Danielle St. Germain Executive Director, San Francisco Ballet © Copyright PLPG GLOBAL MEDIA 2023
Danielle St. Germain Executive Director, San Francisco Ballet © Copyright PLPG GLOBAL MEDIA 2023 | Foto: Danielle St. Germain Executive Director, San Francisco Ballet © Copyright PLPG GLOBAL MEDIA 2023

Danielle St. Germain Executive Director, San Francisco Ballet

Por: Diego Cerón

14, March, 2023 en Luxury Trending

Every Day Is Completely Different And With That There Is The Prospect Of Something Great

By Heide VanDoren Betz

Danielle St.Germain was appointed Executive Director at San Francisco Ballet one year ago. With nearly 25 years of management, fundraising, and marketing experience, St.Germain has been a dynamic leader in the non-profit arts industry. She has led several notable fundraising teams across the United States, including as Associate Director of Development at Shakespeare Theatre Company, Vice President of Institutional Advancement at the American Association of Museums, and Chief Development Officer at Arena Stage, all in Washington, DC; and Director of Development at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis. She has achieved notable success with the annual fund, critical relief, and capital campaigns, raising more than $400 million to date. A graduate of Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, St.Germain returned to California when she joined SF Ballet in 2018 as Chief Development Officer.

Danielle St. Germain Executive Director, San Francisco Ballet © Copyright PLPG GLOBAL MEDIA 2023
Danielle St. Germain Executive Director, San Francisco Ballet © Copyright PLPG GLOBAL MEDIA 2023

Danielle’s ability to handle high-pressure situations with diplomacy and tact and her sophisticated judgement during negotiations are legendary. Even event planning with logistical skills are second nature to Danielle, all realized with workable budget strategies. When stunning, confident Danielle asks, your head turns and you don’t say “NO”.

The team of America’s oldest professional ballet company – San Francisco Ballet began its 90th Anniversary Celebration by announcing that “The Future is Now”. Get ready for the first female leadership team of Danielle St. Germain and Tamara Rojo who are both passionate about ballet and here to assure its future.

Heide VanDoren Betz: Tell us a bit about your background; where did you grow up?

Danielle St. Germain: I was raised outside of Boston. I was somewhat different than many high school seniors from New England when I, in 1987, chose to head west for college. I knew that I wanted a big, exciting change in my life and felt that Los Angeles was just the place to start !

HB: How did your interest in art management begin?

DG: I have always been drawn to the stage and creating. I remember writing and illustrating a little book in 2nd grade – Suzie Goes to the Circus; I am so pleased I still have this amazing relic of my childhood. Anyhow, I then went on to stage a play for my 2nd grade class based upon my book. Later, in 8th grade, I borrowed my dad’s super 8 camera and filmed “Escape from Ursuline” with my classmates at Ursuline Academy, an all-girls school just outside of Boston. However, for so many reasons, a career as a performer or producer was not in the plan for me. I figured that if I could not be the artist, being as close as possible to the creators and artists would be a fine backup plan. And when I discovered my knack for fundraising, I realized that I could support artists and propel the art forms I have long admired.   Here I am today!

HB: What is the path that led you to SF Ballet?

DG:  I spent almost my entire career in theater, having worked at three jewels of the American theater: Shakespeare Theatre Company and Arena Stage, both in Washington, DC, and the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis. As I contemplated my next move, I considered the 4 sectors of philanthropy: the arts; social services, higher education, and hospital/health. While all are hugely important, I knew I wanted to remain in the arts. By chance SF Ballet called me – and, when SF BALLET calls, you take that call! I recall  immensely enjoying being an audience member at Washington Ballet when Septime Webre was AD, and Trey McIntyre’s Bach/Beatles Project was among my favorite ballets I had seen there. Fast forward to Minneapolis, and Trey McIntyre’s company was at the Northrop Center, which reawakened and reminded me of how much joy ballet had brought me through the years.

Danielle St. Germain Executive Director, San Francisco Ballet © Copyright PLPG GLOBAL MEDIA 2023
Danielle St. Germain Executive Director, San Francisco Ballet © Copyright PLPG GLOBAL MEDIA 2023

HB: SF Ballet will be taking a new direction in the coming years. Can you tell us about some of the plans?

DG: This is an incredibly exciting year and I have to say that the top thrill is welcoming Tamara Rojo to the Company! I, along with everyone who hears her speak so passionately about her artistic aspirations, am fueled by her vision and energy and cannot wait to be part of the new heights of SF Ballet.

HB: Can you give us a glimpse of future productions. 

DG: I can share that we are deep in our season planning process. Tamara is curating a season that will accentuate the skill and versatility of the fantastic dancers in our company as well as our Grammy Award – winning orchestra, while introducing audiences to some new creative teams. I’m excited by the premieres that will grace our stage next year! We want to be sure that our loyal audiences can see the ballet that they love but we also want to be bold and bring some new works and new audiences, too! Our company shines in all that they do, and the classical roots and training will shine through. I wish I could share the whole lineup with you now, but you’ll have to wait until late April!

HB: Will the SF Ballet be performing internationally in the near future?

