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Press Release – The Phoenix Symphony Selects Suzanne Wilson as New President & CEO


Tom Evans, Evans Communications
602.448.5483 | [email protected]


The Phoenix Symphony Selects Suzanne Wilson as New President & CEO

Wilson Provides Extensive Experience in Performing Arts, Education; Joins Symphony January 21

PHOENIX (January 2, 2020) — The Phoenix Symphony Board of Directors has selected performing arts industry veteran Suzanne Wilson as the organization’s new President and Chief Executive Officer.

Wilson will succeed Jim Ward, who led The Phoenix Symphony in the same position since 2011. Ward is retiring from the symphony to pursue work in the private sector.

Wilson has an extensive background in both the performing arts and in education — the two primary missions of The Phoenix Symphony. She previously served as the Executive Director of the Midori Foundation, a preeminent provider of high-quality music education to New York City public school students in underserved communities. She also served as Chief of Staff for the New England Conservatory in Boston, one of the nation’s premiere music institutions.

Previously, Wilson worked as Director of the Office of External Affairs and Partnerships for the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, as well as Vice President of Education and Community Engagement for the Celebrity Series of Boston. She completed Harvard Business School’s Executive Education Program, Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management. Wilson has a background in performing arts as a singer as well, and is a graduate of Kenyon College.

“I am incredibly excited and proud to join an organization with the kind of impact and reputation The Phoenix Symphony enjoys,” Wilson said. “It is my honor to collaborate with Tito, the talented musicians, dedicated Board of Directors, committed staff and the entire Valley community to advance this treasured musical institution. Together, The Phoenix Symphony will continue to create the highest quality music experiences, bolster economies and educate the next generation of musicians and audiences.”

Dr. Oliver Harper, Board Chairman for The Phoenix Symphony, said that Wilson’s background in arts and education combined with her energetic and creative approach to her work made her an ideal candidate for the position.

“We are very pleased to welcome Suzanne to the Valley and to The Phoenix Symphony,” he said. “She brings an extensive amount of experience in the performing arts to our organization, but just as importantly, she understands the importance of educating future generations of performers and patrons of the arts, something that is an integral part of our mission.”

Wilson was selected after The Symphony engaged Arts Consulting Group to assist in a national search for the new CEO. A search committee, led by Molly DeFilippis, Board Chair-Elect, included representatives from the Board of Directors, musicians and senior staff. In addition, three community Ambassadors partnered with the Search Committee and assisted with the interview process — Mary Jane Rynd, CEO of The Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust; Dr. Steven Tepper, Dean of ASU’s Herberger Institute for Art and Design; and Neil Giuliano, CEO of Greater Phoenix Leadership. Ambassadors met individually with each of the finalists to provide their own perspective on philanthropy, higher education, the corporate landscape, collaboration and the economic impact the arts have within the Valley.

“Suzanne is the perfect candidate to bring new insight and innovation to The Phoenix Symphony,” Tepper said. “During our interview, it became clear that she understood the value of the Symphony to the region, both as a performing arts organization but also as an educational organization. She will be a powerful leader in our community with immediate impact.”  

Tito Muñoz, Virginia G. Piper Music Director of The Phoenix Symphony, welcomed Wilson and said he is confident she will succeed in her new role.

“It is exciting to see someone with a background in both performing arts and education join the Symphony in this role,” Muñoz said. “Her energy and expertise will be a great asset to the organization moving forward, and I am confident she will help further the artistic vision of The Phoenix Symphony and the positive contributions our musicians are having on the arts and the community at large.”

Molly DeFilippis succeeded Harper as Board Chair on January 1 and is the second woman to Chair the Symphony’s Board of Directors in its 73 years, with Jeanne Herberger being the first. The Board consists of a broad spectrum of C-Suite community leaders with diverse backgrounds and experiences that each bring their own particular expertise to the organization.

“As we begin a new decade, we are excited about Suzanne’s leadership and what it will bring to the organization,” DeFilippis said. “We are also grateful to Jim who has kept music alive in this community during his tenure, as well as Ollie’s heartfelt passion, support and guidance as Chairman of the Board of Directors over the past few years as well. We thank them for their contributions to the Symphony’s past, present and future.”

The Phoenix Symphony is Arizona’s largest performing arts organization presenting classical and pops concerts at Symphony Hall in downtown Phoenix as well as concerts in Scottsdale, Mesa and throughout central Arizona from September through the beginning of early June. Founded in 1947, The Symphony provides unparalleled civic value to the community by performing for more than 125,000 students and children annually as well as touching the lives of tens of thousands of adults through its health and wellness programs, including the nationally acclaimed Alzheimer’s Research Initiative through the B-Sharp Music Wellness, A W.O.N.D.E.R Project. For more information, visit


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