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. In 2018 she was elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and named Chair of the Avery Fisher Artist Program.
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 three months after returning to the New York Philharmonic in 2017, Ms. Borda completed a $50 million launch fund to usher in a new era of fiscal stability and assembled a new leadership team to support her and Music Director Jaap van Zweden’s vision for the Orchestra. The 2018–19 season, van Zweden’s first as Music Director, introduced this vision: engagement with timely social issues, connections with New York City, and a redoubling of the Philharmonic’s commitment to innovation, collaboration, new music, and educational initiatives, such as the Philharmonic’s Very Young Composers program.
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), a flagship program that 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 former professional violist, Deborah Borda graduated from Bennington College and continued her studies at London’s Royal College of Music. She received an Honorary Doctor of Music degree from the Curtis Institute of Music. She is in demand internationally as a consultant and lecturer, and her accomplishments in the field of orchestral music have been cited in numerous reviews and articles, both nationally and internationally.