Almitra Clemente Clerkin was born in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania while her dad, Alexander O. Clemente ’62, earned his Penn State Master’s in cinema. Almi and her brothers, Salvantonio and Paulo, attended Saint Peter’s Cathedral School like their mom, Jean Moskot Clemente, did a generation earlier. Almi is a proud Victor, graduating from Villa Maria Academy in 1981, and named Villa Alumni of the Year in 2006.
Almi is a 1985 cum laude graduate of Gannon University, earning a BS in Business Management, and received the 2016 Distinguished Alumni Award for Schools of Business and Engineering.
Before beginning her Erie Playhouse career 24 seasons ago, Almi learned project management as assistant/acting external affairs director at Mercyhurst College; worked with a variety of people and industries as customer service manager at Progressive Insurance Financial Services in Richmond, Virginia; and realized the value and impact of donor generosity as development director at Villa Maria Academy. Almi was hired as the first ever, full-time Erie Playhouse Youtheatre Director in 1992, sharing theatre with thousands of kids on stage and in the classroom. In 2001, she added the duties of development director; in 2006 she was named Executive Director. In her 10 seasons as director, Almi, the dedicated 12 member staff, and the Playhouse family (1,300 annual volunteers) have many accomplishments on 10th Street and throughout the region and are valued as an asset and treasure in our community. Almi leads the Playhouse in a collaborative, transparent, and responsible way, maintaining the positive reputation and the high-quality of theatre patrons have come to expect.
Almi’s passion for theatre began early when her parents regularly took the family to see shows around town. Her dad cast her as George Washington at nine years old at the Watson-Curtze Museum (now the Tom Hagen History Center), and she has been performing ever since! Whether on stage, behind-the-scenes, stage managing, advising, choreographing, directing or producing, the 400+ shows have filled her life with joy.
Surpassing that joy is the love Almi has for her gifted husband, Rev. Shawn Clerkin ’86 (Gannon professor for 28 years), and their best production to date, their talented son Seamus, who graduated from Erie Cathedral Prep in 2016 and started at Gannon this fall. Shawn and Almi met during their freshmen year of college, shared classes and the stage, and were married. In 2015, they celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary in Ireland, renewing their marriage vows at Lismore Cathedral. The Clerkins have opened their home to seven International students these past 20 years, experiencing global relationships on a personal level.
Community, service and faith pervade every aspect of Almi’s life. She strives to follow Jesus’ command to love God and others as we hope to be loved. She believes sharing the talents we are blessed with is the best way to show our adoration for God. Almi is currently pursuing her masters in Health Communications from Gannon. Almi will lead the Erie Playhouse through its 100th season (September 2016 – August 2017) and then follow a new path, one that many hope leads to the Mayor’s Office. Almi’s strong past and present, rooted in education, the arts, work, family, and faith, combine to make her an ideal mayoral candidate. Almi has the leadership skills, experience and commitment to take the best of Erie’s past into a better, brighter and bolder future.
Fun/Noteworthy Facts on Almi:
- Volunteers at the Neighborhood Art House
- Involved in alumni events at Villa Maria Academy and Gannon University
- Competed in (and won) “Dancing With The Erie Stars” at the Catholic Charities Ball
- Emceed the “Courage To Come Back Awards Dinner” for the Sisters of St. Joseph
- Worked closely on the reorganization of Erie Arts & Culture to be a force in this region and State
- Involved in the annual Alex Clemente Fundraiser production at Gannon University in honor of her late father
- Guest directs high school productions at Cathedral Prep/Villa
- Organizes visits to and from Erie’s sister-city, Dungarvan, Ireland, in cultural exchange programs
- Serves on the Erie Downtown Partnership Board
- Served on the Board of Incorporators of both UPMC Hamot and St. Vincent Health Center
- St. Mary’s Home of Erie – Current Board Secretary
- Worked on cooperative programs with the Gertrude Barber Center, the Erie Philharmonic, Erie Land Lighthouse, and the Neighborhood Art House
- Directed productions at the Dramashop, Riverside Inn, the Meadville Academy Theater and the Barrow Civic Theatre in Franklin, Pa.
- Past VisitErie board member
- Past Erie Downtown Partnership board member
- 2016 Distinguished Alumni for Schools of Business and Engineering
- Served on Pa Council on the Arts Theatre Grant Panel