July 2014

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June 2014

News From Lea Asbell-Swanger, USITT President

Institute's Leadership Legacy in Action

New members will be joining the leadership of USITT in July. They were invited to participate in the board at its meeting in Fort Worth as a transition to their new roles.

Photo/Richard Finkelstein

As I mentioned last month, terms of service for leadership positions within USITT run for one to three years beginning on July 1, so this month we welcome six directors to the Board. They are Mickey Henry, Rafael Jaen, Shane Kelly, Karen Maness, Michael McNamara, and Vickie Scott. While each of these people has contributed to the Institute in many ways, only one, Mr. Jaen, has served on the board previously. This is very exciting for our organization because it shows both the willingness by a wide variety of the membership to serve at this level as well as the importance to the voting membership to have new voices and ideas represented.

There are also four members that begin officer positions as of July 1. Jimmie Byrd assumes the role of Secretary, (and is profiled in this month’s Sightlines) Jack Feivou begins as Vice-President for Conferences, Carolyn Satter becomes the Vice-President for Commissions, and Mark Shanda will serve one year as President-Elect. They will be profiled in future issues of Sightlines.

Additionally, Marketa Fantova will begin her second term as Vice-President for International Activities. With the exception of President-Elect, all of these positions are three-year terms. Once Mr. Shanda assumes the role of President on July 1, 2015, he too will serve a three-year term in that position.

I wanted to remind everyone about the new faces on the board along with the length of time each one has committed to serving for two reasons. First, they join the existing board members to work for you, the members, so it is important that you know who they are. Second, I hope you will consider taking steps to take on one of these positions in the future. Each year a call goes out for nominations for elected positions on the board, so the opportunity to serve in a leadership capacity is open to all members. From my experience, the return on time invested is immense. Board service provides opportunities for both personal and professional growth as there are many skills that may not be part of everyone’s “day job.” USITT has worked consistently to provide the training necessary to maintain an engaged group of leaders.

From both internal and external feedback, it became apparent that arts organizations of all sizes struggled to find interested parties equipped to serve on their boards. USITT had an active operational board that has taken great care to become a more effective board by shifting some of its energy to governance. That process helped the board understand the importance of providing the necessary knowledge and experience to those who would consider board service at some future point in their career. To that end a board mentorship program was begun two years ago for young professionals in our industry.

It is a small but very participatory program. The selection process is thorough and the commitment on the part of the candidates selected is detailed in terms of travel requirements and time invested, but in that regard it mirrors the commitment of an actual board member. The financial commitment is the difference as the program provides funds for the mentees.

So, in addition to the newly elected members of the USITT Board of Directors, two young professionals will participate in nearly every aspect of board service through the USITT Board Mentorship Program.

The mentees for this year are Deb Sherrer from the Carnegie Mellon University master in arts management program, and MJ Sedlock, an MFA third year in technical direction at University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. No doubt these two young women will learn from the experience, but real success of this program is linked to what the USITT leadership learns from them.

Lea Asbell-Swanger

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