Sharon brought a unique perspective as a volunteer whose “home orchestra” has EDI at its core. The Chicago Sinfonietta was founded in 1987 by Maestro Paul Freeman to address the lack of diversity in orchestras. The organization’s mission is to champion equity, diversity, and inclusion by creating community through bold symphonic experiences.
To address how EDI and fundraising connect, Sharon said that EDI is both a moral and business imperative as is the need for effective fundraising: “Our founder also understood that to ensure the success of our orchestra, he would need support in several areas, including fundraising, audience development, and community engagement. As a result, he connected with women who were active in the civic community, including Elizabeth Wilkins, the founder of our volunteer organization, the Southside Friends of the Chicago Sinfonietta, to support his mission and vision. There is a symbiotic relationship between our volunteers and the orchestra, which remains stronger than ever because of our shared commitment to the sustainability of the orchestra and Maestro Freeman’s legacy to change the face of classical music.”
The question on the minds of many: “This is overwhelming, and I don’t know where to start. What can I, in my orchestra, do to move from awareness to assessment to sustainable and measurable action?” For Sharon, it requires a commitment to change. “Small steps are better than no steps at all,” she said. “Your actions must also be intentional to ensure your success in recruitment, retention, and overall sustainability. It is important to signal, both internally and externally, your commitment to EDI if you want people to get behind you and support you. Tone at the top matters!”
Two preliminary steps she suggested:
• Engage with your stakeholders on the topic of EDI.
• Read information on what it means to be an “inclusive leader.” One sample article: https://hbr.org/2020/03/the-key-to-inclusive-leadership
Watch for more on this topic from the League of American Orchestras. They plan a revision and relaunch of the EDI Center on their website in March. In addition, we will share how Volunteer Council members’ orchestras and volunteer organizations are addressing EDI in upcoming issues of Volunteer Notes.
We are pleased to announce that Volunteer Council Member Sharon Hatchett has been elected a member of the Board of Directors of the League of American Orchestras. A Volunteer Council member since 2016, Sharon is a member and past president of the Southside Friends of the Chicago Sinfonietta. Congratulations, Sharon!
Volunteer Council’s Strategic Conversations Recap
By Cindy Kidwell
This past fall, Presidents and Presidents-elect representing twelve symphony volunteer organizations from across the United States participated in a series of five video conference meetings known as “Strategic Conversations.” These focused conversations were hosted by the League’s Volunteer Council with the purpose of allowing local volunteer leadership to connect, network, and learn from other volunteer leaders across the U.S.
Strategic Conversations are hosted annually for Presidents and Presidents-Elect. Typically conducted as conference calls, the format transitioned in 2020 to a video conference platform, allowing participants to engage in virtual meetings.
The hour-long video conference meetings were held every other week in September, October, and November, facilitated by Volunteer Council President Cindy Kidwell, who was assisted by President-Elect Julie Meredith and Secretary Kathy Leibrand. Participants selected a focused agenda for each session. Topics included volunteer management in uncertain times, member recruitment and retention, leadership development, the role of the nominating committee, record management, and communication and technology.