January 30,2024 - Chattanooga, TN – The Chattanooga Symphony & Opera Executive Committee unanimously voted to approve Susan W. Caminez as the next Executive Director. She will replace outgoing Director John Kilkenny, who will leave to take on a new role leading the New York Youth Symphony. The transition is expected to take place later this spring.
Caminez brings decades of experience to the role, having served in various senior leadership positions with non-profits in New York and Chattanooga. With previous executive leadership experience and an MBA in Arts Administration from Columbia University, the Symphony Board strongly felt that Susan was a perfect fit to take over during this critical time for the organization.
Since joining the CSO in 2021, Susan has served as the Symphony Bookkeeper, followed by a remarkable tenure as their first Director of Education and Community Impact. Highlights of her time in this role include a reimagining of the Symphony’s Sensory-Friendly and Young People’s concerts, resulting in over 13,000 of our region's young people having access to classical music, engaging new audiences through a four-year, $200,000 grant from the Mayor’s “One Chattanooga Initiative” which resulted in a Family Concert Series in partnership with Playful Evolving Monsters, Read20, and Semillas TN as well as a total re-branding of the Chattanooga Youth Symphony.
Don McDowell, current Board Chair, also shared his sentiments: “I’ve known and worked with Susan for more than three years and have been consistently impressed with the creative way she addresses issues. Her passion and commitment to the CSO is exemplary. Susan brings a wealth of experience to this role, and we are fortunate to have a leader of her caliber on our team. We will truly miss John and wish him and Susan all the best in their new positions.”
Incoming CSO board chair Amy W. Mahone agrees, adding, “We will miss John terribly as a friend and colleague, but we are so fortunate to have such a qualified candidate right here - Susan has done a tremendous job expanding the CSO's reach across the region, and I am thrilled to be working with her.”
Susan Caminez, stepping into the role of Executive Director, shared her vision: “We are in the midst of an exciting, transformative time at the symphony. I’m honored to help be a part of what’s to come as the new Executive Director. I love this organization - from our phenomenal musicians and chorus to our dedicated board, staff, and youth symphony members - the CSO is an integral piece of what makes Chattanooga great. I’m thrilled to usher in this next era.”
As the CSO embarks on a new chapter, we look forward to Susan Caminez's vibrant leadership. After a two-year international search, the symphony will also welcome a new music director, the first in 14 years. This duo, along with incoming Board Chair Amy Mahone, will lead the CSO into a bright future.
For more information about the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera, please visit https://chattanoogasymphony.org.
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Currently celebrating its 90th anniversary, the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera (CSO) is one of the largest arts employers and is among few professional arts organizations in the region. The mission of the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera is “to inspire, engage, and enrich the greater Chattanooga community through music and music education.” A strong advocate for symphonic music, opera and access to music education, the CSO utilizes the power of live orchestral music and music education programs to build connections across generations, inspire individuals, and transform the Chattanooga community into a more vibrant, exciting place to live.