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The Chief Executive Program™
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Executive Program in Arts & Culture Strategy

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The Chief Executive Program

University of Michigan
Ross School of Business

May 3-7, 2015
Ann Arbor, MI
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The Chief Executive Program



Our Partners

This program is the result of the incredible collaboration and support of The Kresge Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Fidelity Foundation, University of Michigan and Vanderbilt University.


National Arts Strategies believes that arts and culture are vital to community life. We also believe that community is vital to arts and culture. We've seen that the organizations who thrive are the ones who understand and connect with their communities. They partner with other local organizations and take part in civic initiatives. Most importantly, they listen to community members. This kind of connectivity and relevance is the key to sustainability.  With the support of The Kresge Foundation, we've built the Chief Executive Program: Community and Culture for CEOs working at the intersection of culture and community. These individuals lead organizations that use culture to respond to local needs and contribute to healthy neighborhoods.

This 1-year program serves an international group of 50 outstanding CEOs whose organizations work closely with communities on creative placemaking initiatives. Throughout the program, NAS helps leaders work individually and in groups to broaden their thinking about their environments and how to lead change. We support their efforts to bring new ideas to their organizations and communities. By the end of the experience, participants will have the ideas, tools and connections to collectively strengthen the cultural sector. They will join their colleagues from the first and second cohorts of The Chief Executive Program as a network of leaders and organizations positioned to introduce field-level change.

Putting new ideas into action requires change, and change doesn't happen overnight. We believe it is a result of learning, and that true learning comes about through cycles of exploration, reflection, application and sharing. This personal and organizational growth requires an investment of time and energy, but it's an investment that helps leaders make sense of the challenges they face and find opportunities they might have missed. We understand the time constraints faced by top executives, and we ensure that the program provides the ideas, tools and support that these leaders can put to work in their own organizations and communities.


The Experience

The Chief Executive Program: Community and Culture is built around two learning cycles that help leaders explore, reflect, apply and share concepts that address the two biggest challenges for cultural institutions – making strategic choices that are on-mission and leading change. Throughout the program, they also have opportunities to think beyond their local organization and community to debate the big-picture questions facing the cultural field and how we can respond to them. At the program's end, leaders meet one more time to draw upon their learning and harness the collective brainpower of the community to explore answers to these questions.

Learning Cycle

During the selection process, leaders shared the organizational objectives they hope to achieve over the course of the program and the issues they see for the field. Over the first few months of the program, leaders make connections with their colleagues and the NAS team. NAS provides tools and platforms to help participants connect around the issues they outlined during the selection process. We also lead them through activities like building an action plan to help tailor the program to their style and needs.

Action plans are the maps participants use to navigate the program and achieve the objectives they've set. They are living documents that help leaders incorporate the ideas and learning into their everyday work in an effective and meaningful way.

Learn more about the action plans »

During the program, participants come together at three in-person events and participate in a variety of “at-work” activities designed to help them move forward on the key objectives they have defined. These events and activities are designed to give participants a deeper understanding of the strategic challenges they face, a firm grasp of change leadership and the ability to translate their visions for the future into reality.

View a timeline of the program »



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The complex issues involved in leading a cultural nonprofit today can challenge even the most skilled management team. Using our first-hand experience in the arts and working with faculty from leading business and graduate schools, we deliver executive-level programs that help you find new opportunities, manage your resources and lead your organization toward its mission.


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