Community Music Center– Executive Director–Completed

Congratulations to the Community Music Center and Julie Rulyak Steinberg for the successful completion of this search.

To access the PDF: Community Music Center Executive Director Position Description f

Community Music Center

Executive Director     

Position Description


Painter Executive Search is supporting the Community Music Center (CMC) in its search for an experienced Executive Director to lead the organization through a major expansion while continuing to advance the mission that has been at the heart of the organization for the last 96 years–to make high-quality music accessible to all people, regardless of their financial means.


Founded in 1921, the Community Music Center (CMC) is one of the oldest and largest nonprofit community arts organizations on the West Coast and San Francisco’s largest provider of free and low-cost music classes and concerts. Headquartered in the Mission, with a second facility in the Richmond District, CMC has created a vibrant community around the transformative power of music. Students, faculty, staff and volunteers all come together in an environment that celebrates the power of music to strengthen and enrich the diverse communities of San Francisco.


CMC serves nearly 23,000 people each year, including more than 2,400 students of all ages, ethnicities and income levels who enjoy private music lessons, ensemble classes, workshops, and community performances at low or no cost. CMC’s mission of accessibility drives every aspect of its work. Its tuition assistance program exceeded $1.7 million last year by supporting students through free programs, scholarships, and sliding-scale tuition. Nearly 60% of CMC’s students receive some form of financial assistance. Students of all ages, from infants to students in their 90s, benefit from the expertise of over 130 top quality faculty including noted professional artists, Grammy Award-winning musicians and nationally recognized teachers. Students, teachers, and guest artists of international stature are featured in over 300 concerts each year held in the 130-seat CMC concert hall and at partner sites.


Diversity is celebrated at CMC. The neighborhoods that house its facilities are home to many Latino and Asian immigrants and the music taught at CMC reflects a wide range of music traditions from classical to jazz, Latin, popular music, and many other styles. Over 30 instruments are taught at CMC from ukulele to huluxi (a Chinese reed instrument), accordion to French horn and include ever popular piano, violin and vocal music classes. From toddlers enjoying the Family Music class to senior citizens participating in one of CMC’s twelve neighborhood-based Older Adult Choirs, CMC offers the opportunity to begin or continue a student’s music education, no matter what his or her beginning skill level.


CMC is headquartered in the same Victorian building in the Mission District where it was founded in 1921. Although CMC has utilized facilities in partner organizations across the city, available space for the expansion of classes, particularly during the peak afternoon and evening hours, has been limited and wait lists are long. In 2012, CMC had the rare opportunity to purchase the building adjacent to its Mission District location. CMC has since been developing a plan to renovate that building and create an integrated campus. The new campus designed by the renowned architect Mark Cavagnero will double teaching capacity, add performance spaces, community meeting rooms, and a recording studio, and provide campus-wide accessibility.

CMC’s 2017 annual operating budget is approximately $5 million which includes nearly $1.9 million in tuition assistance and a net Operating Budget of $3 million. Net core program revenue from tuition of $1.5 million and contributed revenue, released from restrictions, and endowment draw comprises the remaining $1.5 million of the FY17 $3 million Operating Budget. CMC has an endowment of $3.8 million which flows approximately 5% annually to operations. CMC operates with a staff of 15 and a largely part-time faculty. The organization is governed by a 21-member Board of Directors who represent a mix of longtime supporters, former and current students, amateur and professional musicians and new members enthusiastic about the potential for CMC’s next hundred years.


The Executive Director (ED) is the leader and face of CMC, directing all activities required to fulfill its mission to provide high-quality music education to all students and to eliminate cost as a barrier to enriching their lives through music.

The ED is responsible for stewarding CMC’s facilities and resources to maintain a strong and healthy organization, building strong partnerships to advance programs and support, and fostering a vibrant and inspiring place to learn and enjoy diverse musical traditions. In addition to working with faculty and staff to ensure that smooth operations and quality programming continue, the ED is the primary fundraiser for the organization and works closely with the Board to build an expanding network of supporters.

The ED will provide leadership as the organization navigates bringing the vision for CMC’s new campus to reality. The ED, working together with the staff and Board, will direct the execution of the 2016 Five Year Plan which outlines the goals that will serve the organization in the years to come. In addition to building the campus and completing the campaign to support that effort, the plan sets a course for the organization which includes adapting its programs and building its infrastructure, leadership, visibility, and the resources required to leverage the new campus to increase impact and create sustainability for the organization. The ED will be the main partner to the Capital Campaign staff and the Board in completing the $20 million-dollar Capital Campaign for the new campus.



