Sonoma State University’s Green Music Center has appointed a new executive director, school President Judy K. Sakaki announced Thursday.
For the past eight years, Jacob Yarrow has served as programming director for Hancher Auditorium — the main performing arts center at the University of Iowa. Yarrow, 45, will succeed Zarin Mehta, the executive director since 2013, and Stan Nosek, the university’s interim vice president for administration and finance who has served as the GMC’s co-executive director since last summer.
“Jacob is a talented and versatile arts executive with two decades of experience in programming, fundraising, performance, higher education, marketing and non-profit management,” Sakaki stated in the announcement. “I feel confident this is going to be an excellent fit for him and his family and for the university and community.”
Yarrow’s appointment followed a comprehensive national search led by the Catherine French Group after Mehta announced his retirement last fall. Yarrow will begin his new position in June.
“The opportunity to play a leadership role at SSU represents an exciting chance to make an impact on the lives of students and faculty while contributing to the vibrant arts community in the North Bay,” he stated in the same announcement. “I am particularly impressed by Weill Hall and the current programming as well as ambitious plans to deepen academic connections and to make the GMC that much more central to campus and community life.”
The university stated that Sakaki has been working to more fully integrate the GMC into everyday campus life since she became Sonoma State’s 7th president last July.
As Hancher’s programming director, Yarrow led development of all programing and education efforts in a multi-disciplinary season of up to 40 artists a year and more than 100 education activities for all ages, according to SSU. He also has overseen marketing and played a key role in managing the organization, advancing a number of strategies that helped position Hancher at the center of both academic life and the Midwest arts community.
Prior to the University of Iowa, Yarrow spent six years as executive director of Garth Newel Music Center in rural Bath County Virginia, where he founded the Virginia Blues & Jazz Festival.
Yarrow served as education director at the Association of Performing Arts Presenters in Washington, DC, where he ran professional development seminars for arts professionals throughout the United States.
A native of Beckley, West Virginia, Yarrow began his career as a touring musician and as a junior high school music teacher. For the past several years, he has played saxophone in a 1920’s-era New Orleans-style jazz band; in the mid-1990s he played alto saxophone, clarinet and flute while touring with the Glenn Miller Orchestra. He earned his bachelor’s in music from the University of Michigan and a master’s from the University of North Texas. He will be moving to Sonoma State with his wife, Debbie, who is also a musician and musical educator, and their two teenage daughters.
In the announcement, area auto dealership owner Henry Hansel, chairman of the GMC’s Board of Advisors, stated, “I am elated with whom the university has selected. His diverse experiences as an arts industry leader and as an educator are exactly what the GMC needs right now. His background and experience are such that he’s really going to be able to connect with all the constituencies we serve: our audience, the university and especially students. I could not be more excited to start working with him.”