The California Youth Symphony (CYS) is seeking an Executive Director to partner with our acclaimed Music Director and artistic team to build upon our record of providing the finest musical training to the Bay Area’s top young musicians.

Founded in 1952, CYS has grown from a single orchestra to include an associate orchestra, as well as two string ensembles and three wind ensembles. We now have over 400 young musicians, representing nearly 100 Bay Area schools participating in our program each year. Our international tours for young people have earned rave reviews from critics and audiences alike. In addition to providing an invaluable musical and educational experience for these students, we offer first-rate concerts for the community at little or no cost.

CYS’s work is primarily supported by membership dues and program fees with growing support from community fundraising.  Our annual operating budget is nearly $800k and grows to $1.7M during biennial tours. The organization has always pursued cautious financial stewardship and thus we have maintained healthy reserves that have allowed us to continue to thrive and deliver dynamic programs during this challenging past year.

The Executive Director works in partnership with a 13-15-member Board of Directors and the Music Director to guide day-to-day operations and administrative priorities of the organization. The Executive Director leads an administrative staff of 3-5, supports an artistic staff of 5 plus a contract seasonal staff of 15-20, and works collaboratively with dozens of parent volunteers.

CYS has identified the following strategic priorities for 2021-22 to optimize what we do best, while enhancing our resources, infrastructure, and programs. The specifics of a longer-range strategic plan that go beyond these priorities, will be developed with the new Executive Director at the helm.

  • Continue to develop our dedicated staff, volunteer, and Board team as well as administrative systems and policies to support our work
  • Expand revenue streams through a diversified fund development plan with a focus on expanding alumni and community contributions
  • Evaluate program, community outreach, audience development, and facility strategies to enhance our work while embracing the opportunities and lessons learned during the Pandemic

The Ideal Candidate

We are seeking a collaborative nonprofit manager with a passion for music. The ideal candidate will blend their effective communication and relationship building skills with a proven track record of attracting and sustaining a broad base of community fund raising. The incoming Executive Director should have strong financial management and administrative skills. Candidates should feel comfortable leading a volunteer-driven organization that values integrity, community partnerships, and a diverse cultural and economic base of support.   

Strong candidates will possess many of the following skills and experience:

  • Demonstrated passion for music and the performing arts
  • Executive management experience in a comparable nonprofit organization with a focus on administration, staff, and volunteer engagement, as well as Board development
  • Successful track record with strategic fundraising and stewardship, including experience making “the ask”
  • Financial management experience with an organization of comparable size and revenue streams, including budgeting, oversight, nonprofit compliance, and reporting abilities
  • Confident communication skills, including public speaking, writing, marketing, and audience development
  • Flexibility to effectively share leadership with the Music Director and artistic team
  • Ability to conceptualize and co-lead the Symphony to shared visions and new directions
  • Bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience

In addition, candidates will need to:

  • Effectively utilize technology as a management and marketing tool
  • Support a variety of Board meetings and events on nights and weekends
  • Provide their own car, proof of insurance, and a valid CA driver’s license, or other means to travel throughout the area
  • Pass a background check

Start date: August 2021

Deadline for applications: July 5th or until the position is filled
Download the PDF Version of the CYS Executive Director Opportunity Here (updated 6/6). 

Compensation:  CYS is prepared to offer a competitive compensation package commensurate with experience that includes an employee-funded retirement option, contribution to a health plan of choice, and generous PTO. Though candidates from beyond the Bay Area are encouraged to apply, funds are not available for relocation or housing assistance. This is a full-time, exempt position based in Palo Alto and currently allows for remote work and flexible scheduling.

Confidential Application Process: Email your current resume and cover letter (Word or PDF document) summarizing your interest, experience, fit with the desired qualifications, and compensation requirements to: CYSEDSearch@leadershipintransition.org with “CYS Search” in the subject field. Resumes must have a cover letter to be considered. Inquiries from candidates are welcomed and should be directed to our transition consultant, Margaret Donohoe at margaret@leadershipintransition.org.

Executive Director Job Responsibilities

The Executive Director is responsible for the management of all administrative, human, and financial resources needed to achieve the CYS’s mission.
*Percentages provided as a guide to the incoming Executive Director given the organization’s priorities for the first 12 to 18 months of the job.

Manage a Fiscally Sound Organization and Positive Work Environment 40%*

  • Ensure that internal systems, technology, policies, and procedures are in place to support administrative efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Work in partnership with the Board to ensure sustainability through thoughtful and realistic budget planning and monitoring.
  • Oversee monthly financial reporting and payroll, approve expenses and invoices for payment, and sign checks.
  • Facilitate the annual audit and tax filing.
  • Ensure accuracy of staff job descriptions and completion of regular performance evaluations.
  • Ensure compliance with personnel policies established by the Board and with all federal and state regulations.

Drive External Relations and Fundraising 30%*

  • Provide a credible and informed presence to young musicians, parents, donors, and community members.
  • Represent CYS at conferences, meetings, and seminars.
  • Lead communication strategies that enhance the Symphony’s visibility, reputation, and audience development.
    • Oversee content for collateral materials including the website, social media, newsletter, donor, and marketing materials.
    • Develop content for the newsletter and media releases.
  • Expand the visibility of CYS and recognition of its value in providing musical opportunities to youth.
  • Lead the development and implementation of fundraising strategies and campaigns including family, community, and alumni giving, as well as corporate and foundation support.
  • Engage the Board of Directors and artistic staff in major donor relationships and stewardship activities.
  • Develop compelling, accurate, and timely funding proposals and reports.

Support Program Administration 15%*

  • Maintain a positive and close working relationship with the artistic leadership.
  • Maintain a working knowledge of the issues, best practices, and trends impacting excellence in youth music education and operations.
  • Oversee the planning of auditions, performances, tours, and activities such that they are appropriate and consistent with the mission and policies of the organization.
  • Support the planning and coordination of biennial tours. 
  • Regularly attend and be visible at concerts and events.
  • Lead the evaluation and implementation of longer-range strategic priorities that are realistic, sustainable and reflect the mission of the organization.

Board Partnership 15%*

  • Assist the Board in identifying, recruiting, and onboarding volunteers with the essential skills to support the mission and priorities.
  • Effectively engage and motivate Board volunteers to ensure productive and constructive experiences.
  • Serve as an active, non-voting member of Board and Committees.
  • Provide the Board and Committees with adequate information to reach strategic decisions and to formulate necessary policies and goals.
  • Report regularly to the Board and committees about organizational objectives, the organization’s financial status and other relevant issues.
  • Ensure that Board policies are implemented.
Recent Performance Photos