WESTERLY — Lisa Utman Randall, the United Theatre’s first – and only – executive director, has announced plans to step down from the role she has held since 2019.
In a resignation letter submitted to United’s board, Randall, a Saunderstown resident, said she was leaving “with a heavy heart and a firm belief that this is the best decision for me, for my family and for the organization.
Randall’s husband of 32 years, Luke MacDonald Randall, an accomplished artist and oil painter, died earlier this year following a difficult battle with cancer.
“I don’t have anything planned at the moment,” Randall said Thursday afternoon in a phone conversation. “I just need time. Time to breathe, to heal, and to be with my kids.”
Randall and her husband are the parents of two adult children, Yelena and Oliver.
Randall – a poet, writer, teacher and passionate supporter of the arts – has praised her United colleagues, describing them as “my beautiful working family”. She said she plans to continue supporting the theater – just “on the sidelines”.
Prior to joining the United team, Randall served as executive director of the Jamestown Arts Center and helped it grow into a vibrant cultural center with a stellar reputation statewide.
“In my mind, amazing organizations attract amazing people,” she said. “I know it will happen in the United States.”
“I know it’s going to skyrocket,” she added. “It’s such a cool place.”
She and her husband spent time together at the theater, Randall said, and he enjoyed watching the progress during the construction phase.
“He was so excited about United,” she said. “He was a movie buff and a music lover.”
In a phone call Thursday afternoon, Chuck Royce and Nicholas Moore, who are co-chairmen of United’s board of directors, expressed their gratitude to Randall and his superior leadership qualities. She not only oversaw construction completion and the theater’s opening, they said, but did so amid the COVID-19 pandemic and while caring for her husband.
“Thanks to Lisa’s leadership,” Royce said, “the United is now set to celebrate its first anniversary as a regional arts center that offers an extensive music education program, multiple performance venues for arts groups regional and national and three cinema screens which have daily offers of blockbuster and arthouse films.
United’s board will soon form a search committee to begin the process of identifying a new chief executive, Moore said, and is actively planning how roles and responsibilities will be handled.
In his letter to the board, Randall wrote: “Witnessing and participating in the incredible feat of opening United to the public last summer and (finally!) receiving our certificate of occupancy has been an exceptional experience for us. all. .”
“Welcoming the community and then all of our donors and partners at our big celebration on July 30 was an absolute triumph for everyone involved,” she added. “I really enjoyed getting to know Westerly.”
“As the first year draws to a close, United are celebrating the achievements of Randall, along with the talented and committed members of staff, who welcomed over 8,000 guests to experience 20 incredible performances and live events, 90 thrilling films , two gallery exhibits, and several family-friendly community events, as well as a music school operated in partnership with the Rhode Island Philharmonic that has enrolled more than 230 music-loving students,” Royce and Moore said in a joint statement.
“We plan to celebrate Lisa at a board meeting soon,” Royce said. “We will celebrate her for everything she has done against incredible odds.”