San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory
San Diego, CA
JOB TITLE: President and CEO
REPORTS TO: Board Chair
STATUS: Full time, Exempt
SUPERVISES: Music Director, Deputy Director, External Relations Director (vacant), and Community Program Manager
San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory
San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory (SDYS)’s mission is to instill excellence in the
musical and personal development of students through rigorous and inspiring musical training
experiences. The SDYS vision is to “Make Music Education Accessible and Affordable for All.” We
know firsthand that educational, social, community, and personal transformations happen when
music is taught collaboratively in pursuit of excellence.
We fulfill our mission and pursue our vision through our traditional youth symphony programming
(Conservatory Programs), our neighborhood-centered programming (Community Programs), and
collaborations with families, educators, researchers, philanthropists and policy makers.
SDYS is one of the nation’s largest and oldest youth orchestras in the United States. Founded in
1945, SDYS’ Conservatory Program serves approx. 600 students from age 7-25 each season in 12
orchestral and wind ensembles ranging from introductory to advanced levels. We combine intensive
music learning with leadership development and community service. To make our Conservatory
Program accessible, we provide tuition assistance, sponsored lessons and other support services to
students from families with financial need.
In 2008, SDYS’ Board of Directors adopted a vision to “Make Music Education Accessible and
Affordable for All” to address the lack of in-school music education and its limited availability to
low-income students. SDYS launched the Community Opus Project in 2010 to persuade school
districts to provide in-school music to improve student achievement. Designed as a grassroots
campaign, it also contained many of the principles of the El Sistema movement. The Community
Opus Project resulted in the reinstatement of in-school music and arts education for all 30,000 K-6
students in Chula Vista Elementary School District (CVESD), California’s largest K-6 system. SDYS
continues to partner with CVESD to provide after-school music ensembles to 350 students from
across the city as well as targeted programs serving academically underperforming students at risk
of failure in school.
Other communities in San Diego County have also benefited from our Opus experience. SDYS has
partnered with local schools, districts and nonprofits that primarily serve low-income neighborhoods,
to create new or strengthen existing music programs. In addition, SDYS partners with UC San
Diego researchers to track the impacts of music learning on student development and academic
performance. The five-year SIMPHONY Study combined language, rhythm, and congnitive
development measurements with brain imaging. SDYS’ newest study with UCSD and CVESD
examines changes in attendance, test scores, and language acquisition following the restoration of
arts education throughout the system.
A specific objective of our vision is to widely share our methods and experience with increasing
access to music education. As SDYS continues to improve access locally, we have begun to assist
communities across the United States. SDYS presents regularly at conferences and state legislative
hearings, participates in webinars produced by the NEA, NAMM Foundation, and BoardSource.
SDYS’ collaboration with CVESD has received local, state and national media coverage and is the
subject of a UCTV STEAM Channel documentary.
SDYS’ future includes formalizing methods for sharing our knowledge and experience collaborating
with school districts, undertaking new research focused on music as an academic and social
intervention, preparing and licencing our custom student management database system as a new
earned income source, and undertaking a campaign to create a new center for youth music
education and performance in San Diego.
President and CEO
The San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory (SDYS) is seeking a full-time President and
CEO to lead all aspects of the organization. S/he will fulfill the vision to make music education
accessible and affordable for all by building upon SDYS’ past successes to leveraging SDYS’ new
opportunities. The President and CEO will collaborate with the Board of Directors and diverse team
of high performing staff and faculty.
The President and CEO is expected to be creative and entrepreneurial with the ability to deploy a
high level of broad business management and strategic skills, generate resources and financial
support, cultivate relationships with internal and external stakeholders, and manifest the culture of
the organization. S/he must value networks and strive to leverage SDYS’ breadth of community
relationships and programs to achieve systemic local and national impact. S/he will embody SDYS’
core values of inclusiveness, personal achievement, and community leadership.