CMC’s founder Gertrude Field, a violinist and nurse, came to San Francisco in 1912 to become the first director of the music department of the Dolores Street Girls Club settlement house. In 1921, Field established the Community Music School as an independent organization and moved it into its current home at 544 Capp St. Field directed the School until 1946, having established a strong tradition of Western classical education excellence and a core commitment to providing access for all.

Throughout the years, the commitment to high quality music has been sustained, but the emphasis on Western classical music has expanded to embrace a diverse set of musical traditions in keeping with the changing neighborhood’s needs and interests. Among the Directors who have led CMC, Stephen Shapiro directed the organization for 33 years, and left a mark for expanding programming to the Richmond District and for piloting many of the free youth programs that are staples of today’s programming.


The current Director, Christopher Borg, joined the organization in 2011 and soon thereafter assessed and secured the once-in-a-generation opportunity to purchase the neighboring building. Under Borg’s leadership the organization invested in the capacity and quality of its programs and operations, attracting a talented and dedicated staff, and increasing programming. The organization expanded relationships with funders and received significant capacity building grants from new donors including Bloomberg Philanthropies and Google, receiving the coveted Bay Area Impact Challenge grant. During Borg’s tenure, the vision for the campus evolved. A significant assessment of the organization’s facilities needs resulted in a comprehensive design, which informed the corresponding Capital Campaign to support that vision.

Key Program Highlights

CMC offers private lessons on over 30 instruments (including voice) in addition to composition, musicianship and theory instruction in diverse musical styles including Western classical, jazz, Latin, blues, popular, and Chinese traditions. CMC encourages that private lessons be complemented with ensemble classes which are offered in a variety of styles including Cuban Salsa, Jazz Improv, Tango Ensemble, Latin Vocal and String Orchestra Workshop. There are group classes for adults in Music Theory, Musicianship, Composition, Body-Mind Centering and Feldenkrais, as well as group classes and ensembles for youth, including Family Music, Children’s Chorus, Teen Jazz Orchestra, and Summer Camps. There is an Adult Certificate Program, choirs for older adults, as well as Music Therapy classes.

In addition to individual and ensemble classes, CMC provides opportunities for free or low-cost concerts, workshops and master classes in CMC’s 130-seat concert hall and provides affordable rentals of its concert hall, practice rooms, and instruments for students and faculty, as well as community members.

Notable CMC programs:

CMC’s Older Adult Choir Program was conceived in 2011 as a way to reach out to older adults and provide them the many personal, social, artistic and quality of life benefits that musical activity can bring. This tuition free program has grown as choirs have cycled out of the Community of Voices research study, a three-way partnership between UCSF, Community Music Center, and the Department of Aging and Adults Services, supported by a grant from the National Institute on Aging. CMC currently organizes 12 choirs at senior centers around San Francisco and one at Laguna Honda Hospital.

The Young Musicians Program (YMP) is a tuition-free, award-winning program that partners with the San Francisco Unified School District to identify promising young musicians and provides a full comprehensive music scholarship including private lessons, theory and ensemble classes.


CMC has a multilingual, international group of more than 130, primarily part-time, faculty members, many who have taught at CMC for decades. Its highly qualified conservatory and university trained faculty share a love of music and the commitment and creativity to engage with a diverse student body of all ages and skill levels. Given the freedom to teach without the restrictions of a narrowly defined curriculum, the faculty has great latitude in shaping lessons and classes that respond to the unique needs of their diverse students. The faculty is represented by a Faculty Council which works to develop new programming and engagement opportunities. The Council is developing a department head model to deepen the relationships between the faculty members teaching similar instruments. Additionally, the Faculty Council selects the recipients of seed grants provided by CMC to encourage new partnerships and to enrich the educational experience of faculty. The chair of the Faculty Council is a voting member of the Board of Directors.

Key Partnerships

CMC has developed long-term partnerships with education and cultural institutions across San Francisco including SF Unified School District, the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts, the Brava Theater and Acción Latina. Its partnership with San Francisco Performances brings internationally acclaimed performers to CMC’s concert hall in the free “Concert with Conversation” series. Additionally, CMC has developed a close partnership with the Mission Neighborhood Centers and with twelve other senior centers through the City and County of San Francisco’s Department of Aging and Adult Services to develop the Older Adult Choir programs, as well as with the University of California San Francisco research program studying the health benefits of these programs.


