Honorary Lifetime Member Award

Nominations for 2025 accepted through June 30.

The Honorary Lifetime Membership Award is bestowed to a small but very distinguished group of individuals who have been recognized for providing a significant period of years of continuous and extraordinary service to the Institute. Prior to 1992, a USITT membership category made it possible to pay a fee for a period of time in order to become a "Lifetime Member." Once the designation of Honorary Lifetime Member was approved by the Board of Directors, the lifetime membership category was phased out. The first Honorary Lifetime Membership Award was presented in 1992 to Samuel H. Scripps and in 1996 the Institute began using the Honorary Lifetime Membership Award as a way to recognize "a significant period of years of continuous and extraordinary service to the Institute." This honor has been awarded infrequently.

USITT Honors and Awards Policy

Past Winners


Lea Asbell-Swanger


William Byrnes


Randy Earle


Zelma H. Weisfeld

Fort Lauderdale, Florida, March 2018: Zelma H. Weisfeld was recognized for her indomitable spirit and generous contributions of expertise, time, energy, and treasure through countless years as a Director at Large, an active Fellow of the Institute, Costume Commission volunteer, supporter of young artists, a strong advocate for women’s rights, and a model citizen of the Institute and the world.


Mitchell K. Hefter

Fort Worth, Texas, March 2014: Mitch Hefter was recognized for his vision, leadership, commitment, and dedication to the entertainment industry throughout his distinguished career.


Jean Montgomery

Long Beach, California, March 2012: Jean Montgomery was recognized for the breadth of her service both to the USITT Northern Boundary Regional Section and the National organization. Her discrete and professional manner in handling critical Insitute matters, her commitment to prudence in USITT finances, and her dedication to preserving the heritage of USITT and its singular place in the theatre world are indispensable and deeply appreciated.


Timothy Kelly

Charlotte, North Carolina, March 2011: Timothy Kelly was acknowledged as a token of the organization’s great admiration and esteem for his leadership and unstinting service to the advancement of USITT and its singular place in the theatre world. His professionalism, expertise, and generosity provide brilliant examples and define higher standards for all members of USITT.


Richard Devin

Kansas City, Missouri, March 2010: Richard Devin was recognized for a lifetime of service and leadership dedicated to USITT. Including work as the Artistic and Resident Lighting Designer for the Colorado Shakespeare Festival and for theatres in Hong Kong, Tokyo, Cairo and Off-Broadway, he has served USITT as President, Fellow of the Institute, Vice-President for Commissions, and continues on the Endowment Management Committee, Awards Committee and as an associate Editor of TD&T.


Leon I. Brauner

Cincinnati, Ohio, March 2009: Leon I. Brauner was recognized for a lifetime of service and leadership dedicated to USITT. His work includes: Costume Designer, Costume Commissioner, Vice-President Commissions, National Program Chair, Vice-President Conferences, President, Head of the OISTAT Centre in the United States, Fellow of the Institute, and long term organizer extraordinaire of the PQ Study Tours.


Eric Fielding

Houston, Texas, March 2008: Eric Fielding was acknowledged for his "amazing list of contributions" to the membership of the Institute and the profession over the past three decades. It was noted that Mr. Fielding "has set a standard that we all admire, appreciate, and strive to emulate." The long bibliography of publications that Mr. Fielding edited and designed, the highly successful design exhibitions that he has supported or produced, his international representation of USITT and America at world conferences and meetings, and his long record of volunteer work for the Institute, his colleagues and his profession "have earned you this lifetime recognition," the award plaque notes.


Christine L. Kaiser

New Orleans, Louisiana, February 2002: Christine L. Kaiser was acknowledged for her "countless, focused hours of work dedicated to the ongoing health of the Institute." A Past President of the Institute, she was also Treasurer of the organization for many years, served on numerous committees, and provided oversight for countless special projects. She received the Founder's Award in 1991 and has been a Fellow of USITT since 1992. Her Honorary Lifetime Membership plaque noted "USITT has prospered through your attention to detail and whiskbroom of improvement."


Joy Spanabel Emery

Denver, Colorado, March 2000: Joy Spanabel Emery was saluted for her years of commitment and leadership to USITT. She was a founding member of the Costume Design & Technology Commission, and served as its Commissioner, and USITT Vice-President for Communications. Named a Fellow of the Institute in 1987, and recipient of the Founder's Award in 1994, her Lifetime Membership recognized her for her special qualities: patience, a creative spirit, a concern for the needs of others, and a delightful sense of humor.


Ted W. Jones

Long Beach, California, March 1998: Ted W. Jones was recognized as the host and local organizer for the first USITT Conference ever held outside of New York City (at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana in 1965), as a distinguished member of the Board of Directors, and OISTAT Representative. He became a USITT Fellow in 1978/1979. This prolific theatre consultant, lighting designer, and dedicated educator has a distinguished record of professional achievement.


Thomas Watson

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, March 1997: Tom Watson was the second editor of TD&T and helped develop the Journal into the high quality publication it is today. His work as a professor of theatre design at the University of Delaware, as a lighting designer, and as a consultant exemplifies a career dedicated to the goals stated in USITT's mission -- the advancement of the knowledge and skills of its members. He was named a Fellow of the Institute in 1977.


Dr. Joel E. Rubin

Ft. Worth, Texas, March 1996: Dr. Joel E. Rubin's support and guidance of USITT is legendary. A founder of the organization, he served as President from 1963-1965, and has continued his involvement for more than 40 years. Dr. Rubin was instrumental in the creation of OISTAT, the International Organization of Scenographers, Theatre Architects and Technicians, and has been repeatedly recognized for his contributions to USITT, including being named a Fellow in 1977. The Founder's Award was re-named in his honor in 2000.


Willard F. Bellman

Ft. Worth, Texas, March 1996: Willard F. Bellman has been a guiding light in the Institute. He represented USITT on the joint ATHE/USITT/NAST committee which developed a position paper on theatre workloads, wrote the USITT position paper on the plight of the technical director, and was on the ATHE panel which developed the position paper on outcomes assessment. A Fellow of the Institute since 1985, Dr. Bellman was chair of the USITT conference in Anaheim in 1988 and chair of the Publications Committee. In 1990, he was honored with the Founder's Award.


Richard L. Arnold

Ft. Worth, Texas, March 1996: Richard L. Arnold was the seventh president of the Institute during its rapid national growth in the seventies, expanding its By-Laws and developing the Costume Commission. He was the founding member of the Midwest Section, one of the earliest USITT regional sections. He has been a Fellow of the Institute since 1977 and in 1987 he received the Joel E. Rubin Founder's Award. He played a leading role in the growth of the Edward F. Kook Fund and in the establishment of the USITT New Century Fund.


Samuel H. Scripps

Seattle, Washington, March 1992: Samuel H. Scripps (1927-2007) was a substantial supporter of USITT and its international activities for many years. He was a member of the 1987 Steering Committee for the United States entry for the Prague Quadrennial. Named a Fellow of the Institute in 1991, Mr. Scripps' generosity and guiding spirit helped USITT create and maintain an international presence.