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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.

Summer 2021 Edition

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

In This Issue

President’s Message

Conference 2021 Wrap-up

Conference Pearls

Save the Date, 2022 Conference

Gold Awards Call for Entrants

Meet the Class of 2021

Registration is Now Open: Strategic Conversations for Volunteer Presidents and Presidents-Elect

The Volunteer Council


By Cindy Kidwell, President 2020-21

What a year! Who knew what we would be facing last summer in the midst of COVID shutdowns, quarantines, and a world where travel ceased? Working on a national level, the League of American Orchestras Volunteer Council had no choice but to shift gears.

Like many of you, we learned to manage our business virtually—Zoom became our friend! Monthly leadership meetings, fall and winter general meetings, committee meetings, cocktail hour celebrations, and National Conference all continued with each of us in front of our computers.

With encouragement from our Project Selection Chair, Ginny Lundquist, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, we continued our awards program, adding a new category that invited entries featuring ways that organizations had altered traditional programs during the pandemic. And you responded—we received an overwhelming response of 24 entries in that category!

The Volunteer Council moved the Fall Strategic Conversations for Presidents and Presidents-Elect from its usual conference call format to Zoom, allowing us to get acquainted on a new level with visual contact, lively conversations, and meaningful discussions.

And, instead of reaching our usual audience during the League’s Conference, the Volunteer Council, under the leadership of Conference Chair Beth Wise, hosted three webinars open to all. Many thanks to Beth and her hard-working committee for exceptional programming that, in our wildest dreams, we could never have anticipated presenting when we accepted our Volunteer Council assignments.

So, in new formats, we can celebrate success this year. We have provided educational opportunities for symphony volunteers, fostered networking and communications opportunities, and provided support for volunteer leadership through Strategic Conversations. And, we added a special edition of Volunteer Notes to showcase award-winning project entries under the watchful eye of Irene Sohm, Editor, representing the Santa Rosa Symphony.

We say goodbye to four Volunteer Council members who have completed their tenure and have made immensely positive contributions to the work of our Council: Terry White, Past President and Advisor, representing the Amarillo Symphony; Camille Williams, Sustainer Liaison, representing the Arkansas Symphony; Beth Wise, Conference Chair, representing the Huntsville Symphony; and Sharon Hatchett, Membership and Nominating Chair, representing the Chicago Sinfonietta. They join our ranks of Sustainers now, remaining a vital part of volunteer support for the League of American Orchestras.

At the same time, we welcome five new members to the Volunteer Council who begin their six-year term this summer. I hope you will take the time to read the article in this issue featuring these new members who represent symphonies in Los Angeles, Baltimore, Chicago, Washington, DC, and Cincinnati.

As this year comes to a close, I want to thank each and every member of the Volunteer Council for their dedication, their generous gift of time, their focused efforts on our projects and programs, and their tireless support. I met new acquaintances six years ago, and I now call each a friend. I’ve loved having the opportunity of serving as President of the Volunteer Council. It truly has been a privilege and an honor to lead this wonderful organization—and it is an incredible joy to know that the League’s Volunteer Council makes such a difference for symphony volunteers all across the country.

In the next issue of Volunteer Notes, you will meet the incoming President, Julie Meredith from the Utah Symphony. She is a talented and outstanding leader who has a rich background of professional and volunteer experiences. I look forward to supporting her during the coming year and seeing each of you as we gather in person for the League’s 2022 Conference in Los Angeles.


By Beth Wise, VC Conference Chair 2020-21

So many individuals contributed to the success of this year’s online Conference—a total restructure of the Volunteer Council’s normal Conference activities. The Conference Committee deserves congratulations and recognition for their outstanding efforts.

Awards Chair Bruce Colquhoun ensured that all winning entries were appropriately recognized with either crystal plaques (Gold Awards and Classic Award) or Spotlight Certificates.

With considerable effort and ingenuity, three webinars were developed and presented to appreciative audiences:

• Traditions Reimagined: Resiliency Unveiled, chaired by Laurie Skjerseth and Camille Williams, highlighted 16 outstanding projects and their responses to pandemic restrictions.

• Re-energizing Membership, chaired by Sally Bullard and Ginny Lundquist, presented a comprehensive program regarding membership issues. Doris Parent, of the Philadelphia Orchestra, spoke on equity, diversity, and inclusion.

