Opera Grand Rapids hires executive director


Emilee Syrewicze. Courtesy Opera Grand Rapids

Opera Grand Rapids is welcoming a new leader home.

The board appointed Emilee Syrewicze as the opera company’s new executive director. She will assume her role on May 1 and succeed Win S. Irwin, who was serving in an interim capacity.

“We are thrilled to welcome Emilee as our new executive director,” said Diane St. Claire, Opera Grand Rapids board president. “She will bring experience, enthusiasm, great communication skills and a fresh air to our organization. We feel very lucky to have found her and look forward to a successful and invigorating season with her at the helm.”

She will oversee the remainder of the opera’s 2018-19 season, which includes the Night with the Opera Gala on May 10 and Giuseppe Verdi’s “La Traviata” on June 14-15. In her role, Syrewicze will manage all day-to-day operations, including the opera performances, education and community programs. She also will lead fundraising programs, marketing and community engagement initiatives.

The appointment is a homecoming for Syrewicze.

“As a native of West Michigan, I consider Opera Grand Rapids my home opera company,” she said. “I'm thrilled to lead one of Michigan’s most elite performing arts organizations and help bring this complex and beautiful art form to a broader audience.”

The classically trained pianist is currently executive director of the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation in Charlotte, North Carolina. Prior to joining the foundation, she was executive director of Northwest Michigan Supportive Housing in Traverse City.

“We have every confidence that she will bring a firm commitment to excellence, the hallmark of our company,” said James Meena, artistic director. “Opera Grand Rapids continues to move forward as a vibrant and important regional cultural institution, and with our new executive director in place, the company can excel for the benefit of our entire community for years to come.”

Syrewicze is a graduate of Alma College, where she received her degree in political science before attending Vermont Law School to earn her J.D.

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