President and CEO

Deeply committed to arts access for all and building community through the shared music experience, President and CEO Mary A. Deissler joined the Charlotte Symphony in June of 2016, bringing with her nearly 35 years of broad experience across performing arts and international nonprofits.
Originally from Boston, Ms. Deissler served as CEO of the Handel and Haydn Society for nearly 25 years where she worked strategically to eliminate an accumulated debt and established cash reserves and budgetary stability. A collaborator at her core, she raised the Society's profile by partnering with the English National Opera to present Chen Shi-Zheng's production of Monteverdi Vespers to rave reviews.
She brings the same penchant for collaboration to her post in Charlotte, where she has fostered trusted relationships with many longstanding cross-cultural institutions, broadening the depth and breadth of the Charlotte Symphony's robust community reach.
By introducing the popular On Tap brewery series, Ms. Deissler is fostering accessibility and approachability to the Classical repertoire in a casual setting. She is working to break down barriers across the Charlotte community with programs like Listen Up, Charlotte, a partnership with A Sign Of The Times of the Carolinas and Levine Museum of the New South aimed combatting social injustices.
A believer in the arts as a catalyst for the future vision of our youngest community members, Ms. Deissler, guided by the City of Charlotte's Opportunity Task Force Leading On Opportunity report findings, has expanded the Symphony's free, afterschool youth orchestra into a new program, Project Harmony, serving areas with the lowest access and greatest need in east and west Charlotte. She has committed to reaching 500 students by 2020 through Project Harmony.
Immediately prior to her post in Charlotte, Ms. Deissler served as President at Chicago Academy for the Arts, where she developed key partnerships with higher education institutions and other arts groups to increase visibility, enrollment, and student opportunity.
Past posts have included a major gifts and trusts directorship with Save the Children in London, interim Vice President of Development with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and a Chief Advancement Officer role with Artis--Naples, southwest Florida's largest cultural center. While in Naples, she designed, sourced, and implemented a "Live and Local" series to cultivate younger audiences.
Ms. Deissler earned a bachelor's degree at the University of Massachusetts Boston and an MBA from Babson College. She currently serves on the Board of Trustees for Chanticleer and London Handel Society, among others.
A trained pianist and music lover at her core, she also enjoys painting and is an avid Bruce Springsteen fan. She has two grown children who live in Boston.
Updated January 26, 2018