regional chairs and eight KCACTF playwriting awards chairs. With funding and administrative support from the Kennedy Center, the regional chair coordinates with the Co-Managers of KCACTF all aspects of productions on the local and regional level and supervises regional-level KCACTF award competitions. In January and February of each year, regional festivals showcase the finest of each region’s entered productions and offer a variety of activities, including workshops, symposia, and regional-level award programs. Since its inception, KCACTF has given more than 400,000 college theater students the opportunity to have their work critiqued, improve their dramatic skills and receive national recognition for excellence. More than 16 million theatergoers have attended approximately 10,000 festival productions nationwide. For more Information, visit

Mesa Community College is nationally recognized for university transfer, career and technical programs, civic engagement, service-learning and innovative approaches to education. On average MCC students provide 23,000 hours of community service annually. For more than 50 years, the college has served as a resource for education, workforce development and lifelong learning. Host to more than 25,400 students annually, MCC offers degree and certificate programs at its two campuses and additional locations through a combination of modalities. MCC is transforming how it champions student success through Guided Pathways with Integrated Support Services and a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. MCC is a Hispanic Serving Institution with nearly 50% of its students being the first in their families to attend college. MCC has the largest indigenous student population of all the Maricopa Community Colleges; its American Indian Institute serves students from the 22 federally recognized Arizona tribes as well as out-of-state tribes. The diverse student body includes hundreds of international students from around the world. Award-winning faculty are dedicated to student success, providing the education and training that empowers MCC students to attain their goals. Located in the East Valley of Phoenix, Arizona, on the traditional territories of the O'odham, Piipaash and Yavapai Peoples, MCC is one of 10 colleges in the Maricopa County Community College District. Visit to learn more.

An education in Theatre & Film Arts at MCC provides a valuable base from which to launch careers in film, television, stage, management, marketing, advertising, law, politics, theology, social work, or therapeutic fields. Students are provided opportunities to work with industry professionals from across the country and be successful at national competitions such as the national Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival and the AriZoni Theatre Awards of Excellence. Experience ranges from acting, design, writing, directing and serving as a crew member in a variety of productions. Learn more about the program and upcoming performances at

Mesa Community College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) --

The Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD) is an EEO/AA institution and an equal opportunity employer of protected veterans and individuals with disabilities. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, or national origin. A lack of English language skills will not be a barrier to admission and participation in the career and technical education programs of the District. MCCCD does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability or age in its programs or activities. For Title IX/504 concerns, call the following number to reach the appointed coordinator: (480) 731-8499. For additional information, as well as a listing of all coordinators within the Maricopa College system, visit

Source Details

Publication Date: 
Friday, March 4, 2022