A humanitarian at heart, Nicole Eisenberg never planned to become a philanthropist, Broadway producer, co-producer and investor.
The Bloomfield Hills resident is a board member, past chairman of the development committee, past executive committee member, and held a seat on the coveted collections committee at the Detroit Institute of Arts, and a trustee on the board of the College of Creative Studies, where she is also an advisory board member of the Fashion Design Program. In addition, she serves on the American Theatre Wing Advisory Board, The Broadway League Advisory Board, on the board of the MCC Theater, and is a Tony voter.
Eisenberg is also an Emeritus National Board Member of GLAAD. “Being a board member of GLAAD was my greatest and most cherished board. That began when my son (Noah) came out at 15,” she said.
She and her husband Stephen have two sons, Noah, 24 and Evan, 15.
Her secondary infertility journey lasted nine years until Evan was born by surrogate. “I was empty nesting when Noah went to kindergarten at five. All the playdates and classes with my child dried up. I was alone while everyone was moving on with more children. I couldn’t conceive on my own ever again after my first child. Only by IVF. And then I couldn’t carry to term. I had also an incompetent cervix.”
During this time, she also cared for her father, who was very ill for 12 years. At one point, her father-in-law said: “You need a purpose.” So, Eisenberg started on the Founders Junior Council (FJC) board at the DIA. “I worked my way up. I was one of the youngest board members,” she said.
“I don’t sit on boards. I work on boards. This is my life’s work. I don’t get paid for it, but this is my job and I take it really seriously.”
Eisenberg was featured in the Op-Ed section of Vogue Magazine for her role as co-chair of the groundbreaking event at the Detroit Institute of Arts, “Women of the Arts: Honoring Bruce Weber,” in conjunction with Conde Nast Publications and Anna Wintour.
“I never had a set purpose,” said Eisenberg. “Everything really started with the arts, then my older son fell in love with musical theater when he was three-years-old, so I took him to New York and he was in all the plays at Detroit Country Day.”
He would go on to the musical theatre program at the University of Michigan. Eisenberg started meeting people in New York who admired her networking skills and ability to raise money or invest on her own. “I’ve never been afraid of an ask,” she said.
Over the last five years, she has produced, co-produced and invested on the financial side of many Broadway plays and musicals.
“What interests me is what fits into my platform, which is LGBTQIA+, education, art, theatre, mental health and health care. When something means something to you, that’s the payoff. People might change their decisions about how they see the world in a different light when they can openly take in the meaning of a show,” said Eisenberg, who has been nominated for two Tony awards, as a co-producer for “Indecent,” and this year as a producer for “Into the Woods.”
“Equality is the most important thing to me. Everyone should have equal access to freedom and health care and mental health care. We all go to the same place in the end. So, while you’re here, you can either make a difference or make life more difficult. It’s a wonderful space to be in when you are helping to lead the fight.”
Whatever she does, her compassion shines through.
“Philanthropy has been my life for more than 22 years,” said Eisenberg. “I love Broadway. It’s my passion – but philanthropy is my heart.”
Story: Jeanine Matlow
Photo: Laurie Tennent