“Interested parties should submit a Letter of Interest and a Resume by June 30, 2019.”

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Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra
7 Lagoon Road
Hilton Head Island, SC  29928
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Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra Chief Executive Officer/ Executive Director Search

The Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra (HHSO) has enriched the cultural landscape of the greater Hilton Head area for 36 years. Today’s HHSO is a regional professional symphony orchestra with more than 60 orchestral musicians and a volunteer chorus of 40+ singers. John Morris Russell, who also serves as the Cincinnati Pops Director and the Buffalo Pops Conductor has been Music Director since 2012; his current contract is through June 2022. The HHSO performs for an annual audience of nearly 12,000 citizens throughout South Carolina’s Lowcountry including the areas of Bluffton and Beaufort County.

The Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra offers a season of nine doubled main series classical concerts, two gala pops programs (Symphony Under the Stars), and an annual International Piano Competition/Festival; winners of the competition perform at Carnegie Hall and with the HHSO. An annual Youth Concerto Competition is held each February attracting applicants from 9 Southeastern states.  The winner earns the opportunity to perform with the orchestra. Concerts are primarily performed at the 950 seat First Presbyterian Church.  In 2018, the HHSO opened a new performance facility (SoundWaves) for smaller, intimate performances.  This venue has been up fitted to our specifications, is flexible to allow a variety of performance styles and has up to 225 seats.

The HHSO’s growing menu of community engagement activities includes Music Bridges, an educational series for second through fifth graders that includes a curriculum partnership with area schools and which culminates with two annual Young People’s Concerts. In addition, the HHSO fully funds several after school programs at a local Boys and Girls Club and elementary schools.

With an annual operating budget of approximately $2.4 million, the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra is governed by an engaged and committed 24-member Board of Directors and has a staff of 9 full-time equivalent employees. The League of the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra has 350 members and raises significant funds annually to support the Orchestra’s operations.

Hilton Head Island and the Lowcountry

Located 30 miles north of Savannah and 100 miles south of Charleston, Hilton Head Island is a barrier island just off the southeast coast of South Carolina. In addition to the lush natural surroundings, the area is rich with arts and cultural history.  The Town of Hilton Head Island has approximately 40,000 full-time residents and is a top tourist destination, drawing 2.8 million visitors each year.

Hilton Head Island’s natural attractions include 13 miles of pristine beach, over 64 miles of Town pedestrian pathways, boating, fishing, crabbing, and kayaking. The Island is also known for its internationally recognized golf courses, tennis facilities, restaurants, and hotels.

The Island’s arts and cultural amenities include the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina, Lean Ensemble Theater, Coastal Discovery Museum, Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park, World Affairs Council,, Native American Shell Rings, art galleries, Public Art Program, the Heritage Library and the USCB Hilton Head Island Campus.

Hilton Head Island’s recent accolades include being named #1 Island in the U.S. by Conde Nast Traveler 2017 Readers’ Choice Awards, #1 Island in the Continental U.S. and #2 Island in the World on Travel Leisure’s 2017 World’s Best Awards.

Hilton Head Island has a wide variety of housing options from condominiums to single family homes and has very low property taxes. The Island has award-winning public and private schools at all grade levels.


The President, CEO of the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra will serve as the chief administrative officer, responsible for the management of the orchestra’s human and financial resources and for leading and/or facilitating all aspects of its operations. Reporting to the Board of Directors and working in partnership with the Music Director, the CEO will provide leadership and vision to ensure the HHSO achieves its mission and realizes its goals for artistic vibrancy, financial stability, advancement, education, communication, and community service.

Roles and Responsibilities

Governance and Financial Stewardship

  • Collaborate with the Board to ensure strong fiscal health and organizational governance and provide support to best utilize the talents and resources of Board members, stimulate involvement, and recruit new members.
  • Develop and maintain fiscal responsibility for the annual operating budget and financial objectives of the HHSO and provide the most effective use of financial resources, working closely with the Finance Committee and the Board.
  • Ensure sound financial management and administrative policies and maintain accurate financial records and monthly reports for Board review.
  • Understand and maintain compliance with best accounting practices, tax filing requirements, and audits.
  • Initiate ongoing effective communication with the Board Chairman, Board of Directors, Music Director, staff, musicians, and volunteers.
  • Advise the Board and its committees on matters within the ED’s scope of responsibility to promote the efficient operation of the orchestra and to ensure the delivery to the public of the services outlined in the HHSO’s annual operating and strategic plans.
  • Support the Board in director prospect identification, cultivation, and recruitment.
  • Assist and provide staff support to Board committees to develop and implement their goals and objectives.


