Vice President, People & Culture

About Lyric Opera of Chicago

Company Vision

Lyric is redefining what it means to experience great opera today. Through artistic excellence coupled with innovative, relevant programming; initiatives to connect with and grow new audiences; engagement with communities to ignite creativity across Chicago; and a modernized Opera House that is the setting for truly great experiences, Lyric is leading the advancement of opera. This collaborative vision will deliver ever more exciting, thought provoking and inclusive audience and community experiences—while increasing the gravitational pull of our art form, our company, and our city.


Company Overview

Renowned internationally for its artistic excellence, Lyric Opera of Chicago was founded in 1954 and distinguishes itself by presenting the finest artists in the opera world. Lyric is dedicated to producing and performing consistently thrilling, entertaining, and compelling opera with a balanced repertoire of core classics, lesser-known masterpieces, and new works; to creating an innovative and wide-ranging program of community engagement and educational activities; and to developing exceptional emerging operatic talent. Under the leadership of the General Director, Music Director, and Music Director Designate, Lyric is dedicated to reflecting, and drawing strength from the diversity of Chicago.


Through innovation, collaboration, and evolving learning opportunities, Lyric offers exciting, accessible, and thought-provoking audience and community experiences. It also stands committed to training the artists of the future, through The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center, and to becoming increasingly diverse across its audiences, staff, programming, and artists – magnifying the welcoming pull of the art form, the company, and the city. Lyric strives to become the great North American opera company for the 21st century: a globally significant arts organization embodying the core values of excellence, relevance, and fiscal responsibility.

For more than six decades, Lyric Opera of Chicago has made a profound impact on the artistic landscape of Chicago. Lyric's artistic strategy includes presenting a well-balanced season that includes world and company premieres that speak to the art form’s relevance today, classic and contemporary masterworks of the operatic canon, and programs that welcome new audiences to the art form and deepen the experience of returning opera lovers. Mainstage productions reach nearly a quarter-million ticket buyers each year.

About the Vice President, People & Culture

The Vice President, People & Culture is responsible for all facets of human resources and talent strategy for Lyric’s 150+ administrative staff and plays an active employee relations and benefits management role with Lyric’s seasonal and union employee groups. They lead the human resources and payroll teams to support the union and non-union payroll, regulatory reporting, and talent-related needs of Lyric Opera of Chicago. This Vice President also plays a role as an organizational strategy and change management advisor to the Senior Leadership team, partnering on initiatives ranging from company communications, business model design, succession planning, and Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility (IDEA).

The Vice President, People and Culture manages a team of seven, including two Generalists, a Compensation and Benefits Manager, a Talent Acquisition Manager and a Payroll team of three.  They report to the Chief Financial and Administrative Officer.

This opportunity requires the ability to understand the dynamics of an arts organization and build a responsive people and culture environment that balances creativity and accountability.

Major Objectives

Within the first 12 to 18 months, the Vice President, People & Culture will achieve the following major objectives:

  • Transition administrative staff back to the office in a hybrid mode post-COVID.

  • Develop and implement a strong, flexible human resources infrastructure that can meet the needs of a world class arts organization.

  • Serve as an effective business partner and advisor to the Executive Leadership Team on all issues around managing people in a dynamic and creative environment.

  • Optimize Lyric’s performance management system to ensure that employees and departments across the organization are working effectively towards achieving strategic goals.


The Vice President, People & Culture will have the following primary responsibilities:


  • Provide guidance and strategic direction for all dimensions of the business impacting the organization’s structure, staffing, employee engagement, and employee relations.

  • As a member of the Senior Leadership team, advise the President & CEO, Board Chairman, and other members of the senior management team on the human resource implications and risks related to key issues and important strategic decisions.

  • Provide support to the organization as it seeks to align revenue with expenses.

  • Adopt and institutionalize leading-edge human resources methods, systems, and tools that elevate Lyric’s human resource capacity and establish consistent best practices. 

  • Provide leadership and analysis that supports the evolution of Lyric’s business and organization including, but not limited to, planning for organizational growth or contraction, labor strategy, evolving job design, succession planning, and workforce management.

  • Lead the program management of Lyric’s IDEA Program, including coordinating the development and implementation of priority initiatives and actions by the IDEA Working Group and Implementation Team. Support the IDEA Steering Committee in its oversight role.

