The American Association of University Women – Bradford Branch has announced that the recipient of the AAUW Gateway to Equity Award 2019 is Kristin Kessel Asinger.
This award recognizes individuals, groups or organizations that have shown, by action and philosophy, that they advance equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy or research. AAUW – Bradford Branch recognizes Asinger for her tireless efforts to provide opportunities in the arts for individuals of all backgrounds, ages and abilities in the community.
Asinger grew up in Bradford and graduated from Bradford Central Christian High School. She holds a bachelor of science in athletic training and a bachelor of science in health and physical education from Canisius College, and a master of education in athletic training from the University of Virginia. Asinger’s taught at the middle school, high school and college level.
Asinger traveled abroad for the first time when she was 16, visiting Germany, Denmark and Sweden. Her international experience broadened while leading the study abroad program at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford.
Asinger’s passion for the theater began in high school when she was given a part in her first play, “Take a Number, Darling.” Later, she was reintroduced to theater through a neighborhood theater group and drama ministry in Erie. When she and her husband Tim lived in Chicago, they joined an improv troupe and performed in a drama ministry through their church. After moving to Bradford, Asinger started the Pitt Improvers, a student improv club.
Asinger began working with Kiwanis Kapers and Bradford Little Theatre (BLT), eventually serving as president of BLT. She learned the art of directing shows through research, trial and error and strong intuition.
In 2018, Asinger was approached by Chris Lathrop, who shared his idea of providing a showcase for individuals with special needs to share their talents for song, dance comedy, music and drama. Asinger used her theater experience, her leadership skills, her unbridled enthusiasm and her strong belief that the arts are for everybody to help make Lathrop’s idea a reality. Under the direction of Asinger, the “From the Heart” talent show was a magical production that provided a unique opportunity for performers with special needs to have their time in the spotlight.
The Asingers have three sons, Max, a programmer for Zippo; Patrick, a graduate student at MIT in chemical engineering; and Yuriy, the second of nine high school exchange students, who stayed in the USA and lives and works in Erie.