Mitch Menchaca

ASU graduate student returns to Phoenix to head city arts office

By

Paul Atkinson

Mitch Menchaca, a graduate student in Arizona State University's School of Community Resources and Development, will return this fall to Phoenix as the next executive director of the city of Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture.

Menchaca, an ASU alumnus, has served in a number of leadership positions with various arts organizations nationwide. He currently serves as executive director of the Association of California Symphony Orchestras in Los Angeles. Previous, Menchaca was vice president of membership and chief operating officer at Chorus America and director of local arts advancement for Americans for the Arts, both in Washington, D.C.

“The past 10 years I have served in roles where my work helped arts organizations manage through their capacity building from afar,” Menchaca said. “I am excited to come back to Phoenix and work with artists and arts organizations on issues and challenges that not only face them but that directly impact the community.”

School of Community Resources and Development Associate Professor Mark Hager first met Menchaca in 2011 when he was at Americans for the Arts and Hager was collecting data for a study on local arts agencies.

“His boss told me he was a recent ASU grad, so we had that point of connection,” said Hager, who co-directs the graduate studies in nonprofit leadership and management program. “When he applied for our master's degree last fall, I remembered him right away.”

Menchaca embarked on his graduate degree in Nonprofit Leadership and Management to gain the knowledge and skills to make him a more effective leader. He says working on his degree reminds him that many of the issues facing arts organizations are the same struggles faced by his counterparts in other fields, such as challenges with board governance, fundraising and marketing.

“I have come to realize that some, especially small and midsized organizations, fumble through areas around human resources, nonprofit laws and compliance, and financial management policies and practices and turn to service providers for answers,” Menchaca said. “My education allows me to offer accurate technical assistance, but I also have the connections with experts to direct them to when questions are out of the scope of what I can and should provide.”

Nancy Pelosi and Matt Menchaca
Mitch Menchaca with U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi at the 2017 Arts Advocacy Day.

Hager is confident that Menchaca will provide the kind of leadership that will benefit the Phoenix arts community.

“Mitch has had a lot of great experiences in the arts and culture space, from the Arizona Commission on the Arts, to Chorus America, to the Association of California Symphony Orchestras, full circle back to Phoenix,” Hager said. “He’ll be a great re-addition to Phoenix as he works through the rest of his master's degree.”

Menchaca was chosen to replace the retiring executive director of the city of Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture. The department manages and promotes the city’s public arts programs and cultural facilities with an annual budget of almost $5 million.

“Phoenix's vibrant artists and innovative community organizations make the city a great place to live, and I can't wait to start work in December,” Menchaca said.