The following is an open letter to the CYT Community submitted by CYT Dallas-Fort Worth Board Chair, Ruth Bennett.


Dear CYT Community,

During a recent trip that CYT Founders, Paul and Sheryl Russell, made to Austin, it was the pleasure of the newly-formed CYT Dallas-Fort Worth affiliate to cross their path.

CYT Austin and CYT Dallas Fort-Worth with co-founder Sheryl Russell
CYT Austin and CYT Dallas Fort-Worth with co-founder Sheryl Russell

















Of particular delight to me was observing the hearts from which CYT was birthed…rather unsuspectingly birthed from their garage and then cherished as something to nurture and defend. Over the years since then they have determined to make it replicable wherever it might be desired.

In preparing for our first board meeting I reviewed some videos from the CYT National Leadership Conference in New York and found Dr. Heather LaForge discussing the CYT Model. The model is a collection of practices, policies, and procedures that CYT has developed over time to ensure the success of affiliates and to keep affiliates true to what CYT is.

What I found to be her main point was that affiliates can find themselves suffering in some way while making excuses for why they are not following the model. Let’s be honest, we all occasionally find ourselves in places where we groan at having to follow a plan that doesn’t feel right to us. We measure whether we really need to perform at the desired standard or if it will really matter if we cut some corners. One good indicator, however, would be whether we are achieving success while doing it our way or if we find ourselves longing for greater success that adherence to the model would provide.

So, we have determined these to be our goals for CYT Dallas-Fort Worth:

1 – Be a genuine model

CYT Dallas is going to choose the model and not excuse the model. To be true to the original vision. To honor the years of ideas and continual adjustments that have proven well over time. We will choose to be found honoring the entity of CYT. And what, pray tell, does CYT want from us? I had to laugh at the abundance of guidelines and documents…there’s no way we could get it wrong if our heart’s right! If we find ourselves in a pattern of contention with the model then we need to either; die to ourselves and pick up the model or respectfully lay down our role so that those who will honor it can lead.

Let’s lead with influence and not authority! Let’s take people by the hand and show them what we want instead of rebuking them from afar. Let’s be relatable. Approachable. Heather LaForge stated regarding CYT leaders, “It requires a solid team of people who want to move in the same direction with the same vision to do it.” It could be temping to try to make CYT fit a successful model that already exists, whether from your own vision of theater or from another group you are affiliated with. But we need to consider each situation as an opportunity to seek God for fresh direction and seek the model for execution of that direction.

I mean think about it…if I were to say that I am here in the name of Christ it would mean that I am in alignment with what He thinks and that what you see in me is what you would see in Him. Likewise, if we are in our cities in the name of CYT then we need to be in alignment with what CYT is. Let’s commit to being an authentic, identifiable affiliate for them!

All smiles in Dallas Fort-Worth
All smiles at CYT Dallas Fort-Worth!

2 – Be guardians of this environment

There are many blog entries on the CYT site – many stories that credit CYT for helping them find their identity as they developed into a godly performer. Being a member of the CYT family gave them courage to live their daily lives in places they were often mistreated or misunderstood knowing that there was a place where people could see them for the gift they were.

Remember that we are guardians of this environment. We may not be in the classes or involved in the daily routines but all things – whether good or bad – flow down from the top. Let’s determine to stand guard over an environment that tells youth that they are to safe to be who they are, where parents can trust our goals and intentions and even find it safe to be who they are. Will you go a step further with me and believe for the dreams hidden in the hearts of all involved to flare up into dreams fulfilled?


We all heart CYT
We all heart CYT! – CYT Dallas is getting going!

3 –   Handle each other well

The CYT motto is “Developing character one stage at a time.” While we endeavor to set up the business end of making sure that the people who work for us can build character into our students, let’s be sure that we are handling things with the greatest of character ourselves. If we mishandle things behind closed doors it will trickle down whether anyone can see it’s origin or not. Let’s be careful about being full of integrity with each other. If offense or trouble arises and we can’t seem to iron something out I want us to handle it in a short window of time. Consider 3-5 days to approach each other and resolve it or forgive it. We cannot afford to allow hurt feelings to carry on until the next time we meet – we will just meditate on it and we don’t need that. Go to the one you are at odds with and make your best effort to work it out. If it doesn’t resolve let me know and I will be happy to build a bridge between the two of you.

Working hard for the future of kids is fun
Working hard for the future of kids – CYT Dallas Fort-Worth gets it!


Many affiliates have gone on before us to reflect what we should be. We will uphold the model and walk with each other in peace. We are excited to be in the family!

Awkwardly Yours,

Ruth Bennett
CYT Dallas-Fort Worth Board Chair

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