Frost Alum, Gustavo Padrino, Shines a Light on Broward Center for the Performing Arts

Frost alum Gustavo Padrino receives the 2023 John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Emerging Leader Award. This recognition is presented to arts administrators who build on their experiences at the Leadership Exchange in Arts & Disabilities (LEAD) Conference to advocate for, implement, and expand accessibility within their organizations and communities.

Venezuelan native Gustavo Adolfo Padrino Sequera came to Miami in 2010. Coinciding with his country's unrest during that time, Padrino, as he prefers to be called, joined the 53 percent of Venezuelans who migrated to Florida that year in search of a brighter future. 

He brought to the U.S. his music and culture, as well as his love for people. Seven years later, he entered the music entertainment field equipped with an M.A. in Live Entertainment Management, a B.M. in Music, and a Minor in Music Business and Entertainment Industry from the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami.

In a few years, Padrino went from being an intern to Senior Community Engagement Manager at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. He first worked in the booking department. But that soon led to other positions that helped him develop lasting partnerships and collaborations with non-profit organizations, businesses, multi-cultural organizations, and key community stakeholders to bring inclusive and educational arts programs that positively impact the community. 

Through his active collaborative efforts, the Broward Center has reached more audiences, community partners, and recognitions that have placed this iconic landmark as a leader serving people of all abilities in South Florida. And so, on July 1, Padrino was recognized by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Emerging Leader Award for his extraordinary work at Broward Center for the Performing Arts. 

"It all started for me when I came to Miami and met Professor Dale Underwood, and I studied the saxophone with him," says Padrino. "Music has always been my passion, so I connected with him, thanks to my uncle, a University of Miami graduate."  

Padrino's goal was centered on becoming a CEO at a theater. He fell in love with the mission of the Broward Center—to build community through the Arts by delivering quality entertainment, educational opportunities, and memorable moments that engage and inspire audiences. When a full-time position opened up the week of his graduation, the Broward Center made an offer, and he took it.

"I started in finance; then I was given the opportunity to work with the events operations team and continue to develop my leadership skills by being part of Leadership Fort Lauderdale, a program of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce. And that's where I connected the dots that music is my passion, but people were the missing link." 

Padrino was assigned the Center's sensory-inclusive programs for kids and adults with autism and other disabilities. While managing his first show, something happened that changed his life forever.  

"We had over 400 people come to see the show. These were people with many types of disabilities. After the show, I spoke with some parents as they were leaving. I wanted to know about their experiences, and they shared very emotional stories. I met a mom with a daughter in her twenties who was non-verbal, and she told me that when her daughter gets stressed out, she becomes very agitated. In the past, they got kicked out of movie theaters, restaurants, etc. Her daughter is always isolated at home, but the mother-daughter could enjoy a show at the theater in that special place we had created for them. As someone who’s been exposed to music all my life, that hit me hard." 

Last year, Padrino attended the LEAD conference, where he learned how to continue to impact his community with various types of programming. He did that and more. "Our biggest partnerships were with the University of Miami and Nova Southeastern Center for Autism and Related Disabilities," he adds. "We took that program to another level by adding sensory-inclusive performances. We now offer 15 sensory-inclusive performances a year for the public, including the School District of Broward County, and continue to find ways to innovate and bring the shows to the schools." 

When he returned to this year's LEAD conference, he was overwhelmed to hear that he had been recognized with the prestigious John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts LEAD Emerging Leader Award. 

"The reason I can do what I do and achieve this recognition was because of the opportunity I had to study under Dale Underwood and Marta Weeks for giving me the scholarship opportunity," says Padrino. "I found a home at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts where I could develop my full potential to serve my community, and it all started for me at the Frost School of Music in Miami."