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Swallow Hill Music

Swallow Hill Music

 Chief Executive Officer


Swallow Hill Music (Swallow Hill) was founded in 1979 and began as an outgrowth of the Denver Folklore Center, a music store in Denver’s Swallow Hill neighborhood that offered performances and music lessons to the community in the 1960s and 1970s. When the Folklore Center closed temporarily in the late 1970s, a group of committed volunteers formed Swallow Hill as a nonprofit organization. Swallow Hill is now the second largest acoustic music school in the country, offering lifelong learning in a wide array of musical genres to those in every stage of life. Swallow Hill sees folk music as not only a genre of music, but a way of life and a way to honor diversity and the rich fabric of cultures past and present. In addition, Swallow Hill is known as a platform for world-class artists, noteworthy local performers, and up-and-coming national and international acts, with multiple stages and performance venues that are a key element of Swallow Hill’s revenue model.

‘Bringing the joy of music to life every day’ is the mission of this extraordinary nonprofit organization which has brought music into the lives of countless individuals for more than 40 years. Through music lessons, live performances, and community outreach, Swallow Hill’s comprehensive program offerings and highly talented and diverse team of teaching artists, staff, and community engagement professionals are helping to grow, guide, and shape Denver’s music ecosystem. Reaching more than 165,000 people each year, Swallow Hill builds a community of music listeners and learners who are connecting to music in fresh and innovative ways.

Concerts include more than 200 live performances each year, bringing world-class artists to the region, highlighting emerging performers, and hosting exceptional local performers. Performances occur on three stages at Swallow Hill’s own venue, at the Denver Botanic Gardens, and throughout the community. These performances foster a community for musicians and music lovers from a diversity of musical tastes and backgrounds. During the pandemic, digital performances flourished and increased the online audience by providing new and innovative ways to reach more people through digital delivery to provide greater exposure for artists.

The Music School (School) offers private lessons, group classes, workshops, jam sessions, and events, both in person and virtually, that allow each individual—at every stage of musical development, age, and ability level—to learn and hone their skills. Hosting more than 64,000 visits annually, 70 talented working musicians serve as teaching artists at the School. These professionals are accomplished in a variety of musical genres, including folk, blues, jazz, bluegrass, world music, rock, hip-hop, country, and pop. They embrace and expand the interests and goals of hundreds of individual student performers each year and reach aging populations and disabled communities through music therapy. Swallow Hill also provides an Open Stage or Hootenanny so that anyone may have the opportunity to perform either in person or virtually.

Community Outreach programs are committed to making music accessible to the community at-large with a special focus on under-resourced communities. By taking programs into the community, more people of all ages are exposed to and engaged with the power of the musical experience. Interactive programs range from in-school workshops introducing instruments and song to young people to large audiences diving into the songs, stories, instruments, histories, and cultures of a wide variety of genres. Swallow Hill inspires the love of music with preschool children through the Little Swallows program, a 30-minute, weekly program in preschool classrooms that introduces three- and four-year-old students to the world of musicmaking. During a typical school year, Swallow Hill provides 112 weekly classes for 1,800 students at 28 participating schools.

Swallow Hill Music is governed by a board of directors, led by Chair Walt DeHaven. The current staff includes 18 full-time team members, with additional hiring underway, and more than 70 teaching artists. Swallow Hill Music is honored to be one of the 26 local nonprofits recognized as a Scientific & Cultural Facilities District (SCFD) Tier II Arts and Cultural organization. For the pre-pandemic fiscal year ending December 31, 2019, Swallow Hill reported total revenue of $6.6 million, with $1.6 million from contributions and grants and $4.8 million from program services. For the fiscal year ending December 31, 2021, Swallow Hill reported total revenues of $6.2 million, with $4.5 million from contributions and grants and $1.7 million from program services. Its FY22 total revenue is budgeted at $4.5 million, with $2.1 million from live performances, more than $750,000 from the School, almost $600,000 from contributions, and $1 million from additional grants. Swallow Hill enters FY2022 with $3.5 million in cash reserves, and it projects that its School and Concerts businesses will be at 70 percent activity and revenues compared to where it was pre-pandemic.


