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.”
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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.
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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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