Kathleen W. O’Brien has been named president and chief executive officer of the Tennessee Performing Arts Center.
O’Brien, who has been serving as TPAC¹s chief operating officer, has been with the organization for 17 of its 24 years. She will assume her new role on May 1 when Steven J. Greil, whose resignation was announced in February, steps down from the position.
Aubrey Harwell, chairman of the TPAC board of directors, said the board is gratified to find its top candidate for the leadership post within the TPAC family.
"Kathleen is intimately familiar with TPAC’s mission, operation and constituency. Over the past 17 years, she has held a number of increasingly responsible positions. Her knowledge and dedication have helped TPAC become our city and state¹s premier arts, entertainment and education venue," said Harwell. "Kathleen is highly regarded and respected by the TPAC staff and constituents, and her peers in the industry nationwide. Well acquainted with the challenges facing arts organizations today, she¹s a creative and critical thinker with sound business judgment and superior administrative skills. The board is confident that Kathleen O’Brien is uniquely qualified to further the mission and success of our organization."
O’Brien said she is honored by the board¹s confidence, eager to build on TPAC’s success, and ready to respond to the challenges the organizations faces, including the departure of the Nashville Symphony from the facility in 2006, a new strategic plan, and ever-increasing competition for the entertainment dollar in middle Tennessee.
"TPAC is at a juncture that allows us to build on our past success and prepare for the future at a time of tremendous change. At this particular moment in time and history, this is a thrilling, unbelievable opportunity for me. I¹m especially grateful to Steven Greil for the opportunities he’s given me over the years and to the TPAC staff for their ongoing hard work
and dedication," said O’Brien. "My core vision is to align the resources of this company with the priorities of our new strategic plan. Programming, patron services, sponsorships, and financial health will be my priorities. I’m anxious to work with the board and staff on initiatives that I believe will take TPAC to the next level as a regional resource for arts,
entertainment, and education."
O’Brien joined TPAC in 1988 as director of public affairs, later serving as vice president of public affairs and marketing, senior vice president of marketing, and executive vice president of sales and customer services. TPAC departments now under her supervision include facility operations, box office, patron services, sponsorships, and marketing, while she has worked closely with the administration in education and fundraising to support their initiatives.
During O’Brien’s 17 years with the organization, average annual attendance doubled, its total operating budget increased from $4.9 million to $12 million, and TPAC Education surpassed the milestone of serving more than 1.3 Tennessee students and educators through one of the largest and most comprehensive arts-in-education programs in the U.S.
"I love the work that we do. I love it that education is a part of our mission," said O’Brien about her longstanding employment with TPAC. "I love being able to offer performances to the community that reach people on different levels sometimes it¹s entertaining, sometimes it’s pure escape, sometimes it¹s transforming, and sometimes, especially in the area of arts education, it’s providing a program that no one else in our region offers."
O’Brien graduated summa cum laude from Virginia Intermont College in Bristol, Va., where she earned a bachelor of arts degree in journalism. Her professional associations on the national level include the League of American Theatres and Producers, from which she received the 2004 national award for road marketing, and the Performing Arts Consortium. A member of Leadership Nashville Class of 2004-2005, she was on the boards of the Nashville Institute for the Arts, and the Nashville Entertainment Association, also serving as that organization’s president. She is an annual volunteer for ArtRageous, a fund-raising event for Nashville CARES. Prior to joining TPAC she was the director of public relations for Virginia
Intermont College. She lives in Nashville with her husband Tim.
"I’ve learned a lot in these past 17 years, specific to the arts, to the facility, and to programming, fundraising, and education," O’Brien said. "I look forward to working with everyone in the TPAC community to bring the very best in entertainment and arts-in-education programming to our audiences, teachers, and students.