Los Angeles (March 6, 2005) – The Board of Directors of Screen Actors Guild (SAG) today named Greg Hessinger as the Guild’s new national executive director and chief executive officer. Hessinger, who has served as national executive director of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) for the past four years, will formally assume the new role on May 2. He replaces Bob Pisano, who has served in the role since September 2001
SAG President Melissa Gilbert said: “There is no person more ready to take over the reins of SAG’s executive leadership than Greg Hessinger. Greg is a passionate advocate for actors, one of the most creative minds in our industry and a seasoned, skilled executive and negotiator. He knows our Guild intimately and will inherit an incredibly talented, professional and diverse senior management team. We are extremely fortunate that he was available to us at this moment in time.”
Gilbert added that the Guild made important strides during Pisano’s tenure. “Because of Bob, SAG is a better functioning, more focused and far more effective institution than it was when he assumed his responsibilities in September 2001. He put the Guild on sound financial and operating footing, and every step along the way has given unique energy, passion and spirit to his work on behalf of working actors. The members of this Guild owe an enormous debt to him for his contributions to our cause.”
Hessinger said: “I want to thank the SAG Board for giving me this opportunity. I am both humbled and honored to be assuming this challenge at such a defining time for the American labor movement and for actors. If SAG is to successfully confront the challenges before it, the Guild must create an internal culture where the values of unity and consensus are adopted as pillars in the foundation of this great, tradition-rich institution. I look forward to working with the Board, the members and the extraordinary staff to accomplish just that.”
Pisano said: “With the overwhelming ratification by SAG members this past week of a new TV and theatrical agreement, and Greg’s availability to assume the executive leadership position, I feel this is the right thing to do and the right moment to do it. In many ways I’m going to miss the work. But I could not be more pleased by the fact that one of the most experienced and able union executives in the country is available to step into the job. I am very pleased the Board approved this plan of succession.”
Hessinger, 39, served as National Executive Director of AFTRA since June 1, 2000, after joining the union in 1998. Prior to that, he spent four years at CBS and Westinghouse Broadcasting Company, where he negotiated collective bargaining agreements with several different entertainment unions, including AFTRA. A lawyer by training, Hessinger got his start at law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. He received his law degree from St. John’s University School of Law and his undergraduate degree from Lebanon Valley College in Annville, Pennsylvania. He and his family will relocate to Los Angeles from New Jersey.
Among the other elected leaders of SAG praising Hessinger’s selection were Secretary-Treasurer James Cromwell, 1st National Vice President Anne-Marie Johnson, 2nd National Vice President Paul Christie and 3rd National Vice President Steve Fried.
Secretary-Treasurer Cromwell said, “Gaining someone of Greg Hessinger’s experience and talents to lead the Guild’s staff is an enormous win for actors. He inherits a Screen Actors Guild that is a fiscally responsible, streamlined and superbly staffed organization. I have no doubt that he is the right man to take the organization forward.”
SAG 1st Vice President Anne-Marie Johnson said: “Regardless of the lack of a unanimous vote, the Hollywood Board and I will make every effort to assist Mr. Hessinger in achieving great success in his NED role. We look forward to moving ahead.”
SAG NY President and 2nd National Vice President, Paul Christie, said: “Greg Hessinger is a near-perfect candidate to step into this position. He understands the issues facing actors on both coasts, has helped lead the negotiations of our latest TV and film contract, and will focus on the crucial wage and working condition issues that actors confront. Our Guild is extremely fortunate. Greg will seamlessly transition into this challenging role.”
Steve Fried, SAG 3rd vice president, who represents the regional branches, concurred: “I couldn’t be more pleased that Greg Hessinger will bring his vision and experience to SAG. He is the right man to help create the next chapter for our union.”
The meeting of the SAG Board that elected Hessinger took place earlier today in Beverly Hills, California.
Screen Actors Guild (SAG) is the nation’s largest labor union representing working actors. Established in 1933, SAG has a rich history in the American labor movement, from standing up to studios to break long-term engagement contracts in the 1940s to fighting for artists’ rights amid the digital revolution sweeping the entertainment industry in the 21st century. With 20 branches nationwide, SAG represents nearly 120,000 working actors in film, television, industrials, commercials and music videos. The Guild exists to enhance actors’ working conditions, compensation and benefits and to be a powerful, unified voice on behalf of artists’ rights. SAG is a proud affiliate of the AFL-CIO. Headquartered in Los Angeles, you can visit SAG online at www.sag.org.