Catherine MacDonald Burns

National Training Director

Catherine believes that stories are the most powerful human invention and that too many go unheard. Her goal since college has been to equip youth in marginalized communities with the confidence, skills, and opportunities to share their stories with the world. She is excited to be involved in expanding Girls Leadership programming for girls who come from communities like those she has worked with for the past decade.

Catherine followed her passion for stories by double-majoring in Drama and Creative Writing at the University of Michigan. During her junior year, she had the opportunity to work and perform with U of M’s Educational Theatre Company and experience how theatre can facilitate community dialogue and serve as a vessel for teaching and learning. This work helped her focus her love for sharing stories into using theatre as a tool for social justice, and she went on to pursue her Master’s in Theatre Education at Emerson College in Boston. Through this program, she earned her teaching credential by student-teaching 6th and 7th-grade theatre in a Boston public middle school, where she also co-led an after-school girls club. When it came time to find a full-time teaching job, she searched across the country for an urban school that valued the arts and operated from a place of love and high expectations for students of color. She landed at Envision Academy in downtown Oakland, where she taught a required 10th-grade theatre course for six years. She developed a year-long theatre curriculum that empowered her students to speak up and share their experiences, forging authentic connection between themselves and their peers. In addition to teaching theatre, she served as a student advisor, created a meditation and stress-management elective, and built the after-school theatre program from the ground up. She led her grade-level and department teams with a focus on anti-racist, culturally responsive, and trauma-informed practices, driving equitable outcomes for all students. Her guiding question as an educator is, “How am I serving as a conduit of liberation for my students?” Through Power Lab, she hopes to serve as a conduit of liberation for girls whose stories deserve to be heard and amplified.

Outside of work, she can be found on various adventures with her husband, Claude, while trying to keep up with their daughter, Ainsley, and German Shepherd, Remy.