Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra Announces New Executive Director
The Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra has hired a new director. Jessica Ishmael will lead the SMSO, replacing Sue Kellogg, who retired last year. The Michigan Symphony Orchestra gives us all the details:
The Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra Board of Directors would like to announce that it has hired a new Executive Director.
After 22 years of service, Executive Director Sue Kellogg retired at the end of SMSO’s 2022 fiscal year and JESSICA ISHMAEL has been appointed to succeed her. Ishmael was selected from a pool of candidates interviewed by SMSO’s Board of Directors and hired in time to coordinate a six-week overlap to ensure a smooth transition for the organization.
Ishmael, who officially starts on June 1, received a bachelor’s degree in education from Western Michigan University in 2006 and a master’s degree in library and information science from Wayne State University in 2010. After a rising career in libraries spanning over 15 years, Ms. Ishmael brings event programming and coordination experience specializing in targeting youth and young professional audiences as well as 4.5 years of experience as the library manager of a Class IV library (serving a population of up to 24,999) and managing a budget of $1.2M.
“Coming to SMSO was an alignment of stars,” Ismael said. “I know Sue from a regional group of peer mentors, and shortly after resigning from the Library, I learned that she would soon be retiring. One of our colleagues encouraged me to put my hat in the ring.
“I am delighted to bring my energy and my organizational and collaborative skills to SMSO,” she added. “I am very happy that such a great opportunity has emerged to stay in the area and is a perfect fit.”
SMSO board chairman Bill Downey said he thinks Ishmael has a lot of resources to draw on.
“We are thrilled to welcome Jessica on board as our new Executive Director,” Downey said. “His energy and creativity are a fantastic asset in helping us come up with new ideas and then bring them to fruition. We look forward to achieving new levels of excellence and community engagement under his leadership.
Arriving on board as Executive Director, Ishmael will also begin work at the same time as SMSO’s new Music Director.
“We have a real gem among us having a professional symphony and we as an organization want to share that with as many people as possible in our Berrien County community,” she said. “I look forward to working with our new Music Director to explore how we can continue to diversify our programming to expand our audience.”