Jeff Haydon CEO Caramoor

Jeff Haydon will leave his position as Caramoor CEO at the end of August.

Jeffrey P. Haydon, CEO of Caramoor for the past eight years, will be leaving his post at the end of August.

His departure was announced “with both sadness and excitement” July 10. The announcement said that Caramoor’s Board of Trustees would begin a search for a new CEO immediately.

Mr. Haydon has accepted the position of president and CEO of the Ravinia Festival in Highland Park, Illinois. This marks a return to the Chicagoland area, where he worked at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Fort Wayne Philharmonic. It also brings him closer to family living in the area. Prior to Caramoor, Mr. Haydon was executive director of the Ojai Music Festival and also worked at the Aspen Music Festival.

“It’s really hard to leave,” Mr. Haydon told The Record-Review. “I have fallen deeply in love with Caramoor and the people involved here. But Ravinia is the oldest music festival in North America; it’s the summer home of the Chicago Symphony, and it, like Caramoor, has a pretty wide range of musical programming.”

He continued, “My wife is a fourth generation Chicagoan, we were married in Chicago, and we have lots of friends and family in Chicago.” 

Mr. Haydon and his wife, Kathryn, currently live in Katonah, with their son.

He called his new position “a great career opportunity for me, to work for one of the biggest and most recognized music festivals in the world — but also, an opportunity for our family to move closer to the rest of our family. And I think particularly in the last few months, everyone appreciates the ability to move closer to family.” 

At Ravinia, Mr. Haydon will replace current CEO Welz Kauffman, who announced in October that he would vacate the position in September after 20 years in that role. 

Mr. Haydon is credited with leading a renaissance at Caramoor during his tenure. He raised more than $40 million to quadruple its endowment, and directed investments totaling more than $15 million in Caramoor’s historic Rosen House, grounds and gardens on its 90-acre estate. He also launched several new programmatic initiatives, including a collaboration with Jazz at Lincoln Center, an expansion of the American Roots series and the acclaimed “In the Garden of Sonic Delights” sound art exhibition. 

Mr. Haydon acknowledged his decision to accept the top position at Ravinia was a sudden one, revealing that he does not even have a place to live in the Chicago area as yet. “This is all happening very quickly,” he said. “We are just navigating the wake of the announcement and taking our first steps to relocating to Chicago. Fortunately, we have many places we can call home temporarily, if needed.” 

Among his accomplishments as Caramoor’s chief executive, Mr. Haydon pointed to sound art as among his proudest. “One of the elements we were looking at strategically was operating as a park, like Storm King, with beautiful gardens and historic buildings,” he said. The sound art project was personally important to him. “It was one of the very early things I thought was an opportunity for Caramoor,” he said. “I’m pleased it was something that could become part of Caramoor’s ongoing activity, and I think over the next three to five years Caramoor is going to be known nationally for sound art as well.”

Mr. Haydon said the piece in “C” by Trimpin (see accompanying story) “looks beautiful. It’s a great piece of sculpture, and musically is interesting. It firmly sets Caramoor as operating as a cultural destination — a park.” 

He said he was hopeful in the coming weeks Caramoor wil open up to the public as a limited-use park “a few days a week, just to start to try that out a little bit. Under normal times that would be easier, but now we have to be very controlled about it. People just want a new place to walk!

In a statement, James A. Attwood, chairman of Caramoor’s Board of Trustees, said, “Caramoor is very thankful to Jeff for his leadership over the last eight years. Under his stewardship, Caramoor has expanded its programming, broadened our audience and solidified our financial position meaningfully. We wish him all the best at Ravinia.” 



Jeff Morris is a staff reporter at The Record-Review where he covers the Town of Bedford and the Katonah-Lewisboro School District. Prior to joining the paper he was a reporter and columnist for the Lewisboro Ledger and a business magazine editor.

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