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NRO hires new executive director

Running a nonprofit arts organization is a bit different than overseeing a for-profit arts business, but Doug Adams, the new executive director of the National Repertory Orchestra, understands what it takes to be successful in both endeavors.

Adams replaced NRO executive director Ken Toltz, who worked for one season.

“Sadly, Ken wasn’t a good fit for our organization,” said boardmember Kate Taucher.



Adams has experience both in orchestras and television. He began his early career in news reporting, news management and station management. For nine years, he acted as the president and general manager of NBC-owned KXAS-TV in Dallas-Fort Worth. The station has been recognized as one of the most successful television operations in the nation.

Afterward, he transitioned to the orchestral world, serving as the president of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra in Denver. While there, the orchestra achieved six consecutive years of in-the-black financial performance and increased ticket sales by more than 40 percent. During that time, from 2002-08, Adams partnered with the NRO to produce a side-by-side show with the NRO and Colorado Symphony Orchestra.



“Over the next several years, I saw what tremendous impact the organization has on young musicians, and I became passionate about the NRO’s mission,” Adams said.

Now, after serving as president of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra for two years, Adams has moved back to Colorado to work for the NRO.

“It’s a true pleasure to be able to devote my attention to the continuing success of this important enterprise,” Adams said, adding that he feels working with music director Carl Topilow and the NRO staff is a privilege.

This year, he plans on maintaining the stability of the NRO, especially since it’s “a tougher situation in all music,” these days. He said he’ll “hit the ground running,” but at the same time, he’s going to take time to explore how the NRO operates before making any broad decisions or changes.

“I’ve (been involved with) the NRO for several years, but once you get on the inside, things look a little different,” he said.

He does plan to broaden the NRO’s support base more nationally, as records show the organization hasn’t made a concerted effort to appeal to large foundations that help orchestras grow.

“Doug’s accomplishments, experience and reputation in the orchestra world will be invaluable to the NRO as we strive to continue to build the orchestra’s status as one of the premiere summer festivals available to young professionals,” Topilow said. “I have no doubt that Doug will forge new paths for the orchestra.”

Staff and board members said qualities necessary for a nonprofit arts director to succeed are the same Adams shows: passion for the NRO, leadership skills, connections and “experiences aligned with the mission of the organization,” Taucher said. “In any nonprofit, it’s critical that its executive director be an excellent communicator with both the board and supporters, as well as the community. Doug will excel in all of these.”

Adams understands the differences between being in a managerial position in a for-profit versus a nonprofit quite well and puts it into simple terms: In the for-profit world, all you pretty much have to do is perform and please your boss. But in the nonprofit world, there are many more constituents to please, including board members, patrons, donors and audiences.

“The responsibility for a nonprofit organization like an orchestra is pretty profound because if you don’t do it well and right, the organization is at risk,” Adams said. “When you (work) in a big company, the only risk is your job. (In the nonprofit world), you have to be careful to perform at very high levels and make sure you don’t make any mistakes.”

But the true payoff:

“There’s a higher sense of value and personal reward because you know you’re doing something worthwhile,” Adams said. “And frankly, I love Breckenridge. (The offer) was just irresistible.”


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