Steve Bailey!

Thoughts from Steve’s
colleagues and coworkers

A loving “dovidenia“ (that’s Slovak for “farewell”) from all of your friends at NPN

June 2024

It is with immense gratitude (and lots of tears) that we celebrate the retirement of Steve Bailey, NPN’s Director of Operations, this month. 

A smiling white woman wearing white heart-shaped sunglasses poses for a selfie with a white man who is also smiling and wearing light pink sunglasses. The woman is on the left, and her hair is two-tone: on the sides it is dark and trimmed close to the scalp, and on top it is blonde and longer, but swept back in a low pompadour. She is wearing a collarless dark gray t-shirt with indecipherable white lettering on the front. The man has short hair that's swept up off his forehead, and he is wearing a button down green and yellow plaid shirt. They are standing in what appears to be the midway at a small carnival, and behind them in the middle distance are a shish-ka-bob stand on the left and a popcorn stand on the right. Between them and the food stands there are two small groups of people walking by.
Caitlin Strokosch and Steve Bailey.

Steve joined the staff in 2011, but his tenure with NPN spans more than 30 years—as a touring artist (1990s to the early-2000s), as a national Partner with Jump-Start Performance (starting in 1994), as organizer of NPN’s first Queer Steering Committee (in the late-’90s), and as Chair of the Board (early-2000s).

Wearing so many hats, over so many years, Steve has shaped NPN immeasurably and in ways we will continue to benefit from. Since joining the staff, Steve has brought greater organization to NPN’s systems, finances, and HR, while seeking to center humanity, accessibility, and transparency. He has mentored and supported emerging staff, and delighted in the growth and success of others.

For his next great adventure, Steve will be moving to Slovakia this fall and prioritizing more of his theater work again. Please join us in thanking him for his extraordinary contributions to NPN. Steve, we love you and will miss you dearly!

Caitlin Strokosch,
President & CEO, NPN

At our recent Partner meeting in Chicago, NPN staff surprised Steve with a farewell celebration, including readings, video messages from colleagues, and late-night revelry. Here are some highlights, along with memories we’ve made with Steve over the years.

A message from Jorge Rojas

Steve Bailey is one of a kind. From the first day I met Steve back in 2010 at an NPN conference to today, Steve is always warm, kind, friendly, joyous, welcoming, funny, respectful, brilliant and highly professional. From day one, he made me feel that I belong.

Two men smiling and posing together at what appears to be an outdoor bar or event space on the upper floor of a building. Behind and below them is what appears to be a park, and further back, a large lake or an ocean. It is winter. The park is yellow and and sky is a faint blue that fades to white on the horizon. The men are bundled in dark coats and scarves. The man on the left is white with short, lightly colored hair, and he wears black framed glasses. The man on the right is slightly taller and has his arm around the first man's shoulders . He, too, has black framed glasses, and is wearing a flat cap hat. There is a bluish tinge to the overall photo.
Steve Bailey and Jorge Rojas in Chicago in 2019.

On more than one occasion I reached out to Steve for guidance about my professional career and some very tough choices I had to make in my personal life. Each time Steve was very generous with his time, thoughtful with his guidance, and always caring. I always felt better after spending time with Steve.

Steve often referred back to his experience as an educator, which he is very proud of, and where in many ways he seemed to find deep meaning in his life’s work and certainly at NPN.

I will forever be grateful that I got to meet Steve and for the mentorship he provided in my life, and I’m sure for many others. Steve, will be deeply missed, but his example and legacy will live on at NPN and, through NPN, in the world.

Thank you, Steve. I love you!

