Besides needing a chief executive officer, the orchestra also is looking for a music director - pushing the total to nine open positions.
"These are critical jobs to our civic, cultural, and business lives," said Meryl Levitz of the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corp., "and they are iconic jobs."
Five of the nine positions became vacant in January, two became vacant last year, and two will become vacant after June. Interim or acting directors and chief executives are currently filling in at several of the posts.
Openings arose for a number of reasons, ranging from the death June 1 of Anne d'Harnoncourt, the esteemed chief executive of the world-class Museum of Art, to leaders' moving on to other opportunities.
Joseph Torsella, a founding director and former chief executive of the National Constitution Center, announced in January that he was running for U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter's seat.
Mark Schweiker parlayed his six-year stint as chief executive of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce into a high-profile position in the private sector. Schweiker is stepping down at the end of June to join PRWT Services Inc. as a senior executive.
Charles Isdell retired in January after eight years as aviation director of Philadelphia International Airport, the world's 10th-busiest airport, which is considered by many to be the gateway to the region.
"The state of the economy is certainly contributing to the number of leadership positions opening at the same time," said Troy Collins at the Franklin Institute, a nonprofit museum. "But it's not exclusive to Philadelphia. There's a lot of shuffling at the top in the profit sector as well."
Collins should know. He left in January as chief executive of the Battleship New Jersey to take a job as senior vice president of programs and marketing at the Franklin Institute.
Liz Dow, president of Leadership Philadelphia, said this was the largest number of senior-level openings in Philadelphia's nonprofit sector that she was aware of in the last 15 years.
"Another possibility is it's the beginning of a generational shift in leadership," said Dow, whose 50-year-old nonprofit group mobilizes executives to serve the community. It's also unusually challenging to find the right skill sets for those jobs.
"It requires business, discipline, and operating knowledge," she said. "One key concern is to find someone with a unique set of influence skills - knowing how to work the local 'favor bank,' and also to understand how to influence and be influenced by a board of directors."
With most of the openings, the board will make the final call.
The board of directors for the Independence Visitor Center formed a search committee earlier this year and has run ads in local newspapers and online to find a new president and chief executive.
The 27-member board of trustees for the Battleship New Jersey began putting together a search committee last week, board chairwoman Patricia Jones said. She said she hoped to name a new chief executive by July to lead "the most highly decorated battleship in history."
The National Constitution Center, on Independence Mall, just started its search for a new chief executive, which is being conducted by a committee made up mostly of NCC board members, interim CEO and longtime board member Linda Johnson said.
"I've taken the position; I wasn't in the running," Johnson said. "I will move after they find a leader."
The Philadelphia Orchestra Association hired an executive-search firm, Phillips Oppenheim, to fill two high-profile positions as orchestras across the country grapple with staff cuts and a shrinking audience.
Orchestra spokeswoman Katherine Blodgett said the search for a chief executive commenced in December and "is very much in progress." The orchestra also is looking for a new music director as "chief artistic leader."
Levitz, at the city's tourism and marketing agency, said it was critical to fill all nine positions in a timely manner. She said an interim leader could not hire a team to develop a long-term strategy.
"It's not just one change at the top, but frequently it sets up a series of changes," she said. "There are positions that haven't yet been filled because very frequently, a new leader brings in his own people."
University City District board chairman Craig Carnaroli wants a seamless transition to a new executive director when Lewis Wendell leaves at the end of June to pursue other interests in New York. To ensure that, he began the search in February for Wendell's replacement to lead the nonprofit, neighborhood-based special-services district in West Philadelphia.
"We are currently interviewing candidates," Carnaroli said. "The successful candidate will manage the staff and the budget, and will provide strategic leadership, vision, and management to the organization."
The city has received bids from a dozen executive-search firms to find a new aviation director, said Rina Cutler, deputy mayor for transportation and utilities. The $169,000-a-year aviation director will report directly to her. She said she hoped to have the position filled by the end of the year.
"PHL is the gateway to the greater Philadelphia region for tens of millions of travelers every year," Cutler said. "The director of aviation plays a critical role in creating Philadelphia's first impression."
A stint in Philadelphia certainly doesn't hurt in getting noticed elsewhere, say those who left their old jobs.
William Moore left in January after 10 years as president and chief executive of the Independence Visitor Center, at Sixth and Market Streets. In February, he became chief operating officer of the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida.
"One is about the founding of our country, the other the founding of our space program," Moore said of the similarities between the two jobs in a phone interview last week.
Despite leaving Philadelphia, Moore said he remained a goodwill ambassador for the city. The space center attracts about 1.5 million visitors a year.
"Tourism is a global economy," he said, "and if I run into someone who hasn't been to Philly, I tell them they should go because it's pretty neat."
Contact staff writer Suzette Parmley at 215-854-2594 or email@example.com.
Philadelphia International Airport
Position: Director of aviation
National Constitution Center
Museum of Art
Position: Director and CEO
Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce
Positions (2): President/CEO; music director
Battleship New Jersey
University City District
Position: Executive director