McColl succeeds acting executive director Carol Waaser, who retires in 2011 after 26 years with the union.
McColl will oversee the collective bargaining process for more than 30 national and regional contracts and supervise Equity's nationally based staff. She will work with Equity's Council (the union's governing body) "to develop and implement national policy, establish goals and work with the staff to carry out Equity's strategic plan." She will be the union's representative and lead spokesperson with the media, labor, bargaining partners and government officials.
Nick Wyman, president of Actors' Equity Association, said in a statement, "As Equity approaches its centennial, we are pleased to have Mary join the Equity team. She is a woman of strength and compassion, whose visionary style, balanced with longtime practical experience with various arts organizations, makes her the ideal person to guide Equity into its next 100 years. A proven leader, she is a respected member of both the New York and Minneapolis-St. Paul theatrical communities."
McColl comes from her position as the executive director of the Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts in Minneapolis. In that role she oversaw the renaming of the organization and the creation of a new branding and identity campaign. She initiated improvements to the new theatre's production spaces and finalized design details for the theatre and the lobby. Prior to that position, she was the director of labor relations for The Broadway League. She has been the vice president of operations for the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and began her career at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, where she held several positions including a five-year stint as the vice president and general manager.
* AEA represents more than 49,000 actors and stage managers in the United States. Equity "seeks to advance, promote and foster the art of live theatre as an essential component of our society." The union "negotiates wages and working conditions, providing a wide range of benefits, including health and pension plans." Actors' Equity Association will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2013.