Paul Schiminger to retire from IBMA

Paul Schiminger, Executive Director of the International Bluegrass Music Association, has announced his intention to retire from his position at the end of May 2021.

Schiminger has served as Executive Director since 2015, when he was chosen to lead the organization following the tenure of Nancy Cardwell. He came aboard on a six year contract, and navigated the IBMA’s successful move from Nashville to Raleigh;eigh, NC for its signature annual event, World of Bluegrass. His term has also seen sizable growth in membership, and in the international credibility of the association following a period of board upheaval and instability.

In announcing his imminent departure, which he tells us is a real retirement from all labors, Paul specified how much he values being able to lead IBMA this last six years.

“I was honored and humbled by my selection in early 2015, and I feel more so today knowing the true weight of the responsibilities in my role. It was impossible to foresee the incredible experiences and friendships I have gained throughout this time. I arrived embracing the challenges facing all of us to build upon the IBMA’s successes, and make impactful progress to strengthen and move the association forward for even greater future success. I could not be more proud of the achievements we have all made together.

This was a difficult decision, but one I feel is best for my family and me. I also feel this is excellent timing for the IBMA to make a transition to a new Executive Director. I want to make this process a smooth and successful one, so I am offering a six-month notice and will assist in any way possible with the coordination of the search and transition.”

IBMA Board Chairman Ben Surratt informed his fellow Directors yesterday of Schiminger’s intentions, and will head up efforts to find his replacement. He says that an Executive Search firm will be employed to assist in the transition.

“When Paul was selected to be our Executive Director in 2015, the organization was in a time of transition. He hit the ground running, and brought much-needed, systemic change to many areas of IBMA. There’s no doubt that the organization has flourished under Paul’s leadership; the list of the organization’s accomplishments during his tenure is long. Paul has been a steady hand at the helm for the last 5 ½ years.

Paul’s commitment to our music is strong; I know we will benefit from his expertise in many ways in the years to come. Though Paul will be retiring from our organization, I don’t expect to see him disappear from bluegrass. I hope you all will join me in thanking Paul for the tremendous work he has done for IBMA, the IBMA Trust Fund, and the IBMA Foundation.”

Other successes for IBMA during Schiminger’s tenure include converting the organization into 501(c)(3) status, overseeing their first all-virtual World of Bluegrass in 2020, and the disbursements of funds to industry members who lost any hope of income when all live performances were prohibited by COVID-19 restrictions this year.

Paul is also an avid bluegrass lover and banjo player, and he hopes that retirement will allow him to spend more time on those pursuits next year. At this time, he plans to continue living in Nashville, though traveling to see parts of the US that he and his wife cherish will also be on the docket.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.