League of American Orchestras Volunteer Notes A PUBLICATION OF THE VOLUNTEER COUNCIL

Please Feel Free to Forward This Newsletter to Your Friends and Colleagues

The League of American Orchestras Volunteer Council leads, advocates, and champions volunteer organizations in their efforts to support their orchestras' community outreach and civic partnerships to advance the experience of orchestral music.


Irene Sohm, Volunteer Notes Editor | irene@sohmplace.com


President’s Message

2021 Conference Update

Announcing the 2021 Gold Award of Excellence Competition

Supporting the League

League Revamps, Refreshes its Website

VC Member Sharon Hatchett Elected to League Board of Directors

President's Message

By: Cindy Kidwell

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass; it is about learning how to dance in the rain.”

A friend sent me an article over the weekend about the world-renowned Yo-Yo Ma that was both inspirational and uplifting, particularly as we maneuver through a world-wide pandemic. Following his second COVID-19 vaccination, Yo-Yo Ma utilized the required 15-minute observation period to volunteer—the acclaimed cellist provided an impromptu concert, filling the air of the vaccination center with the beautiful sounds of Franz Schubert’s “Ave Maria” and the prelude to Bach’s “Cello Suite No. 1.”

While engaging a volunteer as elite as Yo-Yo Ma is a dream for most of our organizations, we all have talented, knowledgeable individuals in our communities. Many of these individuals are ready and eager to “dance in the rain” with us as we re-energize our volunteer memberships. And, after a year of relative quiet, now is the time to re-assess and revitalize our organizations.

The League of American Orchestras Volunteer Council is here to help! We exist to help symphony volunteers learn, grow, and meet current challenges by presenting information relevant to today’s volunteer leaders and connecting like-minded individuals all across the country.

This month, on April 27, members of our Conference committee, led by Beth Wise of the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra, will conduct a webinar on membership, and it is one you will not want to miss! Step by step, Sally Bullard of the Philadelphia Orchestra and Ginny Lundquist of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra will lead you through volunteer recruitment (are we missing some potential volunteers waiting to be asked?), volunteer engagement (creating a sense of belonging), and membership retention (newbies on board—now what?). The big questions to answer are 1) What does your organization need and 2) What do your members need and want?

The webinar is available at no charge to your organization. The only requirement is that you register for the webinar through the League of American Orchestras' website. Individuals will need to be registered as League “members,” and we can assist you with that process. So, why not involve your entire board, your membership committee, and new member liaisons? You are sure to end the meeting with a foundation for a stellar plan to re-assess and revitalize your membership.

It’s time to “dance in the rain”—I’m ready, and I know many of you are, too! I’ll see you April 27 and we learn the “dance” steps together to re-energize our organizations and truly engage our members. Register for the webinar here.

2021 Conference Update

by Beth Wise, Conference Chair

In this challenging year, developing virtual-only Conference content has required much rethinking and revision. The Volunteer Council Conference Committee aims to present engaging, informative, and useful webinars to replace, as best as possible, the in-person experiences normally enjoyed at a League Conference. Thank you to members of the Conference Committee for their thoughtful creativity, dedication, and ingenuity. This includes Webinar Chairs (noted below), Awards Chair Bruce Colquhoun (Spokane Symphony), and League Liaison Danielle Clarke-Newell, who assisted the Committee.

Webinar 1: We hope many of you were able to join us on January 26 for the first Volunteer Council-presented webinar, Traditions Reimagined: Resiliency Unveiled, created and hosted by Laurie Skjerseth (Quad City Symphony Orchestra) and Camille Williams (Arkansas Symphony Orchestra). If you missed it, you may access the recorded webinar on the League website. The password is ORCH20219165.

Webinar 2: Engaging and Mentoring New Members, April 27 at 3:00 pm Eastern/12:00pm Pacific

Members are the lifeblood of a volunteer organization. Presidents and Presidents-Elect tell us declining and aging membership is one of their main concerns. To address these concerns, this membership webinar will provide energizing ideas for your organization. Topics include:

Re-evaluating your role as orchestra volunteers in a post-COVID-19 world

Recruiting and prospecting for new members

How to engage and mentor new members

Best practices in recognizing, rewarding, and retaining members

This webinar is created by Volunteer Council members Sally Bullard (The Philadelphia Orchestra) and Ginny Lundquist (Detroit Symphony Orchestra). One of the guest speakers will be Doris Parent of The Philadelphia Orchestra, outlining and discussing how she has been assessing her orchestra and volunteers.

Doris Parent

Doris Parent is the Vice President of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access Strategies (IDEAS) and Strategic Partnerships at The Philadelphia Orchestra. In her role, she establishes and implements ways to create a more inclusive and diverse culture at the orchestra, based on data-driven methodologies to drive sustainable change. Doris joined the orchestra in 2011, and most recently served as Senior Managing Director of Institutional Development, in which she led all facets of multi-year fundraising and engagement strategies.

