Chief Executive Officer Part 2, Organ Historical Society

Location: Villanova PA
  • November 27, 2017

Organ Historical Society

The Organ Historical Society celebrates, preserves, and studies the pipe organ in America in all its historic styles, through research, education, advocacy, and music.

Brief History and Description of the OHS

The Organ Historical Society began with an impromptu meeting of young organ enthusiasts who were interested in locating historic pipe organs in New York City. OHS membership grew from that handful in 1956 to as many as 2,500 — an international group of musicians, organbuilders, historians, scholars, and music lovers. The founders of OHS aspired to visit extant American “tracker” organs, create a comprehensive list with specifications, and share information with interested organ scholars. We have far exceeded this aspiration in the six decades since, having created an online database of pipe organs with more than 60,000 entries; a historic organ citation program that has recognized more than 400 instruments; the world’s largest collection of pipe organ-related archives, books, journals, pamphlets, and other ephemera; annual conventions that take place in locations around the country; publications including a quarterly journal and award-winning scholarly books on the pipe organ; and an online store with organ-related books, CDs, videos, and sheet music.

Now is a time of revitalization for the OHS, as we take the significant step of moving our operations from Richmond, VA, to Stoneleigh Estate in Villanova, Penn., a historic mansion located on a 40-acre property that will be managed by the Natural Lands Trust. We are installing a historic Aeolian-Skinner organ as the centerpiece of this new home. The OHS Library and Archives, which has been located in Princeton, N.J., is also moving to Stoneleigh, so that for the first time OHS operations (except for the OHS Press) will be in one location. The renovation of the Stoneleigh Estate and the relocation is funded by generous support from the Wyncote Foundation.

The OHS is a membership society governed by a Board of Directors with five people elected by the membership to four year terms. The Chief Executive Officer manages operations and oversees a small staff. Dedicated volunteers run most of the OHS programs.

The OHS manages endowed funds of $1.7 million. Financial records are audited annually; the 2016 records are currently being audited by OHS’s new CPAs, CliftonLarsonAllen of Plymouth Meeting, Penn. CliftonLarsonAllen Wealth Advisors has managed OHS investments since 2016. A Budget Committee composed of the Board Chair, the Treasurer, and the CEO proposes a budget to the Board for approval each year. The Treasurer provides monthly financial reports for the Board. OHS’s finances are under constant pressure, and have stabilized during the past two years. In addition to Wyncote Foundation grants, the OHS has also received grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Bradley Foundation to support the OHS Library and Archives.

The OHS is building a vibrant center for American pipe organs at its new headquarters at Stoneleigh. With its unique organ-related programs and resources, its dedicated members, and its international reputation, the OHS is poised for growth, by increasing membership, augmenting endowments, creating educational programs, and pursuing innovative ways to share the King of Instruments with a rapidly changing 21st-century culture. We seek a Chief Executive Officer who will effectively and enthusiastically lead the organization through this exciting transition.

 OHS Programs

The Organ Historical Society is proud of its world-renowned programs, including:

• OHS Press — the only publication house dedicated to the pipe organ, producing a quarterly journal and a scholarly book approximately every year

• OHS Library and Archives — the world’s largest collection devoted to the pipe organ, with books, journals, pamphlets, postcards, sheet music, recordings, and other ephemera, along with a growing archive of records from organ building companies, organ composers, and performers

• Pipe Organ Database — an online database that aspires to have an entry for every pipe organ in North America, currently at more than 60,000 entries

• Conventions — annual conventions featuring pipe organs in a specific location or region, attracting attendees from all over the world

• E. Power Biggs Fellowship — an educational fund that brings new organ aficionados to OHS conventions, paying all of their expenses

• Historic Organ Awards — recognizes important instruments of historical merit with a certificate

• OHS Store — an online catalog of organ-related books, CDs, videos, music, and other resources

