Director of Development


Chicago Opera Theater (COT) is now in its 42nd season and has been a founding resident company at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance in Millennium Park since 2002. In its 41-year history, including the 2014 Season, COT has staged a total of 119 operas, 37 Chicago premieres, and 26 American operas. The company was founded in 1974 by Alan Stone and evolved to be an innovative, nationally recognized opera company under the guidance of General Director Brian Dickie, who led the company from 2000 to 2012. Andreas Mitisek became COT’s new General Director in June 2012. He is known for his adventurous repertory, visionary leadership, fundraising skills, and innovative audience-building initiatives.

The unique leadership styles of Stone, Dickie, and Mitisek have built the company’s national reputation for breaking new ground and creating the future of opera. COT’s earliest productions were small-scale stagings of Mozart and Rossini operas meant to provide performance opportunities for up-and-coming Chicago-area singers. A watershed moment came in 1976 when COT staged its first American opera, Virgil Thomson’s The Mother of Us All. The move was seen as a gamble on the part of Artistic Director Alan Stone, who saw a need to bring more American operas to Chicago audiences. The production sold out, establishing Alan Stone’s gamble as an incisive decision. Brian Dickie continued this vision, bringing COT to the leading edge of American opera companies, establishing COT as an advocate for 17th, 18th, and 20th century works, and attracting collaborators from around the nation and the world. Andreas Mitisek is revitalizing COT’s commitment to new and rare works, infusing COT productions with OPERA (Outside the box; Provocative; Engaging; Relevant; Adventurous Experiences). Mitisek is dedicated to attracting new audiences to COT by collaborating with other arts organizations and by exploring unorthodox performance venues such as swimming pools, parking garages, and warehouses.

With Andreas Mitisek’s combination of administrative talent and artistic vision for 2014 and beyond, COT will continue building the future of opera by engaging broad and diverse audiences through intimate performances, artistic collaborations, and education and outreach. Programs such as Opera for All (OFA) and the Young Artists Program (YAP) are building the next generation of opera fans and opera artists. OFA is an elementary education and outreach program running successfully since 2000 that gives Chicago Public School students in disadvantaged neighborhoods the opportunity to write, produce, and perform their own original operas. It is the only program of its kind in the Chicago area. Also running successfully since 2000, the Young Artists Program (YAP) provides performance opportunities and training for promising young opera artists. COT now stages three productions each year and attracts singers from around the country and the world.

Chicago Opera Theater’s FY14 budget was $2.9 million with $2.1 million coming from contributed income. The Opera is led by General Director Andreas Mitisek and an engaged and committed 16-member volunteer Board of Trustees.


The Director of Development, reporting to the General Director at Chicago Opera Theater, works closely with the General Manager, General Director, and Board of Trustees to increase contributed revenue for the company. This position plays a vital role in developing sophisticated contributed revenue strategies, as well as actively soliciting funds that will impact the growth of the Opera into the future. This chief development officer role is charged with conceptualizing and implementing a long-term strategy for building the donor base and charitable giving; growing community and volunteer involvement; increasing corporate interaction and philanthropy; and identifying and maximizing granting opportunities. The Director of Development manages a development department of two employees, including Development Associate for Foundation Relations and Development Associate, and one intern.

The overarching challenge for the new Director of Development will be to create and execute a successful fundraising program that raises significant dollars and builds visibility for the opera. He/she will be responsible for the direction, planning, and implementation of an annual campaign, capacity campaign, and planned giving program, including the stewardship, cultivation, and solicitation of donors and prospects for Chicago Opera Theater. He/she will work closely with the Board of Trustees and local, regional, and national foundation, corporate, government, and individual funders to identify and grow the resources to support Chicago Opera Theater’s artistic vision and strategic organizational development.


Responsibilities include the following duties, including the ability to work evening and weekend hours as needed:

  • With the General Manager and General Director, chart the short and long-term trajectory for development initiatives, evaluate current programs and strategies, and determine yearly budget targets with the objective of continuing the company’s current rate of growth.

