WESTERLY — Lisa Utman Randall, the first — and only — executive director of the United Theatre, has announced her plans to step down from the position she has held since 2019.
In a resignation letter submitted to the United's board of directors, Randall, a Saunderstown resident, said she is leaving "with a heavy heart, and with the 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 artist and accomplished oil painter, died earlier this year following a difficult bout with cancer.
"I have no plans right now," said Randall Thursday afternoon during a telephone conversation. "I just need time. Time to breathe, heal and 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 — praised her colleagues at the United, describing them as "my beautiful work family." She said she plans to continue to support the theater — just "from the sidelines."
Prior to joining the team at the United, Randall served as executive director of the Jamestown Arts Center and helped it grow into a bustling cultural hub with a stellar statewide reputation.
"In my mind, extraordinary organizations attract extraordinary people," she said. "I know that will happen at the United."
"I know it's going to soar," she added. "It is 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 the United," she said. "He was a film lover and a music lover."
In a phone call Thursday afternoon, Chuck Royce and Nicholas Moore, who serve as co-chairmen of the United board expressed their gratitude for Randall and her superior leadership skills. She not only oversaw the completion of the construction and opening of the theater, they said, but did so in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic and while caring for her husband.
"Thanks to Lisa’s leadership," said Royce, "the United is now poised for its first anniversary as a regional center for the arts that offers an expansive music education program, multiple performance venues for regional and national arts groups, and three movie screens that have daily offerings of blockbuster and arthouse films.”
The United board of directors will form a search committee soon to begin the process of identifying a new executive director, Moore said, and is actively planning for how the roles and responsibilities will be handled.
In her letter to the board, Randall wrote, "Bearing witness to and being a participant in the incredible feat of getting the United open to the public last summer and (finally!) receiving our certificate of occupancy was a peak experience for all of us."
"Welcoming the community and, then, all of our donors and partners at our grand celebration on July 30th was an absolute triumph for everyone involved," she added. "I really enjoyed getting to know Westerly."
"As the first year comes to a close, the United celebrates the accomplishments of Randall, along with the United's talented and committed staff members, who have welcomed over 8,000 guests to experience 20 amazing live performances and events, 90 exciting films, two gallery exhibitions, and several family-friendly, community events, plus a music school run in partnership with the Rhode Island Philharmonic that has enrolled more than 230 eager music students," said Royce and Moore in a joint statement.
"We plan to celebrate Lisa at a board meeting soon," said Royce. "We'll celebrate her for all that she did against unbelievable odds."