Executive Director

The Community Music School (CMS) is seeking a dynamic and seasoned leader with an entrepreneurial spirit who is deeply passionate about music education for all children and will work closely with the Board to achieve the goals of its strategic plan.  CMS is strategically poised for growth and is looking to strengthen its programs, expand its reach and impact, and build a stronger fundraising base. This will require a strong and visionary leader who is committed to our mission and has a background in music education; understands the challenges facing low income families; will be an effective ambassador for CMS in the community with grantors and other music programs; can engage volunteers and donors; and will maintain the quality of its programs.

Since 1994, Community Music School (CMS) has enriched and inspired over 2,000 students in Wake County by providing music lessons for as little as $1 per lesson to children, ages 6 to 18, who do not have access or could not otherwise afford music instruction. Our dedicated faculty provide 30 weeks of half-hour lessons between September and May and work individually with CMS students to tailor their instruction and support their aspirations. Core programming consists of private lessons enhanced with workshops and demonstrations from visiting artists, recitals and public performances in the community. Beginning students complete a year-long fundamentals class. Instruments offered include piano, violin, viola, cello, guitar, mandolin, harp, percussion, saxophone, clarinet, flute, trumpet and trombone.  More accomplished students can participate in ensembles in percussion, jazz, strings and rock. Advanced studies and more comprehensive instruction are offered to students seeking a future in music, including preparation for auditions and competitions, and performance opportunities with the North Carolina Symphony and the Raleigh Philharmonic Association, among others. CMS also offers programs in music technology (recording capacity) and musical theatre. CMS is a full member of Berklee’s City Music Network, providing access to PULSE (an extensive online hub for music education materials) and making students eligible for scholarships to summer camps and Berklee’s collegiate scholarships.

CMS currently employs a full time Operations Manager and two part-time staff members to assist with office work and overall supervision.  There are approximately 20 regular faculty members who are retained on an hourly basis to provide instruction. Instruments are provided for students' use free of charge during their enrollment, and all CMS students must be eligible for the Federal Free and Reduced-Price Lunch Program. During the 2016-17 school year, CMS students came from 70 different schools (or home schools) throughout Wake County.  Currently, CMS’s target enrollment is between 110 and 120 students. During the 2017-18 school year, CMS had over 40 students on its waiting list, reflecting the tremendous demand for CMS classes.  Since 2010, CMS has rented space in the Saint Saviour’s Center on Tucker St. in downtown Raleigh, which has seven classrooms/offices as well as access to physically accessible space for concerts, recitals, instruction and restrooms. 

CMS was founded under the leadership of Mary Cates, a former City Councilwoman and Raleigh Hall of Fame member, who in 1994 led a motivated team of volunteers from the NC Symphony, Raleigh Symphony Orchestra, Wake County Public School System, individual musicians and community leaders to launch the organization. CMS has received a tremendous amount of public support over the years, but due to a variety of factors, CMS classes were temporarily suspended from November 1, 2016 until February 1, 2017 due to insufficient funding. The CMS Board immediately launched a successful fundraising campaign to raise $100,000 in new money to re-open the school and create a small reserves account. The Board also created and approved 5-year strategic plan in December 2017 with the assistance of moss+ross (a strategic fundraising consulting firm) which outlined the following strategic goals: (1) become the leading program for Wake County students who do not have access or opportunity for music education; (2) build greater brand awareness of Community Music School and its programs to maximize impact and influence; and (3) double the number of students served to 200 annually.  To support these goals, the Board retained moss+ross to develop a 3-year fundraising plan and is now looking for a dynamic and seasoned leader with an entrepreneurial spirit who is deeply committed to its mission and will work closely with the Board to strengthen and expand this tremendous program.  

Candidate Description
The Board is seeking an Executive Director who has a background in music education and youth, understands the role music can have in transforming a child, has exceptional organizational and management skills, is creative, and has experience running an organization with many moving parts. The new Executive Director must be able to evaluate and improve current music programs, activities and operations; identify needs; develop partnerships with other community organizations; recruit and retain a high quality faculty; build an administrative staff; and work with the Board to implement the strategic plan and ensure the organization can successfully deepen its impact over the long-term.  CMS has a strong and loyal faculty and a 24+ year track record of providing quality music education to children from low income families around the county.  The annual operating budget is approximately $200,000 currently, and will grow under the new strategic plan.  There is unmet demand for CMS programs (40 students on waiting list), and a key goal in the Board’s strategic plan is to double the number of students CMS serves to 200 in 5 years (or sooner). 

