President/Chief Executive Officer – David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts

Location: Tampa, Florida
  • November 22, 2021



Tampa, Florida

The David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts (“The Straz”) invites applications for the position of President  & Chief Executive Officer

The Position:

The President & Chief Executive Officer provides the overall institutional and creative vision, ensuring the Straz remains a forum for wide-ranging artistic expression that serves diverse audiences, and spearheads outreach and education initiatives.  Reporting to the Board of Trustees, the President & CEO is responsible for overall artistic, operational, and financial oversight including

strategic planning, annual/capital/endowment campaigns, staff leadership, board and government relations, revenue generation, cost control, financial stability, artistic/educational programming, community engagement, and the organization’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

The Straz Center’s mission is to inspire, educate, and enrich its entire community through the transformative power of the performing arts. The Straz Center is envisioned as a welcoming and inclusive international cultural institution renowned for innovation, creativity and celebration of the human spirit.


With an annual operating budget of $40M to $50M, the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts is the largest presenting and producing institution in the Southeast, hosting more than 1,600 performances, conferences, training activities, business, and community events annually.  A 335,000 square-foot campus with six distinct performance venues (capacities ranging from 150 to 2600), three restaurants, and the fully-accredited Patel Conservatory, the Straz is the largest not-for-profit cultural organization in Florida. It consistently ranks in the Top 10 Performing Arts Centers in the world by Billboard, Venues Today, and Pollstar.

The Straz is located in downtown Tampa on a picturesque nine-acre site along the east bank of the Hillsborough River. The largest performing arts complex south of the Kennedy Center, The Straz is home to one of the nation’s leading Broadway series, in addition to producing grand opera, and presenting a wide variety of concerts, performances and events. 

Opening in 1987, the construction of the Straz Center (formerly known as the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center) was one of the most courageous decisions in Tampa’s history.  The visionary governmental, civic, and arts leaders who founded it weren’t just building a performance space: they saw what Tampa Bay could become and knew The Straz would be the catalyst for the transformation.  The Straz led the way: revitalizing downtown Tampa and enhancing millions of lives in the process, show by show, student by student.

In pre-pandemic times the Straz has had an annual attendance of more than 700,000, hosting events 365 days a year.  Its annual economic impact is more than $130 million, generating more than 110,000 hotel room nights.  It had a full-time, part-time, and seasonal staff complement of 738 in 2019 with 950 volunteers contributing more than 79,000 hours.  There are more than 50 arts education partnerships with Title 1 schools and community agencies.

The Straz has three boards: the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts Board, the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center Foundation, Inc., and the Opera Tampa League Board of Directors.  Board members serve on active committees and task forces.    

Judy Lisi:

Judy Lisi joined the Straz Center in 1992 and plans to retire at the end of September 2022.

With her leadership, The Straz has significantly expanded its programming, established financial stability, retired an accumulated debt, and has met the goals of three comprehensive five-year long-range plans.  Her philosophy includes a belief in, and a commitment to the community and to ensuring outreach, accessibility, and audience development for the entire region through multicultural and educational programming, touring Broadway shows, and an institutional focus on good customer service. 

Judy was instrumental in the creation of the Dr. Pallavi Patel Performing Arts Conservatory, making the Straz the first major performing arts center outside of New York City to build space dedicated to performing arts education.  Opening in December 2004, the Conservatory annually provides courses for more than 50,000 young people, as well as adults.  Classes range from Suzuki Strings, creative drama, and beginning tap to rock school and musical theater to pre-professional training programs such as the Next Generation Ballet. 

She also expanded the Broadway subscription series from 2,000 to over 10,000, one of the largest in the country, and upgraded the Broadway selections to highest quality productions.

She founded Opera Tampa (OT) in 1986, opening with a production of MADAMA BUTTERLY, conducted by Maestro Anton Coppola.  Judy Lisi has served as general director of the opera since its inception, hiring all positions related to Opera Tampa including the Managing and Artistic Directors.  She oversees and approves repertoire and artistic choices, marketing, and budgets, as well as overseeing all Straz support service departments to the opera (Development, Finance, Production, Education, and Marketing) and working with the OT League board.  Opera Tampa is an integral part of the Straz overall operation. 

Judy opened the Shimberg Theater in 1995 for the purpose of supporting emerging theater companies like Stageworks and Jobsite Theatre which is now the resident theater company of the Straz Center.  The Straz is also the home of the Florida Orchestra, Opera Tampa, Next Generation Ballet, and other companies. 

