Chief Human Resources and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer

As the orchestral field continues to reckon with structural and historical inequities and become more inclusive, the New Jersey Symphony is leading the field in its investment in and commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I). The latest demonstration of this commitment is the formation of a C-suite position titled Chief Human Resources and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer (CHRDEIO).

Reporting to and partnering closely with the President & CEO, the CHRDEIO will oversee the HR function for the organization and lead the development and implementation of DE&I strategies. The successful candidate will have in-depth knowledge and experience in standard HR functions including but not limited to employee relations, compliance, payroll, compensation/benefits, etc. In addition, the CHRDEIO will serve as a strategic partner to shape New Jersey Symphony’s internal culture. To that end, elevating the recruitment, onboarding, training, evaluation, and professional development of administrative staff as well as partnering with members of the board on these initiatives will be critical areas of focus.

In addition to HR generalist management experience, the successful candidate will have demonstrated experience and an advanced understanding of DE&I strategy development and corresponding action plans, with an ability to transform the workplace environment by developing and implementing “people-first” centered policies and procedures.

While this is largely an internal facing position there will be some external work required. Internally, the CHRDEIO will play a critical role in realizing New Jersey Symphony as a strategic, equitable, and people-centered work community. He/She/They will act as brain trust to the New Jersey Symphony leadership, providing DE&I-forward counsel and advice on matters consistent with the priorities outlined on the organization’s strategic plan and related project/initiatives as well as serving as the primary point of contact with union and related contact negotiations. This is an exciting, legacy-building opportunity to join a well-funded and revered institution as it emerges from the pandemic and indelibly shape its future, elevating and advancing its mission in important ways.

More about the New Jersey Symphony

The New Jersey Symphony, with a current annual operating budget of more than $13 million and a $6 million endowment, serves as the resident orchestra of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center with additional performance series in five other outstanding venues throughout New Jersey. With over 140,000 guests attending more than 160 performances each year, and numerous partnerships with arts organizations, universities, and civic organizations, the New Jersey Symphony enjoys broad support from approximately 3,000 donors and 6,000 subscribers.

The orchestra enjoys a unique collaborative culture between its 66 musicians, 55 trustees, and 35-member staff. Its Music Director, President & CEO, and board leadership embrace their roles as fundraisers. A dedicated and experienced administrative team, an engaged and generous board of trustees, a five-year contract with its musicians, and a comprehensive new strategic plan have positioned the New Jersey Symphony for exciting growth.

In addition to its lauded artistic programming, the New Jersey Symphony presents a suite of nationally recognized education and community engagement (ECE) programs that promote meaningful, lifelong engagement with live music, annually serving as many as 60,000 New Jerseyans in nearly 21 counties. Core program offerings include Concerts for Young People; the New Jersey Symphony Youth Orchestras; Preschool Program; and the touring chamber music program, New Jersey Symphony Community Partners. Through its diverse array of programs, the New Jersey Symphony expands access to quality music instruction as well as provides vital arts learning experiences that reinforce social and emotional learning outcomes, foster confidence, and bring joy.

The New Jersey Symphony has seen significant progress in the quiet phases of its $50 million Sound Future comprehensive campaign, having already achieved more than 80% of its goal through initial leadership gifts. The campaign will culminate with the New Jersey Symphony’s centennial celebration in 2022.

At the forefront of addressing diversity, equity, and inclusion within the orchestral industry, the New Jersey Symphony launched last season a multi-year professional learning module for staff, musicians, and trustees as well as the Colton Fellowship for early career musicians from communities historically underrepresented in symphonic music. This year, the New Jersey Symphony appointed Daniel Bernard Roumain as the orchestra’s first Resident Artistic Catalyst to compose, perform, and advise the New Jersey Symphony programming to become more modern and inclusive of BIPOC artistry. These initiatives grew out of the New Jersey Symphony’s continuing commitment to transforming all aspects of the organization to reflect the diversity of the communities it serves.

