November 10, 2016 – Russell Reynolds Associates has placed Michael E. Hill as the 18th president of The Chautauqua Institution. Current president Tom Becker previously announced he planned on retiring at the end of the year after nearly 32 years of service. The search was led by Russell Reynolds Associates’ Washington, D.C., and Boston offices.
Following Mr. Becker’s retirement announcement earlier this year, the Chautauqua board appointed a committee chaired by George Snyder, immediate past chair of the board of trustees, to launch a national search to find a successor. The Institution retained Russell Reynolds, which conducted a comprehensive leadership needs assessment with Chautauqua senior staff, the board of trustees, Chautauqua Foundation board of directors, major donors and other stakeholders.
“Michael emerged as the unanimous selection of the search committee from a pool of incredibly talented and diverse candidates. Our search process reaffirmed the national prominence of the Institution,” said search committee chair George Snyder.
Devotion to Non-Profit
Mr. Hill is currently president and chief executive officer of Youth For Understanding USA. He is an experienced leader of arts, cultural and social service organizations, including Washington National Cathedral, The Washington Ballet and United Cerebral Palsy. Youth For Understanding USA is one of the world’s oldest, largest and most respected intercultural exchange programs.
“We are absolutely thrilled that Michael is coming on board. He is a high energy, visionary leader who understands how to balance tradition and progress,” said Chautauqua Institution board chairman James Pardo. “Michael has already logged an incredible track record of success for a person of his years. His unique background will help Chautauqua Institution connect more deeply with the community, reach new audiences and expand our exposure on a national and international stage.”
Since its beginnings in the 1870s, Chautauqua Institution has had a succession of dynamic, inspirational leaders driving it forward. “With a new president, and with a new amphitheater about to debut, it is truly an amazing time to be a Chautauquan,” Mr. Pardo said.
Mr. Hill has a diverse work history with a variety of organizations. In addition to holding senior management positions at several non-profits, he has extensive experience in fundraising, programming, marketing and communications. He is an international educator and founding faculty member of the Master of Arts Management program at George Mason University, and in 2016 served as an Aspen Institute Non-Profit Leadership Fellow.
Among his achievements, Mr. Hill directed a $125 million expansion of the historic arena stage in Washington, D.C., securing the largest single gift ever made to an American theater. At St. Bonaventure University, he oversaw the construction of a new museum complex, the addition of an artistic residency center and the quadrupling of programming at the university’s multi-venue arts complex.
“This is an incredible opportunity to help an internationally recognized, highly respected institution leverage its strengths to engage Chautauquans in new ways and to find new audiences,” Mr. Hill said. “I am honored, and I am humbled. I am passionate about Chautauqua Institution’s history and the incredible diversity of its programs.”
The Chautauqua Institution was founded in 1874 as a teaching camp for Sunday school teachers. In 1973 the National Park Service added the institution to the National Register of Historic Places. It was subsequently designated as a National Historic Landmark District. Today, it offers educational activities to the public, including entertainment, symphony, ballet, theatre, opera and visual arts exhibitions.
Russell Reynolds Associates’ public sector, trade and associations practice group serves a wide variety of public sector and not-for-profit organizations, related public bodies, regulators, and government-owned companies. It also fills the executive leadership needs of global charities, healthcare providers, and local government and trade associations.
Contributed by Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor, Hunt Scanlon Media