Stanford Jazz Workshop Appoints Cory Combs Executive Director

Cory Combs, center, takes over as Executive Director of Stanford Jazz Workshop from outgoing E.D. David Miller, left. SJW Founder and Artistic Director Jim Nadel is at right.

Cory Combs, center, succeeds departing Stanford Jazz Workshop Executive Director David C. Miller, at left. Founder and Artistic Director Jim Nadel is at right. 

Veteran Arts Executive & Educator Combs to work with Founder Jim Nadel on Organization’s Next Evolution of Growth & Transition


(Stanford, CA, August 2, 2023) – Stanford Jazz Workshop names Cory Combs as its new Executive Director. Combs will work with Stanford Jazz Workshop Founder and Artistic Director Jim Nadel to provide the strategic vision and operational leadership as the non-profit organization embarks on a period of growth and transition. Combs succeeds longtime Executive Director David Miller, who is retiring.

Founded in 1972 by Stanford University graduate and saxophonist Nadel, who has served as the Artistic Director for its over 50-year-history, the Stanford Jazz Workshop has firmly established itself as a globally recognized jazz presenter and music education leader by continuously producing concerts, student workshops, and camp programs. In 2022, the organization celebrated its 50th Anniversary and its annual flagship Stanford Jazz Festival runs until Saturday, August 5, 2023.

Over the next year, Nadel will be stepping down from his full-time role and Combs will lead the search for a new Artistic Director to lead the organization’s artistic programming. Nadel will remain on the board of directors and will take on several board-directed projects.

“All of us at the Stanford Jazz Workshop want to thank and applaud David Miller for all of his dedication to help us grow over the years and his tireless efforts to ensure our survival during the pandemic. With David’s leadership combined with the hard work and contributions from artists, staff, volunteers, and students, we arrive at this moment fiscally strong and spiritually healthy,” said Stanford Jazz Workshop Founder and Artistic Director Jim Nadel. “The Board and I are very excited to welcome Cory Combs as the new Executive Director. After an extensive national search, we are confident that Cory is perfectly positioned to take the reins from David and guide the organization into the future. Cory has the expertise and experience required along with a deep passion for our mission.”

“I am thrilled to be joining Stanford Jazz Workshop, an organization I have known and admired for decades,” says Cory Combs. “Over the last 50 years, Jim Nadel has developed one of the leading institutions for jazz education in the country and I am inspired by the opportunity to honor Jim’s legacy, seek opportunities for continued organizational growth, and deepen my dedication to the expansive jazz community of students, performers, and audiences. I am honored to partner with the team of educators and artists, as well as work with Jim and David during this period of transition.”

Building on Stanford Jazz Workshop’s more than 50-year legacy of traditions and accomplishments, Combs will provide the overall visionary, strategic, programmatic, and operational leadership for the organization, as well as the production of the Stanford Jazz Festival concerts and summer programs. He will work to build on the organization’s identity as an industry-leading educational institution and vibrant hub for the global jazz community. Under Combs’s leadership, Stanford Jazz Workshop will continue to solidify its core values of providing exceptional musical education; increase its diversity, equity, and inclusion programs across the organization; and work with partners and stakeholders to further grow Stanford Jazz Workshop as it enters its next institutional chapter. Isaacson, Miller, a national executive search firm, assisted in the hiring process.

Non-profit arts executive, educator, bassist, and composer Cory Combs joins Stanford Jazz Workshop from InterMusic SF where he served as Executive Director for five years. He programmed SF Music Day and provided services and resources such as fiscal sponsorship, artist professional development, and music grant programs. Prior to InterMusic SF, Combs was the Director of Music, Outreach, and Enrichment at The Nueva School and was a member of the leadership team that planned and launched the Nueva Upper School. On two campuses, he directed programs across grades K-12, taught music technology and music history classes and served as the founder and Director of its advanced jazz ensemble. Previously, Combs was the SFJAZZ Director of Education where he led the organization’s expansive educational outreach programs, engaging youth to adult participants.. He earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the Eastman School of Music.

Retiring Executive Director David Miller first joined Stanford Jazz Workshop in 2009. During his tenure, he led the organization through significant improvements in systems, organizational structure, and financial management. Over the last four years, Miller directed development and the strategic planning initiative that has led to this leadership change. During the pandemic, he helped guide Stanford Jazz Workshop’s pivot to a robust online education and performance platform and a hybrid in-person and online program. In 2022, Miller led the organization’s successful return to in-person programs for the organization’s 50th Anniversary in 2022. Miller will support Combs through this transition period.

About Stanford Jazz Workshop (SJW)

Stanford Jazz Workshop’s mission is to educate, entertain, and inspire a community of artists, students, and audience members through the study, performance, and appreciation of jazz — an original American musical form. Founded in 1972, Stanford Jazz Workshop is a leading jazz education and presenting organization known for its curriculum and educational model in which young jazz musicians study with renowned faculty in an intensive workshop setting. The summer program, in particular, enables students to have tailored learning and one-on-one support, build community, play and learn across generations, and access and interact with jazz masters in informal ways.

Media Contact: Marshall Lamm, [email protected], 510-928-1410.