May 2016

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May 2016

News From Mark Shanda, USITT President

On to Act Three!

Mark Shanda USITT President

At the Institute’s Board of Directors meeting in Salt Lake City, plans for a series of what we are calling “Third Act Conversations” were announced to meet our ongoing challenge to advance the Institute to be the industry leader that we know we can become.

Our First Act was the founding of the Institute, the establishment of our extremely successful Annual Conference & Stage Expo, the journey to financial stability that makes so much more possible, and the establishment of the Institute as an international player.

As I shared the idea about these critical conversations at breakfast with the Past Presidents group Thursday, I was reminded how instrumental so many of that group have been in establishing a firm First Act foundation. Our heritage of excellence and commitment became even more manifest on Friday during the Fellows meeting. We all truly stand on the shoulders of giants!

The Institute’s Second Act was our 50th Anniversary celebration, the beginning of fundraising efforts, the restructuring of the Board to focus on governance more than operations, and the hiring of an Executive Director. Despite concerns at the time about losing our “volunteer spirit by hiring a professional staff,” the opposite has occurred. The staff supports a much expanded volunteer force in year-round programming, Conference planning, publishing, and major efforts like the Gateway Program.

We now look forward to a Third Act that has been foreshadowed by the current Strategic Plan established in June 2014, a plan that continues to be our guidepost. The board will now be actively engaged in Third Act conversations to direct planning, priorities, and operations in four key areas: Advancement, which includes fundraising, member services, and grant writing; Operations, which includes National Office expectations and access, staffing structures, and Sections; Programming, which includes education and training, and leveraging regional resources and subject matter experts; and Impact, which examines how we can lead in research, standards, partnerships, publications, and diversity and inclusion to create change in the entertainment industry.

We’ll use a variety of approaches on this journey including face-to-face meetings as a Board; small, limited length task groups charged with in-depth reporting back to the Board; breakout sessions at Board meetings to take advantage of what one member cites as our collective board Rolodex; and effective use of external consultants when necessary.

The overall goals for the Institute’s Act Three are to:

  • Achieve board buy-in for our near and distant future;
  • Establish priorities balancing infinite needs against our finite resources;
  • Empower the National Office and Staff to provide even better service; and
  • Solidify the Institute's position as a national leader for positive change.

We will keep you informed as plans for our future unfold for we are committed to seeking member input throughout this journey. Our Third Act will be glorious since we are confident that our membership is ready to meet whatever challenges we encounter.

Mark Shanda

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