Becomes exec director in January

Mary McColl has been named exec director of legit thesps union Actors’ Equity Assn., stepping into the post in January.

Move sees McColl jump to the workers’ side of legit negotiations after a recent stint on the management side, having served as director of labor relations at the Broadway League, the trade association of stage producers and presenters, until early this year.

McColl, exec director of Minneapolis’ Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts, seems well-liked on both sides of the labor divide, although legiters polled acknowledge she’s no pushover.

Equity’s exec director joins an org that has seen its share of leadership upheaval in the past couple of years. In late 2009, John Connolly, then-exec director, announced he wouldn’t seek another term, and soon thereafter the org’s prexy, Mark S. Zimmerman, departed.

Carol Wasser, the 26-year vet of Equity who has been acting exec director, will retire in 2011. Nick Wyman was elected prexy of the union in spring.

McColl said she considered the shifting financial concerns of the legit business an important area of focus in the future. “It’s important to think in a proactive way about the changes in the economics of the business, and how those changes affect Equity members nationwide,” she said.

Equity reps close to 50,000 thesps and stage managers in the U.S, negotiating collective bargains for workers in Broadway and regional venues. It’s considered one of the legit unions with the power to shut down the Main Stem, along with stagehands’ union Local One, which darkened the Rialto when the org went on strike in 2007. (Equity was among the orgs that honored that picket line.)

Equity’s next round of contract negotiations comes in fall 2011.

Prior to her stint at the League, McColl held arts admin positions at the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts.

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