Why the Change?

October 1, 2021

The following has been adapted from a piece of the same name written by USITT President Carolyn Satter for inclusion in the USITT Fellows’ internal newsletter. In case you missed her in conversation with Executive Director David Grindle this week, we thought it was important that all members have a chance to read and reflect on this.

by Carolyn Satter, President

Changing the structure of USITT has been like peeling an onion and in doing so, one does not realize what is hidden in the layers below. The process began last year when it was discovered that two positions within the Institute were not just conflicting in their job duties but were stepping on one another.

Carolyn Satter, USITT President
Carolyn Satter, USITT President

As the Board leadership began a series of inquiries, one of the discoveries it made was that the Institute’s governance and operational structures were no longer in compliance with New York State laws that govern non-profits. And as the Institute is chartered in New York, compliance became paramount. 

The journey has been and still is daunting, to say the least, but out of it is surfacing an opportunity that I did not see coming: a time to envision what we can aspire to be.

For about 20 years, I was deep into the work of Commissions — program creation and presentation — leading first to leadership in the Management Commission and then onto Board service. It wasn’t until the last few years of being VP Commissions that I saw a distinct need for this group to have time to reflect and energize; something that could only happen if there was an occasion designated for that, separate from Conference planning.  

To that end, we developed the Commissioners’ Retreat, which coincided with the Board Retreat in August. Over a few years what emerged was stronger leadership and a more cohesive cohort of commissioners. The group actually had time to imagine changes and then put said plans into reality.

I am mirroring this to the organizational changes that are happening with the Board, resulting in solely a governance body, moving all operational components under the direction of the Executive Director, and thus allowing the Board to envision and create the directions for the future.

The charge to the Board is not how, but what and why we are planning. The how will be implemented by committees of members working alongside staff to achieve the goals set forth. This will mean new committees and new opportunities for members to engage in both short-term and long-term commitments that meet the realities of time that people have to give today. This isn’t thoroughly vetted or set in stone. All is currently in flux. 

As soon as the plan is in place, it will be announced, and forward momentum will begin.  I don’t see this being completed until 2024 as the transition will occur gradually via the election cycles coupled with the needed editing of the Bylaws.

The leadership is strong, the membership is engaged, the passion for USITT is there and together we will continue to grow and be the best that we can be.

The video recording of the Leadership Listening conversation with Carolyn and David can be found here.