The Wandering Lion
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Current Organizations

I have a limited number of organizations that I work with, primarily because in order to do a quality job one must limit one’s commitment to a feasible level. These are my current interests. (Click on the organization name to open the accordion.)

Odradek Theatre Company (January 2011)

Odradek Theatre Company LogoVisit Odradek Theatre Company’s website here.
You can also visit Odradek Theatre Company Information for comprehensive organizational and artistic background and information.

I started working with Odradek when a friend invited me to participate. Since then I have:

  • Incorporated Odradek Theatre Company as a nonprofit Illinois corporation.
  • Written the corporate by-laws and subsequent amendments.
  • Served as Finance Manager.
  • Been elected to the Board of Directors.
  • Been elected to the office of Treasurer.
  • Established the fund and program accounting system, established the chart of accounts, acted as bookkeeper.
  • Secured the web presence for the Corporation.

My current priorities are:

  • Secure a favorable 501(c)(3) ruling from the IRS.
  • Secure tax a tax exempt ruling from the State of Illinois.
  • Register with the State of Illinois as a charitable organization.
  • Design and implement a fund raising program.
Arts & Business Council of Chicago (August 2011)

Arts & Business Allliance of Chicago LogoVisit Arts & Business Council of Chicago’s website here.

This is a new activity for me. I became involved for a variety of reasons:

  • To meet other like-minded business professionals.
  • To contribute to a broader range of performing arts nonprofits.
  • To gain experience in a variety of activities and projects that I might otherwise not have an opportunity to experience in the short term.

This organization is very well run and organized and display significant professionalism when accepting me as a volunteer. While I haven’t participated in any projects as yet (September 2, 2011) I have indicated that I am interested in at least one upcoming effort and expect to be slated as soon as remaining project team members can be located.

Past Organizations

Over the years I participated in a number of nonprofit and community organizations, perhaps more than I can even remember. Here are the ones I do remember and a little bit about the role I played and some of the achievements I was privileged to realize.

Paul Varnell Memorial Organizing Committee (2012)

Paul Varnell Memorial Gathering BannerVisit the Paul Varnell Memorial Gathering website here.

Good friend Paul Varnell passed away on December 9, 2011. Paul had many friends and made significant contributions to gay equality and securing gay rights. Gregory Nigosian and I organized this two-person committee to conduct a Memorial Program for those desiring to meet together and share their memories of Paul and the legacy he left for all of us.

Grant Park Orchestral Association (2009–2010)

Grant Park Music Festival LogoVisit the Festival website here.

I started as an usher in 2009 and had a great time despite the heat and sometimes bad weather. There are a lot of really good people who work at the Festival.

The following year (2010) I worked in Patron Services handling phone calls which generally called for some tact and the resolution of problems or sale of special services. This was much more demanding than simply being an user.

I also inaugurated the merchandise sales program with a very modest inventory of CDs and the Festival Book. Since I also had to work Patron Services I used a large, wheeled merchandiser to move merchandise from place to place while still keeping it close to my Patron Services station. It had modest success with a very limited inventory.

This year (2011) the Festival added a more permanent kiosk up towards the beginning of the Great Lawn and manned it with permanent employees. They also expanded the inventory somewhat to include some items of apparel. I’m told they met with additional success and it appears that they will expand the merchandise line again next year.

Northbrook Symphony Orchestra (2009–2010)

Northbrook Sympony Orchestra LogoVisit the NSO website here.

I initially started as a volunteer, working Patron Services at concerts, mainly, handling will-call tickets. Later, I worked on the Marketing Committee and also became a member of the board of directors.

My particular background and approach to nonprofit management, governance and marketing was not particularly in line with our new Board President. Eventually, it became plain that my main reason for being a board member was to fulfill a substantial financial requirement required for board membership. Since I am really not able to make those kind of financial commitments and since I don’t live anywhere close to Northbrook, Illinois, it became clear that it would be better for everyone for me to simply withdraw with best wishes for continued success. This I did.

