June 2014

Print this page ›

June 2014

News From Lea Asbell-Swanger, USITT President

Proclaiming Appreciation for Service Done, Service Yet to Come

For many organizations, the end of June coincides with the end of the fiscal year and that is true for USITT as well. Terms of service for elected and appointed positions also begin on July 1 and end on June 30. With our annual conference falling in March, we publically acknowledge board members that are nearing the end of a current term of service even though they will continue to work on behalf of the membership for a few more months. There will be an electronic board of directors meeting on June 24 which will provide one more opportunity to recognize and appreciate their efforts on behalf of USITT.

Most of these members will not end their service, just this particular version of it. That's part of what makes USITT the vibrant organization that it is. Members take advantage of the many opportunities to contribute, and the organization is structured to provide a wide variety of leadership roles with terms of service, so new voices and ideas are continually available.

One long standing tradition of the board is to recognize officers by resolution presented at the Board meeting at the conference in March. These often draw a crowd of colleagues and other well-wishers, but I thought those not able to attend the board meeting might enjoy reading these playful, yet sincere, tributes to the three officers ending their terms in those roles: Dave Will, Vice-President for Conferences; David Krajec, Vice-President for Commissions; and Sherry Wagner-Henry, Secretary.

Joe Aldridge, whose term as Immediate Past President will conclude June 30, was honored with a resolution when he left the Presidential office. You can read it here, from the June 2012 issue of Sightlines.

As an additional sign of appreciation, each was awarded a certificate acknowledging a donation by USITT on their behalf to a non-profit organization that held special personal importance to each of them. For Dave it was a gift in memory of Frank Willard to Behind the Scenes; for David, a donation to the Wisconsin Sheltie Rescue; and for Sherry, a contribution to Smile Network International. It says a great deal about these people that, in addition to the gifts of their time, talent, and treasure to USITT, they find ways to further contribute to their communities and society, but it's no surprise. It was wonderful to be able to celebrate these three in this way, but rest assured that this is not an end. Each of them is already pursuing new opportunities to serve USITT, and that's no surprise either.

Dave Will

    Lea Asbell-Swanger and Dave Will

  • Whereas, Dave Will has faithfully served USITT in countless ways since his first conference in Milwaukee in 1990, and
  • Whereas, he learned early the importance of locating the most convenient liquor store to one's conference hotel on the way in from the airport, and
  • Whereas, he was instrumental in the growth and development of the Management Commission and as Commissioner of that group helped many managers from all aspects of our industry fill their personal toolboxes, and
  • Whereas, part of that process involved proudly wearing a "DO IT!" button, and
  • Whereas, he continues to welcome new members and engages them in meaningful ways that lead to their long-term commitments to USITT and our industry, in other words, as they say during that other March Madness, his coaching tree has many branches, and
  • Whereas, he was integral to the creation of the Conference Committee as we now know it, playing a major role in the conference in Pittsburgh in 1997, and
  • Whereas, he has always been "the go-to guy" whenever we have absolutely, positively had to have a spreadsheet on that..., and
  • Whereas, he has shot a lot of trouble as a conference trouble-shooter with aim so sharp that he advanced to Stage Expo trouble-shooter in Toronto in 2005 and then became recognized as the "Voice of the Expo Floor," and
  • Whereas, he has provided intrepid leadership of that stalwart band known as the Conference Committee, dealing artfully with the numerous "slings and arrows" that always confront each conference, and
  • Whereas, he has weathered all of this with grace, good humor and an endless array of corny jokes

Therefore, be it resolved that the Board of Directors of USITT, commends his commitment to the Institute and in particular the cornerstone of USITT, the Annual Conference & Stage Expo. Furthermore, his philosophy of inclusion and active involvement to engage members is gratefully acknowledged and should be an inspiration to all.

David Krajec

    David Krajec and Carolyn Satter

  • Whereas, David Krajec was fortunately "dragged" to his first USITT conference in Minneapolis in 1987 by his colleague, LaLonnie Lehman, and
  • Whereas, he there met the woman who would be his wife, Debra, and together they embarked on a life-long passion for serving USITT which led to them being the first, and so far, only husband and wife to serve on the Board of Directors at the same time, and
  • Whereas, David started in the trenches of Commission work by serving as the Vice-Commissioner for Programming for the Education Commission, and
  • Whereas, that role led to his ascension to that of Commissioner of Education for seven years, and
  • Whereas, he also chaired the Midwest Regional Section, parts of which are often colder than Syracuse, and
  • Whereas, he stepped up to lead all the Commissions as Vice-President for Commissions because he believes in the Commissions being the "backbone of the Institute," and
  • Whereas, he worked diligently to move ideas and projects forward on behalf of the members, and
  • Whereas, this work was sometimes challenging in a way similar to herding cats, but he always found joy in it and helped others find moments of levity when it was most needed, and
  • Whereas, he is accomplished in traveling with his family often actually includes cats, not to mention a beloved Sheltie or three, and his wife from Milwaukee to New England all in the cab of a pick-up truck, and
  • Whereas, his career has successfully bridged the worlds of academia and industry, because he views them as more similar than different

Therefore, be it resolved that the Board of Directors of USITT, acknowledges and commends his commitment to service leadership with the Institute and have been inspired by his ability to genuinely enjoy his life's work. Let it be further resolved that the appreciation for his efforts thus far is only tempered by an excited expectation of how he will choose to serve his colleagues in the future.

Sherry Wagner-Henry

    Dan Culhane and Sherry Wagner-Henry

  • Whereas, Sherry began her association with USITT almost by accident at the first Long Beach Conference, and
  • Whereas, she spear-headed the existence of the new Minnesota Centennial Showboat as initiated by USITT Fellow, C. Lance Brockman, at the University of Minnesota, and
  • Whereas, she was exactly the right person in exactly the right place at exactly the right time for the University of Minnesota Department of Theatre Arts and Dance according to her friend, USITT Fellow Jean Montgomery who further credits Sherry's dedication, drive and organizational skills, for laying the foundation that guaranteed the success of the Showboat even after Sherry moved on.
  • Whereas, she asked the right questions at the right commission meeting of the right Commissioner, Dave Will, to become entrenched in the work of the Management Commission and the Institute, and
  • Whereas, she was instrumental in the addition of arts administration to the pantheon of the Management Commission, and
  • Whereas, her expertise in strategic planning and effective organizational structure thrust her into the center of the Institute's work to adapt and build on the first fifty years of its success, and
  • Whereas, somewhere in there she found Mickey on the Showboat and married him on the Showboat, and
  • Whereas, she then found her "traveling spouse" Dan Culhane as they made many, many, many trips to Syracuse as part of the executive director hiring team, and
  • Whereas, she and Mickey found their way to China to add Zhen to their life, and
  • Whereas, she has faithfully served as the Secretary for two presidents and assisted both deftly with the complexities of e-meetings, and
  • Whereas, she left the employ of the Golden Gopher to work for the Badger, and
  • Whereas, she admits to being high maintenance, but prefers to think of herself as low maintenance

Therefore, be it resolved that the Board of Directors of USITT, acknowledges and commends her tremendous ability to pick up the excitement of the moment and to amplify it with energy and enthusiasm as well as her penchant for engaging the right people at the right time for the right reasons – she is the personification of team player – and as such she will be rewarded with further opportunities to serve the Institute.

Lea Asbell-Swanger

We'd like to hear your comments on this story.
Please e-mail Lea at Lea.Asbell-Swanger@usitt.org.