home page

A Note on Executive Director Eileen Brownell’s Resignation

September 12, 2023

A Letter from BSO Board President Corey Welch

Dear BSO Musicians,

As we prepare for another unforgettable season, I want to assure you that despite the departure of our Executive Director Eileen Brownell at the beginning of this month, you can be confident that the Board of Directors and our team of professional staff are deeply committed to continuing our programming as usual. 

Going forward, the highly accomplished and efficient staff members will continue to focus on administration, operations, marketing, development, and other key functions of the BSO. The Board will retain overall responsibility for the BSO’s fulfillment of its mission, including oversight, guidance, and representation to the community. Likewise, Music Director Yaniv Attar will continue to apply his unique musical vision as we plan ahead to our 49th Season. A formal press release about Eileen’s departure will be distributed in the coming week. 

Currently, the Board is finalizing the process and timeline for an Executive search and selection process, and we will be making updated announcements soon. As a small but vital and dynamic organization, it is critical that our next Executive Director be able to manage a high performance team, budget and finances, fundraising, community relations, and other tasks that reflect the BSO artistic and community mission.

I understand that disruptions like this one may bring about feelings of uncertainty. Please see the note below for more context regarding the resignation. Additionally, if you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions, please reach out to your Player Committee representatives, Sandra Payton or Jim Quist. I want to thank you for your ongoing dedication to the music arts in our community and to the BSO. 

Together, let’s make this another year of powerful, beautiful, and inspiring music-making!

Corey Welch

President, BSO Board of Directors

A Note on Executive Director Eileen Brownell’s Resignation

Please refer to the information below for more context regarding the recent departure of Executive Director Eileen Brownell. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to direct them to your Players Committee representatives, Sandra Payton or Jim Quist.

Please note: This document is for internal use only and is not intended to be distributed outside the organization. Thank you for your understanding and discretion.


  • Eileen Brownell resigned as Executive Director of the Bellingham Symphony Orchestra effective September 1, 2023.
  • The Board accepted her resignation letter on Monday, August 21 in which she stated: “I don’t believe I’m the right fit for the role at this time.”
  • After accepting Brownell’s resignation, the Executive Committee immediately notified all other members of the Board, players, and staff. Special meetings of the Board were convened on August 23 and August 31 to address immediate issues. 


  • The BSO staff, led by Operations Director Shachaf Zahavy-Mittelman and Administrative Director & Bookkeeper Akilah Williams, have developed the outline of a plan to distribute all responsibilities which are unaddressed following the Executive Director’s departure. 
  • The Board’s Development Committee and other Board Members will assist in initiating and cultivating relationships with donors, sponsors, and the broader community. 
  • Special Board Meetings will be scheduled as necessary to monitor progress and address any issues.
  • The initial position of the Board will be to leave the Executive Director position unfilled during a search and selection process. There is no plan at this time to hire an interim Executive Director. This reflects the Board’s confidence in the staff’s ability to self-assess and raise issues to the Board. This approach also reflects the challenges involved in finding individuals with the right skills, knowledge, availability, and willingness to accept an interim position. 


  • The impact on the upcoming season will be minimal. All elements of the 2023-2024 season are handled, including all concert dates, venues, soloists, music, and contracts. Concerts will go on as scheduled.
  • Youth and Community Engagement should occur as planned. 
  • Some tentative or exploratory program ideas may be postponed or deferred into the future.

All members of the BSO remain fully committed to the mission to engage, connect, and uplift our community by performing powerful, beautiful, and inspiring music. Although the Executive Director can be a very important leader and catalyst in fulfilling this mission, the organization has the strength to adapt to a gap in any one role when necessary.

More details will be announced as part of an organized search and selection process.