DG: Touring is in the DNA of SF Ballet and it will remain to be so. We have identified 5 reputational cities and are diligently working on plans  both domestically and internationally to engage new audiences. We strive to make true partnerships with venues and have a cadence to our touring to those communities.

HB: Will you define your role as Executive Director for us?

DG: My role would be the nonprofit equivalent of a chief executive officer in a for profit business or corporation. While Tamara manages all aspects of the artistic side: dancers, programming, music, and the SF Ballet School, I manage all aspects of the business side, including Development, Facilities, Finance, Human Resources, Marketing, and Operations as well as the creation and implementation of organization-wide policies and procedures. I work very closely with an incredible leadership team and the Board of Trustees to develop and administer the annual budget.

Danielle St. Germain Executive Director, San Francisco Ballet © Copyright PLPG GLOBAL MEDIA 2023
Danielle St. Germain Executive Director, San Francisco Ballet © Copyright PLPG GLOBAL MEDIA 2023

HB: As Executive Director you work with a diverse group of people from donors, audiences, dancers, orchestra members, suppliers, agents and of course the artistic team. How do you manage it all?

DG: It is not a 9-5 job, so the number one rule of the job is to accept that and embrace it! We have a season that currently starts with NUTCRACKER in December followed by the repertory season that opens in January and closes in May, so the summer and fall tend to be a tad quieter. This is when most of us get a little time to recharge and pay more attention to the other non-work aspects of our lives.

I am an extrovert, so I get my energy from being around other people, which is why my second happiest place is in the War Memorial Opera House about 15 minutes before curtain. I love welcoming and reconnecting with our loyal audience members! My happiest place is once the curtain goes down and slipping backstage to congratulate our artists!

HB: What do you find most challenging?

I think that would be delivering on the promises of the season we are in while contemplating and assessing new ways to do things in future seasons. I guess this is why we all have 2 sides to our brains!

HB: What is most rewarding?

A closing performance. Seeing our artists who train relentlessly for years to get into the company or the orchestra is a so gratifying. Seeing these artists achieve their dreams – and at such a high level- is the most rewarding thing ever!

HB: How are artistic or future program decisions made? Who decides what?

DG: Programming knowledge, planning, talent and responsibility live with Tamara, while the budgeting to assess the viability of the various fantastic ideas rests with the budgeting team, led by CFO Rob Fore and in close collaboration with our marketing team.

HB: What is your primary goal for SF Ballet?

DG: To be the best ballet company in the US…and then world! And, to have SFB be part of everything great and “must-see” happening in SF.

HB: Tell us some of your favorite works so far this season.

DG: The next@90 festival included 9 world premiere ballets, and all opened in the span of 5 days! I loved Yuka Oishi’s BOLERO; Jamar Robert’s RESURRECTION, Yuri Possokhov’s VIOLIN CONCERTO, Robert Garland’s HAFFNER SERENADE, Danielle Rowe’s MADCAP, Val Caniparoli’s…and well, it might just be easier to say I loved them ALL!

HB: What keeps you inspired?

DG: The notion that every day is completely different and with that, there is the prospect of something absolutely magnificent happening—on stage or off! You never know what the future holds!

Danielle St. Germain Executive Director, San Francisco Ballet © Copyright PLPG GLOBAL MEDIA 2023
Danielle St. Germain Executive Director, San Francisco Ballet © Copyright PLPG GLOBAL MEDIA 2023

HB: How do you maintain a healthy work/life balance, with time for family and friends?

DG:  I’m not great at that, truthfully. Let’s call that a work in progress. I’m so lucky to have a wonderful husband who is my biggest fan and supporter. He understands what I am trying to do and, luckily, how important it is to me. But, since he lives in Nashville and spends less than half time in SF, I try to make space and time to spend as much time with him as possible when he is here.

HB: You and your husband, Steve, have a bi-coastal marriage. Some say that’s the trick to a successful marriage. Your thoughts?
DG: I am a strong proponent! And, while I’m not there nearly as much as I’d like to be, I do get to Nashville regularly. It’s so funny- he prefers coming here, and I prefer going there. I guess we both like to feel like we are on vacation!

HB: A bit about YOU:

HB: Your favorite spot to relax/ unwind?

DG: At home in Tiburon!

HB: Your favorite food?

DG: Oysters

HB: Favorite drink?

DG: A great Napa cabernet

HB: Your favorite Bay Area Restaurants?

 DG: It changes so often! Right now, I’d say Cotogna, Spruce, and I’ve been craving the House of Prime Rib recently!

HB: Your favorite Vacation spot?

DG: I’m happy the moment I enter a jetway! But, to answer the question: Casa Kimberly in Puerto Vallarta. It has such a romantic story: in 1962, Richard Burton bought the house (which was directly across the street from his casita) for Elizabeth Taylor. They then built a bridge to connect the two, above the little cobblestone road, so the press would not see them coming and going. It is a divine little hotel, and I highly recommend it. Casakimberly.com

HB: How would you like to be remembered?

DG:  I’d like to be remembered as a great mother to my kids, Chauncey who is 25, and Sophia who is 20, a great wife to Steve, and as an authentic, kind, creative person….. who got things done!