• How to be an Effective Leader, chaired by Marena Gault, included James Leffler, Vice President of Development for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, and Kim Noltemy, Ross Perot President and CEO of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, addressing leadership development and challenges.

These webinars were recorded and are available on the League’s website. We are very grateful to all who contributed to the success of these programs and look forward to a return to “normal” at the 2022 Conference in Los Angeles.


By Irene Sohm and the members of the Volunteer Council

As you probably all know, when you attend a conference, you usually come away with a few sentences that encapsulate the knowledge that you have gained. These are the things you can take back to your boards and organizations and use to make changes and spark conversations. Below are some of these “pearls” reported by our Volunteer Council members. We hope you can use them to start conversations in your own groups.

Proactively communicate
Get agreement
Give people a true sense of ownership in their organization
Start with gratitude
Leadership can be uncomfortable on occasion
Engender trust among people you are leading
Involve all stakeholders in the conversation
It will take two years to reach your previous level of attendance
Social media is the key to expanding your audience
Keep some online offerings
Volunteers are not employees; they are a treasure to an organization


By Ginny Lundquist, VC Conference Chair 2021-22

Walt Disney Concert Hall, home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic

Reconnect with friends and colleagues at the League of American Orchestras 77th National Conference next year in Los Angeles. Current plans are for volunteer-related activities beginning the evening of May 31 and ending June 3, including at least one concert by our wonderful host orchestra the Los Angeles Philharmonic. The Conference hotel is the Westin Bonaventure. You won’t want to miss this “all in-person” Conference, our first since Nashville in 2019. It promises to be a memorable event!


By Kathy Leibrand, Awards Chair

The League’s Volunteer Council is eagerly looking forward to all the outstanding Gold Award of Excellence submissions from volunteer organizations across the country. This has been an unusual year for orchestras and volunteer groups adjusting to all the restrictions imposed throughout the pandemic. But the volunteer auxiliaries have continued to shine through with the implementation of outstanding ideas for events in support of their symphony orchestras. The Gold Award of Excellence recognizes the best-in-class volunteer initiatives and events that have made a vital impact on orchestras. These events encompass a wide range of categories, including Fundraising, Communication/Technology, Community Engagement/Audience Development, Education, Leadership/Organizational Structure, Membership, Service, and Flexibility/Adaptability. Think of the inspiration you will provide to other volunteers and your symphony by being recognized for this Award.

Judges may decide an entry deserves a Spotlight Award for recognition of a specific tactic or best practice which helped contribute to the success of your overall program. For example, the extent to which your program reached a diverse audience, or the ability of your program to acquire new members. Judges may also grant a Classic Award, comparable to a Lifetime Achievement Award, acknowledging a timeless program that has sustained excellence and effectiveness over decades. This award will recognize a longstanding program that has been successfully implemented and valued for years.

Now is the time to review your volunteer group initiatives over the past year for submission. Entries are due Tuesday, August 31, 2021. Winners will share their programs with other volunteers at the 2022 National Conference in Los Angeles, California, June 1-3. The project submission form can be accessed here on the League website.

There is no fee to enter and no limit to the number of entries an organization may submit. To be eligible, programs must have been completed by June 30, 2021 (unless they are multi-year ongoing projects).


By Darlene Clark

Every year, the Volunteer Council welcomes a new class of volunteer leaders and this year’s is larger than most. They will certainly make valuable contributions to the work of the Council and we welcome them.

Loretta Davenport joins the Council from the Chicago Sinfonietta where she just completed her second two-year term as President of the Southside Friends of Chicago Sinfonietta. She has chaired their signature fundraiser, A Magical Holiday Breakfast. Her affiliation with the organization broadened her knowledge and understanding of music, of the critical nature of diversity and inclusion work within the orchestral arena, and of the impact that this work can have on communities, especially young people.

Barbara Lake comes to the Council from the Los Angeles Philharmonic where she just finished her term as President of the LA Philharmonic SouthWest Heights Committee. As a member of the Speakers Bureau, she makes school presentations to over 100 students annually, preparing them for their annual visit to Walt Disney Concert Hall. Barbara is also actively involved in the opening of the new Youth Orchestra Los Angeles site, assisting with the recruitment of African American students.