Doris also serves on several nonprofit boards. She will assume the role of President for the Association of Fundraising Professionals in Greater Philadelphia in 2021, and serves on the board of Piffaro, the Renaissance Band, and the Maven Leadership Collective.

Registration for this webinar is required but is free and open to all League members. The League has emailed an invitation to Volunteer Council members. You can register here. To ensure that you and your colleagues are prepared for Conference registration, please contact Danny Els-Piercey at member@americanorchestras.org.

Webinar 3: How to Be an Effective Leader, June 11 at 3:00 pm Eastern/12:00pm Pacific

This webinar addresses another topic often mentioned as a primary concern of volunteer groups: identifying, growing, and supporting leaders are important challenges for our organizations.

Utilizing a conversational format, the webinar will address numerous leadership challenges. Topics will include:

Selecting and recruiting leaders

Mentoring, supporting, and encouraging new leaders

Building a “line of succession” for leadership positions

Aligning volunteers with orchestra goals

Dealing with difficult volunteers, board members, etc.

Marena Gault (Dallas Symphony Orchestra and President of the Association of Major Symphony Orchestra Volunteers [AMSOV]) chairs this webinar. Guest speakers will include Kim Noltemy, President and CEO of the DSO, and James Leffler, DSO Director of Development.

Kim Noltemy

Since her appointment in January 2018, Kim Noltemy has implemented numerous new initiatives that will have a long-term impact on the landscape of classical music in Dallas and the entire industry. The DSO was the first major American orchestra to perform for an in-person audience after the COVID-19 shutdown. During her tenure, the orchestra appointed the renowned Fabio Luisi as Music Director and Gemma New as Principal Guest Conductor. In the fall of 2020, Kim introduced a comprehensive plan and commitment for equity, diversity, and inclusion at the DSO. Since the pandemic shutdown in March 2020, Kim has expanded the DSO online presence, implementing a digital strategy for 2020/21 and beyond.

James Leffler

James Leffler joined the Dallas Symphony Orchestra in January 2016 and currently serves as the Vice President of Development. He has broad experience in nonprofit development, having worked in a variety of areas including youth services, higher education, healthcare, and the performing arts. Additionally, James was a partner in a consulting firm that provided fundraising and digital solutions for educational institutions. James holds a Bachelor of Music Degree in Music Performance from Columbus State University and a Master of Music in Instrumental Performance from Oklahoma City University.

League Conference registration is required to attend this webinar. The early bird fee of $95 includes access to all the Conference sessions for June 7-17, including ten free concerts! The League has opened registration. You can register here. To ensure that you and your colleagues are prepared for Conference registration, please contact Danny Els-Piercey at member@americanorchestras.org.

Mark your calendars! We look forward to seeing you on April 27, June 11, and during the Conference!

Announcing the 2021 Gold Award of Excellence Competition

By Ginny Lundquist

Save the date! Share your best ideas and successes with other volunteers across the country. Enter the League of American Orchestras Volunteer Council 2021 Gold Award of Excellence competition for outstanding projects completed from September 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021. Official entry forms will be available in late June and entries can be submitted through August 31, 2021. Awards include the Gold Award of Excellence, Spotlight Award, and the Classic Award (not awarded every year). Winners of these awards will be invited to present their projects at the League Conference in Los Angeles June 1-3, 2022. More information will be available on the Volunteer Council pages of the League website in June.

Supporting the League

By Terry White

Join your fellow orchestra volunteers in supporting the League of American Orchestras

Like most nonprofits, the League has seen very challenging revenue declines during the pandemic. However, recognizing that in times of crisis, organizations rely on the League’s work more than ever, they chose to step up their service, rather than reduce it. As the only national organization dedicated solely to supporting orchestras, the League is committed to partnering with all those who serve orchestras in getting to the other side.

To date, the League has invested over $1M and thousands of hours of staff time to aid its members during these challenging times. It’s now vital that the League replenish its resources so that they may continue to help orchestras on their path to recovery in the coming year.

With this in mind, I hope you will consider joining me and your fellow orchestra volunteers in supporting this critical work by making a gift to the League today. Your gift will help provide essential programs and services to our nation’s many orchestras (and the volunteers who support them).

If making a gift online is not your preferred method of giving, you can always send a check, made payable to the League of American Orchestras, to:

Development Office, League of American Orchestras, 520 8th Avenue, Suite 2005, New York, NY 10018-4168

To make a gift over the phone, or if you have any questions regarding making a gift to the League, please call Samara Ungar, Manager of the Annual Fund, at 646 822 4008.

Thank you for considering this request for support!

