Jamaica Plain’s Kordenbrock Named New Executive Director of Rehearsal for Life

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Rehearsal for Life, a nonprofit in Boston-area’s creative youth development sector, recently hired Jamaica Plain resident Robert Kordenbrock as its new executive director.

Kordenbrock joins Rehearsal for Life, as it begins its 30th anniversary, having most recently been the executive director of the Fenway Community Center, which serves over 45,000 residents of the Fenway neighborhood.

His career spans nearly two decades of experience in the education and non-profit sectors with a focus on youth development and corporate social responsibility. He has served as a teacher in the Chicago Public Schools; an AmeriCorps National Teaching Fellow with Citizen Schools in Malden where he worked with 8th graders to support their social-emotional and academic development; Director of the Red Oak After School and Summer Programs at the Josiah Quincy Elementary School for the Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center; and interim Executive Director and a member of the Board of Directors at JP KidsArts.

He then shifted his focus to nonprofit capacity building and volunteer engagement with a director role at Building Impact and a leadership role Common Impact. Later, at Fenway Community Center, he launched diverse program offerings to foster a more inclusive and representative culture at all levels of the organization. In March 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, he led the formation of a coalition of six local organizations to launch Fenway Cares. Kordenbrock has also served on several nonprofit boards of directors, most recently as Co-Chair of the Boston Music Project and is currently involved with the Housing and Development Committee of the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council.

“I’m so excited to join Rehearsal for Life and after 30 years, we are stronger than ever,'' Kordenbrock says. “I am inspired by its dynamic programs that use process and performance to promote social-emotional learning and social justice to educate and empower Boston-area youth.”

“We’re thrilled to welcome Robert to our organization,” shares James Benenson, Chair of the Board of Directors for Rehearsal for Life. “We are honored to have someone with his unique skill set and passion for social emotional learning and look forward to his leadership as we begin this milestone year.”

Robert holds a Master of Business Administration from Boston University Questrom School of Business as well as a Bachelor of Arts, Sociology and Political Science from the University of Missouri, Columbia, and a Teaching License, Secondary Instruction from the University of Missouri, St. Louis.

Serving youth from historically under-resourced Boston neighborhoods, Rehearsal for Life provides unique, theater-based programs to help students develop key social-emotional skills and make empowered choices in their lives, schools and communities and face real-life challenges through dialogue, creativity, and performance. The programs include:

  • Urban Improv’s structured improvisational theater workshops are designed to strengthen social and emotional skills and help students deal creatively with real-life challenges through dialogue, creativity, and performance. Urban Improv serves over 1,400 students from 4th to 8th grades in an interactive program at six Boston partner schools annually, including Hale (Roxbury), Murphy (Dorchester), Haley (Roslindale), Boston Teachers Union (Jamaica Plain), Conley (West Roxbury) and Josiah Quincy Elementary (Boston). The program is delivered in 51 classrooms as well as at Hope Central Church in Jamaica Plain. Workshop topics, customized to the students’ grade level, include bullying/cyberbullying, stereotyping, racism, homophobia, peer pressure, conflict, self-esteem, depression, and more.
  • Youth Unscripted is an after-school program for high school students that encourages dialogue, reflection, and conflict resolution and culminates in a community performance that is open to the public, exploring the issues most important to the students and their communities. Youth Unscripted is open to Boston-area high school students who are interested in a welcoming space where young people can share their experiences, practice leadership skills and use creativity for social change. From around the city, students connect with each other using interactive theater games, scene work and discussion, to explore identity and relevant social issues like racism, gender identity and mental health.
  • Urban Improv Assembly builds community and enhances dialogue on difficult issues. Using the Urban Improv method to combine improvisational scenes and live group discussions to reinforce empathy and respect, while giving participants the opportunity to learn, reflect, practice and share, the curriculum is available for 4th to 12th grades. Assemblies promote three key social emotional skills, namely self and social awareness, relationship skills and pro-active decision making.
  • Freelance Players is a tuition-based youth acting company for youth ages 8 to 16. The Freelance Players engage youth in the creation and performance of original, issue-oriented musical theater performed for audiences of all ages. Participants gain skills in acting, singing, dance and improvisation while working collaboratively, discovering empowered self-expression, enhancing imagination, artistic growth and self-confidence.