Leadership / 07.21.21
What Are INTIX Members Doing on Their Summer Vacations?
When I was a boy, one of my favorite things about returning to school each year was getting to answer the question: “What did you do on your summer vacation?” I especially loved it whenever my family and I actually did do something over the break, like go to Disney World or accompany grandma on her gambling trips to Atlantic City, New Jersey.
So, writing an article where I asked various INTIX members “What have you done on your summer vacation (or what will you be doing)?” really took me back to those grade school days. Of course, some of the best answers were from those who managed to use their leave time to get away … far away.
Karie Lurie, Senior Director of Audience Services at Arizona State University, says, “My summer plans have included family car trips to Show Low, Arizona; Pagosa Springs, Colorado; and Lake Arrowhead, California. Leaving the desert heat for visits to the mountains energizes me to take on the ever-changing challenges of reopening. Our first show back is ‘Hamilton,’ opening Sept. 8.”
Susan O’Connor, Assistant Director of Audience Services for the TCNJ Center for the Arts at The College of New Jersey, has found an awesome way to reconnect with nature this summer. She grew up riding horses, backpacking sections of the Appalachian Trail, and whitewater tubing down the New River in Virginia.
“After the past year-plus of COVID-19,” she says, “I desperately needed to re-center myself. So, a friend and I signed up for an REI Signature outdoor program in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It was four days of camping, hiking, zip lining and whitewater rafting. From there, my friend and I signed up for a falconry experience in West Virginia. I got to see a falcon, a young owl and a Harris’ hawk. I got to actually interact with the Harris’ hawk. My relationship with my little rescue flock birds is all about imprinting and care. I get to be their mommy. These raptors are fiercely independent predators. A relationship with them has to be all about respect and, ultimately, trust. Otherwise, you risk being seen as food.”
Susan O'Connor and a Harris' hawk.
Phoebe Joecks, interim Ticketing Sales and Service Manager for the Blumenthal Performing Arts in Charlotte, North Carolina, has been working remotely for the venue since early May. She has highly enjoyed this contract position. “But I am looking forward to some lazy days of summer at my cabin in Tahoe City, California,” she says, “where I am a short walk from Lake Tahoe. I will then head to Colorado as the Box office Director for the Telluride Jazz Festival.”
Some INTIX pros have been unable to get too far away from their home markets this summer, but that hasn’t stopped them from still planning some cool travel close by. Paul Froehle, Vice President of Ticket Operations for the Minnesota Twins, has been spending time at his cabin two hours north of his home in Minneapolis. “There is nothing better than enjoying a cup of coffee in the morning; listening to the loons out on the water; spending time on my pontoon for a cruise around the lake; catching up with friends, enjoying time together out on the water; or a possible pontoon parade, which we engage in a decorating theme for our annual summer contest,” he says. “The time spent at my lake cabin is a great way to relax when the opportunity presents itself throughout the summer.”
Stephanie Trancredi, Box Office Manager for the Clayes Performing Arts Center at California State University, Fullerton, has also stuck fairly close to home. “I had a milestone birthday last year that we couldn’t really celebrate, so we splurged this year with an extended stay at our favorite hotel in Carlsbad. And my significant other surprised me with a convertible to make the drive down. Consequently, we took [the Pacific Coast Highway] for as long as we could on the drive there and back.”
Valerie Gudith, an Administrative Assistant at the Maxwell Theatre in Augusta, Georgia, rented a small cottage near the beach on Edisto Island. “The ocean humbles me,” she says. “I love sand baths, shell collecting and sunrises. I return home at peace with myself and ready to take on the day.”
Reconnecting With Family and Friends
Several of the association members interviewed for this article have found great joy in reconnecting with relatives and old friends after months of COVID-19 isolation. One of them is Skypp Cabanas, Ticket Operations Senior Manager for the Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles. “This summer,” Cabanas says, “I took a short road trip with my parents and cousin to the areas around Las Vegas. We stopped at the filming location of ‘Bagdad Café’ and toured around Red Rock Canyon, the Hoover Dam and Valley of Fire State Park.”
Kacy Woody, Box Office Manager at the High Point Theatre in High Point, North Carolina, says, “This summer, instead of taking a big vacation, I’ve been taking long weekends away with my family and some friends who are ‘adopted family.’ Over the Fourth of July weekend, we visited our friends in Yorktown, Virginia, and took their boat out onto the James River each day. We fished, cruised around and even took advantage of a seafood restaurant in the area that features dock parking. Spending these mini-vacations with some of my favorite people really helps me recharge my batteries. A little sunshine was good for my soul. With only being away a couple of days, I don’t go back to find a big pile of work waiting on me.”
Lori Murphy, Assistant Ticket Manager for the Washington Nationals, says her summer travel came early. “The first week of May, I went to the Southern Outer Banks [in North Carolina] for a week,” she says. “It was a week of rest, relaxation and the reading of many books. I’ve also taken a quick weekend trip to Nashville for a cousins’ weekend.” This coming weekend, she will be heading on a road trip with her roommate to Missouri where she will see her parents for the first time since Thanksgiving 2019.
