Florida Lt. Governor Welcomes SAG Regional Branch Leaders in Orlando at Annual Conference
Orlando, Fla. – The Screen Actors Guild Regional Branch Division (RBD) Board of Directors met in Orlando over the weekend for its three-day annual conference. This year’s conference was hosted by the SAG Florida Branch, which represents the largest body of SAG members in the Regional Branch Division.
Jennifer Pennypacker, Orlando Film Commissioner and president of Film Florida, welcomed the SAG leaders on Saturday, and Florida Lt. Governor Jennifer Carroll provided the keynote address. "I want to thank SAG for your craftsmanship, your vision, your leadership, and your creativity to keep Florida in the mainstream and to make it a true competitor in the film entertainment industry," she said.
Carroll served in the Florida Legislature from 2003-10 and has been a strong supporter of production incentive legislation, "that has proven time and time again to be a force to be reckoned with in regard to job creation," she said. "I will continue to do my part to support this industry because it has proven more times than not that every dollar that we spend will derive multitudes of additional compensation, additional revenue, additional jobs and additional benefits for the productivity and viability of our state."
On Saturday evening, SAG Florida Branch member Dan Fitzgerald and SAG Boston Branch member Will Lyman, each received the 3rd Annual Howard Keel Award for their significant contributions to the Guild. The award is the highest recognition given by the Regional Branch Division.
“I was quite overwhelmed by both the ceremony and the company in which I was presented with this prestigious award,” said Lyman, an actor perhaps best recognized as the voice of PBS’ Frontline. “To be honored in this fashion by the very people I myself admire for their dedication and selfless service to the Guild was both gratifying and humbling. I thank my esteemed colleagues for their affection and respect, and return it to them 1000 percent.” A SAG member since 1973, Lyman has served on both the Boston Branch Council and as the Branch's National Board member.
“I’m so deeply in debt to our president, directors, and staff, as well as my colleagues from the Branches, I can never hope to redeem the I.O.U.,” added Fitzgerald. “Sharing the honor with Will Lyman, my gracious and talented co-recipient, was a joyful bonus.” Fitzgerald joined SAG in 1957 and has served on the Florida Branch Council, as Florida Branch president and as the Branch’s National Board member. He has been deeply dedicated to spreading literacy through the Screen Actors Guild Foundation’s BookPALS, and was instrumental in bringing the program to the state of Florida.
Named for the legendary actor-singer and former SAG president serving from 1958-59, the Howard Keel Award is annually presented to persons who make a significant contribution to the promotion of Screen Actors Guild and to the welfare and benefit of members in their Branch, or nationally, as part of the Regional Branch Division. During Keel’s term, the SAG National Board was increased from 39 to 52 seats, allowing for Branch representation — for the first time — from New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Detroit and Boston.
“I can’t think of two finer examples of actor-activists serving in our Regional Branches today than Dan Fitzgerald and Will Lyman,” said SAG 3rd Vice President David Hartley-Margolin, chair of the Regional Branch Division. "Their service exemplifies the contributions Howard Keel envisioned in his championing of a national union."
In addition to Hartley-Margolin, other SAG leaders in attendance at the conference included Steve Gladstone, SAG Florida Branch president; David White, SAG national executive director; and board members and Branch presidents from the Regional Branch Division. SAG President Ken Howard and Secretary-Treasurer Amy Aquino joined the meeting by teleconference.
Closing out the conference on Sunday, entertainment was provided by comedian and SAG member Michael Winslow (Police Academy), known as the “Man of 10,000 Sound Effects.”
The Regional Branch Division includes 20 Branches spanning from Boston to Hawaii. Nearly 28,000 Screen Actors Guild members who work in film and television live in the regional branches.