As a nonprofit, Spoleto Festival USA is guided legally, financially, and ethically by a group of individuals who steer Spoleto to a sustainable future and ensure the organization has the resources to advance its mission. Meet: The Spoleto Festival USA Board of Directors. Comprising 48 leaders in the fields of business, law, finance, real estate, and more, Spoleto’s Board is self-governed by committees and an executive team, all working to allow the Festival’s artistic team and administrators to produce the magic of the 17 days. They guide the organization’s growth and assets, make crucial connections, and provide philanthropic support. In essence, they keep the lights on, and, when necessary, help identify the best electricians.

On this Presidents’ Day, we want to take a moment to not only honor these incredible folks who deeply and richly support us, but also introduce two of the top Board leaders who have been invaluable contributors for more than a decade.


Meet Alicia Gregory, Board Chair
Day job:
CFO of Gregory Management Company
Board member since: 2013
Lives: John’s Island, SC

What motivates your work with Spoleto?

I have a deep, abiding belief in humanism. Art and cultural exchange is our universal birthright. I love Spoleto because it is predicated upon these principles—human agency, freedom of thought, and our shared humanity. Spoleto Festival USA provides innumerable opportunities to explore these complex ideas and to have conversations surrounding our individual and collective experiences of art. As a community, we thrive and propel forward through healthy civil discourse, through conversations guided by grace, dignity, and love. Spoleto is an organization committed to these values.

Do you have a favorite Spoleto memory or a favorite performance that remains unforgettable?

It’s hard to pick just one. The opera Matsukaze, from our 2013 season, still resonates with me. It created such a magical space. The work explored so many emotional dimensions through the characters’ psychology—it was just brilliantly envisioned with the sets, story, and music all converging into a beautiful experience. More recently, Sara Mearns’s solo performance last year, In Suspense, was equally unforgettable. It was just so different and so spectacular.

Matsukaze, a Spoleto Festival USA opera, 2013

What are you most looking forward to this year?

I am excited about the opera Vanessa and Scottish Ballet’s The Crucible. I look forward to the Geoff Nuttall Celebration concert on opening night. Hearing different voices  express their love and admiration for our late director of chamber music will be powerful. As we move through our grief, it’s especially wonderful and important to have this moment together. Geoff impacted so many people within our organization. His zeitgeist informs Spoleto’s artistic and organizational culture in a profoundly resonate manner. This permeates our governance work—even on the non-artistic side of the organization.


Meet Phillip Smith, Board President
Day job:
Executive Vice President, Head of Specialized Industries, Wells Fargo
Board member since: 2014
Lives: Charlotte, NC

What motivates your work with Spoleto?
Spoleto is one of the most joyous things in my life and serving on the Board has been such a meaningful experience. I had little awareness of Spoleto before my involvement, but learning about the history of the Festival, its creation, and its unique place within the industry hooked me. I’m a big fan of live music and see festivals around the country—but there’s nothing like Spoleto. For me, seeing a new production come together is the most rewarding. Hearing an original idea and then watching it come to fruition, from the casting to the design, is incredible.

Do you have a favorite Spoleto memory?
About six years ago, Nigel Redden, our former General Director was introducing some ideas for future projects at a meeting when he starting talking about an original manuscript that was sitting at the Library of Congress. It was written by a man named Omar Ibn Said. As Nigel continued explaining the significance of this man, his manuscript, and that no one had yet told his story in this way: onstage through opera, with such a creative team… it hit me. And those of us in the room looked around at one another, all of us realizing the significance and the possibility of Omar. It was one of those moments when hairs stand up on the back of your neck. I’ll never forget that day.

Kishi Bashi at the Cistern Yard on June 3

What are you most looking forward to this year?
I travel a lot for my job. And I have a tradition that started maybe about 7 or 8 years ago: When I board the flight to come home, I turn on Kishi Bashi’s “This Must Be the Place.” It’s a Talking Heads cover—you know it. The verse starts, “Home is where I want to be…” And in Kishi’s version, he sings and there are violins in the background—like modern futuristic, with classical. So when I saw Spoleto’s lineup this year, I noticed Kishi Bashi immediately. I can’t wait to hear him in the Cistern.