Vice President of Education & Community Engagement

Pacific Symphony (the Symphony) - Irvine, California

Job Category: Programs

Job Type: Paid

Job Term: Full Time

Compensation: $120000 - $150000

About Our Organization

Founded in 1978 and located in Orange County, California, Pacific Symphony (the Symphony), is a leading cultural institution that seeks to nourish, nurture, and lift the human spirit, and forge a community where everyone belongs. Led artistically by Music Director Carl St.Clair since 1990, and administratively by John Forsyte since 1998, the Symphony’s mission is to perform inspiring, entertaining, and healing music, connecting communities through diverse programming, inspiring youth, providing therapeutic benefit, and promoting the well-being of the people it serves.

Comprised of 80 musicians drawn from around the world, the Symphony is the largest orchestra formed in the United States in the last 50 years and has been designated as a Group One orchestra by the League of American Orchestras. As the resident orchestra of the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa since 2006, the Symphony presents more than 100 concerts annually, serves 250,000 community members, and presents a summer outdoor series in The Great Park of Irvine. Its administrative center is also located in Irvine.

The Symphony is nationally and internationally recognized for performance excellence, strong community engagement through education and other programming, and for commissioned new works by contemporary composers, having twice received the prestigious American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) Awards for Adventurous Programming. Presenting repertoire ranging from great orchestral masterworks to music from today’s most prominent composers, it also offers a popular Pops season enhanced by state-of-the-art video and sound. Each Symphony season includes Café Ludwig, a chamber music series, an educational Family Musical Mornings series, and Sunday Matinées, an orchestral matinée series offering rich explorations of selected works. Leading composers commissioned by the Symphony have included Paul Chihara, Daniel Catán, James Newton Howard, William Kraft, Ana Lara, Tobias Picker, Christopher Theofanidis, Frank Ticheli, John Wineglass, and Chen Yi.  Its current composer-in-residence is Viet Cuong.

The Symphony is renowned for its deep commitment to education and community engagement and offers a diverse range of programs for participants of all ages and musical abilities. These include the Frieda Belinfante Class Act program, the nationally recognized elementary school partnership initiative that brings live symphonic music directly to elementary students in the county, and serves up to 16,000 students and 5,000 parents, teachers, and administrators. The program is approaching its 30th Anniversary and has been honored by the National Endowment for the Arts and the League of American Orchestras.

Other programs include arts-X-press, a residential, arts immersion program for middle school students, where participants explore different art forms, attend arts experiences, and learn to grow through creative risk taking. Heartstrings is a community engagement program where the Symphony collaborates with local organizations by providing music therapy-informed, customized live performances directly to individuals with special needs or in healthcare facilities. The Lantern Festival is a free day-long community arts festival that celebrates the culmination of the Lunar New Year with performances and cultural activities. Family Musical Mornings are performances tailored for families, providing an opportunity for parents and children to enjoy the magic of live orchestral performances together.  

The Symphony is governed by an engaged and committed volunteer board of directors, led by Arthur Ong with John Forsyte leading the management team as President. Carl St. Clair is currently celebrating his 34th season as Music Director, and the Symphony is searching for his successor. The Education and Community Engagement department currently consists of seven full-time and eleven part-time employees, as well as an extensive network of volunteers.

Job Summary

The Vice President of Education & Community Engagement will be responsible for designing, developing, and evaluating all education and community engagement programs. Supervising a professional staff and committed volunteers, they will oversee the delivery of programs, ensuring there is alignment between artistic priorities and educational initiatives. Reporting to the President & Chief Executive Officer, the Vice President of Education & Community Engagement will play a pivotal role in representing the Symphony to other arts, education, and civic institutions, cultivating deep community partnerships, and advocating for the importance of arts education. As a member of the senior leadership team, they will collaborate with Vice Presidents of other departments, and serve as the liaison to the board of directors’ Education & Community Engagement Committee. The Vice President of Education & Community Engagement will demonstrate a genuine commitment to expanding equitable access to Symphony programs throughout their work in the organization and community.


Strategic Planning Leadership

  • Contribute as an integral member of the senior management team, developing strategic plans and setting clear education and community engagement goals.
  • Prepare regular education and community engagement agendas, reports, and assessments to the Symphony’s Board of Directors, and specifically to the Education and Community Engagement Committee.
  • Develop, track, and report on key performance indicators (KPIs) which measure the success and impact of educational and community engagement programs. 
  • Develop comprehensive implementation plans for education and community engagement initiatives.
  • Conduct regular strategic reviews and assessments to ensure the Symphony's education and community engagement programs remain aligned with evolving community needs and organizational priorities.
  • Support and enhance additional strategic planning leadership needs, as required.

Supervision and Team Management

  • Hire, train, mentor, and evaluate the performance of all education and community engagement staff, including interns and volunteers, with a commitment to diversity and inclusion.
  • Supervise an experienced team of program directors to ensure the effective implementation and evaluation of all programs.
  • Partner with the Executive Vice President/Chief Operating Officer to design staffing plans, and produce operating budgets, forecasts, and cohesive integration with the organization’s operations as a holistic entity.
  • Support and enhance additional supervision and team management needs, as required.


