Mitchell will begin transitioning to her new position immediately and anticipates starting full-time on August 1.
Jeff Bakken, the Ordway's current interim president and CEO, will work with Mitchell to coordinate the transition. David Galligan, the center's previous president and CEO, resigned last June.
Mitchell started her administrative career as director of community services for the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis. She later served as the executive director of San Francisco Opera, then held the same position at Los Angeles Opera. She spent four years as the chief operating officer of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, hwhere she helped open the acclaimed Walt Disney Concert Hall and managed the construction of a new $25 million shell for the Hollywood Bowl.
Most recently Mitchell served as the president of the Literary Network of Greater Los Angeles. "I missed the arts, frankly," she told the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "The Literacy Network does extremely important work, but I miss the arts way more than I thought I would. And I had it in my mind that I wanted to move back to Minnesota." (For years her family had a lakeside cabin in the state, and she has relatives there.)
The Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, which opened in 1985, is host to the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Minnesota Opera, the Schubert Club of Minnesota (which presents touring classical performers), and national tours of Broadway plays and musicals.
This combined role of landlord, presenter and producer, the Pioneer-Press observes, has sometimes led to strained relations between the Ordway and its tenants. But Mitchell seems to be qualified to handle the delicate situations that can arise there. Minnesota Opera president Kevin Smith told the paper, "She's really a blue-chipper, one of the top administrators in the performing arts. One of the things she does best is that she can analyze a complicated situation, cut to the core of an issue and deal with it in a constructive and pleasant way."
"I like puzzles, and the Ordway is a complicated puzzle," Mitchell said to the Pioneer-Press. "Each of the resident arts organizations and the Ordway itself have genuine needs and those needs genuinely rub up against each other. There are places in which some kind of accommodation has to be reached that isn't necessarily natural."
She described her philosophy to the paper as "leadership is the power to persuade, not the power to command."