Classical Music

The League of American Orchestras Launches New Leadership Program

The arts organization introduced a mentoring program matching six women and non-binary orchestra professionals with acclaimed orchestra leaders


The inaugural Anne Parsons Leadership Program for Women and Non-Binary Orchestra Professionals created by the League of American Orchestras (LAO), has opened six spaces for professionals with diverse experiences to participate in its first edition — which will run from June 2023 to June 2024.

The program is named for the late orchestra field leader and mentor Anne Parsons. The three-year pilot mentoring program will provide support to women and non-binary orchestra professionals, and aims to effect structural change and improve gender equity within high-ranking executive roles.

The program is free and selection criteria include demonstrated experience, managerial vision, and a commitment to leading and serving American orchestras. To apply, eligible candidates must have a minimum of five years of full-time experience in orchestras of any budget size, and current employment is not required. 

Successful participants will have the opportunity to develop their own professional networks, meet individually with their mentors each month, attend quarterly cohort meetings, and partake in training on topics such as women’s leadership and gender inclusivity. They will also learn from female leaders currently working in orchestras and the performing arts. 

The program was originally created by the LAO in coordination with four large-budget orchestra leaders who will serve as mentors. They include Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s executive director, Jennifer Barlament; St. Louis Symphony Orchestra’s president and CEO, Marie-Hélène Bernard; Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s Ross Perot President and CEO Kim Noltemy; and President and CEO of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Melia Tourangeau. More mentors and faculty members will be announced at a later date.

Funding will be provided for participants to attend the League’s 2023 National Conference and they will also receive a free one-year membership to the LAO. For more information and to apply, click here.


Born in 1957, Anne Parsons passed away in 2022 after battling cancer. For 17 years from 2004, she served as Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s (DSO) President and CEO, and later as President Emeritus. Under her leadership, the DSO posted nine consecutive operating surpluses from 2013 to 2021. 

Before the DSO, Parsons served in management positions for the New York City Ballet, the Hollywood Bowl, Boston Symphony Orchestra, and the National Symphony Orchestra. She was among the first class of LAO, where she became Emeritus Director.

“Anne Parsons was an inspirational leader and role model for so many in our field,” said LAO’s president and CEO, Simon Woods. “In creating this program, we felt a tremendous responsibility to honor Anne’s legacy by making a lasting impact on orchestras,” Woods continued. “A master people connector, Anne would have been thrilled to guide and nurture the next generation of women and non-binary leaders. I’m grateful to the mentors and faculty for passing on their years of knowledge and lifting up a new wave of talented professionals.”


Founded in 1942, The League of American Orchestras is an organization supporting America’s orchestras. With a diverse membership of over 1,800 organizations and individuals across North America, it hosts a range of events to advance orchestral music experiences and support its creators, plus recognize their contribution to society.

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