League Revamps, Refreshes its Website

By Janet Cabot

The League of American Orchestras’ new website is now live! It has a new look and new content. You'll find that it's now easy to browse the site and find information on all devices. League CEO Simon Woods said of the updated site, “This comes after almost two years of work in which we reimagined the website to be able to serve you and tell your stories in the best way possible.”

The website has four sections: Connect, Learn, Advocate, and Envision. You can find Volunteer Council information and resources in the Connect section. Interested in discovering new programs and fundraising ideas from fellow volunteers? You can find handouts from the 2020 Gold Award and Spotlight Award winners and constituency session presentations by clicking on “Volunteers at Conference.”

Connect also is the place to “Meet the Team” and read about the staff who support our orchestras. Meet Danielle Clarke-Newell, who is the League’s Volunteer Council Liaison in addition to her primary role as a Meetings and Logistics Coordinator. Learn includes links to the League’s Learning and Leadership programs and Symphony magazine. You can access the current edition of the magazine and issues from the recent past. Envision showcases ideas and inspiration from around the internet. Content in this section will be refreshed regularly. Advocate contains policy resources and information about issues that affect our orchestras.

Coming additions to the site include the launch of a new Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Resource Center. While the site looks different, the address is the same: https://americanorchestras.org/. Take a moment to explore all the new site has to offer and bookmark it for easy reference.

VC Member Sharon Hatchett Elected to League Board of Directors

Sharon Hatchett

By Irene Sohm and Sharon Hatchett

Sharon Hatchett joined the Volunteer Council in 2016 and was elected to the League of American Orchestras Board of Directors on January 28, 2021. Sharon’s most recent leadership roles with the Volunteer Council have been her service as Chair of Nominating and Placement as well as Chair of Member Recruitment.

The editor asked Sharon what her thoughts were about making this transition. She stated how honored she is to be elected to the Board of Directors, and shared thoughts on how her experiences on the Volunteer Council and with her home orchestra (Chicago Sinfonietta) will enhance her contributions to the League Board:

▪ I experienced the power of personal outreach. As a result of a Volunteer Council member’s outreach to our orchestra to connect with our volunteer organization, I learned about the League of American Orchestras and the Volunteer Council. At the urging of a Volunteer Council member, I attended the League’s Conference in Cleveland; that experience was truly a game-changer for me.

▪ I have had the opportunity to work and form friendships with exceptional volunteer leaders from orchestras of all sizes and geographic locations across the country.

▪ My exposure to a national organization that engages with member orchestras and their volunteer organizations showed me that my volunteer organization and member orchestra are not alone in tackling issues; we had access to resources and networks across the country. That access became invaluable during COVID-19 which affected all of our orchestras, and in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd, in what was to have been our Conference city. During that time, the League adjusted its virtual programming real-time to address the issue of anti-Black discrimination and provide an educational perspective and access to resources and information.

▪ The focus by the League on equity, diversity, and inclusion is strongly aligned with the history of my home orchestra, the Chicago Sinfonietta, which was formed by Maestro Paul Freeman, a Black man, due to the lack of opportunities for people of color in mainstream orchestras. My volunteer organization, the Southside Friends of the Chicago Sinfonietta, was formed in response to Maestro Freeman’s need for support in launching the orchestra.

▪ Serving most recently as Chair of the Council’s Member Recruitment committee allowed me to give voice to the importance of growing the diversity within our own organization. As a woman of color, it is my hope that by having these discussions and raising awareness our volunteer organizations will continue to grow in their understanding of EDI, and the value that it can bring to individuals and organizations and the value that the Volunteer Council can bring to other volunteer organizations as their respective orchestras pursue EDI.

The Volunteer Council congratulates Sharon on the prestigious role she will assume with the League.

2020-21 League Volunteer Council

Our Mission: The purpose of the Volunteer Council is to support the mission of the League of American Orchestras by providing leadership, communication, and a resource link between the League and orchestra volunteers.

Leadership Committee

Cindy Kidwell, President (Tyler, TX)

Julie Meredith, President-Elect (Salt Lake City, UT)

Beth Wise, Conference Chair (Huntsville, AL)

Ginny Lundquist, Conference Chair-Elect (Detroit, MI)

Terry Ann White, Immediate Past President (Amarillo, TX)


Sally Bullard (Philadelphia, PA)

Janet Cabot (Madison, WI)

Darlene Clark (Houston, TX)

Bruce Colquhoun (Spokane, WA)

Marena Gault, AMSOV rep. (Dallas, TX)

Sharon Hatchett (Chicago, IL)

Donna Hoffman (Orlando, FL)

Kathy Leibrand (Kansas City, MO)

Charlotte Lewis (New Orleans, LA)

Laurie Skjerseth (Quad City, IA)

Irene Sohm (Santa Rosa, CA)

Camille Williams (Little Rock, AR)


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