Last fall, Patrick Quinn had been tapped to take over the executive director position from Alan Eisenberg but passed away suddenly on Sept. 24, 2006. Eisenberg retired Oct. 5, and, since then, three top executives from Equity headquarters have shared the executive director duties.
Connolly, who will assume the position effective March 19, will head the collective bargaining process for more than 30 national and regional contracts and oversee Equity's finances and staff, among other duties.
Connolly, who joined Equity in 1973, has appeared in Big River on Broadway, The Golem at the Delacorte Theatre, The Iceman Cometh with Al Pacino, The Only Woman General opposite Colleen Dewhurst, Collette in Love opposite Shirley Knight and A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Walnut Street Theater in his native Philadelphia. Connolly has also guest starred on "The West Wing," among other series.
Connolly has served as AFTRA's president for six years. He had previously served as AFTRA's national first vice president, and vice president of AFTRA's New York local. He has also served for five years on the national board of the Screen Actors Guild, and has served on Equity's national negotiating committees.
Equity's president, Mark Zimmerman, said in a statement that Connolly "is highly respected in the acting community and is a strong trade unionist. John has extensive experience as a consensus builder and policy leader in the entertainment business, making him uniquely qualified for the position of executive director." "I am humbled by the confidence and responsibility bestowed upon me by Equity's National Council and I pledge to serve our member, honoring the union's nearly 100 year tradition, with all my heart and soul," said Connolly in a statement. "The decision to step down as AFTRA's president was difficult and heart-wrenching. The remarkable truth about both Equity and AFTRA is that each union is prepared and poised for a brilliant future."