With Executive Director David Keller's departure, the Smyrna Opera House has been actively seeking a replacement who will take the community arts venue to the next level.

Last Friday was David Keller's last day as the executive director of the Smyrna Opera House, a position that required him to oversee a comprehensive budget, plan and schedule events and work with various board members and committees.

With Keller gone, the momentum shifts greatly to finding a replacement as quickly as possible.

"We've been blessed by what David's done," said SOH Board President Judy McKinney-Cherry. "He gave us five years of service and really positioned us well for the next phase of the opera house."

McKinney-Cherry is optimistic about filling Keller's shoes. Three weeks ago, the Board of Directors posted the job opening on various job search engines, including Monster, Indeed and Linked In. They've also reached out to the Philadelphia Cultural Alliance and the State of Delaware Division of the Arts.

The job description listed on those sites include responsibilities like "oversight of daily operations and facilities use" and "maintenance of SOH website." Essential qualifications include "three to five years minimum experience leading a non-profit arts organization, strong fund development experience" and proficiency in "website development/administration, financial software, social media and other communication mediums."

"Whoever comes in needs to be a great communicator and a great executor. Establishing relationships quickly is also important," McKinney-Cherry explained. "But, they also have to understand operations and how to secure talent."

The closing date for résumé submissions is Friday, Nov. 15 and a number of qualified applicants have already shown interest. McKinney-Cherry explained that the committee to review résumés devised a matrix scoring system to evaluate each and every submission. The plan is to get the number of applicants down to a reasonable number for interviews.

"If we have a lot of qualified people, we may do some screening by phone," she said, adding that the strategy is to whittle the field down to two candidates that will move on to interviews with the board.

Those two applicants will likely then answer questions about how their experience lines up with the SOH mission, which includes programming diversity thanks to both local programming as well as traveling productions. McKinney-Cherry said she looks forward to seeing SOH through a "fresh set of eyes."

"Because they're new, the candidates will be able to point out gaps and opportunities that we may have missed," she said. "Mostly, we're looking for someone to take us to the next level."