CMC is currently engaged in a period of growth. The major component of this growth is the facility expansion and renovation project which will more than double CMC in size, vastly increasing teaching capacity and opportunities to broaden engagement with the larger community.

CMC’s five-year plan, adopted by the Board in 2015, identifies these major goals:

  • Successful Capital Campaign resulting in a fully accessible three-building campus on Capp Street
  • Programmatic and operational activities that sustain CMC’s core mission of accessibility and high quality instruction
  • Board development that enhances CMC’s finances, visibility and programs
  • Expanded public awareness of CMC’s mission and programs
  • Development of strategic plans in the areas of finance, facilities maintenance, fundraising and marketing with clear benchmarks and schedules that allow CMC to project long-term financial sustainability

Campus Building Project

In 2012, with vital pre-development support from William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, CMC purchased the building neighboring its original Capp Street home. Currently, CMC is finalizing the Design and Development phase of the plan to create an expanded Mission District campus.

The challenges of such a significant purchase are substantial: integrating two historic properties into a single campus, upgrading a Victorian home into a functional music school while preserving its architectural character, and taking advantage of the project to put into place key improvements in technology, acoustics and accessibility that are essential to its future growth.

In April 2014, the board selected Mark Cavagnero Associates as architects for this project. The firm has extensive arts experience and is recognized for its gifted designs including the award-winning SFJAZZ Center. The firm gathered input from many stakeholders and has developed the schematic drawings. CMC has also retained the project management firm of Equity Community Builders (ECB) to help manage the complex project. ECB has an excellent reputation and wide-ranging experience working with educational and artistic institutions. Recently CMC authorized a contract with Cahill Contractors, Inc. to be the pre-construction contractor. Cahill is a local contractor with over 100 years in business and knowledge of San Francisco’s neighborhoods and strong connections to subcontractors. As part of the Design and Development phase, Cahill, together with ECB and the project team, are in the process of assessing project cost estimates and timetable.

Capital Campaign

The Campaign for Community Music Center “More Room. More Music. More Joy” was launched in Fall 2013 to support the campus project. The $20 million campaign supports the vision for the reimagined campus, grows the endowment to fund the increased need for scholarships, and sets aside a five-year cash reserve to support the transition to the higher operating costs of a new facility.

CMC is moving forward with the campaign and has secured commitments for just over one third of the total goal. 100% of Board members have made personally significant gifts and several long-time funders have supported a leadership matching grant for the project. A dedicated Capital Campaign Director has been working with an outside Campaign Consultant to support the process of identifying and building external interest for the project. Campaign materials including a brochure, impact videos, and other materials have been produced for use in fundraising efforts. Leading figures in the San Francisco arts community have stepped forward to assist by joining an Honorary Campaign Committee.

Changing Neighborhood

The campus project is developing at a time when the Mission District neighborhood is changing rapidly. Understanding how to continue CMC’s longstanding commitment to the community and to secure CMC as an anchor institution in the neighborhood, while allowing it to utilize the newly developing resources flowing into the area, will require sensitivity and leadership.

Executive Director


Leadership and Strategy

  • Articulate a shared vision for CMC that fulfills its mission and provides clear institutional goals; speak with passion and work to grow visibility, enthusiasm and support for the organization;
  • Work closely with the Board to ensure strong governance; establish clear lines of communication; support generative, informed discussion and organizational transparency;
  • Be a visible leader locally, across the city, and regionally; connect the mission of CMC to other like-minded organizations and build effective and collaborative partnerships;
  • Work with the Board to provide well-defined opportunities and norms for committee engagement; assist the Board in the recruitment, selection and evaluation of Board members;
  • Actively inform and engage the Board in order to deepen their capacity and commitment to broadening support for CMC;
  • Engage faculty, students, supporters, musicians and the broader arts and neighborhood communities to enhance and develop the vibrancy of CMC and build support for the mission;
  • Develop strong, open communication with the faculty and their representatives in order to address the needs of students and faculty;
  • Continue to build open and inclusive relationships that honor and enhance CMC’s commitment to serving diverse, multi-cultural neighborhoods.