— Jorge Rojas

A large, diverse group of nearly two dozen adults are gathered under a large, open rectangular trellis made of untreated tree trunks and branches. The trellis is approximately 15 feet tall, dwarfing the group of people. They are dressed snugly but not in a way that implies it's very cold outside. Immediately behind them is a wall of fir trees.
A diverse group of eleven adults pose for a photo on and around an unpainted picnic table  in front of building clad in weathered wooden shingles with red wooden framed square windows. There is a blue and white sign on the wall that says "The Yard." They are all dressed snugly but not in a way that implies it's very cold outside. It is quite bright, though, and several of them are wearing sunglasses. They are all smiling or laughing.
A smiling, white man on the left side of the image poses for a selfie with a slightly darker skinned smiling woman on the right. The man is wearing black framed glasses and has a green lanyard around his neck, and he's wearing a dark blue and black tightly-patterned plaid button-down shirt with a black jacket over it. His hair is short and lightly colored. The woman is wearing red plastic cat-eye framed glasses and has long, slightly wavy brown hair that extends past her shoulders off camera. The background is blurred but it appears to be a large meeting room at a hotel or conference center, with large round tables covered in white tablecloths.
Three adults pose together for the camera, smiling. They are outside next to the red brick wall of an unidentified building. On the left is an asian woman with a tight fitting black cap or black headband that obscures her hair, and pushed up over this head covering are a pair of tortoise-shell oval sunglasses. In the center is a white man with black horn-rimmed, half-frame glasses, wearing a black polo-shirt with the top button undone. On the right is a latino man with dark stubble short, white and gray hair. He is wearing a blue button-down shirt that is open at the top to form a v-shape as it extends out of frame.

A video message from Vicki Meek

“Truly you have done fantastic things across the board…”

– Vicki Meek

A message from Anne Ishii, Executive Director at Asian Arts Initiative

At the board meeting last Fall, I was walking back to the hotel from breakfast in the quarter, a lovely peaceful morning. I saw Steve riding slowly down the street on his bike and thought “what a cute bike.” Steve looked so sweet and quaint on his cruiser when a big pick up truck zipped past him and honked aggressively. Steve didn’t miss a beat and flipped the truck driver the bird and yelled “fuck you asshole!” but kept his pace like nothing happened.

— Anne Ishii, Executive Director at Asian Arts Initiative

In a partially blurred photo that looks like it was taken in a dark room without a flash, a black man and a white man stand against a makeshift backdrop and raise their hands as they sing together into a microphone. They are smiling as they sing. Both of them are wearing glasses. The black man on the left is wearing a short sleeved, buttoned shirt covered in an intricate black and white design of plant leaves. The white man on the right is wearing a short-sleeved black shirt. Behind them, a tall black woman wearing a loose-fitting, white, long-sleeved shirt and glasses watches them and smiles. To her left--on the right side of the image--is a wooden door marked "Supply Room."
In a dimly lit photo that looks like it was taken in a darkened room, a black man and a white man stand against a makeshift backdrop and bend slightly with their hands placed just above their knees and look at each other, smiling, as they sing together into a microphone. Both of them are wearing glasses. The black man on the left is wearing a short sleeved, buttoned shirt covered in an intricate black and white design of plant leaves. The white man on the right is wearing a short-sleeved black shirt. To the left of them, in the foreground, a black woman with a shaved head, black glasses, and a shiny, leather-like black jacket smiles in profile as she looks up at what seems to be a karaoke monitor. Behind the men, a tall black woman wearing a loose-fitting, white, long-sleeved shirt and glasses stares over their heads and to the left as if reading the lyrics from an unseen karaoke monitor. To her left--on the right side of the image--is a wooden door marked "Supply Room."
A white man with short hair and horn-rimmed half-frame glasses smiles broadly at the camera, as if caught mid-laughter or in the middle of saying something. There are spots of colored light on the wall behind him, suggesting the environment is a bar or club. Due to the unusual lighting, all the highlights of the image are replaced with a deep blue color, and the blacks are a dark bluish-gray, which gives the photo a heavily stylized, almost painterly effect.

A video message from Scott Turner Schofield

“Steve, you have been with me for my entire journey as an artist..”

– Scott Turner Schofield

A poem by Tony Garcia

Sassy Steve

Sassy Steve stepped sidewise, smiled sweetly sharing sarcasm so swiftly

several sitting sideline spectators swooned.

Simplemente Steve’s scientific sabiduria seedlings stood solidly,

significantly shattering staid society.

Soon safety seekers simmered silently, sonambulando,

stereotypical societal senses surrendered,

Secretly seeking sensuous stimulation:

such submission sufficed, shouting satisfactorily.  

Saucy, Spicy siempre Sassy Steve.

