Frank Byrne offers strategic thought partnership and coaching to executives in the arts as an Associate with Aspen Leadership Group. Byrne has worked in arts administration for over 40 years. He began his professional career as a music librarian with “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band in Washington, DC. Over the next 27 years with the Marine Band, he was swiftly promoted and given increasing responsibility, culminating in his role as the organization’s senior administrator.
Administration was not Byrne’s primary objective. His life’s goal was to be a professional tuba player and he pursued every opportunity to perform with the Marine Band and other ensembles. Longtime studies with Arnold Jacobs, legendary tubist of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, redefined his standards of artistic excellence.
Over time Byrne realized that while he could excel as a performer, his greatest contribution was in administration. He said, “Administration was not my first choice, but it was my last choice, and my best choice.” Following 27 highly successful years with the Marine Band, he was recruited to be General Manager of the Kansas City Symphony. Eighteen months later the symphony board appointed him Executive Director, a role he held until retirement in 2019.
During 19 years with the Kansas City Symphony, he helped transform the KCS to one of the most efficient, responsive, and successful organizations of its kind. All metrics – sales, fundraising, and operational outcomes – grew dramatically. He led the organization through a music director search, the successful transition to a new concert hall, built a great staff, and broadened the range of programming and community relevance. He takes greatest pride in the transformed organizational culture, one where there is mutual trust and respect among musicians, staff, and board. His contributions to the Kansas City community led to him being named Nonprofit Professional of the Year by Nonprofit Connect and to receive the Pirouette Award from the Kansas City Ballet. Upon his retirement, the Kansas City Symphony board named the principal tuba chair in his honor in perpetuity.
Still a musician at heart, Byrne considers himself a lifelong student of classical music and conductors. Music and its effect on audiences provides him energy to be an effective and insightful administrative leader. He and his wife have been married over 40 years, have four grown children and one amazing grandson. They live in Overland Park, KS, a suburb of Kansas City.