The Patrick Quinn Award
Equity’s 2017 Patrick Quinn Award Goes to Anne Fortuno
Anne Fortuno (second from left) with (l-r) Martin Casella, Carolyn Quinn and Craig Zehms
Anne Fortuno, a twenty-year fixture of the Actors’ Equity Association New York office, was honored with the 2017 Patrick Quinn Award for Distinguished Service to Actors presented by the Actors’ Equity Foundation. Fortuno, who this month retired from her post as Assistant to the President, first came to Equity to work for a couple of weeks as a fill-in in the file room—and wound up staying for two decades and assisting five different presidents. Over time, she also served as the Assistant to the Director for Administration and Finance, the Foundation Coordinator and the unofficial historian and archivist of the Association. Martin Casella, an Equity member who was Quinn’s partner at the time of his death, presented the Award at the Council Meeting on May 23, 2017.
Casella enumerated Fortuno’s qualities that make her the ideal recipient for this honor: “her complete, total dedication to this union and its members - her singular, astonishing, fierce determination to make the lives of every single member of Actors’ Equity better.”
Anne Fortuno was a career administrator with no official ties to the theatre when she began work at Equity. Although she loved attending theatre, it was not until she began reading files and learning what Actors Equity does on behalf of its Members that she became such a fierce advocate on their behalf. “I had no idea how hard people worked just to get the Actors a few extra dollars that they were owed,” she said. As she accepted the award, she related a story of how her father worked hard at one company for 40 years before being cheated out of his pension, so the cause of guaranteeing workers the wages they are due hit close to home.
Known throughout Equity for her depth of both knowledge and commitment, Anne Fortuno has been a beloved and constant presence. Visitors knew to stop by her office for coffee and something sweet, and whenever a question came up about how something was done in the past, it was “Annie” who had the answer—or knew where to find it.
Fortuno’s influence is deeply felt across the organization, as Casella demonstrated in his remarks: “At Annie’s goodbye party,” he said, “Mark Zimmerman spoke about Annie being the ‘institutional memory’ of Actors’ Equity. He spoke of her ‘loyalty.’ Judy Rice described Annie as the ‘conscience’ of Actors’ Equity. And Flora Stamatiades said that during the union’s darkest times, Annie inspired everyone, especially the women on the staff. That about sums it up, doesn’t it? Perfectly. Loyalty. Conscience. Inspiration.”
The Patrick Quinn Award for Distinguished Service to Actors was established in 2007. Quinn, a former President of Equity (2000-2006) and Executive Director designate, who died on September 24, 2006, left a portion of his estate to establish an award to be given to a person who has worked tirelessly for the betterment of actors. This honor consists of a check and a Lalique crystal Golden Retriever. Previous recipients of the award include Jeanna Belkin, a Councillor for more than 50 years and Chair of the Equity Pension and Health Trustee Caucus for 40 years; the Executive Director of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, Tom Viola; VITA Co-Founder, Councillor and former Secretary/Treasurer, Conard Fowkes; former AEA Executive Director, Alan Eisenberg; and union activist Joseph Ruskin.
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Quinn served as Equity's President from 2000-2006, and held many leadership positions within the Union. He was a founding member of Equity Fights AIDS, and served as second VP of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. He was a Trustee of The Actors' Fund of America, the Equity-League Health, Pension and 401(k) Trust Funds, and First VP of the Actor's Equity Foundation. In 2005, Quinn was honored with the Edwin Forrest Award for Outstanding Leadership in the Arts by the Walnut Street Theatre, for his work both onstage and as President of Actors' Equity.