Published Wednesday, July 13, 2016
TOLEDO — The Toledo Symphony Orchestra announced today that Zak Vassar has accepted the position as the Symphony’s President and CEO with a start date of July 18. Board Chairman Randy Oostra and George Chapman, head of the search committee, led the executive search process guided by Arts Consulting Group.
"Zak has the energy, personality and experience to build an enhanced TSO business model, drive strong development, and promote collaboration throughout the community,” Chapman said. “We look forward to working with Zak as he builds on the tremendous work by Bob Bell and Kathy Carroll in leading the TSO into the future. He will be an innovative leader who will drive our efforts to become the leading regional orchestra in the nation."
Over the last 15 years, Vassar has built an extensive career conducting domestic and international market research for Fortune 100 and entrepreneurial firms alike.
"After an extensive search process, we are pleased to have found a local candidate who met our hopes of finding a dynamic leader that will lead TSO into the future,” Oostra said. "Zak brings the TSO an excellent background in business, marketing, and participative management, which coupled with his longstanding passion and commitment to the TSO and local arts prepares him to be an exceptional leader."
“I am thrilled to come to this organization that has meant so much to me for over 20 years,” Vassar said. “I see great potential to build upon the strong history and reputation built by my predecessors and look forward to working with the entire organization.”
A graduate of Boston College with a degree in Marketing and a minor in Music History, Vassar credits his summer internships with the Toledo Symphony for inspiring his Thesis, Keeping the Music Playing: Marketing Classical Music in the 21st Century.
While a Vice President at Fulcrum Research Group, Vassar was engaged as a consultant for the Toledo Symphony, conducting an online study with Toledo Symphony subscribers, single ticket buyers, donors, and non-donors to make recommendations for patron engagement and TSO programming. This research filled gaps in the marketing strategy and established baselines for existing marketing effectiveness.
Most recently, Vassar was senior Vice President at Communica, Inc. There he developed research analytics capabilities to serve Communica’s vast portfolio of for-profit and non-profit clients. Notably, he has adapted his for-profit consulting experience to create new marketing solutions for non-profit organizations. He recently completed a large-scale engagement for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. This work recommended new strategies to optimize patron engagement, attendance, and fund-raising.
Since returning to Toledo in 2008, Vassar has continued to advocate for arts and culture in our region. He serves on the board of the Toledo Opera and is an active member of the Toledo Club and Rotary Club of Toledo. Zak and his family live in Old Orchard.