When Reginald L. Douglas was a precocious 6-year-old attending a summer theater camp on Long Island, the program’s founder noted his habit of asking detailed questions about every aspect of putting on a play. “Ms. Elaine just said, ‘Reggie, come here,’ ” he recalled in a Zoom interview. “ ‘You’re a director.’ ”

The observation proved prophetic — even if it underestimated Douglas’s trajectory. At the age of 34, Douglas has been named the new artistic director of Mosaic Theater Company, a midsize theater in an underserved part of the District that is seeking to emerge from the pandemic with renewed vigor.

“I feel so fortunate and blessed to be able to show my full artistry in this moment,” said Douglas, who leaves after a brief stint in Studio Theatre’s front offices to take Mosaic’s top job. “And what a great opportunity to provide space for other artists to also have that same unique opportunity.”

Douglas’s appointment, announced Sunday by Mosaic, a nearly seven-year-old company based at Atlas Performing Arts Center on H Street NE, caps a nationwide search for a successor to the organization’s creator, Ari Roth. His resignation last November came in a turbulent time for Mosaic, as members of the 14-person staff spoke out internally against company leadership, listing their grievances in a letter to the board of directors. Some of those concerns were inspired by the demands of “We See You, White American Theater,” a call for racial reform across the industry issued by a countrywide coalition of artists of color.

Cathy Solomon, chair of Mosaic’s board and head of the 10-member search panel, said in a separate interview that Douglas was selected from among 51 applicants in a months-long process, under the guidance of a national search firm, Arts Consulting Group. Among the finalists, Solomon said, Douglas stood out as a theater maker with a vibrant palette of ideas and collaborative instincts.

“He is the right person for the moment in so many different ways,” Solomon said. “He brings the ability to communicate an artistic vision in a really powerful, energetic, compelling and, as he says, joyful way, which we really want. . . . He understands about lifting up multiple voices, he understands about building community, and he understands how to forge partnerships.”

Douglas is a self-described theater kid who, as a young man, veered from drama to politics and a pursuit of that aspiration as an undergraduate at Georgetown University. “I went to Georgetown to be a lobbyist,” he said, explaining that he was drawn to issues such as education reform and community development. One of his professors was influential Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, and he interned on the education team of then-House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

The turning point, though, came after he took classes in Georgetown’s revitalized theater program, under the auspices of professors with interests in political cultures and activism, such as Derek Goldman. “It was so evident to me that we were having a conversation purely led by data and not by heart as well,” Douglas said of his political work.

He realized, he added, that he “could use theater as the place where I talk about the ideas of our time, engage audiences in conversation about them and, ideally, ignite an audience to go out and make that civic change.” That led to learning the administrative ropes at McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, N.J., and later becoming artistic producer at City Theatre in Pittsburgh. He joined Studio Theatre in January 2020 as associate artistic director, where his work will continue this winter as director of Suzan-Lori Parks’s “White Noise.”

Douglas takes command at Mosaic in late January, in an interlude of exciting leadership turnover for D.C. theater: Matthew Gardiner recently became Signature Theatre’s artistic director, and Karen Ann Daniels has assumed the top artistic post at Folger Theatre. Along with colleagues of color such as Daniels, Woolly Mammoth Theatre’s Maria Goyanes and Theater Alliance’s Raymond O. Caldwell, Douglas has the chance to expand the perspective of Washington theatergoers and reach communities that may not have felt fully welcomed before.

Solomon noted that the finalists for Mosaic’s artistic directorship were all top notch. “There was never any litmus test,” she said, “but it was really important that we push as hard as we could on trying to have a diverse senior team. You know, I’m a manager, a business manager. And I know from research and from experience that diverse teams are the best teams. And diversity means a lot of different things. Certainly it’s color, gender, race, religion. But it’s also life experience and professional experience.”

As for every theater company returning to live performance, Mosaic has had to make some adjustments. Although it suffered no staff layoffs and even maintains a small reserve fund, it had to downsize its annual budget to less than $2 million and scale back the number of offerings. Serge Seiden, Mosaic’s managing director, said the hope is that the company will produce six projects in 2022. Mosaic is presenting Seiden’s production of Anna Ouyang Moench’s “Birds of North America,” both onstage at the Atlas and online.

Douglas, who is back in Pittsburgh rehearsing “An Untitled New Play by Justin Timberlake,” a musical satire about celebrity culture that he has been developing with writer Matt Schatz, said his overarching philosophy involves what he calls “rigorous joy.”

“It’s all in service of providing an audience with the best experience, and for me, that’s one that entertains and that makes you think as you laugh. We can have a great time engaging with really exciting, profound ideas about what it means to be an American, what it means to be in community with one another. And there’s no place for me more exciting to do that personally and professionally than D.C.”