Gallo losing customer service head

With opening night 16 days away, Modesto's Gallo Center for the Arts announced Monday that customer service director John Turchon has announced his resignation.

Turchon, one of the center's more prominent public faces, has been hired as director of customer services for Dallas Theater Center. His last day with the Gallo center will be Sept. 20, one week before the center's grand opening.

Turchon's role during the past year has included setting up the Gallo center's box office and hiring and training usher and ticket staff. Recently, he has taken on marketing manager duties.

He said he saw his future in Modesto until a headhunting firm contacted him a month ago and ultimately offered him the job in Dallas.

"(The timing is) not the best, but it happens," he said Monday. "I feel a solid foundation is in place here. To me, the measurement of a person's ability is if they got hit by a bus tomorrow, the company could still go on without them.

"This is bittersweet. I feel good that I'm leaving a legacy to the community and I feel like I've done some good things here. ... This is an opportunity I couldn't pass up."

Board President Marie Gallo said the arts center's staff is fully trained and ready to go and opening night would not be affected.

Turchon's exit is the latest in what has become an exodus of the Gallo center's top personnel during the past three years. Six weeks ago, Maki Hsieh-Leonard left her position as marketing and development director, duties subsequently assumed by Turchon.

In 2006, Brian McCurdy resigned after 11 months as executive director to take a position leading the performing arts center at Purchase College, State University of New York. At the same time, McCurdy's wife, Carol Anne Muncaster, resigned as the Gallo center's marketing consultant to take a similar position at Purchase.

In 2005, Kathleen Nicely resigned after 18 months as development director to take the same position with Stanford Lively Arts at Stanford University.

In 2004, Michael Grice, the Gallo center's first executive director, resigned in what was termed an amicable split.

"(The turnover) happens all the time in this business," Gallo said. "There are only so many people across the country involved in this type of work. They're the experts and they come to us from all over the U.S."

Bee staff writer Ty Phillips can be reached at tphillips@modbee.com or 874-5716.

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