Let the Transitions Begin!


Bruce W. Becker

Executive Director

Little did I realize, when I was creating The Last Word article for the Star of the North spring issue this past April, how significant the title of that article would be for our organization. The article entitled "Transitioning for the Future" was a planned and timely message about all the new or renewed events that would be taking shape during the 201516 academic season. I referred to the honor choir program, new members joining the ACDA-MN leadership team on the Board of Directors and the FMC Endowment Fund Committee, and an update on some expected initiatives related to 20/20 @ 2020. What I did not know at the time was that ACDA-MN was about to experience a tidal wave of change in support staff and leadership that would have immense impact on our organization.

Web Editor

It all began just several days later with an office visit by Tom Hale who suddenly submitted his resignation as Web Editor. Tom, who had been in the position since 2006, was offered a new fulltime position with the Department of Information and Technology at the University of Minnesota—an opportunity too good to turn away. My immediate thought was " Oh no! What are we going to do now!? "

As our leadership team began to contemplate the meaning of his absence, we began to lay the groundwork for a transition plan that would bid farewell to Tom and welcome a new Web Editor. We were happy to receive several viable applications from very gifted individuals and ultimately selected Dariush Akhavan, a veteran web developer from the north metro area, to take the position. Not only will Dariush work to support the technological needs of our organization, but he will lead a transition team as we prepare to develop and launch a newly revised and designed web site in 2016.

Star of the North.net Editor

A few days after the launch of the spring issue of Star of the North.net, Editor Bret Amundson informed us that he would need to step back from his duties as Star of the North Editor due to an increased academic leadership role at his school. My immediate thought was " Oh no! What are we going to do now!? "

Again, we summoned our leadership team and began to explore a pathway and develop a process and to name a new editor. As numerous applications from interested ACDA-MN members arrived, it appeared that a new model might be possible to provide leadership for the Star of the North.net. After determining how the job description might be distributed to multiple editors, we accepted five applications and, in turn, offered five associate editor positions to Ben Henschel, John Guidry, David Winkworth, Katelyn Larson and Garrett Lathe being supervised and led by Bret Amundson, our newly appointed Managing Editor. With this fall issue of the Star of the North.net, we are thrilled to have the expanded expertise of this new editorial team.

FMC Endowment Fund Director of Development

On June 11, the ACDA-MN leadership team, along with the FMC Endowment Fund Executive Committee, received the sudden resignation notice from Diana J. Leland, our Director of Development — the only person who had ever held the position. Diana's thirty-nine-year role within ACDA-MN was legendary and monumental to say the least. My immediate thought was once again " Oh no! what are we going to do now!? "

And once again, as we prepared to fully digest the meaning of this news, we began to move toward organizing a successful process to bring on a new leader. We began looking for someone with the background and credentials that would help our organization move forward in supporting the mission of the FMC Endowment Fund Committee. As the position was posted in both ACDA and other nonprofit arts leadership organizations throughout the region, ten applications were received. Following interviews and personal reference checks, we are pleased and honored to announce the appointment of Dawn Thomsen as our new Director of Development. We are thrilled and confident of her organization and development skills and her ability to position the future work of the FMC Endowment Fund to be significant and life changing for recipients of our annual scholarship awards.

Vice President

It would seem that three resignations resulting in three new hires would be all that an organization could weather within a short period of time. Not so, for on July 1, our ACDA-MN and FMC leadership teams received word of the sudden resignation of Vice President and FMC Committee Secretary Thomas Hassig. We wish him a contented, peaceful and fulfilling transition as he enters a new personal normal...that of full retirement from his position at Prior Lake High School and his duties with ACDA-MN.

As the news of Tom's resignation sunk in, the ACDA-MN leadership team immediately collected their thoughts and offered the remaining vice presidential term to immediate Past President Brian Stubbs. Brian will offer the "voice of experience" to the ACDAMN Board of Directors for the next two years, and will chair the development of the Summer Dialogue program to be held at St. John's University, August 25, 2016.

What I discovered during the past several months is the incredible eagerness and excitement of a whole new generation of skilled and confident people ready to assume the ACDA-MN mantel of leadership and service. They now confidently stand upon the shoulders of those whose personal dedication and commitment to ACDA-MN was significant. I am grateful to those who served with high distinction and honor for so many years, and I am equally honored and thrilled to serve and support those who will continue to forge a new pathway forward.

Let the transitions begin!

That's all for now...