I still stand ready to do volunteer work for them, and occasionally their General Manager, Nestor Dhydalo will call and ask that I again come up to work Patron Services. I’m happy to oblige.

The Building Stage (2008–?)

The Building Stage LogoTo visit The Building Stage’s website, click here.

I originally became involved with The Building Stage as a Board Member. This was my first theater experience. The driving force behind The Building Stage is Blake Montgomery, whose energy and dedication is beyond all my imagination.

Blake has still not achieved the kind of success he seeks and is in the process of reorganizing The Building Stage from top to bottom. It’s not clear whether I have an ongoing role there or not, but for the time being I’m not very active, so I place this organization in the “Past Organizations” category.

I hope Blake is able to make some real break-through discoveries in the near future. We need his kind of forward-looking theater in Chicago.

Lyric Opera of Chicago (2006–2008)

Lyric Opera of Chicago LogoVisit the Lyric Opera’s website here.

Over the course of a couple of seasons I volunteered for a number of activities at the Lyric.

  • I worked at Operathon a couple of years. Once serving food to the volunteers and another time taking phone calls in the wee small hours of the AM.
  • I worked at the Opera Shop on the main floor a couple of seasons selling Lyric branded items to patrons. We also stocked a few books and CDs.
Playing Out Productions (2003–2004)

Playing Out Productions Lakeside Pride LogoVisit Playing Out Productions, Inc.’s website here.

The corporate name is Playing Out Productions, Inc. They prefer to be known as Lakeside Pride and they’re the umbrella organization for the Gay and Lesbian musical organizations in Chicago. I served on the Board of Directors for this organization once and took a few photos for them. I even managed to find a photo of myself at their website.

They keep griding along and are immensely popular as a musical group at gay events in Chicago. I wish that when I served them I was better educated about nonprofits than I was, especially about marketing and fundraising.

Independent Gay Forum (1998–1999)

Independent Gay Forum LogoVisit the Indpendent Gay Forum Culture Watch’s website here.

I am very proud to have been the founding webmaster for the original Independent Gay Forum website. Since that time much has happened to advance the cause of gay rights and while much remains to be accomplished, we are firmly on the road toward a better life for everyone.

Here’s what they do in their own words:

IGF Culture Watch emerged from the Independent Gay Forum project. The original IGF project was created by a group of gay writers, academics, attorneys, and activists who felt dissatisfied with the then current level of discussion of gay-related issues. A great deal has been accomplished in the less than two decades since IGF was formed. Gay issues are now very much mainstream. The left-wing has lost much of its once exclusive grip on gay issues. Gays are now taking their place at the American political and cultural table, as equals, instead of as political pawns. With these advances, it was decide that The Independent Gay Forum should be downgraded from a formal 50(c)(3) not-for-profit organization to a watch-keeper blog site, IGF Culture Watch.

Horizons Community Services (Mid 1980s)

Center on Halsted Logo

Visit the Center on Halsted’s website here.

This one goes so far back I can’t even begin to remember when I was involved here. I was living in Marengo, Illinois at the time, so it was a really long commute to get back to the city to do any meaningful work. I got involved first by manning the Gay Hotline telephones but quickly realized that we needed to recruit more volunteers or everyone was going to be burned out permanently.

I changed the volunteer intake program and within six months we went from a volunteer shortage to having over 100 volunteers ready and trained to take over various chores around the center.

At one point I served as corporate secretary, a pretty tedious and difficult job to fill. Eventually, when my personal life took some interesting changes, I had to give up this activity and for the next 13 years I was not involved in nonprofit activities except for doing the web work at the Independent Gay Forum.

The original name of this organization was Gay Horizons and we had real difficulty in getting the volunteers to answer the phone with the word “gay.” Strange as that may seem to today’s youth, it was just something you didn’t particularly want people, even anonymous people on the phone, to know. Those who know me will probably confirm that I’ve never had that problem.

Gay Horizons has come a long way since those early years (that extend way before my time with the organization). It is now Horizons Community Services and runs the Center On Halsted, the hub of gay and lesbian activity in Chicago.