Tom Booth (Wren, Mississippi), who died in January 2023, was a passionate advocate for community theatre. He held a Bachelor’s in Education from Mississippi State University and a Master’s in Accounting from the University of Southern Mississippi. He taught high school in Meridian, Mississippi, for several years and was an active volunteer at Meridian Little Theatre. In 1992, Tupelo Community Theatre (TCT’) became his second home, where he was an active volunteer, actor, and director for 10 years before he was named the company’s first Executive Director in 2002. He led the organization through more than 20 years of phenomenal growth, including the opening the TCT Off-Broadway venue—which led to TCT receiving AACT’s Twink Lynch Organizational Achievement Award in 2014. Tom served as president of Mississippi Theatre Association (MTA) and leadership positions with the Southeastern Theatre Conference (SETC) board of directors. He also served as Member-at-Large on the AACT Board of Directors and as Treasurer.
Murray Chase (Venice, Florida) has served as Producing Executive Director of Venice Theatre for the past 28 years. In addition to supervising the theatre’s daily business operations, he has also directed multiple shows each year and occasionally acted in them. Murray oversees the theatre’s Mainstage, Stage 2, Youth and Family, and Concert seasons, as well as its comprehensive education program on its three-building campus. The theatre is now recovering from a devastating hit from Hurricane Ian, in which most of its Mainstage building was destroyed or severely damaged. Full restoration is expected April-May 2024. Murray thanks the community theatre world for its support—both emotional and financial. Donations have been received from as far away as Bangladesh. With AACT, Murray has served as Region Representative, Board Member-at-Large, Vice President, and President.
Kathy Conlon and Sal DeMercurio (Grosse Point, Michigan)
John Davis (Evergreen, Colorado), who died in January 2023, had a lifelong love affair with live theatre that began at University High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and continued as a student at Oberlin College in Ohio, where his interest turned to the technical aspects of theatre. John and wife Kathleen joined the Evergreen Players in Evergreen, Colorado, in 1966, and enjoyed every facet of theatre and theatre-board life for 56 years. As a lighting designer, he had a talent that brought depth to the production without bringing attention to the lights themselves. Instead, his designs accentuated moments and moods. The Evergreen Players began participating in Colorado Community Theater Coalition (CCTC) festivals in the 1990s, and John went on to stage manage for CCTC and other festivals around the country. He served on the CCTC and AACT boards, as AACT Festival Commissioner and Chair of the Governance Committee and was named an AACT Fellow in 2019.
Misty Shipman is an enrolled member of the Shoalwater Bay Indian Tribe in Washington State and a descendent of the Chinook and Chehalis peoples. Her film work has been shown both nationally and internationally, including at LA SkinsFest and the Native Women in Film Festival. Her short plays, Spirit, and Christmas Stars, were presented in one-act play festivals at Stage Left Theater in Spokane. Misty is a recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts grant through ArtsWA and Potlatch and Evergreen grants for her work in film and musical theatre. She holds an M.F.A. in Writing from the University of Idaho and a Ph.D. in Native American Literature and Film from Washington State University. She sees community theatre in America as a place “for stories like mine, stories of Indigenous power and strength, stories of beauty and sorrow, stories of redemption, told in our own voice, in our own languages, in our own way, for us.”
2022 Ann Davis (York, Pennsylvania)
2013 Michael Fenlason (Tucson, AZ)