Cecil C. Conner, Jr., Managing Director Emeritus
Cecil C. Conner served as managing director of Houston Ballet, the senior administrative manager of the company, from 1995 to 2012. During that time, he retired the company's accumulated $1 million deficit, oversaw twelve seasons of balanced budgets in an extremely challenging economic environment, and tripled the company's endowment to just over $57.6 million, as of May 2011, one of the largest of any American ballet company. Mr. Conner emerged as a leader in the arts community both in Houston and nationally, having served on the board of Dance USA, the national dance service organization; the board of directors of the Cultural Arts Council of Houston and Harris County; and as chairman of the board of the Texas Institute for Arts in Education. He currently serves on the board of the Houston Downtown Alliance, and holds the title managing director emeritus of Houston Ballet.
Over the past fifteen years, Mr. Conner has also spearheaded a series of innovative collaborations with major American ballet companies to produce major new full-length productions: Dracula in 1997 with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre; The Snow Maiden in 1998 and The Pied Piper in 2002 with American Ballet Theatre; Cleopatra in 2000, with Boston Ballet and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre; and The Firebird with National Ballet of Canada in 2001. He has also planned and executed numerous national and international touring engagements for the company to such cities as Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen, China; Hong Kong; Toronto; London; Moscow (to the legendary Bolshoi Theater); Los Angeles, and to Washington, D.C. (The Kennedy Center).
A veteran arts administrator with over 30 years of experience, Mr. Conner came to Houston Ballet from The Joffrey Ballet in New York City, where he served as executive director from May 1992 until April 1995. At The Joffrey Ballet, Mr. Conner was responsible for all aspects of management, administration and development for the company.
Mr. Conner’s background in the arts is complemented by his extensive law background. From 1980 – 1994, Mr. Conner served as a managing partner of and later of counsel to Mandelbaum, Schweiger & Conner in New York City. His practice had an emphasis on not-for-profit law and representation of performing and visual artists and galleries, in addition to corporate and securities law. From 1975 – 1994, Mr. Conner was a member of the board of directors of Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, Inc., serving in numerous positions including vice chairman, secretary, and treasurer.
Mr. Conner’s experience in the dance world has included work with the National Association of Regional Ballet, Inc., New York State Council for the Arts, Dance Consort Foundation, and Tornay Management - all in New York City. He has served on grant panels for the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council for the Arts, the Division of Cultural Affairs of the State of Florida and the Texas Commission on the Arts.
Prior to his involvement in the arts world, Mr. Conner was with Goldman Sachs & Co., and Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett, both in New York. A native of Greensboro, North Carolina, Mr. Conner studied at the University of Vienna in Austria; received his BA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; and his LLB from Columbia University School of Law. Mr. Conner is a retired US Navy Lieutenant and speaks fluent German. He is the co-author of Skeletons from the Opera Closet, originally published by St. Martin’s Press and now in paperback from Moyer-Bell.
Headshot by Kaye Marvins Photography