Episode 33: Jenny Bilfield, President & CEO of Washington Performing Arts

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Today’s guest, Jenny Bilfield, is a classically trained composer and pianist whose administrative career has taken her around the world. She is currently serving as the fourth President and CEO of Washington Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., and her story of how she got there is a wonderful mix of risk-taking, hard work, and determination.

Throughout her career she’s built new programs and initiatives—not to mention an actual concert hall—to better serve her audience.

Some key takeaways from this episode:

  • Why collaborations are vital to the success of an organization (and you!)
  • The one thing you must keep in mind if you want to be more effective
  • Tips on how to identify the level of responsibility at which you’re most comfortable in your career

The music in this episode features the third movement, “Stretch: Snap Back”, and the second movement, “Pure Happenchance”, from a New Orchestra of Washington (NOW) commission, Elastic Band, for Chamber Orchestra by Joel Phillip Friedman.

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Jenny Bilfield was appointed Washington Performing Arts’ fourth President and CEO in April 2013. Based in Washington, D.C., with performances and programs spanning the Capital region, Washington Performing Arts was founded in 1965. It thrives today as one of the nation’s preeminent multi-disciplinary arts presenters, especially notable for launching and nurturing innumerable performing artists, and sustaining high-impact arts education partnerships with the D.C. public schools and diplomatic community. In 2013, Washington Performing Arts was the first organization of its kind to receive the coveted National Medal of Arts (conferred by President Obama at the White House), as well as a Mayor’s Arts Award for Excellence in Service to the Arts, and most recently the Mayor’s Arts Award for Outstanding Contribution to Arts Education.

Early in her tenure she was recognized among the “30 Key Influencers in the Arts: Movers and Shakers” by Musical Americahonored by the Washington Chorus at its 2015 gala, and has twice been recognized (2013 and 2015) by Washingtonian Magazine as one of the “Most Powerful Women in Washington.”