Next Story in this issue
News & Notices
News From:
Conference & Stage Expo
For the Record

USITT's leadership spent time in Orlando in November working on the best way to position the organizations for the years beyond 2010.

Positioning USITT for the Future

Carl Lefko
USITT President

USITT’s first 50 years produced remarkable achievements! To assure an even more vibrant future, the Board of Directors (BOD) spent the last four years visioning, assessing, and planning and has chosen to embrace change and seek improvement.

In March 2009 the BOD voted to pursue changes so that our organizational structure would comport with a Governance Policy structure. John Carver, in his book Boards That Make A Difference, describes a modern approach to governing that allows part-time individuals or groups to lead. This group may not have the time nor the skill to control every operational aspect of the organization. He goes further to say that, even if they did have the ability, the organization would often grind to a halt as they worked to complete their tasks. Good governance requires the separation of policy and oversight from the operational needs of the organization.

The principles of policy governance have guided the Board of Directors and the Transition Advisory Team (TAT) over the past six months. Four Transition Advisory Team Subcommittees have worked diligently to

  • complete the search for an executive director,
  • review and offer revisions to the by-laws which support the Board approved move toward a governance structure,
  • review and offer suggested changes in our current job descriptions, and
  • identify and review existing policies and procedures and make recommendations for modifications needed to shift to a governance model with the addition of an executive director.

The Executive Director Search Subcommittee initially created a job description for the position and, following a review of potential search firms, contracted the Albert Hall & Associates, LLC to assist with the search. On October 16, the firm closed the search and prepared briefing books for each candidate. November 8, the committee met in Syracuse and via teleconferencing to review and select a final slate of individuals to be considered in the second phase of the interview process.

Early in its review, the By-Laws Subcommittee realized a complete overhaul of the by-laws would be required to

  • create and incorporate protective clauses now required for non-profits,
  • assure that the by-laws accurately reflect the intent of our corporate charter,
  • remove policies and procedures that had crept into the by-laws over time, and
  • provide effective tools and structure for an executive director to manage the Institute.

The committee adopted a two-fold goal to guide its work: to maintain central control by the membership of operations and to distill the by-laws into a set of guiding principles for the organization, thus moving the day-to-day operational instructions to a separate policies and procedures manual, rather than as part of the Bylaws.

The subcommittee provided a draft for review and comment to the Board on August 6 and requested feedback by August 31. Many responded with comments and questions, which the committee appreciated, and revisions to the draft by-laws continued throughout the vetting period. The committee’s goal with the extensive review process was to allow careful consideration of the document prior to the fall Board meeting and, if necessary, allow for further consultation with the USITT attorney so the discussion in Orlando could be meaningful and substantive.

Job Descriptions

The Job Description Review Subcommittee has worked to confirm accuracy of existing documents and make recommendation for possible changes as required with the addition of an executive director. The subcommittee interviewed incumbents and past Presidents, Vice-Presidents, Secretaries, and Treasurers. While considering the impact of adding an executive director, the committee drafted proposed job descriptions which were then shared with other TAT members, the Executive Committee, the By-Laws Review Subcommittee, and finally the Board of Directors for review and comment.

Policies and Procedures

The Policies and Procedures Subcommittee was charged with reviewing all existing policies and procedures and identifying those that require modifications with a shift to a governance structure and the addition of an executive director. The initial review of the by-laws indicated they have become entangled with procedural guidelines which should be housed elsewhere. As policies and procedures were removed from the by-laws they were collected by this committee to assure that no current operational practices would be lost.

Additional documents identified as policy, procedures, or guidelines were collected from a variety of sources such as the Board Manual, the Commissioners’ Manual, and Committees Manual. As omissions were identified through review of by-laws and job descriptions, they were collected to determine whether other formal documentation was needed. Ultimately the goal of the Policies and Procedures Subcommittee is the creation of a Policies and Procedures Compendium that will include all operational documents and definitions so that standard practices can be incorporated and regularly evaluated.

The Policies and Procedures Subcommittee’s process has included solicitation of input on existing documents from those most closely and recently involved in either their creation or use. Items identified as needing substantial changes and/or board action are being flagged for subsequent review. Existing policies and procedures documents pertaining to Annual Conference, Archives, and Publications have been reviewed and returned to the committee. Still under review are Finance, Commissioners' Manual, and Employee Manual. Much of the revision work will not be possible until the proposed by-laws are approved.

As we cross the horizon of our 50th anniversary, extensive preparations are underway to prepare and position USITT for a prosperous future. I know that everyone is excited about joining the celebration in Kansas City in March, now only three months away, where we will Honor Our Past and Celebrate Our Future in grand style.

To Top