Van Wezel Foundation - Chief Operating Officer

FL, Sarasota

Sarasota, Florida is one of the nation’s fastest-growing metropolitan areas, and it is celebrated for its robust arts and cultural offerings. To accommodate this rapid growth and to provide a truly superior urban experience for a rich array of permanent and seasonal residents and visitors from all over the world, the City of Sarasota is investing hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade its vibrant bayfront. Central to this enormous project is the development of a major performing arts center.

The Van Wezel Foundation (aka, the Sarasota Performing Arts Foundation) is partnering with the City of Sarasota, other regional municipalities, private philanthropists and foundations, to build and operate what will be the performing arts centerpiece of the bayfront project and the entire region. To aid in accomplishing this ambitious goal, the Foundation seeks a Chief Operating Officer (COO).

As a member of the executive leadership team, reporting to Chief Executive Officer Cheryl Mendelson, the COO will join the Van Wezel Foundation at the outset of its efforts. The COO will assume the role of principal manager of the $275 million performing arts center project, including its development, construction and, eventually, its operation. The COO will work closely with the Foundation Board, local governments and other stakeholders to marshal and augment the Foundation’s fiscal and human resources to garner the public and private support necessary to realize this dream.

Success in this role requires an entrepreneurial mindset. The Foundation is currently in its nascent stage and must grow both in size and productivity. The complexity and scale of the project demand a COO with the experience and professional capacity for organization to drive a small and growing staff and volunteer cadre forward. The current focus of the Foundation is fundraising and government relations, and thus experience in advancement is preferred. Required is sufficient leadership and managerial experience necessary to supervise operations – including finance and budget, human resources and information technology and contracted professional services – during a period of exceptionally high activity, while growing the organization at the same time. Candidates who demonstrate a personal commitment to the arts will be at an advantage.

Seldom is there an opportunity to play such a central role in a project of this size and prominence in a region that is a magnet for people interested in, and committed to arts and culture. The work will be challenging, and the rewards will be great.

Inquiries, nominations and applications are invited. For formal consideration, applicants should submit a resume and cover letter in response to the opportunities and expectations described within the leadership profile to For fullest consideration, application materials should be received by July 9, 2021.

Confidential inquiries and questions may be directed to the WittKieffer consultants supporting this search – Dennis M. Barden, Melissa Fincher and Lauren Bruce-Stets – at 630-575-6930 or

The Van Wezel Foundation is an equal opportunity employer. We celebrate diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for all employees.