  • Serve as the primary liaison with Enrich Chicago, a collaborative of over 40 Chicagoland arts and philanthropic organizations committed to ending systemic racism in the arts.

  • Administer and support the Compensation Committee of the Board of Directors including its quarterly meetings which review significant human resource matters and approve key initiatives, including annual salary budgets. 



  • Lead a People & Culture team of four including the Director of Compensation, Benefits, and Operations and two Generalists in executing all human resources activities including, but not limited to, recruiting, onboarding, job leveling, compensation management, benefits administration, performance management, capability and professional development, employee data management, employee engagement programs and communications, reporting, and outplacement. 

  • Provide oversight and guidance to the Payroll team of three in processing a complex union and non-union payroll and in meeting all regulatory reporting requirements.

  • With the Finance team and respective department heads, oversee the annual compensation management process, ensuring compliance with Lyric’s compensation philosophy. 

  • Assist in labor relations activities pertaining to benefits and employee relations, especially in support of labor negotiations. Lead internal investigations, as needed, and collaborate with Lyric counsel in any employment law matters. 

  • Uphold, communicate, and enhance employment policies & practices, effectively addressing business needs with innovative solutions. 

  • Coach supervisors through performance management challenges, providing legally- and culturally-sound counsel and keen insight to create clear expectations for supervisors and individual contributors. 

  • Adhere to proper employee record keeping principles and standards and governmental reporting requirements, ensuring that effective internal controls are maintained.  

  • Provide strategic oversight of all employee benefits programs including health & welfare, retirement, flexible spending, PTO, etc., leveraging the skills and insights of the Director of Compensation, Benefits, and Operations. 

  • In collaboration with Lyric’s Financial Advisor and co-fiduciary, regularly and formally evaluate vendor performance for retirement and insurance plans. 

  • Partner with Payroll and Finance to ensure effective and efficient retirement plan administration, serving as plan administrator and fiduciary for qualified/ non-qualified retirement plans. 

  • Act as plan administrator for health & welfare insurance plans. Support the Director of Compensation, Benefits, and HR Operations’ work on compliance with regulations including, but not limited to, the Affordable Care Act. 

  • Serve as a critical resource and champion of Lyric Opera’s IDEA initiatives.


The ideal Vice President, People & Culture will bring most of the following qualifications and skill sets:

  • Outstanding interpersonal and communication skills with a high level of empathy and emotional intelligence. Comfortable presenting and mediating issues with colleagues at all levels.

  • Minimum of 10 years of experience in a human resources/talent management role required; at least five years in an HR leadership role is preferred.

  • Successful record of leading human resources and other teams that have contributed to the overall success of an organization in times of change. 

  • Prior experience managing multiple priorities and developing infrastructure, policies, and systems that support the mission of an organization, strong teams, collaboration, and accountability.

  • Demonstrated success serving as a business partner in strategic thinking, planning, implementation, and problem solving.

  • Excellent leadership, conflict resolution, and team-building skills; the ability to motivate, inspire trust and confidence, set goals, delegate, and ensure the accountability of colleagues.

  • Familiarity with unions and collective bargaining agreements, and their impact on non-union staff populations, is a plus.

  • Understanding of, or experience in, the non-profit sector and the performing arts industry is preferred.

  • Knowledge of employment law.

  • Unquestioned integrity, ethics, and values.

  • Working knowledge of and comfort working with ADP preferred; mastery of Microsoft products including PowerPoint and Excel.

  • A bachelor’s degree required; an advanced degree in a related field is an advantage.

Compensation and Benefits

The salary range for this position is $150,000 to $170,000. The Vice President, People & Culture will need to be based in Chicago at the Civic Opera House (staff is currently working remotely due to COVID-19). Benefits include medical, dental, and vision insurance; life insurance; short- and long-term disability; 401(k) program with employer match; paid time off including holidays, sick days, personal days, and vacation.


The Lyric Opera of Chicago has retained Campbell & Company to conduct this search. The team for this project includes Colleen Rogers and Marian DeBerry. To be considered for this opportunity, please send a letter of interest and resume to:

Colleen Rogers
Senior Consultant, Executive Search
(312) 896 – 8906