Throughout her career, Deborah Borda has extended the artistic, commercial, and technological boundaries of American symphony orchestras. She became President and Chief Executive Officer of the New York Philharmonic in September 2017. Prior posts include President and CEO, David C. Bohnett Presidential Chair, of the Los Angeles Philharmonic; Executive Director of the New York Philharmonic; General Manager of the San Francisco Symphony; President and Managing Director of The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra; and Executive Director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. In 2015 she became the first arts executive to join Harvard Kennedy School’s Center for Public Leadership as a Hauser Leader-in-Residence.
Deborah Borda became the first woman in recent history to manage a major American symphony orchestra when she was appointed Executive Director of the New York Philharmonic in 1991, and subsequently guided the Orchestra through a period of artistic and fiscal growth. Within her first few months after returning to the New York Philharmonic in 2017, Ms. Borda assembled a new leadership team to support her and Music Director Jaap van Zweden’s vision for the Orchestra. A $50 million launch fund to usher in a new era of fiscal stability was completed in November 2017. In February 2018 Ms. Borda and Maestro van Zweden revealed the programs and projects of his inaugural season in 2018–19, reflecting their plans to reconceive the Orchestra’s engagement with timely social issues, connect with New York City, and redouble the Philharmonic’s commitment to innovation, collaboration, and new music.
The Los Angeles Philharmonic’s success during Deborah Borda’s 17-year tenure was chosen for case studies by Harvard Business School and Harvard Kennedy School. During her first decade in Los Angeles, Ms. Borda designed an acclaimed business, education, and curatorial plan credited with restoring the orchestra to robust artistic and financial health. She reinvigorated plans to build and launch Walt Disney Concert Hall, oversaw the addition of a new shell for the Hollywood Bowl, and reimagined and diversified programming at both venues. She also spearheaded the appointment of music director Gustavo Dudamel. Committed to the orchestra’s social imperative, Ms. Borda and Mr. Dudamel invested in groundbreaking educational initiatives, including the founding of YOLA (Youth Orchestra Los Angeles), which provides free after-school instruction to children in underserved communities, and the national Take a Stand initiative, which promotes the El Sistema philosophy of social change through music.
A graduate of Bennington College and the Royal College of Music and a former professional violist, Deborah Borda is in demand internationally as a consultant and lecturer. She received an Honorary Doctor of Music degree from the Curtis Institute of Music. In 2018 she was elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and was also named Chair of the Avery Fisher Artist Program. Her accomplishments in the field of orchestral music have been cited in numerous reviews and articles, both nationally and internationally.