Volunteers in the Arts (VITA) Awards
Dominion and WQED Multimedia Partner to Promote the Arts in Southwestern Pennsylvania.
For 26 years, the Dominion VITA (Volunteer In the Arts) Awards, coordinated by WQED Multimedia, has honored dedicated individuals who have given their time and talents to ensure that the arts thrive in our region.
“The VITA Awards recognize the vitality volunteers bring to arts organizations,” said James Mesloh, executive director of the Dominion Foundation. “It is no surprise that Western Pennsylvania has wonderful arts organizations – it has wonderful arts volunteers. Dominion is proud to help honor them.”
A committee of Pittsburgh area professionals interested in celebrating this invaluable volunteer arts force selects the winners. Since its inception in 1988 Dominion has honored more than 240 volunteers from more than 170 arts organizations throughout western Pennsylvania. As a result numerous individuals and their organizations have been given recognition on WQED-TV, WQED-FM 89.3 and at the annual VITA Awards reception.
“As the nation’s first community-supported broadcaster, WQED has always relied on volunteers for support,” said Deborah L. Acklin, president and chief executive officer of WQED Multimedia. “Without dedication from members of the community, no arts organization could survive. We are so pleased that with Dominion we have been able to recognize, thank and be the voice for volunteers who have given of their time, talents and energy to support the non-profit arts community in Pittsburgh and the surrounding region.”
The 2014 VITA Award honorees are:
Anne Burnham — Autumn House Press
Anne Mullin Burnham, a native of Dublin, Ireland, is a founding director of the Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh; board member Autumn House Press, and a member of the Education Committee of the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh. She is also a founder and organizer of Bloomsday in Pittsburgh, an annual celebratory reading of James Joyce’s Ulysses.
Her career in the US includes founding editor and diplomatic correspondent of Washington DC’s Diplomatic Dossier, liaison for the International Poetry Forum, and director of the International Affairs Education Program at the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh.
She has performed with the International Poetry Forum in Washington, Pittsburgh, and throughout the region and as part of the International Poetry Forum of the Air on NPR. She has written documentaries on the arts for WQED television and for various city arts organizations and has narrated with the Pittsburgh Symphony under Lorin Maazel.
She was collaborating writer and editor on Rolf and Magda Loeber’s A Guide to Irish Fiction: 1640-1900, published in Dublin and launched at the National Library of Ireland in 2006. Her freelance writing centers on literature, the arts and food, and her articles have appeared in The Washington Post, The Chicago Sun Times, Ireland of the Welcomes, Carnegie Magazine, and Aramco World, among other publications.
Laura Gordon – Band of Brothers Shakespeare Company
Laura Creed Gordon, Artistic Director, is a teacher of English since 1976, and winner of the National Endowment for the Humanities grant in 1990 to study with the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford, England, and the Folger Library in Washington, D.C. Laura serves as text scholar, casting director, costumer, chief fundraiser, and principally as artistic director of the Band’s performances. She has dedicated 24 summers to nurturing actor and audience to the most powerful words in the English language written 400 years ago. She was named Alumnus of the Year for Longwood University in 1997 and received the YWCA Woman of the Year award for Arts and Letters in 1998. Laura was awarded a chair in the National Theatre in 1998. Brad and Laura were initiated into the Johnstown Artists Hall of Fame 2012. She believes in the magic of Shakespeare and the privilege of these moments conjured with such talents. Laura dedicates her productions to Jessie Sutherland Gordon, who is true gold.
Michael D. Moyta — East Winds Symphonic Band
Having been a member of East Winds Symphonic Band for 31 years, Mike has been involved in nearly every aspect of the organization as a serious musician and steward. He has served multiple terms as a member of the Band’s board of directors and as president of the Band. He has also been the saxophone section leader for many years, and co-founded the East Winds Saxophone Quintet.
Soon after graduating from Carnegie Mellon University with his bachelor’s degree in architecture, after 5 years of having barely any time for his horns, Mike found the East Winds Symphonic Band to be an outstanding community concert band, and a perfect part-time fit for his musical ‘fix’.
For the past five years, Mike has been serving as Concert Manager of the East Winds Symphonic Band, a role that is deeply involved in setting the direction for the all-volunteer organization. Striving to elevate the Band’s level of involvement within the community, and to provide enriching performance opportunities for his fellow musicians, Mike helps the Band continue to be challenged, grow, and thrive.
The East Winds Symphonic Band has been awarded the opportunity to host the annual national convention of the Association of Concert Bands in March of 2016. Mike has also been volunteering his time on their steering committee, planning the myriad of details involved with bringing this significant 4-day opportunity to Pittsburgh.
As one of 3 principals at Design 3 Architecture, Mike serves a broad range of commercial clients from their Monroeville-based firm. Having been with Design 3 for as long as he has been with East Winds, Mike enjoys creating environments in the visual, technical and applied arts as a professional career. He is a licensed architect in Pennsylvania and is a member of the American Institute of Architects, and the Construction Specifications Institute, where he serves on the Pittsburgh Chapter’s Board of Directors. Mike lives in Churchill with his wife, Dorothy. They have two daughters in college, Liz and Maddie.
Mary Murrin — Quantum Theatre
Mary Murrin has served on the board of Quantum Theatre since 2006 and became board president in 2013. A communications leader by profession, Mary recognized a natural alignment of Quantum’s experiential and experimental works with Pittsburgh’s growing technology sector. She has focused on introducing Quantum to new and expanding audiences by building relationships with innovative technology communities and telling the Quantum story through new media. She currently leads social investment for Chevron, is an elected member of the Allegheny County Democratic Committee, and Chief Executive Mother to three young men.
Mike Potemra — The Strand Theater Initiative
From 1967 to 1969, Michael worked with the Baldwin High School stage crew in the audio visual aid department. He then went on to work with many performances from plays and live shows, including working with Fred Waring in the Pennsylvanians and Pittsburgh Symphony, Pittsburgh Pops and Baldwin Community Players as a student on the stage crew. Mike also did the recordings for the Baldwin High school band and choir for records that were performed during those years. In the later years of the 80’s and 90’s he spun records as a DJ at many local lounges In the latter part of 1995 Mike worked with his church doing the recordings for WEDO radio for the First United Methodist Church in McKeesport. Also help the redesign their new sound system.
In the summer of 2002 Mike joined as a volunteer for the Strand Theater in Zelienople PA. The theater became famous for showing movies on the back of the theater on back wall and with many events until theater was open. As the theater was being renovated Mike had a hand in designing a new sound system for the new strand theater and he later became the lead sound engineer.
After The Strand Theater had its grand reopening, Mike worked closely with many star performers like Paige Davis, John Oakes, Yvette Lawrence, Bran Little, Dana Meller and Debbie Reynolds as the Sound Engineer. He also spends his free time developing and updating the website for the Strand Theater.