Opera Philadelphia

Published2 Feb 2015

Opera Philadelphia Fortifies its Senior Management Team by Naming Annie Burridge Managing Director and Hiring Jeremiah Marks as Chief Financial Officer

Company also welcomes Erin Kelley Sammis and Thomas Rhodes in key fundraising positions

David B. Devan, General Director & President of Opera Philadelphia, is pleased to announce that Annie Burridge has been named Managing Director of Opera Philadelphia. In this new position, Ms. Burridge will join the artistic planning team and assume responsibility for implementing the company’s business plan.

Equipped with degrees in vocal performance, opera, and nonprofit administration, Ms. Burridge joined the company in 2007 and most recently served as Senior Vice President of Institutional Advancement, overseeing the development, marketing, and communications departments. Ms. Burridge led the company’s recent name change and rebranding efforts, and has also conducted groundbreaking consumer research exploring the matrix of factors influencing today’s entertainment purchasing decisions. During her seven-year tenure as the company’s chief development officer, contributed income increased 76%.

Ms. Burridge also serves as Adjunct Faculty at Drexel University, where she has taught Writing for the Arts and Fund Development for the Arts in the Arts Administration graduate program. Before switching her focus to administration, she performed with numerous opera companies and orchestras, and was a young artist with Des Moines Metro Opera and Pensacola Opera. Burridge holds a Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Administration from the University of Pennsylvania; a M.M. in Voice Performance and a M.M. in Opera Studies from the New England Conservatory; and graduated the Valedictorian of the College of Arts and Architecture at Penn State University, where she earned a B.M. in Voice Performance with a Minor in Business Administration.

Devan also announced that Jeremiah Marks has joined the company as Chief Financial Officer. Marks most recently served as Controller at Seattle Opera. He succeeds Gary B. Gansky, who recently retired after 17 years of leadership with Opera Philadelphia.

Prior to joining Opera Philadelphia as Chief Financial Officer, Mr. Marks held the title of Controller at Seattle Opera.  Since 2011, he implemented acompanywide financial system, managed banking, auditing, insurance and government relationships and fiscally guided Seattle Opera through the 2014 Wagner Ring Festival, which resulted in Seattle Opera’s most successful financial year. Mr. Marks bring to Opera Philadelphia years of public accounting experience from one of the top international firms, PricewaterhouseCoopers, where he focused on Private Company Services in both audit and tax.  He has also worked for the publicly traded company Dean Foods, where he was instrumental in streamlining the compliance process. Mr. Marks originally focused his career in the arts as a singer and attended the Eastman School of Music. He is a Certified Public Accountant and holds an MBA from the University of Washington and a Bachelor of Business Administration from Baylor University.

The company also announced the hiring of two talented opera professionals to serve in key fundraising positions. Erin Kelley Sammis, CRFE, recently Executive Director of Pensacola Opera, joins the company as Director of Major Gifts and Thomas Rhodes, recently Development Manager at Fort Worth Opera, joins Opera Philadelphia as Director of Institutional Giving. Sammis and Rhodes will serve in leadership roles in the company’s Institutional Advancement department alongside Ryan Lewis, Director of Marketing & Membership, and Frank Luzi, Director of Communications.

Ms. Sammis joined Pensacola Opera in the spring of 2007 and served at the company's Executive Director, where she managed the day-to-day operations of the company including all aspects of fundraising and marketing. Ms. Sammis has worked over ten years in non-profit administration, with prior experience as the Development Associate for Chicago Opera Theatre and the Annual Giving Specialist for Girl Scouts of Tulip Trace Council. In 2013, Sammis earned her credentials as a Certified Fund Raising Executive from CFRE International, an independent, internationally recognized certifying body for the fundraising profession. Ms. Sammis is a graduate of Leadership Pensacola Class of 2009 and in 2010 she was recognized by the Independent News as a Rising Star of Pensacola. Before entering the field of arts administration, Sammis trained extensively as a singer, pianist, and performer, receiving a Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance from Furman University and Master of Music in Voice Performance from Indiana University. Ms. Sammis also participated with Opera Theatre St. Louis as a Gerdine Young Artist in 2004.

A native Texan, Mr. Rhodes comes to Opera Philadelphia after securing several national grants and new individual relationships as the development manager of advancement at Fort Worth Opera. When he isn’t hard at work raising money, he spends his spare hours publishing research with Carnegie Mellon University’s Arts Management and Technology Laboratory on wearable technology’s potential impact on the performing arts. He has presented on this topic at a national and international conferences and he continues to explore new intersections of technology and art. Mr. Rhodes received his Bachelor’s Degree in Music and German from Austin College and studied as a countertenor at the Prayner Conservatory for Music in Vienna. He continued his studies as a double degree student at both Carnegie Mellon University’s Master of Arts Management program and the University of Bologna’s Graduate Degree in Innovation and Organization of Culture and the Arts program. In addition to his studies, Mr. Rhodes has held internships at The Santa Fe Opera, Vienna State Opera, and Pittsburgh Opera; has worked at Opera Mauritius; and has held seasonal contracts with the Heifetz International Music Institute and the Greenwich Music Festival.

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