Performing Arts

Michael Kaiser named interim president at YoungArts


Following an unexpected leadership shake-up, the former president of the Kennedy Center has been named interim president of the National YoungArts Foundation.

Michael M. Kaiser, a nationally prominent arts executive who is head of the DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the University of Maryland, was tapped as interim leader, the organization announced Wednesday. Paul Lehr, CEO for the past several years, and Joe Gutierrez, senior vice president and CFO, are no longer with the organization, Marc Sheridan, chairman of the YoungArts Board, said via a press release.

YoungArts will continue its regular programming, including its upcoming Presidential Scholars in the Arts presentations and it YoungArts Week in New York, Kaiser said, as it searches for “a nationally prominent arts executive” to lead the organization in its next phase. The appointment is open-ended, but Kaiser said typically such searches take four- to six months.

“Miami is a really interesting arts town; there’s so much vibrancy. But it’s also a relatively young town when it comes to fundraising and marketing,” he said. The next YoungArts leader will need to have vision and be able to build infrastructure in marketing and fundraising.

Kaiser is no stranger to South Florida. Previously he consulted with Miami City Ballet and has been involved as a YoungArts board member and advisor for more than three years. He served as president of the Kennedy Center in Washington for 14 years and has been a strategic advisor to YoungArts for the past several years, the release said.

Founded in 1981 by the late Carnival Corp. Chair Ted Arison and wife Lin, YoungArts identifies and supports high school-age artists nationwide in multiple disciplines. In 2012, the organization moved its headquarters to the landmark Bacardi campus on Biscayne Boulevard near downtown Miami, where it plans to build a Frank Gehry-designed performance center.