The Michael Feinstein Great American Songbook Initiative has named Karen Witt Kelsey as its new Executive Director. She has served the organization as interim director for the past three months.
Jeffrey C. McDermott, chairman of the Initiative’s board of directors, said: “Karen possesses extraordinary leadership ability, business acumen, creativity, passion and communication skills necessary to help take the Initiative to even greater levels of success. Karen had been serving as our interim director for the past several months. During that short period of time, she completely immersed herself in the position, gaining an understanding of our mission and programs, identifying the issues and challenges we face, and focusing on the many opportunities that are available to us. I am very pleased to welcome Karen as our new Executive Director.”
Karen’s previous non-profit service has included administration at the Center for the Performing Arts and director at the Christel DeHaan Family Foundation. As executive director, Karen will continue overseeing programs presented by the Michael Feinstein Great American Songbook Initiative, including the archive, gallery and educational activities. In June 2012, the Initiative sponsored the third annual Great American Songbook Vocal Academy and Competition. Additionally, the Initiative launched the inaugural Songbook Hall of Fame by honoring the musical contributions of Barry Manilow, Cole Porter and the songwriting duo of Alan and Marilyn Bergman (creators of Barbra Streisand’s greatest movie scores including The Way We Were and Yentl).
Plans exist for the construction of the Great American Songbook Hall of Fame Museum and Archive on the campus of the Carmel, Indiana-based Center for the Performing Arts.