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Emerging Leaders and the American Theater

June 25, 2012


This past weekend, American Express received the National Funders Award at the annual conference of Theatre Communications Group, the national service organization for nonprofit theaters in the United States.

American Express has been supporting nonprofit theater, and the Theatre Communications Group, for a number of years. But, lately we've turned our attention to supporting leadership development for emerging leaders in the nonprofit sector.

We did this after reports that the nonprofit sector would need something like 600,000 new senior leaders in the coming decade as baby boomers retired and organizations grew. In fact, by 2020, Millennials – those who are now 12 to 31 years old – will make up 50% of the workforce in the United States.

TCG has responded to this generational shift by creating the American Express/TCG Leadership Boot Camp, and we've supported it for the past three years.

The Leadership Boot Camp selects 30 participants – 15 Artistic or Executive Directors with 15 emerging leaders from the same organizations – and places them in a program designed to enhance the leadership skills of the participating individuals, foster intergenerational dialogues, and create a more effective leadership environment at the participants' home organizations.

We think it's been pretty successful at doing that, but don't take my word for it. Listen to what some participants in this year's Boot Camp told us – unsolicited:

From an artistic director:
 

  • Thank you so much for sponsoring the American Express/TCG Leadership Boot Camp. It was an inspirational and collegial experience that I will long remember. The two days were filled with many "ah ha" moments. In the world of theater, it is our goal to create transformational experiences for our audiences. It was deeply rewarding to engage in self-reflective and collaborative activities that go to the heart of one's own creativity. Most of all it gave me a chance to nurture my own leadership qualities, to learn new strategies for achieving balance and to self-reflect in a mutually supportive and beautiful environment.
     

From an emerging leader:
 

  • As an emerging leader, I am always looking for ways to grow and strengthen my abilities. This opportunity allowed for tremendous personal development through self-reflection, peer support and expert guidance. The Center for Creative Leadership provided a nurturing and safe environment for exploration that allowed me to go back to my theater rejuvenated and full of ideas. It was a wonderful two days of learning and growing in which I was able to connect and strengthen the relationship with my artistic director and make new connections with theater colleagues from around the country that will last well beyond our brief time together.
     

From another artistic director:
 

  • Since the event in Greensboro, I have had numerous moments when the ideas, strategies, and discoveries made during the Boot Camp have proven invaluable. Under the excellent guidance of the Center for Creative Leadership, the Boot Camp was engaging, informative and inspiring. In the often overwhelming job of leading a not-for-profit theater, the chance to take time to focus on developing my leadership skills was a treasured opportunity.
     

And, finally, from another emerging leader:
 

  • My theater is operating on a flat expense budget and all opportunities for professional development have been put on hold. I was recently promoted into my current leadership position, and the opportunity to meet with other theater leaders and have the two days of training on leadership skills was really a great treat for me – one that would not have been possible without the support of American Express.
     

At 80 million strong, Millennials are not only the future leaders of tomorrow, in many cases they are the current leaders of our institutions and communities. Leadership programs like the American Express/TCG Leadership Boot Camp help bring these generations together and ensure an orderly and successful transition of our great institutions.

If you have a comment or question, let us know by clicking here.
 

P.S. CSR Now! will be on summer hiatus until Monday, July 16, 2012. Check back then for my next post.

 

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