TEA Connect Blog

01 March 2021

Themed Entertainment Association Recognizes Erica Schwehr’s Valued Contributions

Erica Schwehr (right) working backstage as Stage Manager, supporting talent with Lynn Allmandinger at SATE Seattle 2019


01 Mar. 2021

Erica at a 2018 dinner with TEA International Board
Members, gathered in Santa Fe for the Annual
Strategic Planning Meeting

For over six years, Erica Schwehr has dedicated herself to improving the TEA – the last three of those years as full-time staff. Her impact has not gone unnoticed, as she has been a kind and familiar face at TEA events like TEA SATE, TEA Summit, and the Annual Thea Awards Gala, while being a key contributor to running those same events. Most recently, Erica’s work has been focused on the development and implementation of TEA Digital, the association’s online event programming to keep members connected. Her story with the Themed Entertainment Association has taken a unique path from member, to event volunteer, to staff. 


Erica proudly displays first look at the
printed program for TEA Summit 2017,
featuring a Thea Classic Award cover for 
Waterworld: a Live Sea War Spectacular
at Universal Studios Hollywood

Like many professionals in the themed entertainment industry, Erica’s roots began in theater – she holds a Bachelor of Arts in Theatrical Production & Technology from San Jose State University with a minor in Art History & Visual Culture, with additional studies in Animation and Anthropology. She went on to earn her Masters of Fine Arts from the California Institute of the Arts in Creative Producing & Management, focusing in immersive design. 


“I was a theatrical stage manager for 10 years as well as a set and costume designer in the San Francisco Bay Area before going on to graduate school at CalArts – that’s where I really discovered the world of themed entertainment and was able to produce immersive events.” 


Erica's interim Trophy Hostess moment,
presenting the Thea Classic Award
for the attraction it's a small world to
TEA Lifetime Achievement Honorees
Kim Irvine and Marty Sklar in 2015

She joined TEA early in 2015 as a NextGen and established the [email protected] University Club while continuing to earn her degree. That same year she volunteered at TEA Summit and the 21st Annual Thea Awards Gala at Disneyland Hotel where she worked alongside Lynn Allmandinger, escorting Thea Award recipients to the stage.


“Our trophy hostess that night had an emergency and couldn't make it,” Erica recalls. “I was asked to step in to hand the Thea Classic Award to Marty Sklar and Kim Irvine on stage during the presentation... I lost my mind! And Marty's comment, "Why thank you, young lady," as I handed him that 20 pound trophy will never leave me. Luckily, after that first award, a stand-in trophy hostess arrived and I could go back to my natural backstage environment.” Click here to watch the full video. 


Erica has been a staple around TEA events like [email protected], where members from around the world congregate for the year’s most important messaging from the association in a week packed full of events. She has also been a constant with TEA board leadership – helping shape how the TEA serves members in local regions and the direction of TEA operations globally. Even though Erica is leaving her TEA position as Director of Operations & Digital Events Producer, her relationship to the Themed Entertainment Association will continue. In her next role, Erica will return to her alma mater, CalArts, as the Operations Manager for the School of Film/Video. 


Erica's ever-present smile and capable leadership style have been
a boon to the TEA community, shown here in her dedicated service
roles of TEA Event Technologist and Art Director for the Thea Awards
Digital Case Studies 2020

“I love TEA, and while I'm moving away from a staff role, I'm still a proud member and will never leave the themed entertainment community,” says Erica.


TEA International Board President Chuck Fawcett offers his words of appreciation, “We send with Erica our sincere thanks for her contributions to the TEA, and for her continued dedication to this beloved industry that we all serve”.

Posted by Sarah Barges



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