Fundraising and Advocacy

  • Be the chief fundraiser and evangelist for CMC; represent the organization effectively increasing its visibility and growing support for its programs, operations and capital needs;
  • Actively lead fundraising efforts by expanding individual support through major donors; developing and maintaining key foundation relationships and critical contacts in city and regional government; and developing opportunities to engage the business community around corporate sponsorships and partnerships;
  • Seek out and engage new donor prospects; develop a personal fundraising portfolio of current and prospective donors and key contacts;
  • Marshall the resources of the whole organization to raise the funds required to maintain sound operations and successfully complete the Capital Campaign;
  • Support Board members in their fundraising efforts; allocate appropriate staff time to facilitate and train the Board in fundraising and advocacy on behalf of the organization;
  • Participate in and support fundraising activities including the annual Gala and donor cultivation events;
  • Working in collaboration with the Director of Development, oversee the work of the development staff ensuring goals are met and donor relationships are maximized;
  • Along with the Marketing Director, oversee marketing and community relations programs that enhance CMC’s visibility and reputation in the community.

Administrative Management and Program Development

  • Oversee CMC’s operations and programs ensuring progress toward overarching strategic goals; draw upon staff strengths to enrich decision-making and foster open communications to develop a solutions-oriented team;
  • With staff support, implement the Five Year Plan including a clearly defined communications and fundraising plan; create department goals that are monitored for progress and assessed to ensure the organization is learning and adapting in its efforts to attain its goals;
  • Recruit, nurture and challenge a highly-qualified and motivated professional staff; delegate specific responsibilities and establish accountability;
  • Lead ongoing development and improvement of organizational policies and practices—including assessment of the use of technology in order to effectively plan and manage registration and budgeting, as well as tracking and measuring demographics and outcomes;
  • Set program priorities and artistic standards in coordination with the Board and its committees and in consultation with the faculty and Program Director;
  • Together with the Registrars, analyze and review student statistics and together plan to maximize the use of the facility and diversity of program offerings;
  • Work with the Director of Finance and Administration to ensure that the buildings are maintained and that repairs are considered as part of overall budgeting and financial management;
  • Actively work with staff to ensure the health and safety of all students, visitors and employees while they are at CMC, consistent with state and federal regulations;
  • Together with financial staff, present financial plans and annual budgets to the Board for approval; regularly monitor and report financial status to the Board and engage their collective knowledge and resources in achieving financial sustainability.



A successful Executive Director candidate will likely have:

  • A deep appreciation for music and the value music education brings to all people; a personal connection to the importance of music in his/her own life;
  • Experience in effectively leading an organization of similar size and complexity, ideally an arts or education nonprofit serving diverse communities;
  • Past success in growing support, particularly with high net worth individual donors; Capital Campaign experience ideal;
  • Experience in change management and building commitment internally and externally for key initiatives;
  • Experience fostering strong Board relationships and supporting Board development;
  • Demonstrated leadership and management skills; experience in team building with the knowledge, ability and appetite to mentor staff combined with the discipline to delegate and honor team contributions;
  • A history of strong collaboration; someone who actively seeks strategic partnerships and develops effective relationships;
  • Experience as the face of an organization; well-developed interpersonal skills; superb oral and written communication skills; ability to present ideas clearly and persuasively;
  • Strong financial, organizational and project management skills; a track record of managing complex projects; engaging in shared decision-making based on data and realistic expectations.


  • A visionary leader with success in aligning operations to mission and deepening engagement across the organization and its constituents;
  • A team builder with strong management skills; one who can motivate and inspire diverse partners;
  • Ability to engage a large and enthusiastic community in ways that honor their commitment and increases CMC’s ability to respond to its mission;
  • Ability to work well under pressure and adapt easily to changing situations and priorities; ability to exercise good judgment, to hear and value alternate opinions and make informed decisions;
  • Strength of character; able to keep mission-centered while managing day to day realities;
  • Openness to a wide range of voices and ability to adeptly foster relationships with a wide range of people, engaging people with diverse backgrounds and embracing the richness of diverse cultural contributions;
  • Emotionally mature with a good sense of humor, someone who truly enjoys working with people;
  • A hard worker; someone who leads by example and approaches work with energy and optimism; solutions-oriented and resourceful;
  • A person with high ethical standards.


For additional details or to submit your experience for review, please contact;

Nancy Painter:   (415) 202- 6240