Aspen Leadership Group Seeks Chief Officers for New York City Ballet and Atlanta Opera

May 10, 2019 – Aspen Leadership Group, an executive search firm that specializes in recruiting top talent for philanthropic organizations, is seeking chief development/ advancement officers for two respected cultural institutions, the New York City Ballet (NYCB) and the Atlanta Opera. Senior consultant Anne Johnson is spearheading the assignments.

The New York City Ballet wants a highly motivated, experienced, collaborative and creative individual with a demonstrated track record to serve as senior director of development/ chief development officer, said Aspen Leadership Group. The role is responsible for providing leadership to and management of the fundraising department in order to achieve an annual contributed income goal of about $26 million in fiscal year 2019.

The senior director of development/ chief development officer is also charged with developing strategies to increase overall contributed income significantly in future years, in addition to overseeing the completion of the NYCB’s $70 million capital campaign currently underway, of which $65 million has so far been raised.

The senior director of development/ chief development officer will oversee a staff of 20, who seek contributed annual funds through five major fundraising sectors: foundation and government support, membership, major gifts, corporate sponsorships and special events (galas). The role also calls for oversight of two additional staff members who manage the capital campaign.

Key Qualifications

Candidates should have a demonstrated ability to develop strategies that lead to increased contributed income, said Aspen Leadership Group. They must also show: an ability to work through board and volunteer networks to identify and secure contributed funds; personal knowledge and a network of relationships within the New York City philanthropic community (preferred); familiarity with the full range of giving sectors; a depth of experience and track record with major gifts from individuals; and excellent verbal and written communication skills, among other qualifications.

New York City Ballet, founded in 1948, is one of the foremost dance companies in the world. Today the company has 94 dancers, a 62-member orchestra, an affiliated school (the School of American Ballet) and a laboratory for choreography (the New York Choreographic Institute).

The Atlanta Opera’s chief advancement officer will be responsible for all revenue generated for the Atlanta Opera, both earned and contributed, said Aspen Leadership Group. The chief advancement officer is directly responsible for successfully creating, leading and implementing an integrated resource development strategy and developing new relationships, while maintaining existing relationships to build the organization’s visibility, impact and financial resources.


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This individual will be charged with raising private sector funds to support the Atlanta Opera’s initiatives and leading the development and implementation of organization-wide strategies to increase its fundraising capacity, said the search firm. The chief advancement officer will be expected to support the general and artistic director and the board of directors in cultivating and soliciting major gifts and grants from individuals, corporations, foundations, government institutions and others. He or she will lead a team of professionals responsible for fundraising, volunteer cultivation, corporate philanthropic support, events, communications, public relations, marketing and social media functions. The chief advancement officer will also be expected to provide leadership and support for the Atlanta Opera’s comprehensive campaign, among other duties.

Job Requirements

The ideal candidate will have the ability to represent the opera well in the community, nationally and internationally, said Aspen Leadership Group. Requirements for the role include: advanced fundraising skills and comprehensive knowledge of fundraising best practices with a demonstrated ability to cultivate, solicit and close major gifts; experience with international constituents and donors; experience in initiating and developing effective partnerships with individuals, companies, foundations and government agencies; and a track record in strategic and tactical achievement of revenue goals, revenue forecasting and budget management, among other requirements.

Founded in 1979, the Atlanta Opera offers opera productions and arts education programs for audiences in Atlanta and the Southeast. Its mainstage performance home is the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center. A core mission of the opera is to provide educational opportunities for students of all ages. Each year, the organization serves about 25,000 students in Metro-Atlanta and throughout the state of Georgia.

Aspen Leadership Group, established in 2013, conducts searches for board members, presidents, executive directors, chief development and advancement officers, and development and advancement professionals. Founder Ronald Schiller has 26 years of experience in executive search, fundraising and administration of non-profit institutions. Mr. Schiller is a nationally recognized advisor to presidents, board members and other leaders in higher education, arts and cultural organizations, healthcare and social and community services.

Ms. Johnson most recently served as chief development officer for the San Francisco Symphony, where she played a senior management role, working closely with the board of governors and leading the symphony’s contributed revenue division. Previously she served as San José State University’s associate vice president of development and campaign director. Prior to her work in the Bay Area she held fundraising positions at the University of Kansas and Boston University.

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Andrew W. Mitchell, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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