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A Bridge to Membership

Carl Lefko
USITT President

Membership is the heart and soul of USITT. Our vision statement supports this belief:

USITT will grow and provide valuable services to our membership and insure that interests of members are represented regionally, nationally, and internationally.

At the banquet in Houston, I told a personal story describing my first encounter with USITT and the Southeast Master classes. Each of us has a similar, well remembered, and oft told story describing our introduction to this organization. We can list a multitude of ways the Institute has benefited us in our careers and personal lives. In many cases, life-long friendships have developed out of professional encounters. In essence we are a family, albeit a very large family consisting of Sections, Commissions, exhibitors, and individuals with a strong international interest to name just a few.

To maintain the best of USITT as we plan for future growth and for providing valuable service to our membership, the Board of Directors carefully considered how USITT should develop and keep pace with the rapidly evolving, exciting 21st century. A New Vision of USITT was suggested, and the McCarthy Arts Consulting (MAC) was chosen to perform a year-long assessment of USITT toward that end.

The MAC report, available here, introduced the idea of a smaller Board of Directors (BOD) whose mission is governance rather than operations. A governance board is a model that encourages strategic representation that mirrors the membership of the Institute. Board members serve in a true governance capacity; develop the mission, vision, and goals; provide fiduciary oversight; ensure the availability of resources; and monitor the overall performance of the Institute rather than deal with day-to-day activities.

Both the 21st Century Task Force and the new Transition Team, led by Lea Asbell-Swanger, enthusiastically support the concept of developing a working model for a governance board. I introduced the beginning of the formation of the Transition Team in the August issue of Sightlines and have expanded the group in an effort to assure broad representation to now include:

  • Lea Asbell-Swanger
  • Joe Aldridge, VP Conferences
  • Bill Byrnes
  • Carol Carrigan
  • Dan Culhane
  • Michael Gros
  • Lawrence J. Hill
  • Raymond Kent
  • Carl Lefko, USITT President
  • Sylvia Hillyard Pannell, USITT Immediate Past President
  • Carolyn Satter
  • Tom Young

On August 9, the Transition Team conducted a joint working session with the Executive Committee and produced working models for new board configurations. The Executive Committee then charged the Transition Team with distilling the models and presenting them to the BOD for further deliberation and review. The Transition Team also was charged with developing a job description for an Executive Director to increase USITT staffing and provide consistent outreach. These, combined with proposed staff realignments, will be considered by the BOD at its fall meeting.

The desired goal is to explore the advantages made possible by a strong governance board. This is a board that continually assesses the Institute. It looks toward the future and sets goals, priorities, and direction. As we look at new governance models, it is vital that we embrace the potential found in doing our business in a different manner. I am extremely hopeful that we will be able to bridge to organizations beyond our current affiliations, but most importantly bridge to our membership by investing them in a new governance structure. Please contact me or any member of the Transition Team with suggestions and questions.

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Members of the USITT Transition Team met in Cincinnati in early August to help shape their recommendations for the future of the organization. From left are Carl Lefko, Tom Young, Lea Asbell-Swanger, Bill Byrnes, and Larry Hill.

Photo/Barbara E.R. Lucas