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Executive Director

Website Play On Philly

H C Smith Ltd is pleased to represent Play On Philly in its search for a new Executive Director. Play On Philly (POP) provides underserved children in Philadelphia a transformative music education experience that develops and inspires the behaviors and personal skills needed for a successful life. POP seeks a dynamic, creative and experienced individual to lead the organization into new avenues for success. POP is governed by a 16-member Board of Directors, an administrative staff of 14 and an extensive roster of teaching artists from throughout the community. The current annual operating budget is approximately $2.5M. Play On Philly was founded in 2011 by outgoing Founder and Executive Director Stanford Thompson and philanthropist Carole Haas Gravagno, closely modeled on Venezuela’s revolutionary El Sistema music education program. Now celebrating well over a decade of providing high-quality music education at no cost to students in Philadelphia as a vehicle for life skills and academic achievement, POP has grown from the flagship Music Center at St. Francis de Sales School to now serving 400 students at 5 locations across Philadelphia. It strives to engage the entire community through partnerships, community events, and performances in venues across the Philadelphia region and beyond. POP engages student’s pre-K through 12th grade in orchestral training, both before and after school and during the summer. All enrolled instrumental students from all Music Center sites are loaned instruments and participate in multi-level ensembles that make up the Play On Philly Children’s Orchestra. The Children’s Orchestra provides opportunities for all students, regardless of age or ability, to push their musical limits in a supportive, communal environment. POP programming has proven results in improved scoring on standardized tests and improved behavior and study skills. The Marian Anderson Young Artist Program, a special program named for world-renowned contralto and Philadelphia daughter Marian Anderson, further supports advanced students in their musical studies through private lessons, individual advisement, instrument loans, and college and career counseling.


A charismatic communicator, listener and fundraiser, the new Executive Director will be responsible for managing the human and financial resources of Play On Philly in order to achieve the organization’s mission to transform children’s lives through the power of music. The Executive Director will be a transparent, inclusive and collaborative leader, passionately committed to bringing music and opportunity to underserved children through community partnerships. A true strategic partner with the Board of Trustees, to which this position reports, the Executive Director will be responsible and accountable for all aspects of the organization, and will work with both the Board and the executive leadership team to maximize resources and develop long-range vision for the organization and the strategies to ensure its realization.


  • Serve as POP’s top administrative ambassador locally, regionally and nationally; and increase POP’s reputation to secure its place as a vital resource for children and youth. Develop strategies to increase awareness of POP and its programs, and provide solid financial leadership to diversify and expand its sources of revenue.
  • Lead, mentor and collaborate with the educational and administrative staff of the organization, individually and collectively, to maintain and enhance programming, create new opportunities and community offerings to further the strategic and educational mission of POP.
  • Serve as the chief fundraiser for POP, developing strategies for increasing contributed income, from both current supporting entities and new funding sources; serving as the public face of the organization and building relationships throughout the community and nation.
  • Provide the Board of Directors with resources and governance tools and policies to support and facilitate its oversight of the organization.
  • Oversee POP’s operations, working with the senior leadership team and interfacing with all key constituents both externally and internally to achieve all expected results related to fundraising, educational, operational and financial objectives.
  • Ensure diversity, equity and inclusion as a core value and guiding principle throughout the organization and all of its activities.
  • Lead the development and execution of annual and long-term operating plans that secure the best possible realization of visionary and mission goals and financial performance.
  • Oversee annual budgeting, including providing the Board with timely, clear and accurate reports and projections on financial, fundraising and operational activities; and ensure a comprehensive system of internal controls.
  • Recruit, lead, manage, collaborate with, mentor and develop staff. Create the necessary work environment for effective operations.
  • Assure that POP’s position as a valued community and regional asset is enhanced; effectively communicating and interpreting community needs, attitudes and values.
  • Collaborate with other organizations, in circumstances where it is an appropriate strategy to increase POP’s effectiveness and efficiency in fulfillment of its mission.
  • Apply new ways to solve complex situations, originating new techniques, criteria or standards to address innovative opportunities, challenges or initiatives.


  • Bachelor’s degree and a minimum of five years of leadership experience. Background or experience in music education and/or performing arts management a plus.
  • Demonstrated dedication to nurturing the growth and development of young musicians
  • Knowledge of and (if possible) experience with the educational principles of Venezuela’s El Sistema program or a comparable program, in which music is used as a strategy to achieve social and emotional learning objectives.
  • Successful fundraiser with direct experience in major (individual) gifts, foundations, donor cultivation and stewardship.
  • Skilled communicator, mentor, listener and collaborator – open, approachable, personable – who promotes a positive working environment within the organization and community.
  • Deep commitment to the mission of Play On Philly and especially a commitment to providing opportunities that enable gifted and aspiring young musicians to study and grow.
  • Demonstrated charisma and integrity representing the institution, and use of that public persona to develop new opportunities for the organization.
  • Proven success in empowering not-for-profit boards and board leadership and strategic planning processes. Deep experience with board development, recruitment, support and governance.
  • Ability to manage vision and purpose as a strategic, decisive, supportive and gracious leader and mentor in a fast-paced environment.
  • Sterling business and financial management skills and demonstrated track record and success in managing complex matters with significant budgetary and employee responsibility.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills including public-speaking and presentation skills.
  • Strong interpersonal and leadership skills and the ability to manage nuanced relationships with a variety of constituencies, including both junior and senior staff, faculty, students, families, board members, and donors.
  • A track record as a collaborative leader who excels in managing multiple projects and is comfortable working in a fast-paced and non-traditional work environment.
  • Belief that an empathetic approach to all interactions can help organizations and teams be more effective, and individual team members more confident and positive.
  • Consummate diplomat and problem solver with a steady hand.
  • Ability to travel and work hours outside of traditional 9 to 5 as required.

Compensation and Benefits

The target salary for this position is $150,000, to be determined based upon experience and qualifications. Competitive benefits package. Candidates must currently reside or be willing to relocate within commuting distance of Philadelphia to be considered for this role, as in-person donor cultivation and attendance at POP performances and events will be required.

POP does not discriminate on the basis of any protected status under federal, state, or local law. We encourage individuals of all identities and abilities to apply.

All interested candidates are asked to contact Rebecca R. Smith, Managing Director, at All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.


4570 Renaissance Parkway, Cleveland, OH. 44128 (216) 752-9966

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