The Mile High City of Denver sits at the base of the majestic Rocky Mountains and enjoys 300 days of sun per year—more annual hours of sun than San Diego or Miami Beach. As the largest city in Colorado, approximately 716,000 residents live in the city and almost 3 million people live in the greater metropolitan area. Founded in the mid-1800s on the traditional territories and ancestral homelands of the Cheyenne and Arapahoe Nations, Denver served as a mining hub during the gold rush. According to WalletHub, Denver is the seventh healthiest city in the United States due to its affordable healthcare and more than 5,000 acres of parks, trails, golf courses, playgrounds, hiking, biking, and year-long mountain adventures.

Denver’s central downtown area is thriving with shops, restaurants, nightspots, and galleries. A mile-long pedestrian mall cuts through the heart of the city near the United States Mint, Denver Art Museum, Denver Botanic Gardens, and Denver Center for the Performing Arts. The addition of three new stadiums within the last seven years for the Colorado Rockies, Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche, and Denver Broncos shows the embrace of the professional sports teams in the state.

Highlighting the rich cultures of the area, special events celebrating diversity happen year-round, including Denver March Powwow, one of the nation’s largest Cinco de Mayo celebrations, Colorado Irish Festival, Colorado Gay Rodeo, Denver PrideFest, Museo de las Americas, and Art District on Santa Fe. The Five Points neighborhood is home to the Black American West Museum and the Five Points Jazz Festival. Denver is also home to the University of Denver, University of Colorado Denver, and Regis University, among others.


Position Summary

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) will lead all short- and long-term strategic planning to move the organization into the next stage of its exciting and bright future. Reporting to the Board Chair, the CEO will supervise and guide all aspects of Swallow Hill’s strategy, operations, programs, and performances and maintain excellent relationships with the board, donors, sponsors, audience, teachers, staff, partners, and other external stakeholders. As an innovative and transformational leader, the CEO will bring new ideas for growth in programming, partnerships, earned and contributed revenues, audience development, and digital platforms. As the primary spokesperson and external ambassador for the organization, the CEO will elevate new and underrepresented voices to better support and reflect the community that Swallow Hill serves. This individual will enhance and expand mutually beneficial relationships with organizations, foundations, corporations, patrons, and donors and extend Swallow Hill’s reach into diverse and underserved populations. The CEO will oversee Swallow Hill’s public visibility, branding, marketing, ticket sales, school registrations, fundraising, external and partner relations, and overall financial management.

Roles and Responsibilities

Strategic Leadership and Innovation

  • Guide the organization’s strategic direction and maintain financial accountability in partnership with the board, staff, teachers, and volunteers.
  • Encourage and promote innovative programs that challenge the status quo and propel Swallow Hill to consider opportunities that may be outside its traditional comfort zone.
  • Develop new and enhance current business model scenarios and strategic partnerships based on effective earned and contributed revenue forecasting models with recommendations that support decision making about Swallow Hill’s finances.
  • Ensure that audiences, teachers, students, donors, and other community members have a first-class experience any time they interact with the organization.
  • Commit to a culture of respecting different perspectives while nurturing an environment of equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility in every aspect of the organization.
  • Transform existing systems, policies, and programs to best represent post-pandemic needs and community expectations.
  • Engage, supervise, mentor, and evaluate staff while designing a structure that promotes their professional development and supports organizational values.
  • Maintain an organization with the highest ethical standards and ensure Swallow Hill’s employer obligations, legally and ethically, are fully achieved.
  • Embrace other strategic leadership and innovation roles and responsibilities, as needed.

Audience Development and Program Partnerships

  • Build and deepen relationships with Swallow Hill partners to ensure continued vitality of partnership programming and community impact.
  • Inspire brand building, marketing, and public relations programs that achieve earned income goals from ticket sales and school registrations while enhancing Swallow Hill’s visibility, reputation, and brand awareness.
  • Develop appropriate strategic and program partnerships that deliver meaningful interactions with the diverse community that Swallow Hill serves.
  • Increase collaborative efforts with other organizations to capitalize on production opportunities that also diversify and grow participation in Swallow Hill programs.
  • Conceptualize and implement processes for reaching a broader audience through performances and educational programs.
  • Ensure the highest levels of customer service, effective audience interaction, engaging student experiences, and equitable community outreach activities.
  • Commit to a spirit of inclusion and accessibility for intergenerational students and audiences from all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds.
  • Support ongoing relationships and manage contract negotiations with significant partners.
  • Embrace other audience development and program partnership roles and responsibilities, as needed.

