Meet New Gallo Center C.E.O. Chad Hilligus

The Gallo Center for the Arts’ board of directors has named Chad Hilligus as the non-profit organization’s new chief executive officer effective July 12, succeeding the retiring Lynn Dickerson. Hilligus comes to the center from Performance Santa Fe, a multi-venue performing arts organization in New Mexico where he has served as executive and artistic director since 2019.

Said Gallo Center board chair Evan Porges, “After a nationwide search, our board and its search committee are thrilled that a candidate of Chad’s background and talent will be taking the helm of the center. Obviously replacing Lynn was a daunting task, but thanks to a comprehensive selection process we believe Chad is the right person to follow her. As sad as we are to see Lynn retire, we are excited for the future with Mr. Hilligus.”

Hilligus’ experience includes five years, 2014-2019, as director of major gifts at the non-profit McCallum Theatre in Palm Desert, California. While at the McCallum, Hilligus also was engaged in programming, talent acquisition, contract negotiations, budgeting and producing special events. Prior to that, he spent three years as a performing artist with the multi-platinum recording stars and international touring group, The Ten Tenors.

“I am extremely honored and beyond thrilled to be joining the Gallo Center family,” said Hilligus. “This is an exciting time for the center as we move confidently toward reopening and, in many ways, reintroducing ourselves to the community. I look forward to continuing the highly respected legacy that Lynn and her extraordinary staff have built as we seek new and innovative ways to serve our patrons.”

“Chad comes to this position with a unique perspective,” Dickerson commented. “He has spent the last seven years on the leadership and management side of our business, but before that he was an accomplished performer, so he brings the perspective of an artist, as well. Chad is a professionally trained opera singer, and essentially grew up in the theatre. That background will be most beneficial as he leads the center going forward.”

A board member for the California Presenters Association, Hilligus’ experience in producing, directing and performing in more than 300 theatrical events includes a starring role as Tony in the 50th anniversary world tour of “West Side Story.” He also has been a resident artist with opera companies in San Diego, Tulsa and Nashville, among others.

Photo by David A. Lee