July 13, 2015

Meet the RPO Staff: Administrative & Volunteer Coordinator Kathy Miller

You have seen our orchestra in action, but what goes on behind the scenes?

We now present to you: The staff members of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra! Check out what we do inside and outside the office!

Our series continues with Kathy Miller, the RPO’s Administrative & Volunteer Coordinator.

What does your job entail?
The majority of my position is working with all the volunteers. I do the coordination and the recruitment of all of the volunteers. I also schedule the front desk volunteers.

Is there a daily routine that you abide by each day?
In some cases, yes. During the concert season, I am in contact with the volunteers on a regular basis. I schedule our Box Seat concierge volunteers. Dave Meyer (our House Manager) schedules volunteers to usher events. He and I work in partnership. The Box Seat concierges volunteers get to know the patrons really well. They are still considered ushers, but they have a little more responsibility

If something comes up with a volunteer’s schedule where they can no longer attend their assigned night, I find other volunteers. If we have a full house concert, we need all hands on deck to help out in order for things to run smoothly.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I have my bachelor’s degree in fine arts (University of Windsor, Ontario, Canada). I originally wanted to teach ceramics and sculpture, but the market was flooded with art teachers at that time.

I pretty much carried my portfolio under my arm. I worked as an artist for a couple of years, and then stayed at home for 10 years with my children. Then, I freelanced and eventually became employed with the University of Rochester’s Alumni Association as manager of print production.

How did you become interested in the nonprofit organization career path?
Through my job at the U of R, I became very interested in the fundraising and development side of this type of career. At the time, I met a woman who ran a nonprofit agency. She gave me my chance. Five years later, I ended up as the development coordinator of the Lifetime Assistance Foundation, where I did everything from special events planning to fundraising and to public relations. At that time, I worked very closely with volunteers.

What is one piece of advice you could give to our readers that are looking into getting involved in a nonprofit organization?

Volunteer at everything you can. This will give you tons of experience and exposure to this particular career field. If you enjoy writing, get involved and write articles. In development, if you could be as well-rounded as possible, and try to just experience as much as you can, it will really lay that ground work for your career. Grab as much as you can out of each experience you’re able to get. Whether it is PR or grant writing, they all sort of intertwine together. Get to know how they fit and you will gain a better understanding of each project thrown your way.

What is your most memorable or proud moment that you have experienced so far at the RPO?
Mainly, the interaction with the volunteers.
My favorite statement is “There is nothing stronger than the heart of a volunteer,” (Jim Doolittle) because I think that is the essence of volunteering; that you do it because you believe in that particular organization.
This particular volunteer base is so passionate about music and art and the organization. They are just a great group to work with. It made me realize how much of the community embraces the RPO.

What is your favorite type of music?
I like a lot of different styles of music, particularly jazz and country music. Jeff Tyzik’s music is great, too!

Out of the 2015-16 season, which concert(s) are you most looking forward to, and why?

I am looking forward to the Pops Season in general, but more particularly the Holiday ones. It is just my time of year, when Christmas rolls around. I love every aspect of the season. There’s nothing that can bring the spirit of the holidays more. I am looking forward to what they are going to do with Home Alone. The second one I am looking forward to would be the Journey performance, for sure.

What is your favorite outdoor summer activity?

Anything outside, really. My husband and I have a kayak, so that is a lot of fun. I also love bicycling and gardening. 

About the author: Elissa Murphy is the RPO's marketing/development summer intern.
Anticipated for August 2015, Elissa will be receiving her bachelor’s degree in music business and flute performance, with a film studies minor from the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam.

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