– Tony Garcia

In a large hotel meeting or conference room, ten adults of various skin tones stand in a line in front of a large projection screen. They are all holding white paper cups and wearing lanyards, and otherwise dressed in ordinary everyday contemporary clothing. They are all listening to and looking at a tall black man who is standing to their right--our left--behind a clear acrylic podium and speaking into a microphone as he addresses them. In the foreground on the left is the edge of a large round table covered in a white tablecloth, with three cloth-covered gray chairs arranged haphazardly about it. In the foreground on the right is the edge of another similar table, but on this side there is a black woman sitting in one of the chairs and looking at the man speaking. She is wearing a short-sleeved white t-shirt and black, leather-looking vest, and she has tightly braided black and dark-reddish-brown hair that's pulled back. She is wearing large round pink earrings that feature the continent of Africa. Behind everyone, projected on the screen, is an image of plants and the words, "Twenty Twenty-Four Partner Meeting, National Performance Network." Behind the heads of the row of people, partially obscured, is more text that reads, "Steve is Retiring!"
Eight adults of various skin tones stand outside on a pier or dock with a dark metal railing. Behind them, on the other side of the railing, is a harbor with a boat in the distance and a shoreline in the far distance. The day is slightly overcast but the sky is blue nearer the horizon. It appears to be winter, because everyone is wearing warm clothing, coats, scarves, and hats. The are all laughing and smiling but they are not posing together for an official photograph. It looks more like they were caught slightly off guard by the photographer and all but one of them is turned to stare into the camera for the casual photo opportunity.
A white man with short, light-colored skin  and black glasses is standing outside under or right next to the awning of a hotel. Behind him in the shadows are other people looking off at something or staring at him and smiling. He is holding a pair of disposable eclipse glasses over his own glasses and looking up at the sky with a look of focused effort. He wears a blue polo shirt with a white placket, and over that he is wearing an opened, dark gray, long-sleeved jacket with a zipper front.
Three adults pose solemnly in front of a white fireplace mantle for a different photo than the one we are looking at; they are all looking off to the side at an unseen camera. Although they look serious, there is an air of playfulness and exaggeration to the poses. The fireplace mantle is covered in clumps of white Poly-Fil fiber meant to suggest spider webbing. On top of the mantle are other Halloween decorations, including a skull with a black candle on top, the silhouette of a raven or other black bird, the silhouette of a bat, and black roses. In the foreground next to the group is a white sandwich chalk board with cut-out, orange-and-white paper letters that spell NPN affixed to the top, next to a paper cutout of a witch's hat. On the chalkboard in squiggly hand-drawn spooky lettering are the words "Marshmallow Monster Mash." Of the three people posing, on the left is a black woman wearing a white collar shirt and long-sleeve, black, buttoned sweater and dark blue jeans. She has a medium thickness braid on each side of her head. She is standing partially behind a brown leather high-backed chair, where there sits a white man with short, lightly colored hair and black horn-rimmed, half-frame glasses. He is wearing a black shirt and an opened long-sleeve, black sweater or jacket, and blue jeans. The third figure, on the right and standing next to the chair and behind the sandwich board, is a tall black man with a closely trimmed black goatee and tortoise shell glasses. He is wearing a light brown, pork pie hat, and he has a black and white textured cardigan that's buttoned up, with what appears to be a thin, dark gray or black shirt underneath. his legs are obscured by the sandwich board.
A medium close-up of a middle-aged, white man with horn-rimmed, half-frame glasses smiles for the camera. He is dressed in an elaborate Mardi Gras costume, and based on the angle of his body and how close he is to the corner of the room, it appears that he is sitting for this photo. His bulky but soft jacket is covered entirely with stuffed animals in every color, and it's open to reveal a shirt or wide scarf made of purple, green, and yellow metallic tinsel. He is wearing a black felt top hat decorated with a band of metallic purple, green, and yellow beads. Behind him on the upper half of the adjoining walls is a mural of what looks like a Greek pastoral scene rendered in a slightly desaturated illustration style.
A medium close-up of a white, middle-aged man with short, lightly colored hair, and black, horn-rimmed, half-frame glasses, is outside, walking past the camera and away from a condiment stand with large plastic pumps of ketchup on his left, and the open door of a food truck on his right. He is wearing a green, blue, and yellow plaid, long-sleeve, button-down shirt, and a pair of light pink sunglasses are hooked over the open collar. He is holding a large platter covered in red and white checked paper, on top of which has been arranged in a circular pattern dozens of pieces of identically shaped, unidentified fried food, with plastic containers of dipping sauce in the center. He appears to be concentrating on carrying the dish of food.

We’ll miss you, Steve!