1. Life & Culture

Ruth Eckerd Hall names Susan Crockett as new CEO

Susan Crockett, CEO of Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater. Photo courtesy Ruth Eckerd Hall Photo credit:  Jeff O’Kelley
Susan Crockett, CEO of Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater. Photo courtesy Ruth Eckerd Hall Photo credit: Jeff O’Kelley
Published May 30, 2019

Seven months ago, Ruth Eckerd Hall began an international search for its next leader. It ended right where it started.

Chief operating officer Susan Crockett, who has worked for the Cleawater-based nonprofit for more than 30 years, was named president and CEO on Thursday.

Crockett, 55, will be overseeing Ruth Eckerd Hall's namesake, 2,200-seat theater, as well as the Nancy and David Bilheimer Capitol Theatre and the Ruth Eckerd Hall on the Road events promotions throughout Tampa Bay.

Crockett has been acting president and CEO since Zev Buffman retired in October 2018 at 88. The board unanimously selected her to succeed him permanently from a pool of more than 75 applicants.

Crockett, a Long Island, New York native, moved to Tampa Bay in 1988 and worked at Ruth Eckerd Hall as a house manager, supervising the theater's volunteer ushers and customer service operations. She later served as arts education project manager, business analyst, director of ticketing and chief information officer. She was promoted chief operating officer in 2016.

"I realized early on that if my goal was to be a COO, or a general manager, and I knew I'd need experience in a lot of different areas," Crockett said. "I've been very fortunate. I never had to leave to move up in my career and gain more experience."

Over those three decades, Crockett had a hand in guiding the theater through the digital transition, from launching Ruth Eckerd Hall's first website, to online marketing and print-at-home tickets.

In a news release, Crockett she was "humbled to be selected to lead the community treasure as we honor the past and move towards a stellar future."

Crockett said that her immediate goals would be bringing Ruth Eckerd Hall's "Expanding the Experience" fundraising campaign to a strong close this year, and the completion of ongoing renovations and improvements at the main theater. The campaign has already funded recent renovations at the Bilheimer Capitol Theatre and roadway improvements at Ruth Eckerd Hall.

She said she's also focused on continuing to grow Ruth Eckerd Hall's entertainment programs off site. "We've maxed out the use of our buildings so we're doing stuff at the arena, stuff in the various parks. There's a lot of growth outside the building."

According to Ruth Eckerd Hall's most recently available tax return, Ruth Eckerd Hall's total revenue in 2017 was $25,780,212.

RELATED: Zev Buffman retires as Ruth Eckerd Hall CEO

Contact Christopher Spata at or follow @SpataTimes.