Roles and Responsibilities
The President and CEO is responsible and accountable to the Board of Directors to achieve the
mission and vision of SDYS. The President and CEO has the latitude to manage the organization
within the policies set by the Board with primary responsibility for the following areas:
● Mission and Institutional Vision
The President and CEO ensures SDYS staff and board members focus their efforts on
fulfilling the organization’s mission and vision. This is achieved by partnering with the Board of
Directors to develop and articulate a compelling mission and vision to establish the
organization’s priorities, strategies, and tactics. The President and CEO leads the staff in
setting goals, developing strategic plans, overseeing implementation of those plans and
monitoring progress toward goals.The President and CEO is responsible for the organization’s
staffing structure and prioritizing adequate resources to achieve the mission and vision based
on recommendations from the Leadership Team.
● Board of Trustees
The President and CEO works closely with the Board Chair and Committee Chairs to support
the Board of Directors in its Generative, Strategic, and Fiduciary governance roles. This
includes serving as the primary staff liaison to the Executive and Governance Committees and
overseeing staff serving as the primary liaisons to other committees. The President and CEO
advises the Board Chair, Committee Chairs and full Board of Directors on all matters,
including vision, bylaws, policies, and financial management. Responsibilities include
attending and reporting at Board and Committee meetings, tracking the Board Strengths
Profile, recommending and orienting new board members, and publicly recognizing the
Board’s leadership in establishing and supporting the SDYS vision. The President and CEO is
a principal contributor to the Board’s culture of collaboration, trust, and service.
● Educational and Artistic Programs
The President and CEO ensures program design and delivery align with the SDYS mission
and vision. This is achieved by working closely with the Music Director, Deputy Director and
program managers to identify opportunities and community needs that SDYS is best
positioned to achieve through its mission and vision. The President and CEO upholds SDYS’
collaborative process for developing, adapting and implementing programs in accordance with
SDYS’ values, policies and goals. As such, the President and CEO will bring innovative ideas
and nurture a reflective dialogue to encourage student and parent voices and opinions while
creating accessible and engaging programs for all students. The President and CEO approves
program evaluation methods, reviews results, and ensures evaluation results are used to
strengthen programs and services to students, families, and the community.
The President and CEO plays both an active and oversight role in resource development by
collaborating with the External Relations Director to strategize annual development goals,
plans and activities. Specific President and CEO activities include building relationships with
key individual and institutional donors, identification and engagement with prospective
individual and institutional donors, solicitation of major contributions, and widely
communicating the case for support of SDYS and its programs. The President and CEO’s
oversight role includes ensuring compliance with Board giving policies and monitoring the
success of SDYS development activities.
● Marketing and Communications
The President and CEO collaborates with the External Relations Director to strategize and
monitor annual goals, plans and activities for marketing, communications, and public relations.
The President and CEO serves as the primary spokesperson for SDYS with media, the
community, internal stakeholders, and as SDYS’ primary advocacy representative and
spokeseperson with policy makers. As such, the President and CEO must be an eloquent and
inspiring speaker, able to advocate on behalf of the organization with diverse audiences
(institutions, donors, government, community, students, parents, etc.)
Partnership is core to SDYS’ mission and vision. The President and CEO identifies, cultivates,
and maintains partnerships that advance SDYS’ goals and impact. These include program,
research, consutling, training, communications and advocacy partners. The President and
CEO ensures SDYS has multiple points of contact with partners and assigns SDYS staff as
additional points of contact to partners. Specific roles include serving as a board member for
the Balboa Park Cultural Partnership and representing SDYS in key local, state and national
associations, work groups, and initiatives. The President and CEO is culturally sensitive and
can navigate easily with a wide range of minority families and uses inclusionary practices to
create positive partnerships throughout the community.
