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Men & Women of the Year

Meet nine dynamic people we honor for their major contributions to our community.

(page 8 of 8)


Kristen Coury



After 9/11, Kristen Coury no longer could ignore her desire to leave New York City. But she worked in theater—where to go?

“I had this thought, ‘OK. I’m going to move to Florida, I’m going to move to London, or I’m going to join the Peace Corps.’ So I moved to Florida.”

She thought she would base out of Naples as a freelance theater director, but quickly realized the town had no professional theater company. So she decided to start one. The best advice she received? “Don’t do it. You’re a director and you’re not going to have any time to direct.”

“That would be exactly the thing that would cause my soul to shrivel up and die,” says Coury, 44. So she poured all her energies into making sure that didn’t happen. Now, Gulfshore Playhouse is celebrating its 10th season and its first world premiere.

She sees it as her responsibility to produce plays that enable people “to allow,” whether it be joy, a new concept or a different point of view. And she has made time not only to direct every production, but also to deliver each pre-show speech and always shake the hands of patrons as they leave the theater.

“I love this community so much,” she says. “If I wasn’t running a theater company, I’d run for mayor.”

Most gratifying experience: We were doing a production of Master Class, and Mr. Cohen [of corporate partner Cohen & Grigsby law firm] walked up to me at the end of the show on opening night and said, ‘You make my life better.’ Different career path: I would be a photographer for National GeographicPeople might not know: I teach something called Nia, which is like a mixture of yoga and dance and martial arts. Guilty pleasure: Well, besides chocolate, ballroom dancing. … I take lessons every week and I dance at competitions. Still on her bucket list: I want to go to Macchu Picchu. Where she sees Gulfshore Playhouse in another 10 years: We’re going to have a new building, all our own. … And we’re going to win a Tony Award.

—Cayla Stanley


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