Orlando Ballet has added six members to its board of directors during the past six months, growing the ballet's governing body to 21 members.
It's a key step toward stronger financial health for the organization, which has a history of debt but is currently running in the black. The ballet can have as many as 35 board members and in the early 1990s had 31 serving.
"The board is making a concerted effort to raise funds," said Ava Doppelt, board president. "It's the board's role to be out in the community raising funds."
Traditionally, ballet board members have focused on fundraising, creating special events such as a celebrity shoe auction or using corporate and community connections to solicit support.
The new members are consultant Jose Fajardo, former CEO of WMFE-TV and radio; Lynne Frederick, a vice president at Massey Services; Trish Wingerson, assistant director of communications for the Orlando Magic; Christi Ashby, editor and publisher of Orange Appeal magazine; Susan Bounds, chief financial officer for CFO Strategic Partners; and Madeline Eckett Oden, who runs a New York interior-design firm and is a longtime supporter of American Ballet Theatre there.
Leadership changes on the ballet's day-to-day management team have distracted the board from its fundraising mission, Doppelt said.
The ballet's executive-director position was vacant nearly a year after Juan Escalante resigned in 2011. Mark Hough was hired for the post in the spring of 2012 but left in August for a job at his alma mater, the University of North Carolina.
"Sometimes we got more involved in operational matters," Doppelt said.
Hough has not been replaced, but Doppelt said the ballet stabilized its leadership by promoting director of operations Katherine Fabian to the new post of managing director.
Fabian has a master's degree in arts management from American University in Washington, D.C., and had previously been Orlando Ballet School's manager.
The board hasn't decided whether to open a new search for executive director, said Doppelt, calling such searches expensive and time-consuming.
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