The successful candidate will need to have a good working knowledge of how to manage internal affairs including being able to understand and manage the budget.  Financial acumen, a strong understanding of nonprofit operations, and the ability to secure an ongoing and growing base of support are critical components of this leadership position. The candidate must be fiscally responsible; optimize financial expenditures aligned to the budget; and ensure timely and accurate financial reporting to the Board of Directors. 

In addition to understanding internal operations, the Executive Director must be a consummate networker and communicator with a demonstrated history of strong fundraising success who will be able to build on CMS’s successful events and community support.  Over the last few years, CMS has sponsored several events that have been successful (e.g., annual gala in 2017 that raised over $50,000 (gross), community events, etc.). The successful candidate must be a talented and proven fundraiser who embraces fundraising and knows how to implement the elements of a successful fundraising operation; is comfortable and successful with making “asks” of $10,000 or more; and is driven to exceed fundraising goals. The successful candidate will also have experience in grant applications and in maintaining successful relationships with granting organizations.

The new Executive Director will need to build a strong team of colleagues dedicated to the mission in an environment where teamwork, communication, efficiency and organization are critical.  Building strong teams and overseeing and mentoring CMS’s dedicated faculty, staff and volunteers will be at the core of what the Executive Director will do to be successful internally and externally. The new Executive Director must be a strong and caring leader with the ability to utilize faculty and staff talents to their fullest.  The Executive Director must lead the team by example with a spirit of encouragement and camaraderie, but at the same time be able to ascertain organization and operational needs with an eye toward strategic priorities.

The next Executive Director will need to become an advocate in the community for musical education and become part of the fabric of the community through engagement with and participation in local groups, initiatives and events and by being strategic in promoting speaking engagements and private meetings. The ability to inspire and move people into action through the spoken and written word will be critical.  CMS has special relationships with key foundations, key donors and supporters, and agency partners that must be maintained and nurtured.

The new Executive Director should be knowledgeable and passionate about the challenges and needs facing our students and families including how they can be better supported; understand the critical role of staff and faculty; and have a thorough understanding of leading an established nonprofit including fundraising, financial management, human resources management, technology and operations. The Executive Director will have the support of a dedicated Board but will lead the organization in these endeavors, all in the service of exposing and nurturing students in their exploration of music. 

This position requires a willingness to meet people in the community, and a willingness to work nights and weekends during events and other times, as needed. The Executive Director will lead by example, demonstrating a commitment to hard work and dedication.


• Lead internal operations.
• Manage an increasingly complex organization and be able to monitor, plan and implement a course of action for meeting long-range strategic goals.
• Provide strategic, visionary leadership to the organization.
• Lead the organization in achieving strategic priorities. Maintain and implement the strategic plan in coordination with the Board and staff and ensure its monitoring and evaluation.
• Be the voice of CMS and its mission; develop a stronger board committee structure
• Work with the Board to create an annual marketing/communications strategy to strengthen the organization’s status and reputation in the local communities.
• Become part of the fabric of the community through participation and leadership in local events and panels and through speaking engagements.
• Develop relationships with the Board members, local leaders and donors that will lead to long-term support and advocacy on behalf of CMS.
• Maintain a strong relationship with partners in the community that provide support for music education and opportunities for our students.
• Exemplify the spirit of care and ensure the highest quality experience for all current and potential students of CMS and their families.
• Be knowledgeable about the value of music education and the particular issues facing low income students and families.
• Serve as an advocate for music education and ensure that leadership is knowledgeable about the top issues involved in delivering our program to students from low income families.

