When July 1 rolls around, USITT will have a new Vice-President for Commissions. Kim Williamson comes to the job with her own sense of style and her own horse as well.
Ms. Williamson may be the "new sheriff in town," but her associations with USITT go back a long way. She was born and raised in Colorado, north of Denver, the third of four daughters in a family which prized outdoor activities. That has "stuck with me for life," she notes.
After undergraduate and grad school at the University of Northern Colorado, she took a job at Scottsdale College in Arizona. Twenty-seven years later, she's still there. She is currently professor of design and production at Scottsdale and works locally with Phoenix's Childsplay, Actors Theatre of Phoenix, and other organizations. She is known professionally as "Kimb," a name she adopted early in her career to avoid confusion with another "Kim Williamson."
Ms. Williamson also is an active scenic artist "mostly elsewhere" including teaching stints at Cobalt Studios in New York, painting at Music Theatre of Wichita, and designing backdrops for Kenmark Studios. Many of her experiences she credits to connections she made through USITT.
"I met Rachel Keebler of Cobalt in a pre-conference workshop, about scene painting of all things, in Wichita in 1993, and that was the beginning of a wonderful professional relationship," Ms. Williamson noted.
The backyard full of horses she grew up with is now a single character known as Billy, a registered thoroughbred whom her daughter, Amanda, rides in jumping and eventing competitions. Ms. Williamson notes the interesting parallels between the world of horses and the world of theatre. Both require a commitment of time to create a perfect production.
The family, which includes husband David Weaver, a professor of physics, spends time in its cabin in the mountains outside Phoenix, especially during winter vacations, where the family enjoys hiking and bicycling. Ms. Williamson rides the same brand of road bike as Lance Armstrong, although hers is not quite as custom, she notes.
Ms. Williamson's involvement with USITT began gradually, but in 1992 she met Steve Gilliam and Dick Block, two wonderful people who asked her to serve as a Vice-Commissioner. That request helped her recognize that USITT offered something for everyone and had many different ways to get involved.
"Looking around, I saw so many extraordinary individuals like Sarah Nash Gates, Christine Kaiser, and Joy Emery who were held in such high regard and respect, who were active volunteers and professionals and, oh by the way, they were also women. That was inspiring.
"I looked at how the organization operated, and how to contribute," she said. USITT has always seemed to her to allow people to participate as fully as possible, but appreciates that, at times, they may have to step away from a specific level of responsibility. "If I had to adjust my level of time commitment, that was not judged, and I was encouraged to stay involved when that was possible."
Over the years, Ms. Williamson has chaired Conference sessions, created Professional Development Workshops, written for TD&T, and served as Scene Design Commissioner and a Director at Large of the Institute. Through USITT's study tour to China, she became better acquainted with people on the tour and those beyond it. At the 2005 Conference in Toronto, she was able to visit with a friend she met on that trip in 1998 and kept in communication with ever since.
Now, as she takes over as VP Commissions, she looks forward to becoming more familiar with all of USITT Commissions and those within the Commission structure, whom she calls "an intriguing group." She wants to use the resources of the Institute to support the great ideas people may already have. "Members may not realize what is available" to support specialized projects, symposia, and recognition of work.
Going forward, she is looking for a blend of involved and committed people. She uses the analogy of the ingredients needed for what she describes as a perfect ham and egg breakfast. To achieve that perfection, the chicken is involved, but the pig is committed.
For herself, Ms. Williamson is fully committed to USITT, to her family, and to the outdoors which she loves. But there are many facets to the new Vice-President. She practices on her 27-string folk harp which can sometimes provide a place for quiet reflection at the end of a particularly bad tech rehearsal. To balance that most peaceful of pursuits, she and her family have always practiced martial arts. She is now "very close" to becoming a black belt.
With all that she has achieved and all she is still challenging herself to achieve, it is hard to imagine Ms. Williamson ever being confused with anyone else.