Molly Shaw ’02: Davidson Love, On and Off the Stage
Molly Shaw ’02 was involved in a number of mainstage theatre productions throughout her four years at Davidson, including the very first production in the Duke Family Performance Hall, which opened 20 years ago during her senior year.
She played the role of Germaine, a barmaid, in Picasso at the Lapin Agile, directed by Ann Marie Costa, holder of the Samuel E. & Mary West Thatcher Professorship.
“It is one of my favorite memories of college,” Shaw said. “Germaine was a really strong woman who was in love with Picasso and could feel him slipping through her fingers. She had a lot of pride.”
Davidson’s role in Shaw’s life has been broad and deep. She met her husband, David Webb ’02, during Orientation their very first day on campus, and lifelong friends who are a grounding presence in her life. She also worked for the college’s development office for five years. Fittingly, her last major project in that role was fundraising for the renovation of Cunningham Theatre Center.
“Davidson is the singular common thread throughout my life,” she said. “It is a place that’s willing to be comfortable with the idea of growth, evolution and self-reflection, and it’s a place where relationships are paramount.”
Shaw was involved in sports and dance in high school and only discovered theatre during the final few weeks before graduation, thanks to a senior project. This was enough of a taste to inspire her to choose an Acting I class with Costa as a first-year Davidson student.
“That class was one of the most transformational classes I took at Davidson,” Shaw said. “I learned to let go of inhibition and be completely present in the moment. It’s when I fell in love with theatre.”
"When I was president and CEO of Communities in Schools, I was constantly out in the community talking about our work. Davidson gave me the tools and confidence to be able to do that."
Shaw spent nine years leading the non-profit organization Communities in Schools in Charlotte and now focuses on social impact consulting work, with the Foundation for the Carolinas as a primary client. She helps think about how we can create more equitable and sustainable social impact and how we can better listen to and incorporate voices and ideas of the people closest to the experiences and issues we are trying to solve.
“I think often about how being involved in theatre affected my comfort with public speaking and engaging with audiences,” she said. “When I was president and CEO of Communities in Schools, I was constantly out in the community talking about our work. Davidson gave me the tools and confidence to be able to do that.”
During the pandemic, one thing Shaw has missed most is attending shows with her husband and children.
“There is no time more than now when we need to connect back to our humanity, and I think the arts are the most efficient and effective way to do that.”
Shaw has remained connected to the arts scene on campus. She served on the Davidson College Friends of the Arts Advisory Board for six years, including one term as chair.