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As a University of Minnesota college student more than two decades ago, Jill A. Anderson worked as an outbound telemarketer in the basement of the Children's Theatre Company.

In July she returns as the company's administrative leader.

Anderson has been hired as managing director of the nation's largest theater for youth and families. She will join artistic director Rick Dildine, who also starts in July, in a total top-line leadership overhaul of the Tony-winning Minneapolis company.

Both positions report to CTC's board. Anderson replaces Kim Motes, who left last July to become executive director of the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre.

"Jill's expertise in this field is unparalleled, and I can't wait to experience the excellence and spirit of innovation that she'll bring to our organization," board chair Silvia Perez said.

A native of Marshfield, Wis. — home of the world's largest round barn — Anderson, 45, intended to become a Lutheran high school Spanish teacher. She credits now-retired University of Wisconsin theater professor Greg Rindfleisch, with whom she worked as a Jill-of-all-trades, with helping her identify her path.

"I remember running the lightboard for an orchestra concert and kind of bemoaning what I should do with my life, and he said, 'You're a stage manager, obviously,'" Anderson recalled. "Later I realized this is where I could make my life and not be in front of people."

All her moves have been variations of stage management, Anderson said, nodding to Mixed Blood Theatre, where she earned her union card as a professional stage manager after leaving the U before graduating. She also has held positions at Washington, D.C.'s Arena Stage, the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center in Connecticut and Syracuse Stage in upstate New York, where she has been managing director since 2016.

During her tenure, Syracuse Stage sent two plays to Broadway — "Thoughts of a Colored Man" and "How to Dance in Ohio," which closed in February. Syracuse Stage has an $8 million budget while CTC's operating budget is $13.4 million.

The youngest of three children born to a retired neonatal nurse and a Frito-Lay truck driver, Anderson has a 9-year-old daughter who is passionate about visual arts.

In addition to her job, Anderson said that she's looking forward to catching up with the bevy of friends and cheerleaders she has in the area.

"I've been dancing with a return to the Cities for a long time," Anderson said, "and this is absolutely the right moment."