Web Site:www.dallasopera.org
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Director, Human Resources
SUBMITTED DATE: 11/29/2017

Our Client

The Dallas Opera (TDO) is a world-class performing arts organization with an outstanding mainstage and chamber opera repertoire. Through the company’s commitment to extensive community outreach and education, it has achieved the highest possible standards of artistic excellence, accountability, efficiency and financial sustainability. These successes have attracted national and international attention.

Under the leadership of General Director and CEO Keith Cerny, a champion of new work, The Dallas Opera has presented the American premieres of several operas and three world premieres, offering a compelling combination of the innovative and the customary crowd-pleasers. The Dallas Opera has become a frontrunner in establishing new standards for community engagement through its simulcast series and its expanded education program.

More than half a century of artistic excellence and community engagement has earned The Dallas Opera a major role in shaping the national/international cultural reputation of Dallas. TDO has also made—and continues to make—an important contribution to the economic impact of the performing arts in North Texas.

For the opening of the spectacular Winspear Opera House, the company commissioned composer Jake Heggie and librettist Gene Scheer to create a highly, critically-acclaimed new opera based on Herman Melville’s 19th-century novel, Moby-Dick (April 2010). TDO has also commissioned important new operas from Jake Heggie and Tony Award-winning librettist Terrence McNally, Mark Adamo, and British composer Joby Talbot and librettist Gene Scheer. The Dallas Opera’s 2017-2018 season includes Verdi’s beloved La Traviata as well as the U.S. premiere of a contemporary “occult mystery film opera,” by Dutch composer Michel van der Aa, presented partially in 3-D.

Board of Directors

The business of the Opera is managed by the Board of Directors, which is comprised of influential business and community leaders. They have shown their commitment to the Opera by donating at the major gift level. Subject to the approval of the Nominating Committee, they are invited to become members of the Board. The Board of Directors meets five times annually (three times with the Trustees) to receive reports from the working committees, to vote on the annual budget and to attend to other matters of governance.

For more information visit: dallasopera.org


Position Description

This is a unique opportunity to build the first formalized human resources function at The Dallas Opera. As the first Director of Human Resources for the organization, this is a high-impact role collaborating with the organization to address the diverse needs of the union and non-union employee base. This is a highly visible position, interacting with full-time and project-based employees, and will work very closely with the Dallas Opera leadership team. Charged with building strong working relationships and creating a mission-driven, human capital strategy and operating plan to shape a positive and collaborative culture, this individual will be held accountable for providing leadership and daily hands-on execution in a wide range of HR policy, personnel, union and employee relations issues. This position reports to the General Director & CEO and works closely with all staff in this hybrid unionized/non-unionized work environment. Along with the CFO, the Director of HR jointly manages the Payroll and Benefits Manager in HR-related activities. 

Position Location: Dallas, TX

Key Accountabilities


  • Develop and maintain a strong culture of collaboration and excellence.
  • Ability to develop strong relationships with internal and external stakeholders (including unions, donors, board members and the community-at-large) and resolve problems in a calm and decisive manner.
  • In conjunction with the leadership team, design and deliver impactful HR best practices to enhance a culture that enables open and honest communication, creating an environment of respectful dialog and allows for meaningful win-win outcomes for disparate points of view.
  • Develop HR policies for the organization as needed (e.g., compliance with federal, state and local laws and other updates as needed, such as Department of Labor overtime rules).
  • Develop and deliver communications for internal audiences on a wide variety of organization and HR-related programs, policies and initiatives.
  • Serve as primary point of contact for all employee relations issues, delegating issues to the Payroll and Benefits Manager or resolving them personally, depending on complexity, sensitivity and union impact.
  • Provide courteous and clear feedback to staff members at all levels on opportunities to enhance workplace effectiveness, whilst maintaining strong relationships with all employee levels.
  • Complete exit interviews as required.
  • Conduct periodic reviews of employee classification as exempt or non-exempt under the FLSA.
  • Administer time reporting and overtime payment system.
  • Provide periodic training on overtime policies, time sheets and payment based on applicable law.
  • Ensure that a complete set of organization charts and job descriptions is available for year-round TDO staff (approximately 40 employees) and drafting new and revised job descriptions as required.
  • Develop performance management process (annual employee goal-setting, evaluation and feedback process) working with General Director & CEO and Payroll and Benefits Manager.
  • Support labor negotiation with AFM, AGMA and IATSE as requested by General Director & CEO.
  • Develop and execute reward and recognition programs.
  • Work with Technical Director and Head of Artistic Operations to implement new employee safety program (onstage and off).
  • Supervise the Payroll and Benefits Manager in the following areas:
    • Routine updates to employee handbook (e.g., reflecting changes to law or company policy).
    • Regular hiring processes (e.g., job postings, review of recruitment mailbox, reference checking, completion of background checks and educational verification).
    • New hire orientation (e.g., credit cards, time reports).
    • Maintenance of HR records (e.g., employee files, health records).

Knowledge Base


  • Accomplished human resources leader with a record of delivering sustainable business results through best-in-class people practices.
  • Strong working knowledge operating within non-profit environments with a strong preference for direct experience within performing arts (and more specifically opera).
  • Track-record of taking initiative, working independently and handling multiple priorities simultaneously; demonstrate a passion for success and strive to exceed expectations.
  • Ability to quickly establish and maintain credibility with key leaders at all levels of the organization; consultative skills and experience required.
  • Proven ability to work and implement in a unionized environment with multiple priorities which require strong conflict resolution, project management and decision-making capabilities; hands-on approach.
  • Excellent verbal, written, storytelling and interpersonal communication and presentation skills, including comprehension, effective listening and negotiating skills.


    Approach & Behavior—Cultural Characteristics


  • Authentic individual with impeccable integrity whose personal and professional values are consistent with The Dallas Opera’s mission, vision and leadership framework.
  • Inspirational coach, leader, colleague and culture champion within the company.
  • An astute team player who can quickly establish herself/himself as a valued member of the leadership team.
  • Strong work ethic and leads by example to foster a collaborative and inclusive working environment.
  • Strong mentor who can provide development guidance and is comfortable providing feedback and mentorship at the executive level and at all levels of the organization.
  • Contributes to an atmosphere in which people work together, enthusiastically and effectively, in producing outstanding results; raises performance levels of others.
  • Ability to understand, react quickly and calmly and motivate others to adapt to a changing organization environment.
  • Vibrant, performance-driven individual who possesses the fortitude to address challenging situations.
  • Well-cultivated, creative thinker and thought leader; demonstrates intellectual curiosity.
  • Hands-on servant-leader who has a passion for people, for the mission and for the success of the organization.




  • Bachelor’s degree in arts, humanities, business or related field is ideal. Advanced degree/MBA preferred.
  • 15-20 years of progressively increasing human resources experience, ideally in a unionized setting.
  • Deep experience in a mission-driven, non-profit organization.
  • Direct work experience in opera and/or performing arts strongly preferred.
  • Demonstrated track-record of HR policy design and implementation and workplace dispute resolution.
  • Ability to respond flexibly and knowledgeably to a wide range of personnel issues.
  • Knowledge of labor law for unionized and non-unionized work environments.
  • Strong work ethic.
  • Willing to work some hours outside normal office hours during rehearsal and performance season to provide HR support and to resolve HR operational issues and employee concerns.




Cindy Pallman-David                                           


Hanold Associates                        

+1 203-200-9437 (Mobile)                      


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