Executive Director - ODC, San Francisco, CA

Excellence, creativity, passion and inclusion are at the heart of ODC’s core values. ODC at 45 years is a multifaceted performing art organization encompassing a world-class dance company, a professional, pre-professional, and recreational dance training program (with 200 classes a week and 15,000 students annually), and an internationally regarded presenting venue.

Founded by Artistic Director Brenda Way in 1971 at Oberlin College as the Oberlin Dance Collective, ODC quickly realized the need for a more dynamic, pluralistic community to fulfill its artistic vision.  In 1976, the 16 dancers, painters, writers, photographers, and musicians of the collective bid farewell to Ohio, piled into a big yellow bus, and journeyed west to San Francisco to find a context for their artistic vision and social ideals.  

By 1979, ODC was the first modern dance company in America to build its own home facility. In 2005, ODC opened its doors to a second facility, the ODC Dance Commons and, in 2009, expanded its original facility.  The state of the art campus has eight fully-equipped studios, two performance venues, a free Healthy Dancers Clinic, a Pilates center, an art gallery, administrative offices, community spaces, and a café.  The campus was fully funded by three capital campaigns and is debt- free. 

Today, ODC inspires audiences, cultivates artists, engages the community, and fosters diversity and inclusion through dance performance, training, and mentorship. The organization remains deeply rooted in the promise of individual creativity. ODC’s programs promote artistic education and achievement, intellectual depth, dancer health, and passionate connection to dance, movement, performance, and creative art-making of all varieties. 

ODC School is dedicated to inclusion and creativity.  It includes both recreational dance classes and professional/pre-professional offerings that encompass creative and technical training to develop a dancer’s artistic capacity and enthusiasm.  The flagship ODC Dance Company performs two home seasons each year in San Francisco and tours nationally and internationally.  As a presenter, the ODC Theater creates the opportunity for cultural exchange, artistic innovation, and the presentation of diverse community voices.  ODC Theater is home to ODC’s artist residency program which provides “longitudinal residency” of three years for a curated selection of regional talent, allowing diverse artists to explore and create art within the infrastructure of the organization. 

In addition to its global artistic viewpoint, ODC maintains an ongoing commitment to community access by focusing on underserved youth through scholarships, in-school programs, and ticket subsidies.  ODC Outreach helps develop self-awareness, problem-solving skills, interactive capacity, and aesthetic appreciation within the context of movement and artistic expression.  The vision for dancer wellbeing and care is realized through the Healthy Dancer Clinic, a free clinic staffed by volunteer healthcare professionals from San Francisco General Hospital that is focused on the education, prevention, and treatment of dance injuries.

ODC operates on a $5,700,000 budget comprised of half earned revenue and half contributed income. The organization employs approximately 160 people, including 30 fulltime administrative staff, ten dancers on annual contract, and 120 part-time employees made up of dance faculty, front-of-house staff, professional artists, and technicians.  The organization is in the initial stages of a $14,000,000 campaign that will generate a $10,000,000 permanent endowment and a $4,000,000 ten-year spend-down fund for artistic and entrepreneurial projects.  ODC is governed by a 27-member Board of Directors; there is also a 12-member Advisory Board. 

Information on ODC may be found on their website: www.odc.dance  


Brenda Way received her early training at the School of American Ballet and Ballet Arts in New York City. She is the founder and artistic director of ODC/Dance and creator of the ODC Theater and ODC Dance Commons, community performance and training venues in San Francisco’s Mission District.  She launched ODC and an inter-arts department at Oberlin College and Conservatory of Music in the late 1960's before relocating to the Bay Area in 1976.

Brenda has choreographed more than 85 pieces over the last 45 years.  Her commissions include Unintended Consequences: A Meditation (2008) Equal Justice Society; Life is a House (2008) San Francisco Girls Chorus; On a Train Heading South (2005) CSU Monterey Bay; Remnants of Song (2002) Stanford Lively Arts; Scissors Paper Stone (1994) Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater; Western Women (1993) Cal Performances, Rutgers University and Jacob's Pillow; Ghosts of an Old Ceremony (1991) Walker Art Center and The Minnesota Orchestra; Krazy Kat (1990) San Francisco Ballet; This Point in Time (1987) Oakland Ballet; Tamina (1986) San Francisco Performances; and Invisible Cities (1985) Stanford Lively Arts and the Robotics Research Laboratory.  Her work Investigating Grace was named an NEA American Masterpiece in 2011.