Fundraising and Financial Management
• Take responsibility for developing, managing and reporting on the organization’s budget and finances; reporting requirements to funders, auditors, the Board, and local, state and federal authorities.
• Develop a strong and thorough understanding of the organization’s finances and accounting methods and be able to effectively communicate and share financial information with Board, staff and others. Work closely with the Board Treasurer.
• Work closely with the development committee, build a development staff capacity, to help support the organization’s fundraising efforts and help build a diversified development plan; assist in stewarding major existing donors and help with soliciting leads and major gifts to support the strategic plan and the growing annual operating budget of approximately $200,000, which comes from grants and traditional fundraising.
• Work with the Board to identify expansion parameters and to plan for significant investments in faculty, staffing and infrastructure.
• Develop a thorough knowledge of the funding, history, major accomplishments and challenges of CMS; engage with key donors, volunteers, and agency partners who are critical to the organization's success while working closely with the Board and develop capacity on the staff to support these efforts. 

Operations and Programs
• Create a healthy, supportive, productive and safe work environment.
• Evaluate and monitor ongoing processes, operations and systems; identify critical needs; and plan and implement strategies for addressing gaps and improving efficiencies.
• Lead and manage day-to-day activities, routines and processes of CMS including student programs and services, the quality and composition of music classes and performance opportunities; and the facility needs to support our expanding programs.
• Supervise, evaluate and mentor faculty and staff; make hiring and retention decisions; work closely with the Board to ascertain staffing and volunteers needs and act accordingly to meet those needs.
• Take a leadership role in the implementation and expansion of Salesforce and be able to use new technology to streamline processes within the organization.
• Oversee and ensure the updating of the organization’s personnel manual and the policies and procedures critical to the success of the organization.
• Create an environment supportive of the faculty, staff and students, and work with those who help with fundraising and in other ways. This environment should encourage and engage students and families to participate in the operations, programs, fundraising, and general needs of the organization.

Board Relations
• Report to and be accountable to the Board of Directors; keep the Board informed of issues of importance to the organization and keep staff informed of Board decisions.
• Play an active role in the recruitment of new Board members and seek ways to maximize each member’s contributions. Keep former Board members engaged.
• Support the Board’s strategic governance to align with future growth and development.
• Assist the Board leadership in creating a culture of philanthropy and support through personal giving, Board involvement in fundraising and positioning the organization for success.
• Keep and maintain open communications regarding all programs (student success and needs) and operations (fundraising, finances, staffing) reported monthly to the Executive Committee and the Board.
• Prepare and provide materials and mailings for monthly Board meetings.
• Be able to reach consensus through collaboration.

Education and Preferred Qualifications
• Bachelor’s degree required; graduate degree preferred.
• Five or more years of progressive leadership experience.
• Five or more years of experience in music education.
• A minimum of three to five years of management level positions.
• A strong passion for music and education of all children, regardless of income.
• Experienced with the financial and operational side of a nonprofit or business including, but not limited to, budgets, finances, audits, and required reporting.
• A proven track record in fundraising success.
• High degree of emotional intelligence, maturity and integrity. 
• Caring and empathetic; optimistic by nature and can run business operations with a heart.
• Strategic and creative thinker with a proven history of leading an organization to reach ambitious goals and the wisdom to know when changes are required.
• Exceptional networker and relationship builder, with a track record of creating links with individuals, community groups, institutions and corporations.
• Stellar communication skills with the ability to listen, engage, inspire and educate. 
• Experienced mentor who encourages staff to reach organizational and personal goals and sets clear expectations for performance; has the ability to make difficult personnel decisions when required.
• Energetic and diplomatic with a sense of humor.
• Has an entrepreneurial spirit.

Organization Name: 
Community Music School
Career Level: 
Salary range: 
Commensurate with experience and abilities and reflective of salary levels in nonprofit organizations.
Job Type: 
Full Time
Triangle Area NC
Wake County
Organization Type: 
How to Apply: 

Submit a cover letter and resume in one document, including your salary and benefit requirements, and send via email to Confidentialsearch@cmsraleigh.org

Applications will be accepted until March 26, 2018.

Community Music Schools is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

Writing samples and  references  will  be  required  from  finalists  who  will  be  notified  after  the application deadline.  Academic, credit and criminal checks will be conducted before a final offer is extended. At least three references will be required by finalists.