SAG’s David White Becomes Sole Exec Director of SAG-AFTRA (Exclusive)
Co-National Executive Director and former AFTRA NED Kim Roberts Hedgpeth departs, leaving White as sole NED of the new union – and underscoring the predominance of SAG staff in the merged union’s executive ranks.
Less than three weeks after SAG and AFTRA merged, SAG-AFTRA co-national executive director Kim Roberts Hedgpeth is stepping down, The Hollywood Reporter has learned. The departure of the former AFTRA NED makes her SAG counterpart, David White, the sole NED of the merged union.
Hedgpeth’s exit is effective April 30.
“David White is going to be a great leader for SAG-AFTRA,” Hedgpeth told THR. “I’m very pleased for the members and staff.”
White, a graduate of Stanford Law School and a Rhodes Scholar, served as SAG general counsel from 2002-2006 and NED from 2009 until merger. Hedgpeth is a graduate of Harvard University and Georgetown University Law Center. She worked for AFTRA from 1981 until merger, save for a three-year period from 1998-2001.
Hedgpeth said she will turn her attention to “preserving and protecting my late father’s musical legacy” before engaging in other professional pursuits. Her father, composer Howard A. Roberts, died last March.
In a statement, White commended Hedgpeth for her “tireless effort and many contributions to performers over the years.” SAG-AFTRA co-president (and former AFTRA president) Roberta Reardon said “Kim is in a league of her own (and) an inspiration to me and everyone around her,” and co-president Ken Howard called Hedgpeth “a strong voice and committed activist.”
Although it occurred sooner than might have been expected, White’s emergence as sole national executive director of the merged union is not an anomaly. A close look at a list of SAG-AFTRA executive staff shows that almost every top-level department is run by a former SAG staffer or by co-equal SAG and AFTRA veterans.
Thus, NED White, assistant NED for communications Pam Greenwalt, senior adviser John McGuire, chief financial officer Arianna Ozzanto, chief information officer Erin Griffin, assistant NED for locals Linda Dowell and assistant NED for awards Kathy Connell are all former SAG executives.
In contrast, the only former AFTRA executives at the top without a parallel SAG appointment are associate NED Mathis Dunn, and two assistant NEDs for areas where AFTRA had sole jurisdiction: Mary Cavallaro (news & broadcast) and Randall Himes (sound recordings).
Other top staff are the assistant NEDs of contracts, Ray Rodriguez (formerly SAG) and Joan Halpern Weise (AFTRA); and the assistant NEDs for organizing (Phillip Denniston, AFTRA) and for industry relations (Deborah Skelly, SAG).
The legal function is a somewhat special case. Chief administrative officer/general counsel Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, formerly SAG’s GC, has a more senior title than assistant NED / chief labor counsel Thomas Carpenter, formerly AFTRA’s GC. However, both of them report directly to White, as do the other executive staff.
In the elected leadership, most positions draw on coordinate SAG and AFTRA officers and board members. A key exception is the number two officer position – the executive vice president – which is held by former SAG leader Ned Vaughn. He, and co-secretary-treasurer Amy Aquino, originated the merger campaign in 2008 with the formation of their Unite for Strength slate.
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This makes SAG-AFTRA Co-National Executive Director David White the sole NED of the newly merged union.
LOS ANGELES, CA – April 16, 2012 – SAG-AFTRA today announced that Kim Roberts Hedgpeth has decided to step down as SAG-AFTRA Co-National Executive Director on April 30, after 31 years of service to union performers, recording artists and broadcast professionals working in the entertainment and news media industries.
“It was with great pride and enormous satisfaction that I joined union members, colleagues, and staff on March 30th to celebrate the overwhelming vote in favor of the merger of AFTRA and SAG,” said Hedgpeth. “Having achieved this important goal, for which many of us worked tirelessly for so many years, now is the right moment to begin a new chapter in life. I am grateful for the love, respect, and support of our staff and leadership team. And I know the SAG-AFTRA membership will be well served under the leadership of Co-National Presidents Ken Howard and Roberta Reardon and National Executive Director David White.”
Roberta Reardon praised Hedgpeth, saying: “Kim is in a league of her own. She has dedicated much of her professional life to AFTRA and we are all stronger because of that passion and dedication. Through her remarkable negotiating skills at the bargaining table, her superb administration of the Union and her principled attentiveness to the needs of members, Kim has improved the careers and lives of thousands of union members around the nation. She is an inspiration to me and everyone around her, and I am eternally grateful to Kim for her expertise, her guidance and, most of all, her close and sustaining friendship these many years.”
SAG-AFTRA Co-National President Ken Howard said, “Kim has been a strong voice and committed activist on behalf of performers for more than 30 years. We are all extremely grateful for her hard work. She leaves a legacy of outstanding service and representation on behalf of our members and I wish her the best in all her future endeavors.”
SAG-AFTRA Co-National Executive Director David White said, “Kim’s tireless effort and many contributions to performers over the years helped build first AFTRA, and now SAG-AFTRA, on solid foundations that will support and represent actors, broadcasters and recording artists for years to come. I am personally grateful for her leadership during the merger process and the work that she has done to ensure a successful integration of our two organizations. She has our heartfelt thanks and our very best wishes for future success as she embarks on the next chapter in her career.”
Hedgpeth had served as AFTRA’s National Executive Director since 2005. During her career at AFTRA, she served as Chief Negotiator for AFTRA’s national agreements for network news, scripted programming, non-dramatic programs, sound recordings and radio broadcasting, as well as hundreds of local TV and radio station staff and freelance negotiations for various AFTRA Locals. She held a variety of positions in the union since first joining the AFTRA staff in 1981, including Co-Executive Director of the New York Local, Executive Director of the AFTRA San Francisco Local/SAG San Francisco Branch, AFTRA Assistant National Executive Director for News and Broadcast and AFTRA’s Associate National Executive Director.
Hedgpeth is a graduate of Harvard University and Georgetown University Law Center, and from 1998 to 2001, she took a brief hiatus from the Union to serve as Director of Labor and Employee Relations at Harvard University and Vice-President of Human Resources for Safe Horizon in New York City.
Hedgpeth also served as a Trustee of the AFTRA Health & Retirement Funds, a member of the boards of the AFM-AFTRA Intellectual Property Rights Distribution Fund, Alliance of Artists and Recording Companies and SoundExchange, a Vice President of the AFL-CIO’s Department for Professional Employees and a Vice President of the Associated Actors and Artistes of America. She is a member of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, 12th District Economic Advisory Coun