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For the Record

Carl Lefko has been building bridges, between individuals, between organizations, and among segments within organizations for many years. In his new role as President, he will be leading USITT as it tackles the challenges and rewards of continuing to grow in the 21st Century.

Photo/Richard Finklestein

Officer Profile:
Carl Lefko - President

Barbara E.R. Lucas
Sightlines Editor

Leading an organization with almost 50 years of history behind it, and a mandate to continue to change and grow may seem like a huge challenge, but for Carl Lefko, who takes over as USITT President on July 1, that is just the type of challenge he enjoys.

"The groundwork for change has already been accomplished" Mr. Lefko said. "We have been looking at what we do well, and what we can do better. We can serve as a bridge, providing focus and purpose, as we move further into the 21st Century. I look forward to the changes we're exploring."

As he talks about his role as President, Mr. Lefko acknowledges that the position requires a huge commitment of time and energy. That will be made much easier, he notes, since his Dean at Radford University is committed to his success, as are his fellow faculty members including Monica Weinzapfel and David Wheeler, who are both active with USITT as well. "They're all working to make this happen," he notes.

Mr. Lefko has been at Radford, in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, since his postgraduate years. "It's the only job I've ever had, but Radford has moved from having one designer to many." His position has changed as well, and he is entering his fourth year as chair of its Department of Theatre and Cinema.

For Radford, Mr. Lefko has built bridges locally as well as internationally. In 2006, he and a team from the College of Visual & Performing Arts and the School of Nursing visited three schools in China exploring internship possibilities for both faculty and students. He has been a major advocate for international study for students, conducting study abroad programs himself and initiating Radford’s first Semester Abroad program for the Honors students.

"I view myself as a facilitator," Mr. Lefko said, "to be a good listener and bring people of different opinions to an understanding or at least common ground."

Away from the theatre and USITT, Mr. Lefko serves as a bridge within his community. After reading Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Mineral he and his wife Ruth have increased their support of community-based agriculture, and expanded their garden to grow for others.

"We’ve always had a garden, but I'm more methodical about it this year." He and Ruth are expanding their canning operations, including pickles, sauces, tomatoes, green beans, beets and other veggies.

Carl and Ruth recently organized a community barbecue and potluck for his neighbors because "We look for an excuse to entertain."

He keeps in close touch with his two daughters. The younger is a recent graduate of the University of Virginia School of Nursing. The elder, who also works in the health services industry, is the mother of Carl’s delightful granddaughter and almost grandson.

While he’ll miss working closely as with the Conference Committee, Commission leadership, and regional representatives as he has as Vice-President for Programming for six years, Mr. Lefko looks forward to interacting with members and leaders of other organizations as well. He has been invited to give the Keynote at the Chesapeake Regional Section meeting in September, just a week before the Southeast Section Master Classes. As a past Southeast Chair, its activities are especially important for him.

As USITT moves forward, Mr. Lefko's leadership experience as a facilitator and coalition creator will help assure its steady progress toward its goals.

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