Program Development and Evaluation

  • Lead, develop, and expand all aspects of the education and community engagement programs, ensuring that they are consistent with the Symphony’s strategic and organizational priorities.
  • Design and create innovative programs, as part of the Symphony’s goal to expand its music educational offerings to K-12 students, which incorporate current educational trends, leverage technological tools, and engage and excite participants and educators.
  • Oversee the creation of education program curriculum used in teacher, musician, and volunteer training, while monitoring and evaluating the progress of all programs and assessing the impact on the community.
  • Develop educational residencies at institutions of higher education throughout the region, while exploring the possibility of statewide efforts.
  • Ensure all programs are created and evaluated with a strong commitment to equitable access to diverse communities, driving initiatives that advance the Symphony’s goal of being a national model for accessibility.
  • When called for in strategic and operational plans, devise strategies to increase the earned revenue from education and community engagement programming to ensure a balanced portfolio of sources for sustainability.
  • Support and enhance additional program management and evaluation needs, as required.

Community Partnerships and Advocacy

  • Serve as the Symphony’s primary spokesperson in all education and community engagement matters, acting as a liaison between the Symphony and local community educational institutions.
  • Advocate for the importance and value of music education within the community, including engaging with community leaders, policymakers, and educators.
  • Cultivate and maintain relationships with local schools, social service agencies, colleges, and other educational and civic institutions, nurturing new and existing partnerships to broaden the Symphony’s reach.
  • Nurture existing and forge new partnerships to provide music therapeutic benefits to health centers and nonprofit partners in the wellness sector.
  • Partner with the Music Director and President & CEO on strategic matters relating to community partnerships, to ensure alignment between programs and the Symphony’s artistic vision.
  • Engage community leaders in building partnerships that support the Symphony’s mission and educational goals.
  • Advocate for the programs within the organization and with government officials, school boards, and philanthropists.
  • Support and enhance additional community partnerships and advocacy needs, as required.

Cross-Departmental Collaboration and Musician and Union Relations

  • Collaborate with the Vice President of Marketing and Communications, driving the marketing and public relations efforts for educational programs, developing initiatives which deepen audience understanding and appreciation for symphonic music that result in larger audiences for the Symphony’s concert programming.
  • Align efforts with the Vice President of Development in cultivating donors, presenting the case for support, and developing funding proposals for ongoing and new educational and community engagement initiatives.
  • Organize the musicians’ involvement in all activities supporting the Symphony’s education and community engagement efforts, in collaboration with the Music Director and other senior artistic staff, as well as driving the educational content of the Family Musical Mornings and Youth Concerts.
  • Oversee communications and negotiations, in collaboration with the Senior Vice President of Artistic Planning and Production, with the Musicians Union on all matters related to new or evolving education and community engagement programs which take place during the implementation of a contract cycle.
  • Contribute to and participate in labor negotiations, acting as a clear voice of knowledge and authority regarding ongoing and long-term goals of the Symphony’s education and community engagement programming, as well as making the case for changes needed, crafting specific proposals, and researching field-wide practices.
  • Support and enhance additional cross-departmental collaboration and musician and union relations needs, as required.


Traits and Characteristics

The Vice President of Education & Community Engagement will possess a deep passion for orchestral music and the role of musicians and teaching artists to provide significant community benefit and impact. They will be a strategic, dynamic, and visionary leader, who cultivates collaborative working relationships with staff, musicians, educators, and community stakeholders. Exercising sound judgment and integrity, they will have the ability to handle highly sensitive and confidential matters. Deeply committed to fostering musical appreciation and education for people of all backgrounds, they will be flexible and adaptable in responding to others’ needs. Creative, results-oriented, and with a forward-thinking mindset, they will have an innovative approach to solving problems.   


Other key competencies include: 

  • Leadership and Teamwork – The ability to organize and influence people to believe in a vision, while creating a sense of purpose and direction, while cooperating with others to meet objectives.   
  • Diplomacy and Interpersonal Skills – The capacity to effectively and tactfully handle difficult or sensitive issues, while effectively communicating, building rapport, and relating well to all kinds of people.
  • Planning and Organizing, and Time and Priority Management – The dexterity to establish courses of action to ensure that work is completed effectively, along with the ability to prioritize and completing tasks in order to deliver desired outcomes within allotted time frames.
  • Resiliency – The acumen to quickly recover from adversity, consider various options, and move forward in a positive way that encourages others.  

Job Qualifications & Requirements

A bachelor’s or higher degree in music, music education, arts administration, or a related field, is desired. The successful candidate will demonstrate a proven track record of leading an education and community engagement department, ideally for an orchestra, or for another type of arts or cultural organization which has a significant classical music component. It is expected that the successful candidate will have experience in managing music education programs, developing community engagement projects, and supervising an experienced team of professional arts administrators and dedicated volunteers. Experience in working with orchestral musicians and adhering to labor agreements is also desirable. A knowledge of and passion for classical music and a commitment to arts education is critical. Exceptional communication, organizational, and project management skills are required.

Additional Details

Pacific Symphony offers a comprehensive compensation package, including an annual salary estimated to be in the range of $120,000 to $150,000. Benefits include paid vacation, holidays, sick leave, and personal days; medical, dental, vision, life, and long-term disability insurance; flexible spending accounts, an employee assistance program, and a 401(k) retirement plan. Complimentary tickets to performances are available with a handful of exceptions each season.

How to Apply

To submit a cover letter and resume with a summary of demonstrable accomplishments (electronic submissions preferred), please visit For questions or general inquiries about this job opportunity, please contact:


Geoff Chang, Vice President

925B Peachtree Street NE, Suite 2192

Atlanta, GA 30309

Tel       (888) 234.4236 Ext. 218



Pacific Symphony's aim is to foster a culture where its constituents feel valued, supported, and inspired to achieve their highest levels of participation and contribution. This includes providing opportunity and access for all people of every background. In creating and sustaining a culture where equity and mutual respect are intrinsic, Pacific Symphony pledges to nurture a cooperative and caring organization where it attracts and retains people and partners who feel comfortable contributing their unique wisdom, perspectives, and experiences.