Employment Opportunities

Work with the Merola Opera Program

The Merola Opera Program is widely regarded as the foremost opera training program for aspiring singers, coaches, accompanists, and stage directors. Merola nurtures the opera stars of tomorrow and offers outreach through educational programs for students and the general public. 

"Working with Merola is a very special highlight of my whole year."

— Martin Katz, Master Coach



Merola Opera Program, one of the world’s leading opera training programs, seeks to expand its development team with an ambitious, creative professional with excellent fundraising experience to build and lead an imaginative and effective development program for the organization. This senior position will be responsible for the primary revenue line for Merola as well as setting strategic direction, executing new development programs and expanding its membership. The Director of Development/Advancement will work closely with the Executive Director and a dedicated and highly engaged Board of Directors.

Widely regarded as the foremost opera training program for aspiring singers, coaches and stage directors, the Merola Opera Program is the cornerstone of San Francisco Opera’s training and performance programs for promising young artists. Established in 1957, Merola has served as a proving ground for hundreds of artists, many who have become the most recognized names in the opera world. The Program annually offers 29 artists the rare opportunity of studying, coaching and participating in master classes with established professionals for twelve weeks during the summer. Participants also perform in two complete opera productions with orchestra and two summer concerts with members of the San Francisco Opera Orchestra. The Merola Opera Program is a financially independent organization with a separate 501(c)3 which operates in close collaboration with the San Francisco Opera Center and San Francisco Opera. Merola currently has an annual budget of $3.5 million and a fundraising goal of $2.1 million. Merola also has an endowment fund exceeding $30 million.

The successful candidate will be someone who has a passion for creating a new role within the organization, taking charge of fundraising from all channels – individuals, foundations, corporations, government, sponsors, legacy, endowment, special events - and is constantly generating new ideas and carrying them to fruition. The Director of Development/Advancement will grow awareness about Merola, expand the organization’s donor base, and nurture its current donors and board members to inspire increased loyalty and support.

This position will report directly to the Executive Director and will oversee three development staff members (one shared with marketing). Download a copy of the full job announcement here.


• Provide development and fundraising leadership to support Merola’s mission of providing world class training for exceptional young opera artists.
• Create and implement an annual fundraising plan with the Executive Director, Director of Finance, development staff, and Board leadership. Set goals and report on progress.
• Oversee grant writing and proposals and seek new sources of foundation, corporate, and government funding in conjunction with the development staff, and serve on the board committees of Individual Giving and Membership, and Corporate, Foundation & Government Support.
• Provide guidance and staff oversight of the ad hoc committee of the board charged with increasing membership in the Merola Legacy Society (planned giving) and work with the committee to develop a long-range plan for increasing “in vivo” gifts to Merola’s endowment fund.
• Communicate regularly with Board leadership and support the efforts of Merola’s 40-member Board of Directors.
• In partnership with the Executive Director, ensure that key prospective and current donors are actively stewarded with face-to-face-meetings, phone calls, special events, and other methods of contact on a frequent and regular basis. Work with the development and marketing staff to create new methods for communication with existing and prospective members.
• In collaboration with the Director of Marketing & Communications, leverage data-driven insights to create and develop new ways of increasing audiences and membership.
• Oversee the planning and execution of the annual benefit gala and the work of the development staff to bring the event to successful fruition. Advise the Benefit Gala Committee and be a primary solicitor of lead gifts.
• Strategize and oversee a multi-year capital campaign.
• Manage and direct other fundraising and membership building events throughout the calendar year.


• Bachelor’s Degree or higher and over five years of senior-level experience in leadership/major gifts, or annual fundraising, preferably in the musical arts.
• Demonstrated success in previous Development roles creating entrepreneurial fundraising strategies.
• Work collaboratively with all members of Merola’s staff of eight.
• A track record of achieving ambitious goals by identifying, cultivating, soliciting, and closing major gifts from individuals.
• Be self-motivated and an independent thinker who consistently meets deadlines, resolves conflicting priorities, and has outstanding interpersonal skills.
• During the summer festival and major events, work after hours and on weekends is not uncommon and will be required.
• Familiarity with development software and reporting; Salesforce preferred.
• Excellent communication skills.
• Excellent writing ability and organizational skills.
• Energetic with an exceptional work ethic.
• A passion for opera highly preferred.

Compensation Salary is competitive and commensurate with experience. Merola offers generous benefits that include medical, dental, and vision insurance, 401k match, paid vacation, paid sick time, and 16 paid holidays

Application Instructions: Email cover letter and resume directly to HR@merola.org. No phone calls please. Open until filled.

The Merola Opera Program is an Equal Opportunity Employer committed to diversity and inclusion. Qualified applicants with arrest and conviction records will still be considered for positions in accordance with the San Francisco Fair Chance Ordinance.

For more information on Employment Opportunities, contact:

Human Resources