[by Phyllis Shaikun]
For many of the 31 years that Barbara Myerson Katz and her husband, pediatrician Dr. David Katz, have lived in Louisville, her’s has been a familiar face to audiences at CenterStage, the theater company directed by John Leffert at the Jewish Community Center. Katz has been performing since she was a teenager, and CenterStage has provided that outlet for her here. She met Leffert when both were in Music Theatre Louisville at Iroquois Amphitheater. “I consider my involvement more than a hobby,” she says. “One of the reasons David and I decided to move to Louisville was the strong arts community including Actors Theatre, and the (then brand new) Kentucky Center.”
They’ve taken full advantage of the opportunities. “A huge part of my community involvement is CenterStage,” Katz says, including serving on the CenterStage board since 2002. In 2011, she joined the Jewish Community Relations Council, and both she and David have served on the board of trustees at The Temple, where they are members, and where Barbara became bat mitzvah in 2005 along with fellow members of her adult Hebrew class.
Katz has also always been a busy professional. With bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and a post-master’s degree from Harvard, Katz began a career in educational media in her native Philadelphia and as a high school English teacher. She then “had the great fortune,” she says, to work in audience research for the producers of Sesame Street in New York.
After David finished medical school at Tufts University, a residency at Long Island Jewish Hospital and a fellowship at the University of Virginia, they moved with their then one-year-old son to Louisville.
Arriving in August 1981, they immediately joined the Jewish Community Center, and Katz recalls many hours spent at the pool with their children, Jonathan, now 32, and Rebecca, now 29.
“The kids grew up at the Center, participating in camp and BBYO,” she says. Rebecca was on BBYO regional board and credits those experiences in part with her decision to pursue a doctorate in education at Boston University.
Jonathan is a journalist, currently writing a book about surviving and then covering the devastating 2010 Haiti earthquake and its aftermath as a correspondent for the Associated Press.
Meanwhile, the family’s Louisville connections have flourished. Katz began working with KET (Kentucky Educational Television) and in 1988 started writing for Louisville Magazine, for which she’s received 12 Louisville Metro Journalism Awards.
She’s currently communications coordinator at CTL (Collaborative for Teaching and Learning), a Louisville non-profit that provides professional development for educators regionally and internationally.
David is a partner in Kaplan Barron Pediatric Group and an associate clinical professor of Pediatrics at the University of Louisville.
At The Temple, they established the Janet and Joseph Myerson Performing Arts Fund in memory of Barbara’s parents, who were supporters of the arts and active in the Philadelphia Jewish community.
In 1993, David’s parents, Helen and Nathan Katz, followed their children to Louisville from New York.