February 18, 2021 – Executive search and non-profit consulting firm KEES (Kistner Eddy Executive Services) has been enlisted to find an executive director for the Acorn Theater (The Acorn) in Three Oaks, MI. Leading the assignment is Heather Eddy, president and CEO.
Sandra Thompson, who has held The Acorn’s executive director role for the last five years announced in November that she would be shifting from administration, fundraising and general management to focus specifically on artistic direction through talent booking.
“The Acorn seeks an experienced and influential executive leader as its next executive director, who will provide strategic direction for the organization, strengthen its place as a cultural hot spot in Harbor Country, MI, and build relationships with audiences, performers, donors, local businesses, schools and other stakeholders,” said KEES. Reporting to the board of directors, this leader will be expected to play a critical role in broadening The Acorn’s presence as a non-profit organization, and inspiring the community to further engage by volunteering, donating, attending events and identifying other opportunities for meaningful engagement, said the search firm. The executive director will be charged with establishing priorities, develop annual workplans, and lead, supervise and mentor the theater’s staff and contractors, as performing arts professionals operating within a business venue.
A Premier Site
“The executive director will provide leadership to The Acorn, ensuring the historic venue’s role as the premier site for concerts, festivals, community events and other arts and entertainment events in Harbor Country,” said KEES. “An energetic and enthusiastic leader with a passion for the performing arts and a firm commitment to public service, this individual will ensure the effective business management and operations of The Acorn for the benefit of Harbor Country residents and visitors.”
The theater’s new leader will be responsible for ensuring artistic and cultural programming of the highest caliber is presented (directly or in partnership with cultural and community organizations) and build revenue streams which support the current and growing artistic and operational needs, said the search firm. The executive director will partner with local and regional artists, arts organizations, residents, visitors, community leaders and the general public.
Performance objectives for the role will revolve around vision, leadership and management; philanthropy and financial management; board and volunteer relations; and external affairs, events and community outreach.
“The successful candidate will have a demonstrated business acumen and a passion for the arts and embody that passion when sharing the story of The Acorn with key stakeholders,” said KEES. “Forward-looking and innovative, this individual will bring a fresh perspective to attract new audiences with diverse offerings. With strong interpersonal and communication skills, this executive will be comfortable engaging with a variety of people. The Executive Director will leverage The Acorn’s networks and establish new partnerships to obtain support and achieve results for this regional gem in Harbor Country.”
Candidates should have a proven ability to build strong external relationships with a variety of volunteers, public leadership, partner organizations and other stakeholders, said KEES. Knowledge of new trends and ideas in the performing arts, or the ability to identify trends, analyze impacts and apply to current situations is also required. Prospects should further have demonstrated experience collaborating with resident companies, agents and promoters.
Strong analytic and strategic-thinking skills, with demonstrated ability to create, implement and monitor complex plans, and translate those plans into goals and concrete strategies, are critical for the role. Excellent speaking, writing and public presentation skills are required. Candidates should also have an expertise in creating multi-disciplinary seasons for diverse audiences. Also needed is a track record in financial management, stewardship, and developing strategies to successfully increase earned and contributed revenue.
The Acorn Theater, a non-profit organization, is a performing arts venue that brings high-quality, professional, live entertainment to its audience in the southwest Michigan and greater Chicago areas. It annually hosts a singer songwriter competition and a Spectacular Tournament of Playwrights. Its open mic nights showcase a variety of strong talent and our educational workshops include songwriting and master classes in performance.
KEES, based in Naperville, IL, focuses on building transformative teams and leaders in the non-profit sector. The firm was founded in 2013 as an expansion of Alford Executive Search. It is women-owned and operated and provides a wide variety of services, including executive search, specialty and interim staffing, HR consulting and leadership development.
Ms. Eddy has worked with non-profits and institutions to build capacity for more than 20 years. For the past 12 years, she has focused on strengthening executives, boards, managers, and philanthropic leaders. She co-founded KEES and leads the organization’s team after serving for 17 years in multiple executive leadership roles with the Alford Group/Alford Group Executive Search, a national consulting firm that partners with non-profits and provides fundraising and organizational strategy consulting.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media