NOW Generation plans for engaging season

Since her first summer on the grounds in 1987, Chautauqua Institution has been Katie Prechtl Cooke’s “happy place.”

“Chautauqua provides a framework for creating a whole person — a person who values education and religion and the arts,” Cooke said. “It provides a home where children are free to explore all of these things as well as a space where running free and exploring is a real possibility.”

Cooke is the newest member of the NOW Generation Advisory Council, a group of eight peers who plan activities geared toward Chautauquans in their 20s and 30s, as well as young families.

Now in its second year, the council is chaired by John Haskell, and the group meets quarterly to explore how upcoming generations can sustain Chautauqua’s traditions and and channel new ideas to, as well as share evolving interests with, Chautauqua’s leadership. Membership in the NOW Generation is open to anyone of the appropriate age.

In addition to hosting several events during the summer, the council — along with a growing number of regional captains in select cities — are inviting members of the NOW Generation to stay connected year-round. During the 2014-2015 off-season, the captains hosted gatherings including a holiday ice skating party in New York City, an outing to the Three Rivers Arts Festival in Pittsburgh, a bowling trip in Washington, D.C., and an afternoon of interfaith dialogue in Chicago. The event in Chicago was presented in partnership with the Interfaith Youth Core, founded by Week One Interfaith Lecturer Eboo Patel.

This summer, the NOW Generation kicks off the season with a new program for young families, hosted by Cooke and other advisory council members. A Wednesday morning Story Time and Activity Hour will be held from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Wednesday at Miller Park for families with newborns to toddlers. The program will take place during Weeks Two and Three at the same time and location.

“I hope to help connect longtime Chautauquans with new people embracing the Chautauqua experience for the first time,” Cooke said. “I also hope to bridge the gap between the freedom-filled summers of our youth and the challenging first few summers as a parent on the grounds.”

Other events include:

• The NOW Generation’s annual president’s reception at 5:30 p.m. Friday at the Chautauqua Golf Club, rain or shine.

• Exclusive NOW Generation reception with special guest Rossen Milanov at 5:30 p.m. Friday, July 10, at the Strohl Art Center. 

• A special NOW Gen discount for Eugene Onegin at 7:30 p.m. Friday, July 31, in Norton Hall. (Coupon available on the NOW Gen Facebook page, and redeemable at Main Gate for 10 percent off orchestra seats.)

• NOW Generation “Summerfest” from 9:30 to 11 a.m. Aug. 1 at the Youth Activities Center at the Youth Activities Center (after the Old First Night run).

Megan Sorenson, associate director of the Chautauqua Fund and communications manager for the Chautauqua Foundation, acts as staff liaison for the group. She invites anyone who would like to learn more about the NOW Generation — or is interested in volunteering — to contact her or attend one of the upcoming events.

For more information or to RSVP for these upcoming events, please visit the Facebook page ( or contact Megan Sorenson, staff liaison, at 716-357-6243 or