Phillips Oppenheim

Executive Director, New York, NY

The School of American Ballet ("SAB"), located at Lincoln Center in New York City, is seeking a dynamic, experienced and highly motivated Executive Director. SAB is led artistically by Artistic Director/Chairman of Faculty, Peter Martins, and Co-Chairman of Faculty, Kay Mazzo, and administratively by the Executive Director. The Executive Director and Artistic Director both report to the Chairman of SAB's Board of Directors and together with the Co-Chairman of Faculty, who oversees the artistic operations on a day-to-day basis, work in close collaboration to provide leadership and management of the School. The Executive Director serves as a principal spokesperson (along with the Artistic Director and Co-Chairman of Faculty) to the internal and external constituencies of SAB.


SAB was established in 1934 by choreographer, George Balanchine, and the visionary arts patron, Lincoln Kirstein, with a mission to develop dancers for professional ballet careers. The School's curriculum is focused on the classical ballet aesthetic established by Balanchine through his teaching and choreography, which demands that dancers move with speed, precision and musicality. SAB has an annual enrollment of more than 800 students ranging in age from six to 19. SAB has trained more than 17,000 students and produced more professional dancers than any other American academy. Students receive instruction at SAB's contemporary Lincoln Center studios through a 40-week winter term and a five-week summer course, and in Southern California through a two-week satellite program in August. SAB auditions and recruits students from all over the United States and abroad. More than 60 of the intermediate and advanced students in the winter term and more than 200 summer course students board in SAB's onsite residence hall at Lincoln Center.

SAB is the official academy of New York City Ballet ("NYCB") but remains a completely separate organization with an independent Board of Directors, staff, fundraising operation and budget. More than 95 percent of NYCB's current dancer roster trained at SAB, and NYCB hires up to 10 apprentices a year from the school. However, SAB alumni dance with other companies as well. Currently, there are SAB alumni at more than 70 U.S. dance companies and 12 international ones. In addition, SAB alumni hold leading artistic posts at 20 American and five foreign companies.

SAB is one of 11 constituent arts organizations of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and has an annual operating budget of approximately $12 million, more than 60 employees, and is governed by a 40-member Board of Directors.


The Executive Director is responsible for and has authority to act with respect to financial and administrative matters, development, student affairs, academic education, marketing, public relations, recruiting and outreach. The Executive Director attends meetings of the Board of Directors and is also a member of all Committees of the Board of Directors, including the Executive Committee. The Executive Director is responsible for implementing policies established by the Board of Directors. Specific areas of the Executive Director's responsibilities include the following:

  • STRATEGIC PLANNING - In collaboration with the Artistic Director, developing recommendations to the Board of Directors with respect to policies and long-range planning for SAB; and implementing policies and plans established by the Board of Directors;
  • DEVELOPMENT/FUNDRAISING - Developing fundraising strategies and programs, with assistance of the Development Department, and supervising implementation of the strategies and programs that have been approved by the Board of Directors; together with the Director of Development, assuring the effective functioning of SAB's development operation, including special events, institutional support, individual giving and alumni participation; making direct personal contact with prospective donors as appropriate; utilizing the Board to the fullest extent possible in fundraising activities; and evaluating other revenue-generating opportunities;
  • BOARD DEVELOPMENT - Assisting the Chair of the Board and other Committees of the Board in building and energizing the Board and involving its members in SAB's activities;
  • PUBLICITY, PUBLIC RELATIONS, RECRUITING AND OUTREACH - In collaboration with the Artistic Staff and the Director of Public Relations, Recruiting and Outreach, developing and implementing policy with respect to publicity and public relations, student recruiting, diversity initiatives and outreach programs;
  • STUDENT AFFAIRS - With assistance of the Dean of Students, developing and implementing policy with respect to student life issues, including but not limited to student health and wellbeing, student discipline, academic matters and interfacing with parents when needed;
  • FINANCIAL AND INVESTMENT ISSUES - With assistance of the Chief Financial Officer, developing and implementing policy to sustain SAB's financial health and wellbeing, including but not limited to formulation of annual budgets and oversight of investment policies and practices related to the School's endowment and other funds;
  • OTHER RELATIONSHIPS - Preserving and enhancing SAB's relationships with New York City Ballet and other national and international ballet companies and schools, and with related arts organizations such as The George Balanchine Trust, The Balanchine Foundation, the New York Choreographic Institute, and the Jerome Robbins Foundation; serving as SAB's administrative liaison to Lincoln Center and the other Lincoln Center constituents.


SAB seeks an individual with excellent interpersonal skills who can work effectively with the School's artistic and administrative staffs. The individual should have management and leadership experience and be capable of working on multiple concurrent projects. Excellent oral and written communication capabilities are required. In addition, SAB is looking for the following qualities in its Executive Director:

  • Experience in development and fundraising, preferably in the greater New York community;
  • Respect for and commitment to SAB's mission, approach to dance instruction and legacy;
  • An appreciation for and commitment to ballet as an art form;
  • Strong management skills; preferably experience in or familiarity with management of an arts or educational organization, training academy or other relevant not-for-profit organization;
  • A commitment to support SAB's efforts at both student recruitment and dancer career placement;
  • Support for the advancement of SAB's ongoing diversity and outreach programs;
  • A commitment to lead in the development of structures and programs needed to foster SAB's continued growth and efficient operation;
  • A healthy but intact ego; comfortable and effective operating within a shared leadership structure;
  • A team builder who can coalesce others around shared goals; non-territorial; diplomatic; patient; persuasive;
  • Able to work evenings and weekends as needed and be on call 24/7 as is required of those working with a boarding school.

The School of American Ballet is an equal opportunity employer and considers all applications without regard to race, color, religion, creed, gender, national origin, age, disability, marital or veteran status, sexual orientation, and/or any other legally protected status. Please send applications or nominations to Sarah James and Becky Klein at

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