Tom Conroy

Research Director

Tom is the Chair and an Associate Professor of Urban Studies at Worcester State University. He holds a Ph.D. in History from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. His scholarly work focuses on politics and society in Urban America, particularly in the Northeast.  He is actively involved in many community organizations and institutions, some with state and national relationships, including the Worcester Arts Council, Preservation Worcester, Worcester Technical High School, the NAACP, and the Latino Education Institute.  His scholarly and community interests are brought together in his direction of the WSU CityLab, the research and publishing wing of the Urban Studies Department, which emphasizes ethical and objective community-engaged research projects.

Sam O'Connell

Director of Critical and Creative Analysis

Sam is an Associate Professor of Theatre and Interdisciplinary Arts at Worcester State University as well as the dramaturg for Worcester State Theatre. He holds a Ph.D. in Theatre and Drama from Northwestern University. His research background includes academic publications and conference presentations on theatrical labor, musical theatre, music as performance, and intersections of media technologies and live performances. His creative background includes workshop presentations and courses on devised theatre, dramaturgy, and playwriting. He is an member of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education and the American Society for Theatre Research.

Adam Zahler


Creative Director

Adam is Chair of the Visual and Performing Arts Department and Professor of Acting and Directing at Worcester State University. He holds a Master's of Fine Arts from the University of Virginia. He was Directing Chair for the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, Region 1, for which he also served on the board He currently sits on the executive board of the Worcester Cultural Coalition and on the Public Art Working Group. As a professional director (member Stage Directors and Choreographers), he has worked at most of the mid-sized theatres in the Boston area, as well as theatres in New York, New Jersey, Vermont, and Virginia. Internationally his work has been seen at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and he directed the first American production to appear at the Volkov Theatre in Yaroslavl, Russia.  His work has been honored by the Boston Critics Association with two Elliot Norton Awards: Outstanding Director (Permanent Collection) and Outstanding Production (Stonewall Jackson’s House). As an actor he has appeared in numerous productions, most recently in Come Back, Little Sheba at the Huntington Theatre Company.