The Fairfax Symphony Orchestra (FSO) Board of Directors appointed Debra Harrison as its president/CEO, effective Jan. 1, 2013. Her appointment comes following the unanimous recommendation of the search committee chaired by board member John Lockhart following a four-month national search.
Harrison recently worked as the chief operating officer at the Washington Performing Arts Society in Washington, D.C., one of the leading arts presenters in the nation. There she led the organization through three-years of critically acclaimed artistic presentations while remaining on budget, expanded educational programming, established an organizational culture of partnerships, and engaged a wide variety of stakeholders in a strategic planning process. With dual citizenship from her native England and Canada, Harrison was introduced to the classical arts at age 16 when she was hired to wash out paint buckets for Vancouver Opera. Since this beginning she has held leadership positions at Arizona Opera, OPERA America and Vancouver Opera.
Lockhart explained, “The committee sought a president/CEO who would lead the 56-year-old organization on a new path of growth, and would be able to respond not only to the needs of our community, but also to the trends in our industry. We are delighted to have found our candidate in Debra Harrison.”
Thomas M. Brownell, chairman of the Fairfax Symphony’s Board of Directors, said, “We are confident that Debra will passionately advocate on behalf of the FSO, in partnership with Music Director Christopher Zimmerman.”
Harrison says, “It is an honor to have been asked to join the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra, an organization that has been integral to the Fairfax community for 56 years. I am excited to become more familiar with the Fairfax community and to develop partnerships which make certain that FSO is best positioned to serve the diverse audiences of Northern Virginia.”
The FSO is currently in the midst of its 2012-2013 season with performances at George Mason University’s Center for the Arts.