Recently the news of the retirement of Executive Director Susan Adkins was released by Carnegie Hall. Naturally, such occasions happen in due course, but this particular retirement motivates me to recognize it with a few thoughts. Susan Adkins has been a uniquely qualified and particularly capable Executive Director.
My husband Ron and I relocated to Lewisburg from Brea, California, in mid-July 2006. During those early times in our charming new town we were asked often to explain what brought us here. Our answer has always been, Carnegie Hall and all the other wonderful cultural organizations that call Lewisburg home.
As a newly retired couple, and as new residents in a town where we knew no one, we immediately dove into the ranks of volunteers. I went weekly to Carnegie Hall’s office, and quickly saw first-hand how well Susan Adkins was leading the staff in its daily duties and responsibilities. Soon I was asked to serve on the board as its secretary, a position I filled for five years. Ron continues to serve on the Building Committee.
During those years I had the opportunity to work closely with Mrs. Adkins. It became very clear that she possesses a set of skills and abilities that can only be described as remarkable. A well-trained and experienced musician, Mrs. Adkins was a natural in her role as executive of the musical presentations. As an experienced public school teacher, the educational programs presented by Carnegie Hall have received her total support and expertise. These and other abilities all seem normal for an Executive Director of our Carnegie Hall.
Ah, but those skills are only some of the capabilities demonstrated so well by Mrs. Adkins. Carnegie Hall is a historic structure, in a historic district, and thus requires a vast array of special treatments. Over time the internal and external structures and operational systems have needed very specific and careful attention. Mrs. Adkins has always had a comprehensive grasp of each situation, possesses the ability to explain to others who needed to know, and has been able to analyze and evaluate solutions to the challenges that have presented themselves. From HVAC to LED lights, from repointing of bricks to the internal skeleton of this roughly 113 year treasure, from very troublesome water seaping into walls to meeting and welcoming supporters and future supporters, Mrs. Adkins’ personal abilities astound! Oh, and her knowledge of and user skills in the IT area also amaze.
The fiscal wellbeing of a multifaceted organization, perhaps the most crucial responsibility of an Executive Director of a nonprofit arts organization, is a colossal challenge. Mrs. Adkins has been the best and strongest of leaders with the Board of Directors, always bringing to the table a total grasp of even the smallest detail of the Hall’s financial structure. Nothing ever eludes her notice, and her understanding. She is the quintessential resource for her governing board, and possesses the obvious ability to execute the entire scope of her role as Executive Director.
Many individuals are quite content to excel in any one of the professional roles I’ve mentioned. Ron and I believe that Susan Adkins surpasses all reasonable expectations.
One final accomplishment I would like to mention is the highly talented staff members who have and do occupy the offices within Carnegie Hall, and who make it hum! Without these individuals even a super woman/man would be unable to shine. Mrs. Adkins has taken her job as manager of personnel very seriously, just as anyone would expect. The dividends are amply displayed in the excellence of the programs and activities presented at Carnegie Hall, while the structure is carefully looked after and maintained in lasting good order.
So, congratulations on your coming retirement, Mrs. Adkins! Thank you for giving your board ample time to seek a successor to take the reins of our community’s treasure. You will be missed when you take your leave, but you are leaving the Hall’s mission in excellent condition. For your dedication to Carnegie Hall and all of its patrons, young and not so young, we thank you and wish you God speed.
Janie and Ron Kirk