Chicago’s Deborah Rutter Named the New President of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

She succeeds Michael Kaiser, who has been in the job for 13 years.

By: Carol Ross Joynt

The Kennedy Center has completed its nearly year-long search for a new president—and she’s coming to Washington from Chicago. Deborah Rutter, the current president of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, will be the Kennedy Center’s third president, succeeding Michael Kaiser, who has been there for 13 years. The announcement was made by board chairman David Rubenstein Tuesday.

“The Kennedy Center is fortunate to have found in Deborah an individual with an undeniable passion for and knowledge of the performing arts; a long, well-respected track record of managing and enhancing performing arts organizations; and a commitment to making the performing arts accessible and appealing to people of all ages and backgrounds,” Rubenstein said in a statement issued by the Center’s public affairs office. “I applaud Michael Kaiser for his 13 years of leadership and look forward to watching Deborah bring her unique experiences and interests to this position.”

For her part, Rutter made this statement: “It is a true privilege to be asked to lead this unparalleled institution. The Kennedy Center represents the very best of American culture of all forms, and I am honored at the prospect of building on the great work of my predecessor .... I am incredibly excited about the future of this institution and the opportunity to work with its great artists and leaders: Christoph Eschenbach, Suzanne Farrell, Jason Moran, Francesca Zambello, as well as the Kennedy Center’s many talented staff, volunteers, and supporters.”

The transition begins next year. Kaiser steps down at the end of August to head up the DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the University of Maryland.