The Straz’s highly skilled management team, many of whom have served the organization for more than twenty years, and a highly dedicated board of trustees all dedicated to the institutional mission and values, can also be credited to her leadership qualities and generosity of spirit.  

Master Plan:  BOUNDLESS: The Campaign for The New Straz

In 2017 the Straz Center began developing its new Master Plan to create an iconic  community gathering space: opening its lobbies to the Riverwalk and adding roof-top terraces, a water-side bistro, a multi-purpose pavilion/events space for up to 500 people, a signature restaurant, and the expansion of performance and educational facilities to be more welcoming and multi-functional.   

The goals of the campaign are to pioneer ways to serve better tomorrow’s arts consumer, extend the Straz’s reach as an arts educator and community builder, and demonstrate internationally the unique vision and vigor of Tampa Bay and its citizens. 

Besides the transformation of the physical spaces, the campaign will also focus on growing the endowment fund (currently at $70 million).  The overall campaign goal is $100 million, ($40 million has been raised to date).

Tampa Bay Area:

The Tampa Bay Region, which includes Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Clearwater, is the third MSA in the Southeast, one of the fastest growing in the USA.  It is ranked No. 1 in Florida for high tech jobs with a growth rate of 5% and consistently ranks high on many lists of the best places to live, work, and play.

Of course, of late, Tampa Bay has become renowned for the grit and success of its major league sports teams, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Tampa Bay Lighting, and the Tampa Bay Rays.   The region is also home to numerous universities, colleges, and trade schools, and its health care sector is burgeoning, attracting incredible talent and providing magnificent resources for all who live and work in the region.

Tampa Bay is situated half way up the coast, affording a moderate climate, glorious topography, historic neighborhoods, a diverse and welcoming population, with an influx of Millennials from around the country, an explosion of growth of progressive residential communities and businesses, and a passion for the arts.

Across the Bay from Tampa, St. Petersburgh hosts the world-renowned Dali Museum, and has recently renovated its pier to afford enhanced waterfront amenities to Bay area residents and visitors.

Tampa is distinguished by its remarkable sense of community, bringing together persons of all stripes across demographics, occupations, and points of view to create a vibrant, positive center of innovation and balanced lifestyles.  Though rich in history, in many ways Tampa is at the dawn of its Golden Age.  The best is yet to come.     


The ideal candidate will have seven to ten years of proven success in a leadership position with managing a large, complicated performing arts facility or cultural organization, coupled with the ability to excite and mobilize a community with a clearly defined vision of artistic excellence, and imagination.

An industry professional with existing networks within the cultural sector, especially in Broadway.  Comprehensive knowledge of many performing arts forms and all aspects of arts venue management.  Knowledge of both presenting and producing.   Knowledge of, and passion for Opera would be useful.

A personal vision of how the arts and arts education can transform the life of a community.  The passion, energy, and people skills to find the resources necessary to sustain this vision.

The ability to build and nurture excellent management teams and highly committed board members, collaborating to meet strategic, financial, and operational goals.

The strategic thinking, personal leadership qualities, political acumen, tact, diplomacy, and patience required to negotiate and manage change successfully.    

Experience in capital/endowment campaigns and/or building projects.  The ability to cultivate, solicit and steward major gifts from individual donors, corporate sponsors, and foundation/government funders, working with  a skilled development team and volunteers.

A proven track record in building successful public/private partnerships and working with the public/government sectors.

A deep commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion and evidence of positive actions taken to hold an institution accountable to these issues.     

An articulate champion for the performing arts with advanced oral and written communication skills.  The charisma to represent the Straz to a variety of audiences and in a myriad of settings.

A graduate degree in arts, arts management, or not-for-profit administration/business is preferred.  

Application Process

Salary is commensurate with experience and qualifications with an excellent benefits package.

Deadline for applications: Monday, February 28, 2022.

Interested candidates are invited to submit a cover letter and resume, with a list of references, in confidence to:

Margaret Genovese

Senior Partner

Genovese Vanderhoof & Associates


For additional information:

The David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, Inc. is an Equal Opportunity employer committed to being an inclusive workplace and strongly believes in the importance of having a diverse group of individuals represented. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age, disability, gender identity, marital or veteran status, or any other basis protected by applicable federal, state or local laws.