Francis Graffeo

President, 2022 – Current

Francis Graffeo was appointed President in 2022, bringing to the organization a distinguished list of accomplishments in the nonprofit arena. Previously, he served as Executive Director of the Joy of Music School in Knoxville, Tennessee from 2005 to 2021.


There, his work increased the School’s educational reach, financial stability, donor and foundation support, volunteer participation, endowment value, public visibility, staff size, and student enrollment.


He first arrived in Knoxville to serve as general director and conductor of Knoxville Opera from 2000 to 2005, during which time he was consistently recognized for his innovative, artistically significant productions. He took a leading role in the cultural life of the region when he created Knoxville’s popular Rossini Festival, which is still going strong.


Francis Graffeo has served as grants panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, and for the Tennessee Arts Commission in Nashville. He has held staff positions at the Washington Opera at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and at Eugene Opera where he was artistic director for seven years. He was conductor at Colorado’s Central City Opera for ten seasons.


His original in-school education programs have taken music to thousands of students in Tennessee, Colorado and Oregon.

Mr. Graffeo is an adjudicator for the Metropolitan Opera National Council judging auditions for The Met from coast to coast. He also maintains an accomplished career as a conductor of opera, symphony and ballet, enjoying engagements with Atlanta Ballet, Atlanta Pops Orchestra, Lyric Opera Cleveland, Oregon Mozart Players, Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, Orquesta Filarmonica de Lima – Peru, Nashville Opera, Opera Theater of Lucca – Italy, The Symphony of the Mountains, AIMS Orchestra, Graz – Austria, Opera Delaware, Arizona Opera, San Antonio Opera, Orquesta Clasica de Guatemala, the Oberlin Conservatory Opera, James Madison University Opera, and many others.Graffeo was educated at Texas Tech University, The New England Conservatory of Music and Centro Linguistico Sperimentale in Italy. He is a 2021 Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Scholar, having recently completed its executive training program. He is also a graduate of Leadership Knoxville, and the Consortium for Social Enterprise Effectiveness at the University of Tennessee.