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Arts center is seeking a new leader

September 25, 2004|Mike Boehm | Times Staff Writer

The Orange County Performing Arts Center is seeking a new chief executive to succeed President Jerry E. Mandel, who will remain on board until July 2007, devoting most of his attention to logistics and fundraising for the center's new concert hall, scheduled to open in the fall of 2006.

By then, Mandel said Friday, he will be 67 and will have had a 10-year tenure with the Costa Mesa center, where he has been president since 1997.

"There's a shelf life for these jobs, and 10 years is really at the end of it," he said. "It's time for somebody fresh and new who can commit seven or eight years, which I can't do at 67."

Mandel said that Korn/Ferry International, a Century City headhunting firm, will help the center's board recruit his successor, with the aim of having a new president in place by next summer. At that point, plans call for Mandel to assume a new position, vice chairman of the board, for two additional years.

The idea, he said, is to have "a businesslike, corporate succession" at the top while the expansion project is completed.

Mandel was a fundraising executive for UC Irvine and Cal State Long Beach before becoming the center's president.

The key credentials being sought for his successor, he said, are experience in "a senior position" with a nonprofit organization or in the corporate world, and "people skills, management skills and the ability to do fundraising, fundraising, fundraising."

The center is a $33-million-a-year organization that accepts no government funding and has operated without a deficit since it opened in 1986.

Fundraising for the $200-million concert hall under construction across the street from the existing all-purpose venue has not been easy, however. The new hall is on budget and on schedule for a Sept. 15, 2006 opening, Mandel said, but a balky economy has left it about $80 million short of its goal.

Mandel hopes that as the Cesar Pelli-designed venue goes up, more big donors will come forward.

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