New England native Tina M. Sawtelle, The Music Hall’s chief financial officer for the past five years, Wednesday was named the new executive director of Portsmouth’s 142-year-old historic theater.
Sawtelle will assume the top role at the beloved theater as it and other arts organizations deal with the staggering impact of the Coronavirus pandemic. Her financial acuity, knowledge of the Seacoast community and deep commitment to the theater will be key in once again raising the curtain at The Music Hall at its reopening.
She takes over July 1, succeeding Patricia Lynch, who announced she is stepping down after 16 years at the helm to pursue other interests.
It was more than business acumen that earned Sawtelle the top spot. “In her five years at The Music Hall, Tina has demonstrated exceptional leadership skills not only in finance but in fundraising, human resource management, marketing and developing strategies for long-term success,” said Music Hall Board President Edwin Garside. “She’s the perfect fit.”
“Having the opportunity to lead this wonderful organization is the professional highlight of my life,” Sawtelle said. “Working at The Music Hall over the last five years has given me the great privilege of working with Patricia Lynch, a legendary industry professional, and the incredibly talented team that she has built.”
A selection committee chaired by board member and former board president Robert Hickey worked with cultural management consulting firm Genovese Vanderhoof & Associates on the nationwide search. “We received and reviewed more than 40 qualified applicants from across the U.S. and interviewed the leading seven applicants,” Hickey said. “After this extensive process, we were fortunate to find our current CFO, Tina Sawtelle, to be the most qualified, inspirational and financially savvy candidate to lead The Music Hall today and into the future.”
The Music Hall Board of Trustees voted unanimously Wednesday to accept the selection committee’s recommendation to promote Sawtelle.
Sawtelle, 46, has 25 years of experience working in the arts and entertainment, higher education and health care industries. Before joining the Music Hall in 2015, she spent 15 years at the University of New Hampshire in a variety of roles, including associate dean of finance and administration, vice president of finance and treasurer for the UNH Foundation and interim associate vice president for alumni relations.
She has a bachelor’s degree in health management and policy and a master’s degree in business from UNH.
“I look forward to building upon all that has made The Music Hall such a vital force for bringing people together in our community,” Sawtelle said.