August 2012

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August 2012

News From Lea Asbell-Swanger, USITT President

Writing, Planning for Perspective

As some of you may have figured out, this column has to be written and submitted well ahead of its publication date. There are several perfectly good reasons for this, but in an era where the expectation is one of immediacy when it comes to communication, it's just a bit awkward. That said, this timing may help me adhere to my high school English teacher's key formula for the writing of any article. Mrs. Abernathy (yes, I'm a little amazed that I remember her name) always said, referring to the article's audience, "Tell them what you're going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them that you told them."

At the time, I thought that this was an excellent formula to get one's word count where it needed to be, but otherwise seemed incredibly redundant. Now, after many years of having to compose documents for all sorts of reasons, I understand more fully what her point really was. It's not about repetition for its own sake, but about presenting ideas from a variety of perspectives. So that's what I'm going to try to do with these monthly messages.

By the time you read this, in early August, the Board of Directors will be meeting at Disney World. An August meeting is not typical for the board, but I wanted to get everyone together before academic programs geared up since there are still a number of individuals primarily attached to those. Even folks that are not directly related to academia see an uptick in work once those programs get underway. Our Disney colleagues on the West Coast were such great partners when we were in Long Beach, it seemed only fair to let their Eastern compatriots have a similar opportunity, albeit on a much smaller scale.

Part of our time will be taking care of the "regular" work of the board such as approval of upcoming awards and steps toward completion of the anxiously anticipated policy and procedures compendium. Thanks again to Jean Montgomery for all the work she has done on this enormous task! It is a key component in our shift to a governance model for the board.

I know that we've been about this governance model for quite a while, and in the last two years we've made significant progress in the transition. Thanks in large part to the manner in which Joe Aldridge, Immediate Past President, and David Grindle, Executive Director, worked together during that time to create a partnership between the President and Executive Director that serves the Institute very well.

Another component of governance is assessment which is particularly important during a time of change. To address that, the board will spend a portion of its time together evaluating the current situation and how it came about. This will be the first steps toward an updated strategic plan so that we continue to move forward as an organization. We will be guided in this process by Leslie Marqua, principal of Hathor Associates, a consulting firm serving the organizational needs of non-profit organizations. Her background is in fund raising, but she has direct ties to our industry. Her husband, Donald Edmund Thomas, is a theatrical lighting designer, and her son, MJ Marqua, is a working member of IATSE Local 19 and IATSE Local 487.

An ad hoc committee, chaired by Joe Aldridge (his first official responsibility as Immediate Past President), has been created to work with Leslie, but be assured that all members of the board will have opportunity to participate throughout the process. Board members and the committee members will be required to engage the membership in this process as well, but I'm asking that you don't wait to be asked. Reach out and be part of setting the future course for USITT.

Lea Asbell-Swanger

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