And there are the INTIX ties that remain unbroken by the pandemic. Tammy Enright, Manager of Outreach for ACTN Strategies, is currently detailed to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. There, she works as a project manager for the Office of Visitor and Guest Services.
“I’m looking at a trip L.A. to visit my friend, fellow INTIX member, mentor and former boss Shawn Robertson,” she says. “We both have summer birthdays coming up, so a visit will be a nice way to celebrate. Shawn is family. Despite living on opposite coasts for the last decade, we usually see each other a few times a year, at the very least at the INTIX conference. But like all of us, the virtual conference of January 2021 means we missed a year. We have a year of hugs, inside jokes, laughter, arguments, tears and eye rolling to catch up on.”
Perhaps the grandest tale of travel with loved ones was told to me by Anthony Esposito, Vice President of Ticket Operations for the Atlanta Braves. With Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game being moved out of Atlanta this summer, he suddenly found himself with an unexpected, almost two-week break without Braves games or off-day concerts in the middle of the season.
Anthony Esposito and family.
“Since school is out, we took this as an opportunity to visit family in Vermont and New York that we had not visited with in their states in a while. So, my wife and I rented a 33-foot Class C RV using the RVezy app, which is basically Airbnb for RV owners, and decided to make the drive. In total, we spent 11 days on the road, going through 11 different states in our home on wheels and driving over 2,500 miles. We had a blast and accomplished our mission of making some amazing lifetime memories with our four girls. I also kept a daily video diary of our activities along the way that I posted on Facebook and Instagram at the end of each day for our family and friends to enjoy and follow along with us.”
One INTIX member interviewed for this piece decided to stay put and make a difference where she lives. Amy Botwright, Patron Services Manager for KU Presents! at Kutztown University, has always been a big supporter of her local community pool. Her first job was lifeguarding and teaching swimming there.
“Now,” she says, “I am part of a team that oversees the pool with the goal of having it accessible for children across our county. Ours is one of the few truly public pools left in the area. This summer, due to the major lifeguard shortage across the country, I have been spending most weekends and many afternoons on the lifeguard chair. Our pool has already cut down hours and restricted capacity further than we did under COVID-19 rules. We have had several instances where guards were unavailable or sick. And, if I couldn't to go in, the pool would be closed for the day. While it can be exhausting, seeing kids able to enjoy being outside and spending time with their friends and family in a safe environment is worth it.”
On the Horizon
Finally, there are the summer travel plans yet to come. And there are some good ones. Take Christy Grantham, Director of Ticketing at the Wilson Center in Wilmington, North Carolina. “In September, two friends and I will go to Salem, Massachusetts, for a long weekend — just the girls — to learn a bit about the area and their most famous witch crisis of 1692. Maybe I’ll learn some good spells and potions to keep guests on their best behavior and make ticketing go like a breeze from now on!”
Lenore Heller, Box Office Manager for The Palace Theatre in Stamford, Connecticut, intends to renew her credentials as a New Yorker. “Stamford is a 45-minute train ride,” she says. “Pre-COVID-19, I would be in the city several times a month, but I haven’t been in since February 2020 [The Eagles concert at Madison Square Garden]. My summer vacation plans are to get back into New York City and see both the Van Gogh Immersive and the Cezanne Sketches at MOMA, as well as dinner with friends. I’m also planning on visiting the Queen Greatest Hits and Brian May Back to the Light billboards in Times Square. I am an obsessive Queen fan, and the fact that they have two separate billboards in Times Square simultaneously is a silly thrill.”
Kevin Stephenson, Accounting Manager for the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts in San Antonio, intends to make one of the most important trips of his life in late August. He and his wife will be accompanying their daughter to Hofstra University as she begins her first year of college.
“My wife got her doctorate from Teachers College at Columbia University,” he says, “and so we’ve been back and forth to New York a number of times. We love New York, and we’re just really excited to see our daughter get a start in the same area. My daughter has a big interest in linguistics and learning languages, so Hofstra seemed a good fit for her. They have a degree that’s called forensic linguistics, and she is very interested in what that degree offers.”
Tami Mitchell, Event and Guest Services Supervisor at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium in Kitchener, Ontario, is also planning a trip involving family. She has not seen her sister in more than six months. “And now that we are in Stage 3 and fully vaxxed, we have planned a mini-excursion to Niagara Falls and wine country,” she says. “We plan on driving down to the Niagara Escarpment and staying in a hotel for a couple of nights. The wine country has changed, so not as many drop-ins are available and the wineries want you to book your tastings and come for a set time period. But that’s alright. I still want to sit by a vineyard and sip wine and listen to them tell me that it has pleasant undertones of strawberries and chocolate. We will probably spend too much. But, hey, this industry deserves my money, and we have already secured a driver for the trip [Tami’s husband] who will be the responsible one.”
Finally, Carrie Cammack, Vice President of Box Office Operations for the Staples Center and Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, is looking forward to the biggest milestone of her life. On July 31, she will be getting married. She says, “We had to postpone from September 2020, so it is long overdue. I will be off for two weeks, one for the wedding prep and then one for a honeymoon to Kauai. It is a busy time at both venues while I am out, but I have an amazing team to hold down the fort while I take a much-needed break from the pandemic chaos.”
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