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WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Washington Ballet today announced the appointment of Peter M. Branch as its new Executive Director. Mr. Branch, most recently Head of Georgetown Day School, has 34-years experience as the leader of independent schools in New York City, Long Island, Oklahoma and Washington, DC. He has extensive experience in administrative management, institutional advancement and program development and promotion in a nonprofit environment. In three of the schools he headed, Mr. Branch established dance programs and oversaw the funding and construction of dance studios at Woodmere Academy in Woodmere, NY; Holland Hall School in Tulsa, OK; and Georgetown Day School. At Holland Hall, he also oversaw the construction of a 70,000 square-foot performing arts center. In 1996, the Board honored Mr. Branch by naming the 1,200-seat theatre, The Peter M. Branch Theatre.
A graduate of Williams College with an MA from Indiana University, Mr. Branch was named “Arts Administrator of the Year” in 1992 by the International Network of Performing and Visual Arts Schools.
Mr. Branch succeeds Russell P. Allen, the Ballet’s current Executive Director who will depart in June upon the successful completion of his three-year contract.
“The Washington Ballet will continue to move forward strategically to the next phase in our evolution," said Sylvia de Leon, Chair of The Washington Ballet Board of Directors. "At a time when many cultural arts organizations face constriction, The Washington Ballet is planning for growth. The Board is confident that Peter possesses the management skill sets called for at this juncture. With years of experience and a proven track record of successful fundraising, team building and facilities management, Peter will lead the professional and talented Ballet staff and focus on areas that need considerable attention.”
Ms. de Leon stated that, “The Washington Ballet is very fortunate at this point in its history to be able to recruit Peter to partner with our renowned Artistic Director Septime Webre to continue the forward progress of our company, school and community outreach. Peter’s understanding of organizational development will complement and support the creativity for which The Washington Ballet is so well known.”
Ms. de Leon added that bringing Mr. Branch on board, "signifies the Board's desire to continue to support the performing company and to also focus on the burgeoning growth and potential of the company’s world renowned schools in Northwest and Southeast, DC and Alexandria, Virginia."
“I am honored by the decision of The Washington Ballet Board of Directors to appoint me Executive Director. This is an exciting opportunity to contribute to the ongoing success of one of the premier ballet companies and schools in the nation. I look forward to working with Artistic Director Septime Webre and School Director Kee Juan Han. As a school head, I have always believed that the fine and performing arts are an essential part of American education. I hope to be able to support the essential role which The Washington Ballet has played in the cultural and educational life of Washington, DC and the United States for over 65 years,” said Mr. Branch.
Artistic Director Septime Webre said, "I have gotten to know Peter over recent months and look forward to partnering with him. It is an exciting time to be at the Ballet and we have tremendous projects on the drawing board.”
The Washington School of Ballet Director Kee Juan Han added that, "The Washington School of Ballet has enjoyed enormous success. Having someone of Peter’s stature joining our team can only strengthen our growing international and regional reputation.”
“Russell Allen has accomplished what he set out to do when he came here three years ago,” stated Ms. de Leon. “He oversaw the Ballet through a period of growth during a time of economic difficulty, increasing earned revenue and building a superb administrative staff.” Ms. de Leon added, “while the artistic side of our company – performances, ballet school and community outreach – had been top-notch year after year, the Ballet asked Russell to take the administrative side of the company to the next level. Russell accomplished these goals and for that we will always be grateful.”
“Russell leaves the organization well poised for the future,” said Mr. Webre. “I am grateful for the strong working relationship that Russell and I have enjoyed over the last three years.”
“The Washington Ballet is a first-class ballet company, but faced many challenges when I arrived and the growth we have experienced in recent years has been exhilarating. It was a great period to be Executive Director and to have been able to accomplish what I set out to do,” said Mr. Allen. “I will long remember and appreciate the personal and professional highlights of my tenure.”