She is a national spokesperson for dance, has been published widely, and has received numerous awards, including Isadora Duncan Dance Awards for both choreography and sustained achievement, and has enjoyed 40 years of support from the National Endowment for the Arts.  She is a 2000 recipient of the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship.  In 2009, she was the first choreographer to be a Resident of the Arts at the American Academy in Rome, and in 2012, she received the Helen Crocker Russell Award for Community Leadership from the SF Foundation.  In 2009 ODC/Dance was selected by BAM to tour Brenda Way's work internationally under the aegis of the U.S. State Department’s inaugural DanceMotion USA tour.  Brenda Way holds a Ph.D. in aesthetics and is the mother of four children.


The Executive Director reports to the ODC Board of Directors and works in partnership with the Founder/Artistic Director and the Board to develop and execute the strategic vision that supports ODC’s mission and values.  The ED will be responsible for translating ODC’s strategic artistic and educational goals into a language of best business practices that result in institutional vibrancy, national recognition, and organizational sustainability.  With the hiring of its new Executive Director, the organization will retain a dual leadership structure; the importance of this critical pairing is, of course, self-evident. The Search Committee will be seeking a working partner for Brenda Way, who will be able to effectively collaborate in ODC’s leadership.  Candidates from various backgrounds are encouraged to apply. Although it is desirable that the chosen candidate has a background in dance, this is not a prerequisite for consideration. The central roles of the Executive Director are as follows:

• Forge an effective and positive working relationship with the Founder/Artistic Director.

• Drive long-term strategic planning, working in partnership with the Founder/Artistic Director and Board of Directors.

• Create the appropriate business plan to support the overall mission, vision, values, and goals of ODC.

• Engage Board members to maximize their participation in ODC and their contribution toward its success and growth.

• Evaluate progress towards goals on a regular basis with the Founder/Artistic Director, Board, and senior staff.

• Work with Board Governance and Nominating Committee to identify, cultivate, and recruit new Board members and play an active role in the engagement of existing Board members.

• Lead ODC’s earned and contributed revenue generation activities in a strategic and proactive manner.

• Develop communication strategies for, and guide the marketing, external messaging, and outreach of ODC, including building its local and national profile. 

• Provide strong fiscal and organizational planning leadership, including guidance to all administrative department heads to maximize staff effectiveness and productivity.

• Forge and maintain important external relationships in the San Francisco community.

• Act as a principal voice for ODC externally.

• Manage and motivate the staff team, and in partnership with the Founder/Artistic Director, set the tone for a positive working environment for all working at ODC. 


The chosen candidate will be someone who is likely to establish a strong and productive working partnership with the Founder/Artistic Director; of course, prior experience with such partnerships would be deemed useful.  ODC seeks an individual who will deepen and broaden ODC’s engagement with its community including students, audiences, fellow arts organizations, governmental bodies, and fellow non-profits.  This individual will create a stimulating, challenging, positive, and dynamic working environment while setting and maintaining expectations that will challenge the organization’s leadership and staff to strive for and sustain the highest workplace values and institutional goals. The strongest candidates will also have the following skill sets and experience:

• A management career with seven to ten years’ experience with increasing levels of responsibility.  Strong preference given to those with a performing arts background. 

• Clear track-record of a collaborative working style, to be manifested in partnerships with the Artistic Director and Board of Directors.

• Proven ability to lead, motivate and direct the administrative staff, aligning their skills and priorities to most effectively achieve ODC’s priorities.

• The ability to manage all of the business aspects of the organization, with a clear knowledge of the ramifications of artistic and budgetary decisions and the need to align them strategically, drawn from experience in building effective financial budgets and managing those budgets. 

• The ability to work effectively with development team to meet contributed income goals and to establish strategies and metrics for sustainable giving.

• Excellent verbal and written communication skills, a dynamic public presence and compelling speaking abilities. 

• A real appetite for dance and, as a result, to become a true advocate for ODC. 

• Bachelor’s degree required and advanced degree preferred.

Additionally, the next Executive Director will have the following personal qualities:

• Very strong social and interpersonal skills, including taking delight in representing the organization in multiple social and business contexts.

• Ability to derive deep satisfaction from facilitating the best work of others.


A Search Committee of seven individuals – six trustees plus the Artistic Director – has been formed.  They will recommend a hiring decision to the full Board of Directors for approval.  It is anticipated that a hiring decision will be made by spring, with the successful candidate onsite as soon as possible thereafter.  The salary and benefits will be competitive with other companies of comparable size. 

Applicants should provide a cover letter, résumé, salary history and at least four professional references. Interested candidates, and recommenders of qualified individuals, are invited to contact the consulting firm retained to facilitate this important search:

Management Consultants for the Arts, Inc.
Attn: David Mallette

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Subject line:       ODC Executive Director Search

Last modified on Monday, 05 June 2017 08:24