  • Set, execute, and meet aggressive short and long-range goals for fundraising efforts.

  • Lead a new incremental 2-year working capital campaign (currently in the silent phase) of $1 million through summer of 2015, above and beyond the approximately $2 million in annual support.

  • Manage all donor cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship programs.

  • Oversee all fundraising, cultivation, and donor benefit events including the annual Gala, Opera Cruise, and Donor Room throughout the Season.

  • Secure sponsorships of productions and outreach programs across all giving categories as well as in-kind sponsorships.

  • Research and seek new funding sources, specifically multi-year commitments. Oversee grant research and writing.

  • Execute all Individual Giving categories: major gifts, direct mail, online giving, and planned giving.

  • Manage department expense budget and provide regular income forecasts

  • Supervise and coordinate activities maintaining Patron Manager. Ensure security and quality controls as well as data integrity. Generate regular financial reports on status for Board of Directors. Work closely with the Finance Manager to reconcile all transactions and ensure accuracy.

  • Supervise a full-time staff of two:  Development Associate for Foundation Relations and Development Associate.


Chicago Opera Theater seeks an energetic and enterprising individual as Director of Development. The successful candidate needs to be a “people person” who can work nimbly within a frequently changing creative environment. The Director of Development should be “customer focused” and possess strong, persuasive interpersonal and communication skills with the ability to articulate compelling messages for support that generate enthusiasm and commitment among stakeholders. He/she will have frequent interaction with others and must work collaboratively with all levels of staff, volunteers, donors, and prospective donors. The successful candidate must exhibit a polished presence, empathetic attitude, diplomacy, discretion, and a deep respect and understanding of donor and trustee relations. The Director of Development should possess an understanding of how to effectively build consensus with a sense of immediacy in achieving fundraising goals, as well as a great appreciation of the teamwork required to succeed organizationally. He/she will need to be a good manager, mentor, and teacher who can motivate his/her staff to achieve goals.

The Director of Development should have the capacity to embrace challenges and thrive in an entrepreneurial environment where creative ideas and close collegial relationships are appreciated. This important member of the senior management team must have exceptional organizational, problem-solving, and administrative skills, valuing practical accomplishments, results, and rewards. He/she must have a strong sense of self-management, with an outstanding ability to set priorities and complete multiple tasks simultaneously in order to deliver desired outcomes within allotted time frames. The overall ability to set, pursue, and attain achievable goals, regardless of obstacles and circumstances, will be a key quality. The successful candidate should demonstrate an ability to initiate and sustain momentum without close supervision.


A Bachelor’s degree is required, with a master’s degree preferred, and five to seven years of increasing responsibility and proven success in a fundraising role within an arts organization. Opera experience is highly desirable, as well as a personal interest in classical music and opera. Nights and weekends during the season and for meetings and events are required.  A proven track record in the identification, cultivation, acknowledgement, and stewardship of donors  and potential donors at all levels is a necessity, along with the ability to manage and develop budgets, maintain confidentiality, and conceptualize and implement special events. Good computer skills, including Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Access), donor database software (Patron Manager), and use of internet- based tools for research are required.


Competitive salary and benefits, including medical, dental, vision, prescription, vacation, sick and personal days, holidays, and discounted and complimentary tickets to Chicago Opera Theater. Pleasant working environment in downtown Chicago that is accessible by public transportation. 


Send letter and résumé (electronic submissions preferred) outlining demonstrable accomplishments and a verifiable track record of results to:

Ms. Lee Kappelman, Senior Consultant
Arts Consulting Group, Inc.
1718 M Street NW, Suite 283
Washington, DC 20036-4504

Tel       (888) 234.4236 ext. 4
Cell      (410) 218.1953
Fax      (888) 284.6651
E-mail  [email protected]

Chicago Opera Theater is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

Chicago Opera Theater

Andreas Mitisek, General Director
70 E. Lake Street Suite 415
Chicago, IL 60601
Box Office: 312.704.8414
Administrative: 312.704.8420
E-mail: [email protected]

Follow Us

Twitter Facebook Instagram Youtube