Status: Full Time, Exempt
Reports to: President & CEO
Location: Newark, NJ

Scope & Responsibilities

Human Resource Development, Management & Training

  • Transition the HR operation—currently outsourced to a third-party vendor—and build a leading class in-house HR department.
  • Partner with CFO to manage payroll, compensation and benefits as well as maintaining accountability for HR compliance. 
  • Develop policies and procedures in line with organizational values for the recruitment, hiring, onboarding, training, retention and professional development of employees. 
  • Identify and implement relevant HR training sessions including DE&I training on anti-bias, anti-racism and related issues throughout the organization.
  • Enhance the recruitment process to effectively/inclusively court, acquire, on-board and thus retain a diverse workforce.

Diversity Equity & Inclusion Management

  • Develop, implement, and refine New Jersey Symphony’s DE&I strategy and measure efficacy of its initiatives, partnering with existing committees and departments consistent with the organization’s mission, vision and operating principles.
  • Review and enhance existing committee structures where opportunities exist to integrating DE&I perspectives throughout the work of each committee.  
  • Link DE&I across all programmatic efforts of the organization, such as in education and its strategies for expanding access to New Jersey Symphony’s youth orchestra program as well as new product development. 
  • Address and provide guidance to staff, members and the board on social justice sensitive topics.
  • Continually monitor DE&I activities across the entire organization and provide updates and/or revisions as appropriate.
  • Synthesize trends and remain current on DE&I best practices, sharing expertise thereby challenging the status quo

Cross-Departmental Collaboration

  • Support and accompany the CEO in equitably applying and leveraging resources to build and sustain meaningful relationships with key stakeholders and organizations to ensure New Jersey Symphony serves the community consistent with its mission. 
  • Form authentic relationships with members of the community to foster “win-win” opportunities while creating an awareness of New Jersey Symphony’s commitment to DE&I. 
  • Develop policies and practices around improving board engagement
  • Participate in New Jersey Symphony’s fundraising efforts by leveraging community connectivity
  • Be available to the VP of Operations and Personnel Manager in offering counsel and advice around HR and DE&A policies for the musicians
  • Participate in artistic programming meetings and planning
  • Guide the analysis of outcomes and performance measures from an equity lens leveraging its data to foster improvements within the organization, community engagement and audience development.

Key Selection Criteria

Prior experience in orchestra management or classical music training is not required, however, an appreciation for the fine and performing arts, and/or an interest in the artistic and educational mission of the organization is highly desirable.

Potential candidates will have 15 or more years of related experience, with increasing levels of responsibilities from one or more of the following roles:

  • Diversity and inclusion executive with extensive HR generalist or business partner accountabilities for a like-sized organization with experience managing third-party HR processes.
  • HR Director with prior role or accountabilities in diversity and inclusion from a large, complex for-profit or nonprofit organization with a deep understanding of nonprofit workplace culture and an appreciation of the arts.

In addition, the ideal candidate will possess the following characteristics and experience:

  • Bachelor’s degree or equivalent; master’s degree preferred
  • 10 or more years of relevant professional experience with increasing responsibility 
  • Strong HR generalist management capabilities with an emphasis on processes and procedures, recruitment, employee relations  
  • Demonstrated ability to develop and implement effective DE&I and community engagement initiatives within a mission driven organization
  • Effective communication, team building, influence, change management abilities, as well as compliance and risk management experience
  • Experience working with, supporting, engaging and motivating non-profit boards
  • Capability to work both strategically and hands-on to deliver results using project/program management and leadership skills
  • Familiarity working within a union environment.

Personal/Professional Attributes

  • High emotional intelligence with adaptability to a broad range of personalities and temperaments
  • Exceptional leadership presence with effective change management abilities 
  • A non-binary thinker able to identify and respect the nuance in complex issues and avoid blind spots
  • A consensus builder able to convene diverse and divergent opinions and shepherd people toward common goals and progress 
  • Interpersonal sensitivity and an awareness of the range of societal and community related issues
  • An interest in the performing arts or arts education.

To Apply, contact:

James Abruzzo
Managing Partner, Global Nonprofit Practice
DHR International
280 Park Avenue, 38th Floor West, New York, New York 10017

Soladé Rowe
Managing Partner, Diversity & Inclusion Practice
DHR International 
900 17th Street, NW, Suite 430, Washington, D.C. 20006

Phil DeBoer
DHR International
71 S. Wacker Drive, Suite 2700, Chicago, IL 60606