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Cincinnati Ballet

What our client has to say

Need:                Find a Vice President of Philanthropy for renowned dance company

Service:             Comprehensive national search for outstanding fundraising  professional

Organization:    Cincinnati Ballet


Among the most popular performing arts organizations in Greater Cincinnati’s vibrant arts scene is the Cincinnati Ballet. Ranked 12th in the country, it is recognized as the “cornerstone professional ballet company of the region, presenting a bold and adventurous array of classical, full-length ballets and contemporary works, regularly with live orchestral accompaniment.”


The nationwide search for an outstanding fundraising professional began with personal outreach to a wide range of performing arts organizations including 49 dance/ballet companies. Announcements were distributed through 16 national sites to reach a wide and diverse network of highly skilled fundraising professionals. Despite an unusually tight market for senior level fundraisers, Cincinnati Ballet attracted the interest of professionals from across the country. Through extensive due diligence with potential candidates and references, a select pool of semi-finalists soared to the top.


CB President & CEO, Scott Altman: “I had led searches of similar scale in the past using national firms, but this time we stayed local hiring The Yunker Group. Jim Yunker and his team are specialists in building and growing relationships, and we felt their regional-centric focus and vast network would be prudent in finding the right person for this critical executive role. We knew going in that it would be challenging to fill the position. Specifically, finding someone to fit the culture of our organization, understand the regional market and demographics, have experience in working with a wide range of donors, and be able to put in the energy and hours –– let’s just say it’s a very specialized job requiring an exceptional individual.”


“Jim Yunker and his team, principally Jody Duckwall and Irene Harrington, came in sharp and precisely in tune with what we were looking for and needed. They met our accelerated timeline and did everything they could to make it easy and seamless for Ballet management, board leaders and top donors to meet and interview candidates, respecting everyone’s time and schedules. I was pleased that to help improve matching our style and culture with the finalists, The Yunker Group used its recommended assessment exercise, PXT Select™, and incorporated results of DISC, a tool the Ballet uses to improve our getting the best possible match.”


“If I were to give advice to other nonprofits seeking candidates, it would be to respect The Yunker Group process and, more importantly, to understand that you should be hiring for culture, fit, work ethic, and skill set. Bottom line, stay open to transferable skills. Be wary of preconceived notions. Look first at the qualities of the person and if the person is appropriate for your needs. You’ll never find a perfect person, they don’t exist. Instead, look for amazing and awesome, and that’s what we found and hired Adrijana Kowatsch to be our Vice President of Philanthropy.”


CB Vice President of Philanthropy Adrijana Kowatsch: “With a background in operations and fundraising, I am rooted in relationships. I like to say I’m in ‘the people business’ and getting people to care for a cause, then harnessing that care. It’s the work that an organization does that’s important. It all starts and ends with the mission. In higher education, it was about getting students qualified for the best career opportunities. Here in the arts, it’s about moving people to support the Ballet and also broadening people’s horizons when it comes to dance and the arts, regardless of their age or background. It’s about strengthening the community and attracting donors to what I call ‘transformative giving’ where their giving, or underwriting, or otherwise supporting the Ballet feels joyous to them and helps transform them while also supporting the Ballet.”


“I wasn’t really looking for a new role but when I saw The Yunker Group’s posting, I was immediately drawn to it and dropped a note to Jim Yunker. From my initial conversation with Jody Duckwall through meetings with multiple Ballet board leaders, staff and key donors, Jim and his team were very responsive and exceptional to work with.”


“They cared, gave honest advice, and clearly and fairly represented both the Ballet’s and my interests at every stage of the process. They were sincerely looking for the best match for all.”