Almitra “Almi” M. (Clemente) Clerkin graduated cum laude from Gannon University in 1985, earning a Bachelor of Science in business management. She was born in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania while her dad, Alexander O. Clemente, Gannon Class of 1962, attended Penn State for his Master’s in cinema. Almi and her brothers, Salvantonio and Paulo, attended Saint Peter’s Cathedral School just as their mom, Jean (Moskot) Clemente, did a generation earlier. Almi graduated from Villa Maria Academy high school in 1981 and was named their Alumni of the Year in 2006.
Almi’s professional journey has developed her specialized skills along the way. She learned project management as assistant/acting external affairs director at Mercyhurst College; worked with a variety of people and industries as customer service manager at Progressive Insurance Financial Services in Richmond, Virginia; and realized the value and impact of donor generosity as development director at Villa Maria Academy.
In 1992, she was hired as the first full-time Erie Playhouse Youtheatre Director, introducing theatre to thousands of kids both on stage and in the classroom. In 2001, she added the duties of development director, and in 2006 was named executive director. In her 10 seasons as executive director, she has been supported by the dedicated 12-member staff and the Erie Playhouse family (1,300 annual volunteers). Together they have experienced tremendous success both on Erie’s 10th Street and throughout the region.
Almi has served on the Erie Downtown Arts and Culture Committee, the board of incorporators for UPMC Hamot and St. Vincent hospitals, and board of directors for St. Mary’s Home. She keeps active with Gannon’s Schuster Theatre programs as a guest lecturer, choreographer, director, and performer. In addition, she has worked as the director and liaison for the Alex Clemente Fund for Performing and Related Arts. In 2012, Almi was recognized for her contributions to the Erie community by being named as one of six Erie Times News People of the Year.
She married her college sweetheart Rev. Shawn Clerkin ’86, Gannon graduate and professor for 27 years. Their best production to date is their son Seamus, Gannon Class of 2020! In 2015 they celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary in Ireland, renewing their marriage vows at Lismore Cathedral. The Clerkin’s have opened their home to seven international students throughout the past 20 years, experiencing global relationships on a personal level.
Almi will proudly lead the Erie Playhouse through its 100th season (September 2016-August 2017) and then follow a new path. Once again, she has turned to her alma mater, Gannon, pursuing her Masters in health communications with an expected graduation date of December 2017.
The Clerkin family resides in Erie. Almi enjoys time spent with family, in faith, and with the Erie community.