The Educational Theatre Association (EdTA) has honored two members with the annual Volunteer of the Year award: Hunter Bell, Tony-nominated writer, New York; and Krista Carson Elhai, International Thespian Society Troupe 2129 Director and theatre teacher, Claremont, California. Bell and Elhai also both serve on the EdTA Board of Directors.
Bell was recognized for his leadership in planning the Broadway Back to School fundraiser in New York, and Carson Elhai was recognized for her leadership in planning the Thespians Go Hollywoodfundraiser in Los Angeles. Both volunteers connected with Broadway and Hollywood stars, recruited them to perform as volunteers, and filled the houses for the events.
In presenting the awards, EdTA Executive Director Julie Theobald said, “Both of our winners have a long résumé of accomplishments in the organization: volunteering, teaching workshops, and leading boards. I’m going to focus on what distinguishes them this year. Doing something new for the first time is hard, and we are going in a new direction in fundraising to get outside money for our philanthropy work of building access to theatre in underserved communities.”
These events, which are a new initiative, serve as models. This also means that association member dues can be used solely to serve members and the chapters.
“There was a whole team of people helping, but putting your name as the chair of the event takes personal risk. It takes courage,” Theobald adds. “Both events were a breakthrough, and we are grateful to Hunter and Krista for their vision and leadership and perseverance and time.”
The Volunteer of the Year Award was presented during the EdTA Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C. , where the organization’s leaders — members of the EdTA Board of Directors, chapter directors and board members, and student leaders — gathered for a three-day session of planning, briefings, and workshops focused on organizational best practices. The EdTA Leadership Summit is being followed by the EdTA Arts Advocacy program, which includes visits to members of Congress by state delegations.