Debra L. Kraft
Debra L. Kraft was the Executive Director of The Choral Arts Society of Washington from November 2004 until she retired in August 2016. During her tenure, Choral Arts has consistently operated in the black, remaining fiscally strong in spite of economic challenges. She successfully managed the two-year search and transition of the organization’s artistic leadership shifting from Founder and Artistic Director Emeritus Norman Scribner to Scott Tucker, the organization’s second Artistic Director. Not only did this process ensure a strong artistic and fiscal foundation for Tucker’s arrival, it serves as model for nonprofit leadership transition. A strong proponent of partnerships, she has developed international collaborations with prestigious festivals in England, France, and China, which include concerts and recording projects.
Prior to her Choral Arts tenure, she was Managing Director of the Olney Theatre Center for the Arts where she increased the campus from twelve to sixteen acres with a state-of-the-art theater including a black box, scene shop, and an outdoor amphitheater. She also served as Co- Director of Youth and Family Programming at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
At heart, Kraft is an advocate for the arts. In addition to her leadership of Choral Arts, she is active in the local and national arts community as well as committed to international cultural collaborations. Locally, she serves on The Helen Hayes Awards Board of Governors, sitting on the committee for the John Aniello Award for Outstanding Emerging Theatre Company. Nationally, she serves on the advisory boards of Voci Maestri in San Francisco, which is led by Founding and Artistic Director Ragnar Bohlin and Gloria Musicae in Sarasota, led by Artistic Director Joseph Holt, formerly Choral Arts’ Associate Music Director. She also serves on the Executive Committee of the National Capital Arts and Cultural Affairs program of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts.
Past community participation includes: elected in 2002 as Vice President of the Board of Directors for the Cultural Alliance of Greater Washington (now CultureCapital); served on the Board of several choral organizations including the Cathedral Choral Society and the Woodley Ensemble; held the Vice President position of the United Arts Organization of Washington; and
served on committees for Maryland Citizens for the Arts and the Fine Arts Advisory Panel for the Maryland Department of Education.
Dedicated to the next generation of arts administrators, Kraft joined the faculty of George Mason University in the graduate Masters in Arts Management program in 2007 and continues to guest lecture at other universities. She is also a frequent speaker on national and international arts panels.
Kraft is a graduate of The George Washington University. She is a member of the 2005 Leadership Washington Class, participated in the Leadership Montgomery class of 1997, and served as session chair on the arts for 1998 and 1999 classes.