After 24 years of exceptional and "instrumental" leadership MYSO's longtime executive director Fran Richman to retire
MYSO will soon embark on a new era of leadership. Board President Susan Graham Wernecke and President-elect Patrick Rath announce that Frances Richman will retire as executive director of the organization as of December 31, 2012. She will continue to work with MYSO in the future, in a consulting capacity.
Wernecke notes: "MYSO has been extremely fortunate to have benefited from Fran's leadership for more than two decades. Fran has created a strong platform for MYSO's future success. We are very grateful for all she has done for MYSO."
During Fran's tenure...
- MYSO has risen to the top of the youth orchestra world and today is considered the largest and one of the artistically finest youth music organizations of its kind in the United States; MYSO was a 2011 finalist--and is currently a 2012 finalist--for the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards;
- MYSO has more than doubled its enrollment, from 400 students to more than 900;
- The organization has seen the number of its youth performing groups grow from four to twelve;
- MYSO increased its annual budget from less than $200,000 to more than $1.2 million
- As part of a collaborative initiative with First Stage, MYSO successfully completed a $15 million capital campaign to build a state-of-the-art youth performing arts facility--the first of its kind in the U.S.--the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center, which opened in 2005;
- MYSO established an extensive and nationally recognized Community Partnership Program, providing low- and no-cost programming to young people with financial need, many who live in the central city and attend Milwaukee Public Schools. These programs were launched not only to bring diversity to MYSO's membership and audiences, but also to ensure that all young people, regardless of their financial circumstances, have an opportunity to grow as a result of the numerous, well-documented benefits of music education;
- MYSO has become known for its sound fiscal management. MYSO has won the 2007 and 2008 UPAF Chase Finance Awards and the 2007 and 2008 Northwestern Mutual Management Excellence Awards;
- The organization has seen its endowment and reserves rise from $200,000 to more than $5 million;
- MYSO Received the United Performing Arts Fund 2010 Education and Outreach Award as well as the 2008 Wisconsin Governor's Award in Support of the Arts and the first Sharon Lynn Wilson Center Arts Education Award in 2005.
- MYSO is nearing completion of its fundraising campaign for "Fran's Fund," a $2 million scholarship initiative which provides scholarship funds for private lessons, instruments, MYSO tuition, summer programs and transportation costs to students in MYSO's free or heavily subsidized Community Partnership Programs who successfully transition upward into MYSO's audition-based programs.
Carter Simmons, MYSO's Artistic Director, attests to Fran's prominent role in the organization's tremendous success. "I have been incredibly fortunate to work with Fran, learning a lifetime of lessons from her. Fran is a visionary and powerful champion for young people, for MYSO and for the Milwaukee community. Her leadership has enabled MYSO to become a very strong arts institution and an incredibly powerful model for those who want to provide opportunities for young people. She cares deeply for people...and has set a standard for each of us to follow at MYSO. Everyone who is touched by MYSO has benefitted from her stewardship of resources and her ability to bring people together for noble causes. Her work here has created a foundation and vision that will drive MYSO's mission for decades; her work has truly been 'Instrumental in Changing Lives.' It's an honor to be her friend and colleague."
"Fran is considered one of the finest arts administrators in our community and nationally," remarks President-Elect Patrick Rath. Now considered a national leader in the youth orchestra community, Fran took the reins of MYSO (then "Music For Youth") in 1988, becoming the organization's first full-time managing director following a national search.
When asked to discuss her years with MYSO, Fran replied, "What stands out in my tenure here? First, the kids--as a non-musician myself, I am proud that MYSO has become the largest youth orchestra program in the country, offering top quality music training to more and more kids, including a rapidly growing contingent from underserved populations. Perhaps the most exciting 'event' during my 24 years has been the creation of the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center. It was not a very well understood concept when we started, but a terrific team of visionaries and workers and fundraisers made it come to life. As a result, about a thousand kids a week have this fabulous, cutting-edge facility in which to indulge their love for the arts--and where the arts can transform their lives and help them become our future creative class. MYAC has opened up a stunningly wide variety of educational programming opportunities which were simply not available before. I'm proud to have been a part of that!"
MYSO's Board of Directors is forming a search committee to search for a new executive director.