ADV – Leaderboard

Laurie Baskin and Erica Lauren Ortiz.

TCG Announces Co-Leadership Structure and Turnover in Advocacy Dept.

Longtime director of advocacy Laurie Baskin will retire this month, with Erica Lauren Ortiz stepping in as interim advocacy leader, while TCG kicks off a search for 3 top leaders.

NEW YORK CITY: Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national organization for theatre and the publisher of American Theatre, has announced a new executive structure in which three directors will serve as co-leaders of the organization, to succeed current leaders Karena Fiorenza, interim CEO and, and LaTeshia Ellerson, interim chief growth officer, who stepped in following the announcement that executive director/CEO Teresa Eyring would leave the top spot this June. The search process for TCG’s new leadership team will be led by Creative Evolutions in partnership with TCG’s board, launching in July 2024.

Additionally, after 27 years at TCG, Laurie Baskin, longtime arts advocate and director of advocacy, will retire at the end of this month, and Erica Lauren Ortiz will return to TCG as interim senior programmer, advocacy, and governance through June 2025, after previously serving as TCG’s director of marketing and production 2020-22. TCG’s new shared leadership model is part of a broader organizational realignment to adapt to significant changes in the nonprofit professional theatre ecology, with more announcements to be made soon.

Embracing the need for a new paradigm, TCG will move to a shared leadership model. Three directors will collaborate on TCG’s functions with the titles Co-ED: Programming Impact, Co-ED: National Engagement, and Co-ED: Operations and Business Development. Acknowledging that both TCG and the national theatre field need bold leadership in multiple areas beyond the realistic capacities of any one individual, these three leaders will bring their own unique strengths and provide multiple points of contact and perspectives for all of TCG’s constituents. More details on these positions and the search process will be announced after the national conference.

“In order to meet the challenges and opportunities of this moment of radical shift, TCG must evolve,” said interim CEO Karena Fiorenza in a statement. “In service of that evolution, we’re thrilled that TCG’s board has committed to a shared executive leadership model, inspired by our work with Creative Evolutions and TCG’s staff. The diversity of our theatre ecology and the complexity of TCG’s role within it require an expansive structure that takes advantage of multiple modes of leadership and expertise. To ensure that these new leaders inherit a strong organization capable of leading in new ways, we’ll be announcing additional organizational changes in the near future.”

“I’m grateful for the collaborative process with the board and staff, facilitated by Creative Evolutions, that has led to this new leadership structure for TCG,” said Harold Steward, board chair of TCG and executive director of New England Foundation of the Arts, in a statement. “Now is the time for us to be bold as a theatre ecology, letting go of what no longer serves us and moving toward systems and structures that foster abundance for all of us. As we move through this transitional period, we’re fortunate to have strong interim leadership from Karena Fiorenza and LaTeshia Ellerson, who are strategically aligning staffing and culture to meet the moment.”

Laurie Baskin joined TCG in 1997 and fostered key relationships with elected officials and executive branch agencies while mobilizing the theatre field to take action. In her advocacy leadership role, Laurie led many advocacy cohorts to Capitol Hill over the years, including hundreds of theatre people at the 2016 National Conference, and most recently this April for the first-ever Theatre Week. Baskin also created a wide range of programs, including TCG’s Education Programs, teleconferences, Blue Star Theatres, and Special Reports. She conceived and led Building a National TEAM: Theatre Education Assessment Models, and, from 2013 through 2020, led TCG’s research. Laurie was also a major contributor to the Fall Forum on Governance, and championed TCG’s relationship with trustees, including the National Council for the American Theatre. Laurie has also served as a TCG liaison with the Performing Arts Alliance, the Cultural Advocacy Group, the League of Resident Theatres, and more.

“It’s difficult to imagine our theatre ecology without the many legislative wins for which Laurie has led the fight, including: access to FEMA funding for theatres; wireless microphone protections; sustained funding for the National Endowment for the Arts; and the inclusion of theatres in the historic levels of COVID-19 relief funding,” said interim chief growth officer LaTeshia Ellerson in a statement. “We’re cheering Laurie on as she transitions into her well-earned retirement, and are deeply grateful to Erica’s willingness to return to TCG in this new role. We’ll be working with Erica and Laurie closely to ensure a smooth transition for this critical part of TCG’s work.”

“Advocating for the theatre field for the past 27 years has been a labor of love and a great honor,” said Baskin in a statement. “I’ve been inspired by the partnership and collaboration of theatre leaders from across the county in telling their stories to policy-makers and, together, we’ve had some significant advocacy wins. I’m confident that TCG will carry on this essential work on behalf of the entire field.”

“There could not be a more important time to strengthen our advocacy for the theatre field, to champion access to critical resources that will allow our theaters to thrive, and to imagine infrastructure that supports our artistry,” said Ortiz. “I am honored to serve in this new capacity, and I applaud Laurie Baskin for making an incredible impact during her years of service.”

Erica Lauren Ortiz joined TCG as director of marketing in 2020 and played a critical role in navigating TCG’s response to the pandemic. Her leadership led to an expanded role as director of marketing and production, a role she held until leaving TCG for a leadership position in equity, diversity, and inclusion. In addition to these areas of Erica’s expertise, she also has extensive experience as an arts advocate, including her service as a former member of the National Board of Directors of the NAACP. Erica also led one of the advocacy cohorts to Capitol Hill in TCG’s April conveying in Washington, D.C. Erica will serve in an interim capacity as TCG moves through an executive leadership transition and organizational change process.

Creative Evolutions is a “human-centered adaptive ecosystem that creates actionable solutions for creative individuals and organizations.” They have recently pioneered new business models and business practices for many cultural activities and organizations. Among other initiatives, this includes new approaches to executive searches that include direct compensation to semifinalist and finalist candidates, engaging industry panelists who participate in candidate selection and who become mentors to new leadership, detailed transition planning that covers the entire first year, and inclusive structures that bring staff and board together in respectful and collaborative ways throughout the process.

Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national organization for theatre, leads for a just and thriving theatre ecology.

Support American Theatre: a just and thriving theatre ecology begins with information for all. Please join us in this mission by joining TCG, which entitles you to copies of our quarterly print magazine and helps support a long legacy of quality nonprofit arts journalism.

ADV – Billboard