Jessica Andrews, head of the theater program at the National Endowment for the Arts, will become the managing director of the Shakespeare Theatre at the Folger at the end of November, board Chairman Robert Linowes is expected to announce today.

Andrews has had a substantial career in theater management and administration, starting at the Hartford Stage Company in 1966. She became managing director there in 1975 and later performed the same tasks at the GeVa Theatre in Rochester, N.Y., and at the Indiana Repertory Theatre.

Between the New York and Indiana jobs, Andrews directed the theater division of FEDAPT, a national organization that aids theaters in long-range planning, fiscal management, board development, fund-raising and other services. She moved to the NEA from Indiana in 1987 and took over as acting theater program director in February 1989 when Robert Marx left.

"Ms. Andrews comes to the {Shakespeare} Theatre with unmatched qualifications," said Linowes. Artistic Director Michael Kahn, who said he has known Andrews for a long time, noted that while the Shakespeare Theatre has "come a long way" toward achieving financial stability since it became financially independent from the Folger Shakespeare Library five years ago, it now needs "careful and thoughtful planning through its next critical phase."

In 1985 the trustees of the Folger Library, which is administered by Amherst College, decided the library could no longer afford to subsidize the theater, which performs on a replica of an Elizabethan stage in the library building. After considerable community furor, the library agreed to let the theater become an independent entity and use the performance space if it paid the overhead costs. In addition, the theater rents office space from the library, and the two apparently now are contented neighbors.

When Kahn was appointed artistic director of the newly independent theater in 1986, it had a $2 million budget and was operating under a deficit. That deficit has been eliminated, and this season's budget is up to $4 million.

Kahn said he and Andrews will be exploring ways the theater can grow, including the possibility of longer runs of performances, runs in other theaters, tours, more community programs and more foreign exchange programs, such as a visit in three weeks from a troupe of Soviet actors. "Growth could mean any number of things," said Kahn. "We are about to begin a five-year plan to explore some of these issues."

Andrews replaces Mary Ann de Barbieri, who announced her resignation last year after 16 years at the Folger. She will be taking some time off to spend with her family and help her husband in a new business.

Born in England and raised in Yellow Springs, Ohio, Andrews started her career in the box office of the Antioch Area Theatre there. Married young and soon a single parent, she did not go to college but learned on the job. A grandmother of three (she has a son and a daughter), she is married to Tom Toothman, until recently the executive director of the Baltimore Theatre Project and now a freelancer. They live on Capitol Hill about 12 blocks from the Folger.