September 2015

Print this page ›

September 2015

News From Mark Shanda, USITT President

Acting Responsibly – on Many Planes

The USITT Board of Directors focused on its strategic responsibilities during a recent meeting in Utah.

Photos/Barbara E.R. Lucas

As you read this month’s article, the Board of Directors will have completed one of two annual, face-to-face meetings. This year’s Fall Meeting was held at the Snowbird Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Although I’m writing this with the Board Meeting and Commissioners retreat about a week away and I feel like I’m caught in a science fiction space-time continuum problem, the work of USITT is certainly not fiction. I’m going to take my crystal ball out and predict with great confidence that much will be accomplished while we are/were gathered together at Snowbird, August 12-15.

Mark Shanda, center, leads the Board of Directors meeting.

Our elected, volunteer Officers and Board Members work throughout the year and fulfill three key governance roles to serve our members.

All have a fiduciary responsibility. That is a legalistic word meaning we have to be fiscally responsible and ethical in all that we do. With each idea that is presented for the Institute to pursue, we ask ourselves basic questions: is the action under consideration legal? ethical? affordable? We do not rely just on our gut feelings in answering these questions; we seek professional legal advice from our counsel in Syracuse, leverage the variety of backgrounds that are represented by the board, and constantly compare what is being proposed against our budget.

All have a strategic responsibility. The board adopted a strategic plan that articulated seven initiatives for the Institute:

  1. Maximize value to members
  2. Develop year-round, life-long, international learning experiences and activities for membership
  3. Build alliances and partnerships
  4. Brand and market USITT
  5. Develop and expand earned and contributed income streams
  6. Promote and grow innovation and research that enhances the performing arts and live entertainment industry
  7. Nurture and foster the relationships with Regional Sections

At each meeting, we compare all that we do against these initiatives, but in Salt Lake we will (or did) empower a task force to review input from our outstanding staff on our efforts to date, compare those efforts against the strategic plan, and come back to the board in November with a report that indicates any efforts we should stop, those we should continue, and those which need revision. This task force will be led by Immediate Past President Lea Asbell-Swanger.

All have a generative responsibility. Here is another legalistic word, but this one simply means that all of our efforts are measured against our mission:how does this serve our members? USITT is a most unique and successful member-driven organization, and I am extremely thankful for the talents and gifts our Board brings/brought to the table in Salt Lake.

As always, I welcome your feedback about anything the Institute is doing, and I deeply appreciate the opportunity to serve all of you as your President.

Mark Shanda

We'd like to hear your comments on this story.
Please e-mail Mark at