“My mother taught me that you can follow behind everyone and walk in the dust, or you can walk ahead through the unbroken thorny bush, you may get blood on your ankles, but you arrive first and not covered in the residue of others. This land is fertile and blessed in many respects, and the men are not the only ones entitled to its bounty.”

—Lynn Nottage, Ruined


In a world of imitations, she was a true original: fiercely intelligent and outspoken, defiantly passionate yet unerringly kind, unquenchably curious and tirelessly nurturing.  Eloquent and articulate onstage, she brought these same qualities to her most important off-stage role, as Steppenwolf’s first female artistic director; in doing so, she became one of the truly inspiring leaders of our community, both locally and nationally.

The untimely loss of Martha Lavey has diminished all of us; but her extraordinary journey lives on in the artists she has encouraged, the audiences she has challenged, and the myriad acts of kindness, of championship, of love and courage that are her legacy.  Even as we all mourn her loss, we celebrate her spirit, her tenacity, and her overwhelming devotion to making our community and world a better, smarter and more compassionate place in which to live.  Rest well, Martha—your spirit lives on in all of us.