Molly Sasse French, Executive Director of the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera, has announced her resignation effective January 31, 2016, after being on medical leave since the beginning of November. Sasse French is resigning in order to focus on her health and family.
“Molly Sasse French became the Executive of the CSO when its very existence was challenged by changes in funding and by a difficult economy,” stated CSO Past Board President, Spencer McCallie. “She brought together an efficient and effective staff, controlled expenses, increased fundraising, and enhanced our musical and educational missions to the community. The CSO Board is grateful for her extraordinary leadership. We also thank her for the pleasure we have had serving with her on the CSO Board.”
Sasse French served as Executive Director of the CSO since 2007. Her ability to assemble an outstanding staff at the CSO and increase the fundraising capacity of the organization are key factors that have prepared the CSO for the future. Molly was part of the search that the Board conducted for the CSO’s current Music Director, Kayoko Dan, and she ensured a smooth transition when Bob Bernhardt became Music Director Emeritus and Principal Pops Conductor.
Molly’s leadership of the CSO and her advocacy for the Arts have significantly enriched the greater Chattanooga community. “Molly is the embodiment of arts advocacy in Chattanooga,” states ArtsBuild President Dan Bowers. “She has served on the staff for a number of arts organizations in Chattanooga, including ArtsBuild. In each of these roles she has made positive changes, advancing the organizations and the arts as a whole. Although she is stepping down from her official role at the CSO, I am certain she will continue to be a passionate advocate for the arts. We wish her all the best.”
In light of Molly’s upcoming resignation, Samantha Teter, the CSO’s Director of Marketing and Corporate Partnerships, has been named Interim Executive Director. Samantha has been with the CSO since 2012, and previously worked for the Colorado Symphony and the Fort Wayne Philharmonic as Director of Marketing.
She has over 15 years of experience working in the arts, and is a graduate of ArtsBuild’s Holmberg Arts Leadership program. “We are very fortunate to have someone of Samantha’s caliber who can assume the top leadership role at the CSO on such short notice,” stated current CSO Board Chair, Don McDowell.
Don McDowell was recently named CSO Board Chair, succeeding Spencer McCallie, who is now serving as Past President. A retired manufacturing executive who spent many years overseas, McDowell lives in the Chattanooga area with his wife, Mary, and both are passionate supporters of the CSO.