December 2013

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December 2013

News From Lea Asbell-Swanger, USITT President

From Concept to Business Plan: the next steps

Members of the Finance Committee, Strategic Planning group, and Board of Directors were all in Syracuse for the online Board of Directors meeting in November, and many chose to attend both in person and electronically.

Photo/Barbara E.R. Lucas

Once again, it happens that my article for Sightlines can bring you all up to date on the events of the last Board of Directors meeting. The fall meeting, traditionally an electronic one, was November 12. Typically, I travel to Syracuse along with Secretary Sherry Wagner-Henry since coordinating the meeting works better in person – this was a lesson learned and shared by my predecessor, Joe Aldridge.

This year, several others joined us. First, the majority of the Finance Committee arrived and held meetings on Monday evening and Tuesday morning. The focus for those meetings was the budget for 2015 since Treasurer Dan Culhane established a goal of getting that budget before the Board for approval in January.

As you know, USITT has been working on a strategic plan for a little over a year. This Board meeting was the original deadline to move the process from planning to implementation marking the formal hand off of the plan to the Staff. A Strategic Initiative Task Force was created to develop an actionable document the Staff could use. This Task Force started its work in August along with the Board through discussion groups. Most of the Task Force then traveled to Syracuse to participate in the Board meeting and then meet with the Staff. We were all honored to be able to be in Syracuse for the first measurable snowfall of the season!

Of course, the Staff has not had the luxury of standing by and waiting for this magic hand-off because they were still responsible for the day-to-day operation of the organization. However, on Wednesday morning David Grindle, Executive Director, made a formal presentation to the Task Force of USITT's new business plan. The foundation is the key because it is based on two things that have been at the core of the Institute since its beginning: programming, innovation, and research. The "new" in this plan is more about how this foundation is maintained and expanded – what tools are used, what alliances are developed, and where the financial support is. It is a comprehensive plan and an exciting plan because its heart is still the membership.

The membership is integral to the plan because of the work of individual members. I know that I shared the names of those on the Strategic Initiative Task Force in Sightlines in my September article, but I would like to list them again as a small token of my appreciation for their work: Chair Carl Lefko, Sherry Wagner-Henry, Dan Culhane, Tim Kaufman, Kevin Rigdon, Mark Shanda, Kasey Allee-Foreman, Michael Mehler, Andi Lyons, Jeff Flowers, Shawn "Pinky" Estell, Michael McMackin, Kara Loree, Kimb Williamson, Jean Montgomery, and Bill Browning. While their service as members on the Task Force has concluded, they will still be a potential resource to the Staff and others who will carry this plan forward.

A special thanks is also in order for Leslie Marqua, our diligent consultant, who guided us when needed in this process. As she shared with the Staff and Task Force in Syracuse, USITT actively participated in the strategic planning process not because the organization was in crisis, as is often the case, but because it has chosen to invest in continuing its success and sustainability.

Here's to a happy and safe holiday season for all!

Lea Asbell-Swanger

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