OMAHA, Neb., July 10, 2018 - Omaha Symphony Board Chairman D. David Slosburg announced today the appointment of Jennifer Boomgaarden to the position of President and CEO of the Omaha Symphony. Boomgaarden, currently the Executive Director of the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra (SDSO), will begin her new post September 4, 2018. She succeeds James M. Johnson, who left Omaha in April 2018 to become CEO of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. Veteran arts administrator David J. Hyslop has been serving as interim CEO since Johnson’s departure and will continue in that role as Boomgaarden assumes her new position, assisting in the leadership transition.
“Jennifer immediately stood out to our search committee as a candidate with a creative, enterprising mind, a positive and collaborative approach to addressing challenges and opportunities, and an engaging personality that energizes those around her,” said Slosburg. “She is passionate and articulate, with proven leadership successes in financial management, strategic planning, fundraising, and program building. Jennifer will be a dynamic leader for the Omaha Symphony as we enter our 98th season and look toward the milestone of our 100th anniversary and beyond.”
Awarded the Helen M. Thompson Award by the League of American Orchestras in 2015 for exceptional accomplishment in the field of orchestra management, Boomgaarden is an executive leader with a passion for classical music, education, and the unique role that symphony orchestras can play in their communities. During her eight-year tenure as Executive Director of the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra, Boomgaarden successfully returned the orchestra to fiscal stability; retired its debt; added Music as Medicine and additional education and mentoring programs to its repertoire of activities; and articulated a new vision to guide the SDSO into the future. Under her executive leadership, and in collaboration with Music Director Delta David Gier, the SDSO expanded the scope of its programming and was awarded the John S. Edwards Award for strongest commitment to New American Music by ASCAP in 2012 and the Morton Gould Award for Innovative Programming by ASCAP in 2013. In 2017, the SDSO was awarded the coveted Bush Prize for Community Innovation for its ground-breaking work in community engagement and was selected as one of five orchestras in the country to host a New Music USA composer residency from 2017-2019.
Boomgaarden is no stranger to Omaha, having lived in the city for more than 10 years. In 1999 she moved to Omaha to become Associate Conductor of the Omaha Area Youth Orchestras (OAYO), and in 2004 she joined the Omaha Symphony as Vice President of Education and Community Partnerships, also serving as Staff Conductor. For six seasons she led and expanded the Omaha Symphony’s award-winning arts education and community engagement programs, resulting in the Omaha Symphony receiving the Leonard Bernstein Award for Educational Programming in 2010. In recognition of her leadership and passion for music education, Jennifer received the Omaha Public Schools A+ Advocate award in 2009 and the Nebraska Governor’s Emerging Leader in the Arts award in 2010.
“I am truly honored to be returning to Omaha as the next President and CEO of the Omaha Symphony,” said Boomgaarden. “Driven by an unwavering commitment to education, collaboration, and excellence, the orchestra’s future is bright. I look forward to working with the board, musicians, staff, and partners to cultivate a bold vision of service and make the Omaha Symphony a dynamic resource for our shared community.”
Thomas Wilkins, the Omaha Symphony’s music director since 2005, looks forward to welcoming his former colleague back to Omaha. “Jennifer Boomgaarden’s devotion to the Omaha Symphony’s music and mission was inspiring during her previous tenure here, and she has achieved an impressive array of accomplishments since she was last with us. She’s a multi-talented leader who has gained the attention of America’s symphony orchestra industry, and the Omaha Symphony is fortunate to bring her aboard.”
Led by chairman Dave Diamond, the Omaha Symphony’s CEO Search Committee comprised Omaha Symphony board, musician and staff representatives. The national search was managed by Catherine French Group of Washington, D.C., who specialize in the recruitment of executive and artistic leadership for American symphony orchestras and other not-for-profit music organizations.
Originally from Minnesota, Boomgaarden earned a BA in trumpet performance from Luther College in Iowa, and a Master’s degree in instrumental conducting from Northern Arizona University. She enjoys an active life that includes travel with her family, kickboxing, and golf, and she looks forward to moving to Omaha later this summer.
The Omaha Symphony is a non-profit organization that presents more than 100 live orchestral performances from September through June. In addition to MasterWorks, Symphony Pops, Symphony Rocks, Movies, Symphony Joslyn, and Family series concerts, the Omaha Symphony’s nationally recognized education and community engagement programs touch the lives of more than 45,000 children and adults each year. For tickets or information regarding the Omaha Symphony, call 402.345.0606 or visit omahasymphony.org.
David J. Hyslop
Interim President & CEO