by Tiffany Ammerman, Outgoing Volunteer Council President
I often say that “time is our most valuable asset.” I believe this with all my heart. It seems like only yesterday I was writing my Incoming President’s article for the summer issue of Volunteer Notes. Since then our Volunteer Council members have given generously of their time to assist volunteer groups and orchestras all over the country. Some highlights of the year that stand out for me include:
- Meeting and working with Nashville Volunteer Coordinator Kathleen McCracken at our fall meeting in Nashville to begin planning Conference activities and experience this vibrant city and its great orchestra. Every member of the NSO staff extended a warm welcome to us.
- Saying thanks to League staff – Volunteer Council members provided a wine and cheese reception for the League staff during our winter meeting in New York City.
- Hosting Strategic Conversations for nine volunteer association Presidents and Presidents-Elect. The conference calls provided a forum to discuss shared challenges and opportunities for networking.
- Raising nearly $42,000 in funds for the League. VC Past President Becky Odland worked closely with the League's development staff to solicit gifts and share the value of what the League brings to its member orchestras.
- Building our Facebook presence to 106 members and giving a fresh look to Volunteer Notes, our quarterly e-newsletter that goes to volunteers around the country.
- Recognizing and toasting all our VC members for their hard work on Conference at our Volunteer Council Annual Dinner held at the Nashville City Club. Special thanks go to Becky Odland for planning and Chuck Cagle, a former VC President who has been so supportive, to offer us the use of his club for the dinner.
- Planning and hosting successful volunteer sessions during the 74th National Conference in Nashville (see article below by our Conference Chair Linda Stevens). Linda not only oversaw every detail, but also developed a cross-constituency elective session open to all Conference attendees that was very well attended.
- Electing two new Volunteer Council members: Kathleen Lundeen (Minnesota Orchestra) and Irene Sohm (Santa Rosa Symphony, CA).
Making all this happen were 20 members including four ex-officio members covering fifteen states across the country. We were supported by seven liaisons: Derek Weagle, League of American Orchestras Liaison; Kathleen McCracken (Nashville Symphony), Conference Liaison; Sheri Gill (Los Angeles Philharmonic), AMSOV Liaison; Laura Hyde (East Texas Symphony, Tyler, TX), Heather Moore (Dallas), and Helen Shaffer (Houston) have served as Sustainer Liaisons; and Marylou Turner from Kansas City served as Sustainer Chair of Mentoring.
We say “goodbye” to VC members Becky Odland, Linda Stevens, Camille Williams, and our AMSOV Liaison Sheri Gill as we welcome our two new members and our new AMSOV Liaison Marena Gault (Dallas Symphony).
Terry Ann White from the Amarillo Symphony Guild is your new 2019-2020 Volunteer Council President. I have known Terry for many years, working with her on the Texas Association for Symphony Orchestras (TASO) Board as well as watching her plan two Amarillo conferences for TASO. She is conscientious, smart, and dedicated and an excellent leader with quite a sense of humor. I look forward to serving as Immediate Past President with her this year.
Working with the Volunteer Council has been a distinct pleasure and I am honored to have served as Volunteer Council President this year. During my seven years on the VC, I have learned from each and every VC member and from the League’s leaders and staff. We could not do the work we do without the support of the League. The League is an invaluable asset to the orchestra world. Again, thanks to all of you for making 2018-2019 a successful year.
Together we make a difference!
Conference Highlights from Nashville, the Music City
by Linda Stevens, VC Conference Chair
More than 60 volunteers visited Nashville to attend the League of American Orchestras 74th Conference June 3-5, 2019. The Nashville Symphony hosted the Conference, which showcased music, musicians. and composers as the center of conversations. The opening plenary featured Giancarlo Guerrero, the Nashville Symphony’s Music Director, who explored what it means to be an orchestra in America today. Guerrero was born in Nicaragua and emigrated to Costa Rica during his childhood where he joined the local youth symphony. Access to music at an early age provided a platform for his successful musical career. His inspirational message reinforced the need for volunteers to support projects that reach out to communities and educational institutions.
New this year was a panel discussion titled Evolving Models for Volunteer Engagement. This elective session was open to all Conference attendees. The panel consisted of volunteer leaders and orchestra executives from large, medium, and small orchestras. Each panelist provided insight on the relationships between orchestra management and volunteer organizations. Kathleen McCracken, our wonderful Nashville Symphony volunteer liaison, facilitated the panel, including volunteers Laura Hyde (Tyler, TX) and Linda Stevens (Kansas City, MO). Panelists representing orchestra management included Alan Valentine, CEO of the Nashville Symphony and Casey Oelkers, Director of Development for the Madison Symphony (WI).
Leadership is a topic that all volunteer organizations struggle with. Growing Leaders from the Ground Up was a panel discussion that examined leadership styles, membership, and nominating processes within volunteer organizations. The discussion was moderated by Volunteer Council President Tiffany Ammerman. Panelists included Chuck Cagle, Nashville; Debbie McKinney, Oklahoma City, and Cindy Kidwell, Tyler. Their experiences as past presidents of the Volunteer Council and their home orchestra volunteer organizations lent credibility to the discussion.
Each year volunteers submit successful projects to the League’s Volunteer Council who review and select projects for Gold Book and Roundtable awards at the League’s Conference. Major categories include fundraising, community outreach, education, leadership, membership, and technology. The selection process includes goal achievement, use of volunteers, and adaptability by other volunteer organizations. This year, six volunteer organizations were awarded the Gold Book of Excellence and nine organizations were selected to facilitate Roundtable discussions to spotlight best practices and innovative projects.
Congratulations to the recipients of the 2019 Gold Book Award of Excellence:
- The Symphony Guild of Charlotte, Charlotte Symphony, Linda Weisbruch, and Mike Rutledge
- Women’s Symphony League of Tyler, East Texas Symphony Orchestra, Jill Campbell
- West Suburban Friends of Chicago Sinfonietta, Chicago Sinfonietta, Sharon Hatchett
- Houston Symphony League, Houston Symphony, Darlene Clark
- Symphony League of Kansas City, Kansas City Symphony, Pamela Bruce
- Waco Symphony Council, Waco Symphony Orchestra, Melissa Boss
Roundtable Awards were received by the following organizations:
- Alabama Symphony Volunteer Council, Alabama Symphony, Carolyn Orchid
- Amarillo Symphony Guild, Amarillo Symphony, Jessica Needham
- Arkansas Symphony Guild, Arkansas Symphony, Betty Herron and Beth Nyhus
- FRIENDS of the Minnesota Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, Lisa Roehl
- Houston Symphony League, Houston Symphony, Jo Dee Wright
- Huntsville Symphony Orchestra Guild, Huntsville Symphony, Janet Skidmore
- Kansas City Symphony Alliance, Kansas City Symphony, Mike Minor
- Kansas City Symphony Guild, Kansas City Symphony, Sharon Kavanaugh (two awards)