A Celebration of Membership

January 7, 2020

By: Tim Kelly, USITT Fellow

The question is not, “What is USITT?" The question is, “Who is USITT?"

USITT is: Amy Dawson, Student Member; Shu Chen Lo, Individual Member; David Pecoraro, Professional Member; Debra Krajec, Fellow; Loren Schreiber, Board of Directors; Eric Rouse VP for Exhibitions; Esmeralda Moreno Villanueva, Student Member; Gabe Kieffer, Professional Member; Mark Blackmon, Office Staff; Dan Culhane, President; AND 4,300 other entertainment industry practitioners. We are the who’s who, those who know, those who want to know, those who teach, those who manufacture, those who design, those who create; those who build, those who manage; those who imagine; all with an enthusiasm for a field of endeavor unlike any other.

We are also those who lead. Starting with our “founding fathers”, Thomas DeGaetani and Joel Rubin, there have been 28 women and men who have volunteered/been elected to take responsibility in directing USITT on a sustained course. The membership invested in these leaders confidence to advance our joint mission. Each has come up through the ranks establishing a portfolio of management experience and personal relationships that advance the Institute’s global authority.

The Institute exists because thousands of members volunteer themselves to a collective society dedicated to furthering safety, design, innovation, and creativity in the theatre business. USITT is measured in “units of value” called members. Individually, these members bring forth their ideas, dreams, creativity, and aspirations for the consideration and counsel of other members. This collective magnifies and inspires those ideas into reality that becomes a basis of understanding for our problem-solving culture. Specific areas of interest are identified, allowing each member to choose those subjects to which they wish to contribute. USITT is participation. Through our 14 Committees, 10 Commissions, and 14 Regional Sections, member involvement is the driving force facilitating ongoing substantial accomplishments.

Stage Expo, as well as the universities, companies, and corporations exhibiting at our world-class exposition, are most assuredly part of the "who." They may be identified by a logo, but the individual people carrying their organizations banner are as involved and participatory as any membership category within the Institute. They are us; they are part of the "who"; they are a critical element in the voice of education, innovation, and commerce that drives and supports the Institute.

We the members are more than volunteers because USITT is not just a co-op organization randomly fit together for commercial purposes. Yes, there is a commitment by members to our industry, but more importantly, there is loyalty to one another. We bring passion to our work by establishing personal relationships that far exceed the commerce we engage in. We mentor, encourage, and sustain our colleagues from every generation and level of skill.  Our younger members, well versed in the baffling world of computer programming and show control, patiently untangle that complex web for our seniors. And, in turn, those with years of experience, hard-won in the solution of hundreds of knotty conundrums, freely offer an understanding of a proven course of action. 

We are many cogs in USITT’s machinery, several whirling around at our own eccentric tempo, but that makes the whole thing a brilliant kaleidoscope in pursuit of collective excellence. At USITT20 in Houston, take time to recognize who we are, and celebrate our achievements by strengthening the collegial bonds that continue to make us the force in the entertainment industry.