NOW Generation Holds Reception and Announces Upcoming Events

National Comedy Center Executive Director Journey Gunderson speaks during a welcome reception for NOW Generation members Sunday, June 30, 2019 at Girls’ Club. DAVE MUNCH/PHOTO EDITOR

NOW Generation is comprised of Chautauquans ages 21 to 40 who value the Chautauqua experience and devote their time and resources to ensure its continued legacy.

Last Sunday, NOW Generation held its welcome reception for the 2019 season. The reception at the Chautauqua Girls’ Club started with a welcome from Amy Schiller, who reflected on her final year as vice chair of the NOW Generation advisory council.

It’s been a really incredible year for us, to have so many people here to share things that are going on at Chautauqua as we do at this time,” Schiller said. “I am so happy to see all of you here.

Schiller was succeeded as vice chair by Kate Groninger. Other council terms that have ended include terms of service by John Haskell, Brian Goehring and Kate McKee Simmons. New council members include Tally Bevis, of Nashville, Tennessee; and Tim Smeal, of Jamestown, New York.

Institution President Michael E. Hill then discussed the new strategic plan, 150 Forward, and the ways in which the plan will be implemented at Chautauqua Institution.

“The strategic plan is trying to look at a new 10-year vision for Chautauqua,” Hill said. “Chautauqua has been bringing people to the grounds to explore the most pressing issues of the day through four pillars, and we believe that you can’t explore issues in the world in silence.”

Hill shared four key objectives and cross-cutting imperatives from the plan. These imperatives include strategic partnerships; mobilization of technology; labor and talent solutions; and inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility. He then took questions from the crowd and invited members of the NOW Generation to attend the strategic plan weekly information sessions at 3:30 p.m. Thursdays in the Hall of Christ.

Matt Ewalt, vice president and Emily and Richard Smucker Chair for Education, then introduced a special guest to share an update on an educational and regional partnership.

Journey Gunderson, executive director of the National Comedy Center, spoke briefly about the center’s partnership with Chautauqua. Gunderson is a longtime Chautauquan and has worked as a lifeguard and counselor at the Boys’ and Girls’ Club.

Chautauqua really was a huge factor in the fact that we can even create a National Comedy Center in Jamestown, New York,” Gunderson said. “Being able to point to Chautauqua Institution and say that people will travel for good cultural product is huge; we wouldn’t be here without that.”
Chautuquau Institution President Michael E. Hill speaks about 150 Forward, Chautauqua’s strategic plan, during a welcome reception for NOW Generation members Sunday, June 30, 2019 at Girls’ Club. DAVE MUNCH/PHOTO EDITOR

Netflix will be launching an annual comedy stand-up hall of fame special, and the National Comedy Center will be the physical permanent exhibition for the show. A bill that was recently passed by United States Congress and signed into law has officially named the center the United States’ Cultural Institution Dedicated to Comedy.

Alyssa Porter, Chautauqua Institution’s new director of youth and family programs, was then welcomed to the podium. Porter has always been interested in recreation and has a master’s degree in recreation administration and leisure studies.

“When I think about recreation, it’s so much more than just athletics,” Porter said. “It’s anything that you do in your free time that’s focused on re-creating who you are. It can be anything you choose to do that betters yourself as a human being.”

Porter said she has the perfect amount of experience to come to Chautauqua and advocate for a bright future based on respect and appreciation for the Institution’s history.

Advisory council updates and highlights for upcoming events were given by Carrie Zachry Oliver.

Some of the events that NOW Generation has planned for this summer include volunteer-led weekly play dates at 10:30 a.m. Tuesdays at Timothy’s Playground and “Wednesdays at the Water” gatherings at 2:15 pm Wednesdays at Children’s Beach. Additional family-friendly activities hosted by the NOW Generation for the community include a kickball game at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 20, at Sharpe Field and Summerfest, a casual celebration following the Old First Night Run/Walk, at 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 3, at the Youth Activities Center.

For adults, the NOW Generation is hosting weekly Pub Chats at 4 p.m. Tuesdays at the Athenaeum Hotel bar, and will be the featured community host at 3:30 p.m. July 29 for the Chautauqua Writers’ Center writers-in-residence reading in the Hall of Philosophy.

Zachry Oliver ended by calling Schiller back up to honor her for her work as vice chair, presenting her with flowers and thanking her for her work with the NOW Generation advisory council during her tenure.

Schiller then closed the evening.

First I wanted to say ‘thank you’ to everyone who’s a part of the Lewis Miller Circle,” Schiller said. “This is one of the ways that we become part of advancing everything that Michael (Hill) has talked about, everything that our wonderful team has talked about today. So it’s just one of those things where we’re really proud that NOW Gen is a part of that effort.”

The Lewis Miller Circle is comprised of NOW Generation members who make an annual gift of $250 to the annual Chautauqua Fund, and will be recognized at a special reception later in July.

Schiller then announced a new initiative to gather on the grounds for a fall weekend event, which will take place Oct. 25-27. This event will bring Chautauquans together during the off-season.

“This is meant to be a complement to CHQ Near You, which is our spring event that has been a really successful nationwide effort to bring Chautauquans together wherever they are year-round,” Schiller said.

Schiller reiterated her appreciation for the NOW Generation membership and their efforts to advance the group’s mission.

Thanks to everyone who’s made this such a remarkable experience and such a remarkable group,” Schiller said.

For more information about the NOW Generation or to inquire about upcoming events, visit the Facebook page ( or contact Megan Sorenson, staff liaison, at 716-357-6243 or

Tags : CommunityNOWNOW Generation

The author Marianna Moore

Marianna Moore is a rising senior at the University of Missouri. She is studying journalism with a concentration in strategic communication. She interns as a writer for the university’s Office of Student Affairs and previously interned as a social media manager with Mizzou International Experience. In her free time, Marianna likes to volunteer at the Central Missouri Humane Society and enjoys writing poetry.