The Grand Rapids Symphony has appointed Mary Tuuk, a longtime symphony leader and West Michigan business executive, as its new President and CEO. Tuuk worked as the Chief Compliance Officer/Senior Vice President, Properties and Real Estate with Meijer, Inc., and is a classically trained musician who performed as a member of the Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus. She also plays organ, piano and violin.
A Grand Rapids native, Tuuk graduated from Calvin College with degrees in business and music and obtained her J.D./M.B.A. from Indiana University. While at Indiana University, she also studied organ with Larry Smith. She has studied voice with Diane Triplett Biser and Stanley Kolk.
In the corporate realm, Tuuk has an over 20-year track record of leadership spanning executive and legal roles at Meijer and Fifth Third Bancorp. Prior to joining Meijer in 2015, she had served Fifth Third (previously Old Kent Financial Corporation) for 19 years in positions of increasing responsibility in Michigan and Ohio, including as Executive Vice President, Chief Risk Officer during the financial crisis of 2008, and as Executive Vice President, Corporate Services at the time of her departure. While at Fifth Third, Tuuk was named an American Banker Most Powerful Women in Banking “Woman to Watch” in the years 2008-2014.
Tuuk has served on the Grand Rapids Symphony board of directors since 2012, is current Chair-Elect, and co-chaired the search committee that selected Marcelo Lehninger as Music Director in June 2016. She was also chairing the search for the organization’s next President and CEO. Following a months-long national search, the search committee realized its best candidate was, in fact, Tuuk. The committee then went on to recruit, interview and unanimously recommend Tuuk for the position.
“Mary’s record of proven leadership, community connections and love for music make her the perfect person to lead the Grand Rapids Symphony into our 90th season and beyond,” Chuck Frayer, Chair of the Symphony Board of Directors, said “We were very fortunate to have a high level of interest in this position from around the nation, but ultimately realized that we had the best possible candidate in Mary.”
Tuuk will assume President and CEO responsibilities in early 2019 from Peter Perez, who has served as leader of the organization since December 2016. She will step down from her roles with Meijer and the Symphony board as part of the transition.
“By naming Mary as its President, the Grand Rapids Symphony is setting a truly inspired course for its future, and I could not be more pleased with the decision,” Marcelo Lehninger, Grand Rapids Symphony Music Director, commented.“Mary’s unique leadership abilities and insights in both business and music will ensure our current momentum continues for years to come. I look forward to working with her to create the next great chapter in this orchestra’s story.”
Tuuk’s musical bona fides have paralleled her accomplishments in business. Tuuk has performed with the Grand Rapids Symphony, West Michigan Symphony, Chamber Choir of Grand Rapids, West Michigan Camerata Singers and the Cincinnati Vocal Arts Ensemble. Her soprano solo works have included the Mendelssohn Hymn of Praise, Vivaldi’s Gloria, Faure’s Requiem, Handel’s Messiah and the Saint-Saens’ Christmas Oratorio.
“Mary Tuuk is well-known and highly respected by the musicians of the Grand Rapids Symphony,” Paul Austin, Grand Rapids Symphony horn player and one of the three musician representatives on the search committee, expressed. “Her business and financial background combined with her musical training uniquely qualify her to lead the organization. The musicians couldn’t be happier with this decision.”
The Grand Rapids and Cincinnati regions have both benefitted from Tuuk’s contributions to her native and adopted communities. She has received Cincy Business Magazine’s Athena Award and was a founder of Calvin College’s Young Women’s Business Institute. While in Cincinnati, Tuuk also served on the ArtsWave Board of Directors. Tuuk currently holds board leadership positions with Universal Forest Products, Inc., Davenport University and the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce.
Tuuk expressed enthusiasm at the opportunity and an eagerness to build on her established commitment to music and to West Michigan.
“The Grand Rapids Symphony has a tremendous legacy of enriching our community with soaring artistic experiences that uplift our souls,” Tuuk said. “My heart is humbled by this opportunity to convert my lifelong passion for music into a new career working with an outstanding team of musicians, Board members, office members, volunteers and donors. Together, we will envision dynamic possibilities and create captivating artistic pinnacles for all that propel the vibrancy of our community and industry.”
Tuuk will assume leadership of the Symphony following a two-year period of stability and planning under President and CEO Peter Perez.
Owner and Chairman of Carter Products Company in Grand Rapids, Perez was named interim President following the departure of former President Peter Kjome. Two months later, Perez was named permanent President. Perez formerly served as president of C.G. Conn, manufacturer of band instruments, and of Steinway & Sons, the world-famous maker of pianos.