Donor Stewardship and Community Engagement

  • Devise programs to increase contributed revenues in collaboration with the Director of Development and Community Engagement to maximize Swallow Hill’s annual fundraising efforts, endowment, capital, and planned giving opportunities.
  • Assume an active role in donor identification, cultivation, and activation for new funding opportunities from individuals, corporations, foundations, and government agencies in consultation with the board and staff.
  • Guide the board, staff, and volunteers in strategic development activities so that they can more effectively develop authentic relationships with individual major gift prospects.
  • Increase revenue from individual and institutional donors to ensure that performances and classes are affordable and accessible.
  • Embrace other donor stewardship and community engagement roles and responsibilities, as needed.

Board Collaboration and Financial Oversight

  • Identify, recruit, and orient board members who represent expanded personal and professional perspectives.
  • Envision programming with the staff that is planned timely, can be executed within the organization’s financial parameters, and serves as a beacon of inspiration.
  • Create, monitor, and report on a budget that fulfills the organization's vision and public mission.
  • Provide support to best utilize the talents and resources of the board, including educating, engaging, and energizing board members in their role as fiduciaries, fundraisers, and policymakers.
  • Monitor cash flow and present transparent financial reporting information for board review.
  • Engage with legal counsel, as needed, in representing and negotiating contractual matters with partner organizations, agents, promoters, presenters, touring groups, ensembles, musicians, and other independent contractors.
  • Oversee Swallow Hill’s real estate and facilities, including the maintenance, safety, and functionality of its primary facility and satellite location, as well as planning capitalization needs for future maintenance and utilization.
  • Embrace other board collaboration and financial oversight roles and responsibilities, as needed.

Traits and Characteristics

The CEO will be a people-oriented and resourceful problem solver who is driven by new ideas and opportunities that yield measurable impacts and results. Motivated by a passion for Swallow Hill’s mission with a keen sense of humor, the CEO will communicate effectively in writing and easily engage with an array of teaching artists, business and community leaders, and managerial team members. The CEO will quickly adapt to various situations and be ready to navigate shifts in an ever-changing business, arts, and education landscape. Intuitive and diplomatic by nature, the CEO will recognize, respect, and promote diversity in all forms and will balance internal priorities with external opportunities. The CEO will manage internal leadership and external representation while providing collaborative leadership and ensuring a safe, supportive, and inclusive culture for all.

Other key competencies include:

  • Leadership and Influence – The ability to inspire people with a compelling vision, mobilize resources, and create a sense of purpose and direction that has significant impacts.
  • Self-Starting, Creative, and Innovative – The acuity to envision and develop new approaches, programs, processes, technologies, and systems that achieve desired short- and long-term results.
  • Flexible Planning and Organizing – The dexterity to understand existing and evolving business models while responding to changing social and economic circumstances with specific and attainable plans.
  • Professional and Personal Accountability – The capacity to take responsibility for professional and personal actions, recognizing that mistakes create opportunities for learning and growth.


Qualified applicants should have a minimum of eight to 10 years of related senior management experience in the creative industries. A successful track record of best business practices in the nonprofit, corporate, arts education, or music presenting sectors with demonstrable leadership in generating earned revenues, donor stewardship, and fiscal management skills are needed. A deep commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility, and community engagement is required. Proficiency in Microsoft Office programs, customer relationship management tools, and other operating systems is expected.

Compensation and Benefits

Swallow Hill provides a competitive and equitable compensation package with an estimated salary range between $170,000 and $190,000 in addition to discretionary bonus opportunities. Other benefits include paid vacation and holidays; medical and dental insurances; and a voluntary 401(k) retirement plan. Reserved parking at Swallow Hill is also provided.

Applications and Inquiries

To submit a cover letter and resume with a summary of demonstrable accomplishments (electronic submissions preferred), please click here or visit For questions or general inquiries about this job opportunity, please contact:

Dr. Bruce D. Thibodeau, President
Ms. Kathleen Welling, Vice President

292 Newbury Street, Suite 315
Boston, MA 02115-2801
Tel       (888) 234.4236 Ext. 201 (Dr. Thibodeau) or Ext. 212 (Ms. Welling)

Swallow Hill provides equal employment opportunities to all employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, or genetics. In addition to federal law requirements, Swallow Hill complies with applicable state and local laws governing nondiscrimination in employment in every location in which the company has facilities.

Click here for the downloadable PDF.

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