Across the cultural field and around the globe, leaders are thinking creatively about the driving purpose, values and structures of organizations in the 21st century. The Chief Executive Program supports outstanding leaders who are pushing forward along new paths, tackling the big questions facing their communities and the field in order to create change.

Downloads and Information

This one-year program brings together an international cohort of 50 CEOs who want to more effectively lead change in their organizations, communities and in the cultural field. The Chief Executive Program supports each CEO’s efforts by introducing different approaches from outside our sector, a range of analytical frameworks and a network of allies and collaborators. This program is not about one size fits all solutions – by the end of the experience, participants will have the tools and connections needed to boost their ability to create change in their own unique contexts. They will join our nearly 200 Chief Executive Program alumni to form a network of leaders positioned to introduce field-level change.

We look to each CEO to share their insights about their community’s assets, their organization’s approach and their own vision for the future. In this way, everyone learns from the deep expertise and wisdom contained within the cohort – leaders from a mix of urban, suburban and rural locations, representing a variety of disciplines from dance to zoos, coming from a wide range of perspectives. This group becomes your community of practice, with bonds that far outlast the program’s duration.

We offer a common language and shared learning experiences to connect this diverse cohort. We do this by introducing tools and frameworks from outside the cultural sector, which are not specific to any artistic discipline. Our partners at Harvard Business School and University of Michigan, Ross School of Business provide content that is relevant in a variety of contexts – content leaders can use year after year to help put their great ideas into action.


Selection Criteria

We look for leaders who are curious and open to learning from different, sometimes unfamiliar sources. Competitive applicants are ready to invest in a learning community and willing to devote the necessary time to fully engage in program activities and build relationships.

The ideal participant is a change agent – a leader interested in making a real difference in a community and in the field. Leaders chosen to take part in this unique experience have the opportunity – and a responsibility – to share what they’ve learned and serve as influencers for the field.

Participating leaders come from a broad and diverse mix of organizations that may include performing and visual arts, zoos, libraries, aquariums, botanical gardens, science centers, writer’s centers, historical societies, public media – any organizations that encourages creativity. This diversity is an essential part of the Chief Executive Program experience.


Applications open: May 3, 2016

Application deadline: June 12, 2016

Candidate interviews: Summer 2016

Participants notified of application status: August 1, 2016

Strategy & Driving Change: October 23–27, 2016
Harvard Business School

Learning from home: Winter 2017

Leading Others Towards Change: May 7–11, 2017
Ross School of Business, University of Michigan

Learning from home: Summer 2017

The Summit for Change: November 12–15, 2017
Sundance Mountain Resort, Utah



Participants in the Chief Executive Program need to have the support of their board chair and senior leadership team, as this program will require leaders to spend time away from the office. A supportive team will be integral to implementing the ideas that are sparked while participating in this program.

All accepted participants receive a fellowship covering the full cost of tuition, including room and board during each convening. Participants are responsible for their own travel costs to three convenings.