Oakland, CA – Since 1954, it has been a beloved and time-honored Oakland tradition to gather in the Morcom Amphitheater of Roses on the Saturday before Mother’s Day to honor a woman who has an outstanding record of leadership and service to their community. Although the current crisis precludes a gathering, the City of Oakland continues this tradition by honoring the 2020 Oakland Mother of the Year, Harriet Schlader.
Harriet – mother of Kim, Joel, Todd and Jody – has served the arts community in Oakland in a number of capacities, including the Oakland Cultural Arts Advisory program, Oakland Unified School District, and Theater Bay Area.
In 1967, along with her late husband, Jim, she founded the Producers Associates to reinvigorate the summer theater under the stars at Woodminster Amphitheater in Joaquin Miller Park. Producers Associates, a non-profit organization, has been producing the Woodminster Summer Musicals continuously for over 50 years. Every summer, it produces three Broadway-style performances and is Oakland’s longest continually running live theater.
An Irvington, New Jersey native, she moved to California following a career as a ballet dancer in New York in which she performed at the famed Radio City Music Hall. She taught dance in Santa Rosa in the late sixties before moving to Oakland to work as a dance teacher and motor development coordinator in Oakland public schools. She has been the main choreographer for the Woodminster Summer Musicals since the program was founded.
Presented by the Oakland Parks, Recreation & Youth Development Department, the Oakland Mother of the Year is annually awarded to people who “symbolize the finest traditions of motherhood” by a selection committee of previous Mothers of the Year, members of the community, and the Oakland Parks, Recreation & Youth Development Foundation.
“If you’ve ever had the joy of going to a musical at the Woodminster outdoor amphitheater, you know of Harriet’s work,” said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf during Thursday’s virtual town hall. “She has given performing arts opportunities and frankly, tons of joy, for many, many years. It is wonderful that we are honoring Harriet as Oakland’s Mother of the Year.”
The City would like to recognize the Mothers of the Year we have lost since last year: Rose Luey (1972), Jean Moorhead (1983), and Dollie Rambo (1999).