● Human Resources
As the leader of all SDYS staff, the President and CEO is responsible for establishing an
ethical internal culture that inspires and motivates staff to collaborate and communicate
effectively to fulfill the SDYS mission and vision. The President and CEO works in partnership
with the Deputy Director to develop SDYS’ staffing structure and job descriptions, support the
individual growth of staff members, maintain strong two-way communication among staff, and
monitor compliance with regulations, payroll, and the SDYS Employee Handbook. The
President and CEO will also collaborate with the Deputy Director to ensure staff receive
consistent performance feedback and assessments. The President and CEO has sole
authority for setting staff compensation, dismissal of employees and approval of all disciplinary
procedures when necessary.
● Financial Stewardship and Operations
The President and CEO works with the Deputy Director to ensure the financial integrity of
SDYS and its resources. This includes jointly developing the annual budget with input from the
Leadership Team, monitoring spending against the approved budget, and prioritizing
equipment, supplies and facility needs. The President and CEO is charged with protecting
SDYS against fraud by ensuring compliance with Board policies, strong internal controls, and
adequate record keeping practices. Additionally, the President and CEO guarantees SDYS
gives the Board-approved auditors full access to SDYS records and personnel.
● Other projects as defined by the Board of Directors.
Leadership Qualities and Abilities
In addition to fulfilling specific responsibilities, the President and CEO ensures the SDYS culture
remains strong by embodying specific qualities and abilities. These include:
● Collaboration and Relationship Building
The President and CEO must be naturally drawn to building collaborations and utilizing
interpersonal relationships to fulfill SDYS’ mission and vision. SDYS’ success and culture are
rooted in leveraging collaborations and relationships to achieve large scale impact. This is
evidenced in SDYS’ partnerships with school districts, UC San Diego, and other arts
organizations. This culture of collaboration is also strong among board and staff membrers.
The President and CEO’s modeling, cultivating and deepening collaboration and relationships
with all SDYS stakeholders empowers and energizes board and staff members to do the
● Strategic Thinking and Systems Acumen
The President and CEO is the primary driver of SDYS’ strategic direction and activities to
achieve school system level outcomes. This requires multiple skill sets in order to influence
the systemic availability of music in-school and out-of-school. The President and CEO must
simultaneously fulfill short term strategic tactics and be adaptive to new information or
environmental changes that require modifying strategy. Similarly, the President and CEO must
have the ability to recognize strategic opportunity and potential in seemingly unrelated
information or situations.
● Blending Optimism and Realism
SDYS’ vision is ambitous in scale. The President and CEO upholds all SDYS stakeholders’
belief in the vision while managing immediate and practical expectations. This includes
articulating the relationship between current activities and the goals of the vision.
● Balancing Multiple Priorities
SDYS operates in many spheres simultanesouly. This includes the historic conservatory
programs, community programs, school district collaborations and consulting, research,
technology and infrastructure development, community engagement and resource
development. The President and CEO balances the multiple opportunities and interests of
these activity areas so they complement and reenforce each other in pursuit of the SDYS
We’re seeking candidates who are results oriented and able to lead others to achieve.
You should have:
● 10+ years of leadership experience in music education, nonprofit management,
or community building. Experience in more than one of these categories is
● Experience in the following areas is also desirable: resource development,
marketing and communications, advocacy, research, financial management, and
● A demonstrated history of leading a staff team of 10 or more and collaborating
with a volunteer board of 10 or more members
● A background in mobilizing community members to support a public benefit
● Experience working with diverse communities
● Excellent written and oral communication skills
● Excellent organizational skills and attention to detail with an ability to prioritize
their own work, delegate, and support their team’s work
● A strong sense of integrity and collaboration
● Bilingual English/Spanish a plus
● A bachelor’s degree
This position requires sitting at a desk or workstation, walking, standing, climbing stairs,
hearing, speaking, being able to lift up to 25 lb. and able to drive to locations pertaining to
organizational operations. In compliance with federal law, all persons hired will be required
to verify identity and eligibility to work in the United States and to complete the required
employment eligibility verification document form upon hire. This is a full-time position with
work responsibilities on weekends and/or evenings according to the season calendar.
To apply, please send an email with a current resume and thoughtful cover letter to