Monday Morning Meet Your Leaders – Pamela Ward
Algonquin Arts Theatre
1. What is one of the most important qualities of a great leader?
I think that there are many qualities, tangible and intangible, that distinguish a leader, but one of the most critical and underrated, in my opinion, is integrity. There is nothing more important to any organization than consistency, and that begins with leadership. The things that you say and your subsequent actions must have the same purpose. Everyone around you has to know that you are thoughtful, deliberative, truthful about your assessments and prepared to do all of the things necessary to fulfill a course of action. And that you will always act in the best interests of your constituency to the best of your ability. When you look up a list titled ‘qualities of a good leader,’ often what you see are a list of skills: ‘Be a good communicator; delegate; inspire others, take responsibility.’ But those are things that you DO. A quality, to me, is what you ARE, and your approach and subsequent actions emanate from that place. There are individuals who communicate well, but don’t really embrace the ideas that they seem to espouse based on the way that they act. There are plenty of ‘leaders’ that delegate in an attempt to avoid doing any actual hard work. We’ve all worked with ‘leaders’ that are happy to accept the credit for all successes but blame any failure on their staff, their Board, or some external force. No one is a perfect person. We all have our blind spots and bad days, but I think that people who have great personal integrity are far less likely to indulge in any of those behaviors because their inherent understanding of the right course of action most often prevents it. It’s a quality that I greatly admire because often, due to an integral approach to your work, you’re working against your own self-interest. Not always, but much of the time. Ultimately, it’s kind of a thankless virtue and the reward is your personal knowledge that you have acted in the best way that you could in any given situation.
2. How does your organization take our community to the next level?
The Algonquin has been a part of the Manasquan community since 1938. It began as the local movie theatre, and generations of area residents can tell you exactly which movies they saw at the Algonquin, that their first movie theatre experience or that their first date was at the theatre. When it closed in 1981, I think that was probably a real reflection of societal changes, a microcosm of what was happening in small towns all over the country. The landscape of Main Street, Manasquan was a bit on the bleak side. I think it was an important moment when the theatre and the adjacent buildings were purchased and rejuvenated, ultimately reopening in 1994 as primarily a movie theatre but with live performance capability. Like the whole region, there’s been a lot of change and evolution in the theatre since 1994. Now, the Algonquin is primarily a live performance venue. It’s a platform for local and regional artists of all disciplines, an education center, and a presenting house for national acts, although the mission is undeniably a community-based one. The theatre draws better than 40,000 patrons throughout the year. This is extremely impactful for a shore town that depends primarily on summer tourism. Algonquin draws patrons regardless of weather and contributes more than $2.5 million dollars into the local economy annually. I think that the organization has developed a wonderfully synergistic relationship with many other area businesses. It’s a unique town that has ocean views, fine dining and an arts center with 150 performances per year, but still maintains that small town sensibility. In addition to economic impacts, I think that the connection to the town’s past and local roots also contributes enormously to the quality of life for residents here and attracts visitors as well.
3. What is your favorite thing to do in your spare time?
I am an avid gardener, and I would say that’s my favorite leisure pursuit. Most of my yard is full of different gardens. Most are perennial which requires less care. I’m not home all that much. Less leisurely but maybe more important, I volunteer for a couple of animal rescue organizations.
4. What is your favorite food/recipe and why?
Well…I’m afraid that I’m not particularly interested in food. I tend to stick to bread, fruits and vegetables because I never eat during the day. I generally eat my only meal of the day between 6-7pm and you don’t want to eat heavy at that hour. If I had to pick a must-have staple it would be peanut butter, which tastes good with everything. I particularly like peanut butter and apples, especially Granny Smith apples. The thing that I notice most about food is texture and I really like crunchy things. But I don’t really have a favorite food. If I’m hungry, I’ll graze on whatever is available. Most of my diet consists of coffee and water, but as much as I love it, I’m pretty sure that coffee hasn’t made a food group yet.