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Conference & Stage Expo
For the Record

Nate Otto, left, Health & Safety Commissioner, consults with Tom Hackman, Program Coordinator, during the USITT's recent tour of the Duke Energy Center in Cincinnati. Mr. Otto is a member of the Commissioner's Steering Committee which met with the Conference Committee to discuss programming for the 2009 Annual Conference & Stage Expo.

Photo/Barbara E.R. Lucas


Commission Leaders Provide Vital Connections for USITT

Kim Williamson
VP for Commissions

July is here, and it brings long summer days, Independence Day barbecues, fireworks, and summer reading. Many of the Commissions of USITT also look to the start of each July with new leadership. Each Commissioner who has served over the last several years mark their departures with a range of accomplishments that evidence their belief in and commitment to the essential constituency of USITT – the Commissions and their members.

For each year of a three-year term, a Commissioner prepares an annual budget; oversees the planning of programming for the annual conference; identifies or plans the process for special recognitions and awards; identifies projects and/or project leaders; assists in the process for funding proposals; plans, develops, and advertises symposia; and identifies agenda items for the retreat. And don't forget the time commitment to the conference Commissioners meetings and the preparation to run Commission meetings. The range of people who want to take on this job description as a volunteer are few and so much appreciated!

The 10 Commissions of USITT develop and mentor their leadership in a variety of ways. Many develop their leadership through Vice-Commissioner positions. For instance, the VC for Programming will step up to Commissioner following one or two years of programming.

Several Commissions distribute the workload between Co-Commissioners with one being the "senior" and the other being the "junior." Other Commissions identify their leaders by observing who has been a consistent contributor to the work of the group and is ready to assume a leadership role. Amid the diverse methods by which leadership is identified, several things remain consistent. Each Commissioner has the gift to think big, the desire to move their discipline within the craft further ahead, a selflessness and generosity of time they dedicate to their Commissions, and the enjoyment for their commission members.

No recognition of Commission leadership would be complete without the inclusion of the Commissioner's Steering Committee. The function of the Steering Committee is to oversee the larger issues that affect the Commissions and provide an advisory role to the VP for Commissions.

The greatest task the Steering Committee takes on is the wrangling of the 10 Commissions' programming for each annual conference. Additionally, it makes recommendations on Commissioner's Fund allocations and retreat topics. Although Nate Otto, Commissioner of Health & Safety, officially begins his three-year term on the Steering Committee on July 1, he hit the ground running and provided excellent leadership and representation at the May Conference planning meeting in Cincinnati. He joins Tony Hardin and Carolyn Satter as the other members of the Steering Committee.

Why are these details important to include in an article on new leadership? When you see the job description of what a Commissioner's task is and combine it with the process of developing these leaders, it becomes evident that they are doing this job for more than the "thank you" gift they receive at the conference each year. Thank each of these people for the hours, days, and years they have provided their dedication and leadership to bring great things forward for your Commission.

A hearty thank you to outgoing Commissioners:

  • Roy Harline, Technical Production Commissioner
  • Mary Heilman, Scene Design Commissioner and Steering Committee representative

and welcome to incoming Commissioners & Programming Vice-Commissioners:

  • Stirling Shelton - Co-Commissioner Technical Production with Fritz Schwentker
  • Frank Ludwig, Co-Commissioner Scene Design with Karen Maness
  • Anthony Shou, Vice-Commissioner for Programming – Architecture
  • Beth Martell, Vice-Commissioner for Programming – Technical Production

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