The Wally Russell Fund is pleased to announce the unanimous choice of the board of directors for the 2007 Lifetime Achievement Award is Fred Foster, CEO of Electronic Theatre Controls (ETC).

“Fred's visionary leadership has propelled ETC into the top rank of the world's leading manufacturers of stage lighting equipment,” comments Richard Pilbrow, chairman emeritus of the Wally Russell Fund. “ETC has been constantly innovative in technology with such products as the Source Four, the Sensor dimmer, and the EOS and Obsession control systems. From the outset of ETC in 1975, Fred knew that the stage lighting industry was a people-oriented one, and he has constantly attracted the brightest talent in the world to his rapidly growing international business.”

While studying at the University of Wisconsin-Madison 32 years ago and intrigued by the lighting control console in use then at the university theatre, Foster and his brother decided to design one of the first microprocessor-based consoles. Blissfully ignorant about business theory or risks, Foster and partners eventually secured an OEM agreement with a major manufacturer and ultimately went on their own to incorporate the legal entity Electronic Theatre Controls Inc. (1977). Years of innovative product development, bold acquisitions, international expansion, and talented people followed.

Now, Foster's ETC is a global leader in entertainment and architectural lighting, headquartered in Middleton, WI, with 600 employees and offices worldwide. Known for his casual Birkenstocks and jeans, Foster was also the creative mind behind the ETC headquarters theatre-inspired Town Square. Marking 50 this year, Foster never finished his lighting design degree, but he continues to distinguish himself as a passionate supporter of students, motivating future generations to similar success.

“Fred is by far the youngest winner of the Wally Russell Lifetime Achievement Award,” comments Tom Folsom, president of the Wally Russell Fund. “His accomplishments in the entertainment industry have, however, been clear and unprecedented. It was never the intent of the Wally Lifetime Award to have to wait until a deserving individual was near the conclusion of their career, and it is our hope that, by recognizing Fred and his many accomplishments at this time, the Wally Award and Fred will continue to motivate and contribute to the industry,” concludes Folsom

“I never had a chance to work with Wally Russell, but many of my friends did. The impact that Wally made on these people, as well as on our industry, makes receiving this recognition in his name truly an honor,” says Foster.

Previous winners of the Wally Russell Lifetime Achievement Award include:

2006 — Allen Branton

2005 — Richard Belliveau

2004 — George Izenour

2003 — Sonny Sonnenfeld

2002 — Jimmy Fuller*

2001 — Jim Bornhorst

2000 — Stan Miller

1999 — Don Stern

1998 — Bran Ferren

1997 — Fred Bentham*

1996 — Francis DeVerna*

1995 — Tharon Musser

1994 — George van Buren

1993 — Charles Altman*

1992 — Wally Russell*

* deceased

For more information on how you can participate, please visit the Wally Russell Website at www.wally fund.org.