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Article Published: 14 Oct 2021

Governance Restructured

With a new fiscal year comes new board members, and this year in particular brings an exceptional freshman class, including Afton Battle, general director of Fort Worth Opera; arts consultant Astrid Baumgardner; Khori Dastoor, incoming general director of Houston Grand Opera; composer Kamala Sankaram; and Nadege Souvenir, board chair at Minnesota Opera. Moreover, for the first time, the general directors, trustees, and artists who have historically formed OA’s board will be joined by key staffers from member companies: Alejandra Valarino Boyer, Seattle Opera’s director of programs and partnerships, and Anh Le, director of marketing and PR at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis.

Additional changes, enacted after a thorough review of OA’s leadership structure with the firm Collaborative Strategies Inc., will broaden the range of board voices. The core board of directors is limited in OA’s bylaws to 40 members, but seven additional councils, incorporating the expertise and experience of administrators, artists, trustees, and other stakeholders, will expand the board’s scope of representation. A set of elected co-chairs from the Board will head each of the seven councils.

Carol F. Henry, the newly elected board chair, will lead the transformation. “This is a watershed moment for OPERA America, as it leads the opera field out of the pandemic and opens its arms to new voices in the industry,” says Henry. The esteemed philanthropist and founding trustee of Los Angeles Opera succeeds Timothy O’Leary to become the board’s 13th chair.

Henry will be joined by four co-chairs with special one-year terms and a mandate to address OA’s ongoing response to the pandemic and the field’s recovery, the safe reopening of the National Opera Center, the development of field-wide anti-harassment protocols, the implementation of equity, diversity and inclusion strategies, and the restoration of international collaboration with partner organizations in Europe and Latin America. “Over the past 50 years, OPERA America has grown from a club of general directors to a community of passionate creators, performers, producers, and stewards,” says President/CEO Marc A. Scorca. “We are delighted to accelerate this evolution to make the board fully reflective of our field and the communities we serve.”

New Board Chair
  • Carol F. Henry, Founding Trustee, Los Angeles Opera

Board Members in New Leadership Positions
  • Héctor Armienta, Composer and Artistic Director, Opera Cultura — Vice-Chair, Civic Practice Council Co-Chair
  • James M. Barton, Trustee, The Glimmerglass Festival — Chair, National Opera Center Board
  • C. Graham Berwind, III, Managing Director, The Metropolitan Opera — Co-Chair
  • Wayne S. Brown, President and CEO, Michigan Opera Theatre — Co-Chair
  • Annie Burridge, General Director and CEO, Austin Opera — Co-Chair
  • Peggy Kriha Dye, General Director, Virginia Opera — Communications Council Co-Chair
  • Michael Egel, General and Artistic Director, Des Moines Metro Opera — Secretary, Membership Council Co-Chair
  • Laura Kaminsky, Composer — Vice-Chair, Artistic Services Council Co-Chair
  • Susan G. Marineau, Board Chair, The Santa Fe Opera — Vice-Chair, Chair of Governance Committee
  • Ian Rye, Chief Executive Officer, Pacific Opera Victoria — Treasurer, Chair of Finance Committee
  • L. Michelle Smith, CEO and Founder, no silos communications — Co-Chair
  • Carole Yaley, Trustee, Central City Opera — Trustee Council Co-Chair

Newly Elected Board Members
  • Afton Battle, General Director, Fort Worth Opera — Membership Council Co-Chair
  • Astrid Baumgardner, Teacher and Coach — Learning and Leadership Council Co-Chair
  • Alejandra Valarino Boyer, Director of Programs and Partnerships, Seattle Opera — Civic Practice Council Co-Chair
  • Khori Dastoor, General Director, Opera San José; Incoming General Director, Houston Grand Opera —Learning and Leadership Council Co-Chair
  • Anh Le, Director of Marketing and PR, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis — Communications Council Co-Chair
  • Kamala Sankaram, Composer, Singer, and Teacher — Artistic Services Council Co-Chair
  • Nadege Souvenir, Board Chair, Minnesota Opera — Trustee Council Co-Chair

This article was published in the Fall 2021 issue of Opera America Magazine.