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April 9, 2018
#WomensWork Feature: Ramona LaBarre and Dina Hall
Written by Kate Racculia
Listen, and trust yourself to follow the song. Godfrey Daniels, the renowned music venue on Bethlehem’s South Side, opened in 1976. Ramona LaBarre began volunteering after attending a handful of concerts—and today she’s the managing director. “I recognized that something in my spirit was being fed abundantly while there,” she says. That led her to make a conscious decision to be an active part of the organization, and its mission: to create and nurture the appreciation of traditional and contemporary folk music and performing arts through unique, intimate live shows.
Dina Hall, president of the Godfrey Daniels board of directors, heard that same song. A musician herself, she discovered Godfrey Daniels shortly after moving to the area. “I started to volunteer,” she says, “and soon enough, Ramona recruited me as a board member.”
Now both women are responsible for upholding Godfrey’s legacy as well as shepherding the organization into the future. “It’s a perennial challenge,” says LaBarre, “to maintain the brand of a legendary folk music venue while broadening our artistic reach and attracting a younger audience.” LaBarre and Hall have coordinated this effort with mutual respect and appreciation for each other’s expertise, taking chances on new artists, diversifying the board, hiring a managing director, and giving Godfrey’s room to grow. Their goal is to strike a balance between the venue’s long-standing artists “who have been performing on our stage for literally decades,” and new artists and new sounds.
Listen to the old and the new, to yourself—“it’s important for women of any age to be self-reliant, regardless of the task before you,” says Hall—and to each other. When LaBarre first recruited Hall to the board, Hall says she was still “very much an introvert. I listened and took lots of notes. Although Ramona was vice president at the time, she had the ability to lead the group from a position of knowledge, experience, and wisdom.” Hall learned from LaBarre’s example how to respond effectively to the loud voices in the room, eventually winning their respect and confidence. “Don’t be afraid to ask questions,” Hall advises. “And challenge the answers.”