The Minnesota Orchestra's president and CEO is leaving for the same job in Texas.

Michelle Miller Burns, who has led Minnesota's largest performing arts organization since 2018, will take charge of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, where she held several leadership roles before coming to Minneapolis, the Minnesota Orchestra announced Friday.

"I feel like I'm following my heart back to a place that holds a lot of meaning for my husband and for me," Burns, 55, said by phone Friday. "It's the place that feels like home."

She starts with Dallas in September. The Minnesota Orchestra board will soon start a search for her successor.

Popular with board members and musicians, Burns kept the orchestra playing — outdoors, on TV and radio and via livestream — during a pandemic that silenced many performing arts organizations. She oversaw the orchestra during difficult financial times, posting several record-breaking deficits before pulling its budget into the black in the most recent fiscal year.

And she led the nonprofit as it searched for and found a new music director, bringing Danish conductor Thomas Søndergård to Minneapolis.

Introducing Søndergård to the community "has absolutely been a point of pride and a joy for me, professionally and personally," Burns said.

Burns, who was born in Iowa and grew up in the Chicago area, will succeed Kim Noltemy, Dallas' chief executive since 2018, who is headed to the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

During her time in Dallas, Burns' roles included interim president and CEO, chief operating officer and vice president of development.

"We are thrilled that she is rejoining the DSO," Cece Smith, chair of the Dallas Symphony Association board, said in a statement.

In 2018, a committee of Minnesota Orchestra board members, musicians and staffers picked Burns unanimously, making her the second woman to lead the nonprofit as its president.

Just before starting, she traveled with the orchestra to South Africa alongside Kevin Smith, the outgoing president and CEO whose tenure followed a bruising, lengthy labor dispute and lockout. Smith became known for mending divisions between administrators and musicians.

Burns continued that model, overseeing a time of relative harmony. In 2022, after a pandemic pay cut, the orchestra announced a new, four-year contract agreement with musicians.

"Michelle led in a way that always kept trust and honesty at the center of the orchestra's relationships," flutist Greg Milliren said by email Friday. "Michelle's warm presence will be missed, but we are grateful for her collaborative leadership and numerous contributions towards making the Minnesota Orchestra stronger in every way."

Early in her tenure, Burns made a bet on growing revenue rather than just cutting costs.

In January, after four years of deficits, the orchestra announced that it had posted a surplus of $1.1 million on a budget of $42.4 million in fiscal year 2023. Operating revenue, which includes ticket sales and rental income, reached $9.5 million — a 17% increase over the year before but still well below pre-pandemic figures.

Burns "has expertly navigated extremely challenging times," board chair Nancy Lindahl said in a statement, "exemplifying collaborative leadership and demonstrating what it means to listen to colleagues and build and tend relationships with people."

Like other performing arts organizations battered by COVID-19 closures and cultural shifts, orchestras across the United States have been struggling to fill their halls. But Minnesota's attendance has nearly bounced back. The orchestra's total capacity sold at the end of May was 84%, a spokesperson said, compared with an end-of-season total capacity of 87% in 2019.

Burns credits the fact that the orchestra kept playing during the pandemic, creating a live broadcast series on its website and TPT called "This Is Minnesota Orchestra," which continues today.

"And I think that the fact that all together, we did that work under those uncertain circumstances," Burns said, "but kept connection with our audiences, our donors and community, is one of the reasons we are seeing such a return to Orchestra Hall today."