Operational and Strategic Planning

  • Oversee short-term operational and long-range strategic planning and implementation processes.
  • Collaborate with the Music Director in the development, implementation, and monitoring of the HHSO’s artistic objectives, including season planning and scheduling, concert program development, and the selection and contracting of guest artists, balancing artistic goals with marketability and financial resources.
  • Develop new performance opportunities for the orchestra and its ensembles that fulfill artistic and community service objectives and maximize earned income opportunities.
  • Partner with legal counsel and the Board to oversee and negotiate contractual matters with guest artists, vendors, venues, strategic partners, the American Federation of Musicians, and others.
  • Serve as principal spokesperson to the orchestra, its Musician’s Committee, and the local office of the American Federation of Musicians for negotiation, implementation of, and adherence to, the HHSO’s Collective Bargaining Unit.
  • Direct administrative personnel relations so that the organization is effectively structured and staffed with competent employees.
  • Ensure that the HHSO’s legal and ethical employer obligations to its staff are fully met.
  • Facilitate programs and activities to meaningfully engage volunteers, especially through the activities of League of the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra.


Revenue Enhancement

  • Identify stakeholders, develop strategies, and define how key messages will be delivered to various individuals and institutions to maximize the visibility, brand, and earned and contributed revenues of organization.
  • Lead the Board and staff in development activities, maintain strong relationships with the funding community, and develop the most effective donor stewardship and cultivation methods.
  • Take a hands-on leadership role in growing all potential sources of contributed income, including annual fund development, special project fundraising, major gift cultivation, corporate sponsorship, grant writing, and all reporting required to receive state and local government support at maximum levels.
  • Strategize and oversee implementation of a comprehensive marketing program to achieve earned income goals from subscription and single ticket sales.
  • Guide and actively advance the HHSO’s public image by overseeing the creation of consistently attractive, highly polished, and well-designed print and electronic media.
  • Steward existing partnerships and develop new opportunities to maximize earned income from contracted performances.
  • Ensure the highest levels of customer service, effective audience interaction, and community engagement.


Community Affairs, Outreach, and Education

  • Extend opportunities for community outreach, accessibility, and learning that further the mission, vision, programs, and impact of the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra and act as a primary spokesperson of the organization.
  • Develop appropriate strategic partnerships throughout the community for education and outreach programming.
  • Communicate the work and artistic mission of the organization to the public through the media and at public speaking engagements, as needed, in a manner that enhances the organization’s reputation and standing in the community, regionally, and nationally.
  • Be an active participant in the ongoing dialogue between arts organizations, community leaders, public agencies, and the media by participating regularly in relevant gatherings, seminars, and festivals.


Traits and Characteristics

The Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra’s next ED will be an optimistic and resilient leader who is inspired by the organization’s mission, vision, and values and is excited to advance the orchestra as a vibrant and indispensable musical leader and community partner in the region. The ED will be an intellectually curious, versatile, and assertive professional and hands-on manager. An optimistic problem-solver with strong communication skills, this individual will also have the ability to thrive within an organizational culture that values practicality, simplicity, and tradition.

Other key competencies include:

  • Self-Management and Personal Accountability – Prioritize and complete tasks necessary to meet or exceed the mutually agreed upon expectations of the role while being accountable for personal and professional actions.
  • Stakeholder Focus– Commit to patron, Board member, musician, staff, and volunteer satisfaction, with a high value on multiple stakeholder needs. Anticipate challenges and develop appropriate solutions.
  • Diplomacy and Interpersonal Skills – Embrace different points of view constructively, resolve conflicts, and bring cohesion to a wide array of stakeholders while interacting with them in a positive manner, treating them fairly, and listening carefully to what they have to say.



Qualified applicants must have a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree preferred, plus a minimum of five to seven years of increasing responsibility in a senior management role at a performing arts or similar nonprofit organization. The ideal candidate is currently serving as ED in a smaller orchestra or holds a senior position in a larger orchestra. Candidates should also possess a strong command of the business of running a performing arts organization, including financial management, staff development, communication skills, and a track record in donor stewardship and the successful solicitation of major gifts. Candidates must also know how to work effectively with a Music Director, Board members, staff, musicians, and volunteers and have an avid interest in and/or knowledge of orchestral music or a closely related art form.

Compensation and Benefits

The Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra provides competitive compensation for an organization its size and a standard benefits package, including health insurance, paid time off, and holidays, as well as the quality of life offered by the beautiful Lowcountry environment.