Florence McLean joins the Council from the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra where she has worked as Treasurer for many fundraising events for the Baltimore Symphony Associates. She has also served as Secretary and Vice President of Membership. Florence’s profession as a CPA was instrumental in guiding the Baltimore Symphony Associates in financial matters. Florence is passionate about the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s mission in the community.

Margaret (Maggie) Stehman comes to the Council from the National Symphony Orchestra where she just wrapped up her year as President of the Volunteer Council for the National Symphony Orchestra. She created the Plotting the Future Task Group, which created ways to enhance the impact of the NSO through their support of outreach and educational programs to target diverse audiences; developed and hosted activities to enhance member and community knowledge and involvement in music; and identified new opportunities for volunteering to increase NSO audiences.

Patricia (Patty) Wagner joins the Council from the Cincinnati Symphony and has served as President of the Cincinnati Symphony Volunteer Association. She is also on the Board of the Association of Major Symphony Orchestra Volunteers (AMSOV). Despite the dissolution of the Cincinnati Symphony Volunteer Association by the Cincinnati Symphony, Patty has first-hand knowledge of how volunteers and volunteerism have evolved and continue to evolve. Her professional background was in IT technology and she understands that new approaches utilizing technology can attract a new generation of potential volunteers.

The Volunteer Council’s Membership Committee seeks proven leaders from local symphony volunteer organizations who would like to make a difference on a national level. Current membership represents orchestras of all sizes from around the country.

If you are interested in learning more about the Council and would like to be considered as a member, please contact our Membership Chair, Laurie Skjerseth: lskjerseth@gmail.com


By Julie Meredith, President 2021-22

We invite Presidents and Presidents-Elect of orchestra volunteer associations to join Strategic Conversations hosted by the Volunteer Council. The purpose is to connect, network, and learn from other volunteer leaders across the United States.

Strategic Conversations is a five-week series of one-hour discussions held on Zoom. We will focus on governance, leadership development, member recruitment and retention, fundraising, communication and technology, education, and moving forward in uncertain times. It is always amazing how much volunteers have in common, regardless of location or size of their home orchestras, and how the conversations and solutions suggested can be beneficial to all.

To allow for true conversations, participation is limited to 15. The Zoom meetings will be held on Wednesdays during the fall of 2021 at 4:00pm Eastern Time/ 1:00pm Pacific Time:

October 20 and 27, and November 3, 10, and 17

Registration for Strategic Conversations 2021 is now open. Register here for free today!

Questions may be directed via email to vcconversations@gmail.com

2021-22 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

  • Julie Meredith, Utah Symphony, UT | President
  • Ginny Lundquist, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, MI | Conference Chair
  • Bruce Colquhoun, Spokane Symphony, WA | Conference Chair-Elect
  • Janet Cabot, Madison Symphony Orchestra, WI | President-Elect
  • Cindy Kidwell, East Texas Symphony Orchestra, TX | Immediate Past President


  • Sally Bullard, Philadelphia Orchestra, PA
  • Darlene Clark, Houston Symphony, TX
  • Loretta Davenport, Chicago Sinfonietta, IL
  • Donna Hoffman, Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, FL
  • Barbara Lake, Los Angeles Philharmonic, CA
  • Kathy Leibrand, Kansas City Symphony, MO
  • Charlotte Lewis, Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, LA
  • Florence McClean, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, MD
  • Laurie Skjerseth, Quad City Symphony , IA
  • Irene Sohm, Santa Rosa Symphony, CA
  • Maggie Stehman, National Symphony Orchestra, DC
  • Patty Wagner, Cincinnati Symphony, OH

Ex-Officio Members

  • Marena Gault, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, TX | Association of Major Symphony Orchestra Volunteers (AMSOV) Liaison
  • Douglas Hagerman, League of American Orchestras | President of the Board of Directors
  • Linda Stevens, Kansas City Symphony, MO | Sustainer Liaison
  • Marylou Turner, Kansas City Symphony, MO | Sustainer Mentoring Program
  • Samara Ungar, League of American Orchestras | Staff Liaison
  • Beth Wise, Huntsville Symphony Orchestra, AL | Sustainer Liaison-Elect
  • Simon Woods, League of American Orchestras | President & CEO


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