Jean Kellogg at a Meet the Merolini event

Merola Executive Director Jean Kellogg Announces Retirement

National search launched for new Executive Director

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (December 20, 2023) –Merola Opera Program Executive Director Jean Kellogg announced her retirement effective January 1, 2024, after more than a decade leading the world-renowned opera training program. "Twelve years ago, Merola made the wise decision to hire our first-ever Executive Director to help solidify the future of the organization," says Barbara Bruser Clark, Merola's Immediate Past President. "We could not have been more fortunate to have Jean Kellogg step into this pivotal role. Under her leadership, Merola has risen to a new level in the opera world."

Kellogg came to Merola in October 2011. Over the course of her tenure, she collaborated closely with two different artistic teams at the San Francisco Opera Center. She oversaw the development of If I Were You by Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer, Merola's first-ever commission of an opera, including a multi-year fundraising campaign and a world premiere that drew international attention. "Jean is the best," says mezzo-soprano Edith Grossman who participated in Merola in 2017 and 2019 and was in the cast of If I Were You. "Not only does she lead Merola effortlessly, but she has a way of connecting with people that is so genuine. I'm so happy and honored to have worked with such a legend." 

Kellogg shepherded the organization through the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic with a pivot to digital programming and the launch of the Merola Artists Emergency Fund to provide much-needed support to program alumni who had lost work. As the arts world emerged from the pandemic, she worked with the summer training program’s artistic leadership team to further expand diversity among Merola's programming and participants. The 2022 and 2023 classes have been among the most diverse in the program's history and their collective performances garnered rave reviews. In 2023, Kellogg also oversaw the commissioning and world premiere of the song cycle 26 Ways of Looking at a Black Man by B.E. Boykin, set to the poetry of Raymond Patterson. Kellogg remains a friend and inspiration to the more than 300 artists who participated in the program during her tenure. "Supporting young artists has been my passion since I started in this business nearly 40 years ago," she says, "and working with Merola has been the highlight of my career."

"Jean Kellogg, whom I affectionately call Mama Jean, is among the rarest of humans; consistently kind, devoutly supportive, and a fierce advocate for young singers!" says tenor Issachah Savage (Merola '13). "Jean has brought such love and energy to leading Merola for so long!" says countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen (Merola '16). "Her presence lights up a room, and her leadership of Merola has changed my life and the lives of so many other young singers. I truly don’t know where I would be today without Merola and Jean." Pianist Ronny Michael Greenberg (Merola '14) adds, "Jean Kellogg has been the heartbeat of the Merola Opera Program, guiding it with unparalleled passion and a deep understanding of artists and their journey. Her commitment to nurturing talent and her infectious sense of humor have left an indelible mark on all who have had the pleasure of working with her. As she steps into retirement, her legacy of support and kindness will continue to resonate with us for many years to come."

The Merola board has asked Kellogg to stay on as a part-time consultant until her successor is in place. They have engaged Management Consultants for the Arts (MCA) to launch a national search for Merola's next Executive Director. “We are delighted to work with the talented team at MCA, particularly when you consider that they helped us find Jean Kellogg for our first Executive Director," says Jamie Cross, Merola's new President.

"There is simply no adequate way to express our gratitude for the tireless efforts and inspired leadership Jean has provided over the past twelve years," says Patrick Wilken, Merola's Chairman. "Her passion for the Merola mission and advocacy for young artists has been truly inspirational. As Jean starts her 'next chapter,' she leaves the organization significantly stronger than when she joined the Merola family."

Management Consultants for the Arts has been engaged to facilitate the search process for a new Executive Director.  More information on the position and details of submitting an application can be found at here

About Jean Kellogg 
Jean Kellogg joined the Merola Opera Program on October 3, 2011, as its first Executive Director. From 2008-2011, Kellogg was the first Executive Director of the Hylton Performing Arts Center at George Mason University’s Prince William Campus in Manassas, VA. Overseeing the Center’s construction and program development from the ground up, along with completing the capital campaign, she worked with the community partners consisting of Prince William County, the City of Manassas, and George Mason University to ensure the successful grand opening of the Center in May of 2010.

Prior to coming to Mason, Kellogg was the Director of Education at Lyric Opera of Chicago for nine years, where she significantly increased the scope and volume of outreach programs for students and adults, including the commission of three operas for children to perform. During the 1990’s, Kellogg was the Dean of the Levine School of Music in Washington, D.C. and its acting Executive Director in 1998. Kellogg has also been on the administrative staffs of Greater Miami Opera (now Florida Grand Opera), Chautauqua Opera, and Westminster Choir College.

Jean Kellogg has a bachelor’s degree in piano performance from Florida State University, and a Master’s degree in piano accompaniment and coaching from Westminster Choir College. 
She is a graduate of Leadership Prince William, Class of 2010, and was honored as one of 50 Influential Women of Virginia in May of 2010. She served on the boards of the Prince William Arts Council and Encore Creativity, an organization that provides performance opportunities for adults over 55. She has been a panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts, Opera America conferences, and the Children’s International Film Festival as well as an adjudicator for the Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions, the James Toland Vocal Competition, and numerous university and community music school competitions. She received the faculty citation from Florida State University for outstanding teaching and leadership in 2000. Active as a coach-accompanist for 30 years, she was also a professional singer of oratorio, opera, and cabaret. 

MEDIA: Tracy Grant, Merola Opera Program, (415) 297-3259 / 

Downloadable high-res photos are available here

Photo captions: 
1. Omer Ben Seadia, Ben Werley, Rhys Lloyd Talbot, Adelaide Boedecker, Mingjie Lei, Ronny Michael Greenberg, Casey Candebat Nian Wang, Talya Lieberman, and Jean Kellogg in the middle, Merola Grand Finale reception 2014. Photo: Kristen Loken. 
2. Jean Kellogg, Jake Heggie, opening night of If I Were You. Photo: Kristen Loken. 
3. Jean Kellogg at Meet the Merolini, 2023. Photo: Kristen Loken. 
4. Merola Immediate Past President Barbara Bruser Clark, Merola Chairman Patrick Wilken, Jean Kellogg. Photo: Kristen Loken. 
5. Adelaide Boedecker (Merola '14/'16), Jean Kellogg. 
6. Issachah Savage (Merola '16), Jean Kellogg. 
7. Jean Kellogg, Alice Chung (Merola '17/19). 
8. Janai Brugger (Merola '10), Jean Kellogg, Mingjie Lei (Merola '14). 

About the Merola Opera Program 
The Merola Opera Program is widely regarded as the foremost opera training program for aspiring singers, pianist coaches, and stage directors. Merola nurtures the opera stars of tomorrow through master classes and private coachings with opera’s most accomplished singers, conductors, and directors. Participants also receive training in operatic repertoire, languages, diction, acting, stage movement, and professional development. Offered free of charge to all participants, the Merola Opera Program is unique in the industry in many ways. It was the first young artist program to provide financial support to developing artists for five years following their participation, offering aid for essential career development expenses including coaching, language classes, and audition travel. Since Carrie-Ann Matheson and Markus Beam formed the new Merola artistic team in 2021, the Program has redoubled its efforts to provide exciting new curricula with a focus on preparing the burgeoning artists for the musical and extramusical aspects of a performance career.

Photo: Jean Kellogg at Meet the Merolini, 2023. By Kristen Loken