Nashville Symphony Announces New Chief Development Officer

photo from Nashville Symphony

The Nashville Symphony has announced the appointment of Melinda C. Phillips as the organization’s new Chief Development Officer (CDO). Phillips comes to the Nashville Symphony with 20 years of professional fundraising experience, having devoted the majority of her career to positions of increasing responsibility at Vanderbilt University. Reporting to President & CEO Alan Valentine, Phillips is charged with leading the Symphony’s development team to raise $10 million annually for the not-for-profit arts organization.

In her work for Vanderbilt, Phillips rose over the course of 17 years to the position of Assistant Vice Chancellor of Annual Giving, directing the strategy and implementation of Vanderbilt’s multi-channel comprehensive plan for solicitation and stewardship that annually resulted in $25 million in donations from a pool of 40,000 donors.

Most recently, Phillips worked as an independent contractor with organizations including Washburn & McGoldrick, a boutique consulting firm helping colleges, universities, and independent schools successfully seek philanthropic support and create lasting relationships.

“Melinda’s longtime relationships in the Nashville community and her vast fundraising experience make her the perfect choice to lead our development team,” said Nashville Symphony President & CEO Alan D. Valentine. “We have watched her incredible work with Vanderbilt University and beyond from afar and are excited to have her join our team.”

“I’ve been attending Nashville Symphony concerts for many years, and I am thrilled to now have the opportunity to work for this cultural institution, that I believe so deeply in and whose work in our community touches so many lives,” said Melinda C. Phillips. “I know the power of music education and live performance, and it’s an honor to now be part of an organization that helps make those experiences possible.”

Phillips comes on board at an important time as the organization looks to grow their annual fund and reinvigorate stewardship for supporters while also adding additional personnel to the development team. With the recent launch of the 2024/25 season, Phillips will work closely to engage and renew patrons while also growing the base of support among new audiences and new donors.

About Melinda C. Phillips
Melinda C. Phillips, the Nashville Symphony’s new Chief Development Officer, has nearly two decades of experience in fundraising and engagement in the higher education sector. Over the course of 17 years, she rose through the ranks at Vanderbilt University, starting in 2005 as a Development and Alumni Relations Assistant, taking on positions of increasing responsibility and ultimately achieving the job of Assistant Vice Chancellor of Annual Giving in 2018. In that position, she led the strategy and implementation of the University’s Annual Fund campaign, soliciting and stewarding more than 40,000 donors and raising more than $25 million yearly.

More recently, she worked for the consulting firm Washburn & McGoldrick, working with higher education and independent schools on best practices for fundraising, stewardship, and portfolio management. Ms. Phillips earned a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies and History from Rhodes College in Memphis, TN, and a Master of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School in Cambridge, MA. She has been a frequent presenter at the Annual Giving Director’s Consortium and was one of EverTrue’s “40 Under 40” in 2019.

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