Goals for the next CEO

Over the next 5 years, the main goals of the CEO will be: fundraising, improving staff management, increasing membership, improving organizational governance, establishing Stoneleigh as a center for the pipe organ, instituting educational programs, improving communications internally and externally, and overseeing improvements to the OHS online store. The work by the current CEO and Board over the last 5 years has laid the foundation for this growth. A 2012 strategic planning session set goals that included:

• Improving financial reporting and budgeting

• Conducting annual audits

• Identifying a new headquarters for the entire OHS operations

• Identifying an environmentally sound location for the Archives

• Rewriting bylaws and streamlining governance, transitioning from a National Council to a Board of Directors

• Adopting a new mission statement

Following the achievement of these crucial goals, a subsequent strategic planning session in 2017 set the new goals outlined below and began discussion of characteristics and qualifications for a new CEO.


The CEO should lead a major fundraising effort to increase the endowment to a point where it can better support and increase programs and staff. The move to Stoneleigh offers an unprecedented opportunity to build on momentum and attract attention of donors. The CEO also needs to seek further support from private and government foundations.


The new headquarters of OHS at Stoneleigh offers an exciting new opportunity for the organization to establish a center for education, conferences and symposia, concerts, fundraising events, and archival research. The new CEO envisions possibilities for this location and space and works with the Board of Directors to implement them.


Education is a key component in ensuring the future of the pipe organ. The OHS is poised to create a new program of education, centered at Stoneleigh, but with participation from OHS members and affiliates throughout the country. The new CEO has the opportunity to create a vision for innovative education and procure funding to support it.


The CEO needs to be an adept manager, establishing clear expectations for staff performance and procedures for evaluating staff. Managing and encouraging growth of the staff to better support the mission and programs of the OHS will be crucial. The CEO should facilitate stronger communication among staff, some of whom work remotely. The new CEO has the exciting opportunity to recruit and work with a new generation of staff, volunteers, and Board members as we make the transition to Stoneleigh.


Membership growth is a significant goal for the CEO. Like many other membership organizations, OHS’ membership has declined, but has also stabilized recently. There is reason to believe that there is a pipe organ community that has yet to be identified and welcomed. The OHS has a few semi-active local chapters, which should be better connected with the national organization, while more chapters could be seeded in other locations. Finally, the CEO should develop consistent habits of communication with members.


While governance of the organization has been improved, there is still work to be done. The CEO works with the Board of Directors to ensure that the governance structure enables the OHS to achieve its goals and mission.


The 2017 strategic planning session revealed that communication – among the staff and Board, with membership, and with the public – is a key area for improvement. The new CEO should ensure that communication, using all available technology and platforms, works smoothly to further the goals and mission of the OHS.

OHS Store

The OHS Store (also known as the OHS Catalog), once a dependable source of income, has not kept up with advances in technology and competition from large online retailers. The new CEO oversees the operation and implements changes to make it more profitable and continue to offer a unique service to the pipe organ community.


Working with a convention coordinator and other staff, the CEO oversees the management of annual conventions, which are a major source of outreach and visibility for the OHS.

Desired Characteristics of the CEO

To achieve these goals, the Chief Executive Officer of the Organ Historical Society should:

• Have experience managing a not for profit organization

• Have financial expertise

• Have a passion for the pipe organ

• Be an inspirational and energetic leader

• Be visible in the arts community and organ world

• Be good at delegating • Manage people well, including staff, board, volunteers, donors, and public

• Have a history of successful fundraising

• Demonstrate initiative and persistence

• Be able to handle multiple tasks and projects

• Be a strong public speaker


For a leader with these characteristics, the CEO position with the Organ Historical Society offers an opportunity for innovative arts management and education in a thriving and growing organization with a unique focus, headquartered in a beautiful surrounding near a major metropolitan area.


OHS expects to introduce next CEO at its annual convention in Rochester, New York, in August 2018, with the successful candidate beginning work in July 2018. Confidential applications — including resume and a letter of interest responding to the leadership statement — should be sent to:


Margaret Genovese

Senior Partner


77 Carlton Street, Suite 1103

Toronto, ON M5B 2J7


Deadline for applications: Friday, February 9, 2018