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RPO Announces Staff Promotions and New Board Member Addition

Rochester, NY – As an extension of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra’s “Transformation Plan” highlighted at its Annual Meeting last week, the RPO has announced several staffing moves.  President & CEO Charlie Owens shared news of further restructuring of the RPO administrative team at a meeting of the RPO Board of Directors last Wednesday, where the Board also voted to approve the addition of Deborah Wilson to its membership.  The RPO Board now will be at its full complement of 34 members.

East Irondequoit resident J. Andrew Cassano has been promoted to the new position of Vice President of Artistic Operations.  This promotion recognizes his superlative work as Director of Artistic Operations for the past three years–and as the primary RPO staff liaison to the Eastman Theatre renovation and expansion project.  According to Owens, “Andy’s budgeting and planning acumen and careful expense management have been proven time and again, and I know that Christopher Seaman and Jeff Tyzik share my belief that he is the masterful guiding force behind their programming decisions.  Andy sorts out the complicated scheduling of more than 300 Orchestra services every year, negotiates the contracts for guest artists, and oversees the production details and logistics for nearly 200 performances each season.  His technical expertise comes greatly into play with our most complex productions—for example, proving recently that acrobats can fly above the orchestra at our Cirque performances and, three years ago, proving that the RPO can indeed perform on a floating barge on the Erie Canal.”

Nancy Goldsmith Zawacki of Pittsford has been promoted to the new position of Vice President of Marketing and Communications.  Since her arrival as Marketing Director last July, the RPO not only met its subscription goal for the year two months ahead of schedule, but exceeded that goal.  “Nancy also quickly took the lead on rebranding the RPO, and brought our communications program into the 21st century with our new RPO Blog and our presence on Facebook, where we have 936 new Fans,” Owens commented. Zawacki’s new position gives her responsibility for the entire Marketing and Communications area, which now includes publications, electronic media, patron services and public relations.

Penfield resident Dr. Krishna Thiagarajan has been promoted to the newly created position of Senior Director for Resource Development and Education Programs.  He joined the RPO as Director of Education and Community Programs last May, proving his skill as an articulate advocate for the Orchestra’s current Education programs—and  for his vision of what those programs can become.  “Krishna’s intuitive sense of how our education and family events can be reconceived to be both more compelling and more educational has led to some important shifts in programming—including the wildly popular Holiday orKIDStra presentation of the film The Snowman last month,” said Owens.  “Already his efforts as spokesperson and fundraiser have reaped dividends, which led us to the logical next step of creating this important new, cross-departmental role for him.”

The RPO Board unanimously approved Deborah Wilson as its newest member.  Wilson, a Victor resident, is Director of Institutional and Foundation Marketing at Cooper/Haims Advisors, LLC, which works with clients on customizing life/wealth strategies. With more than 25 years’ experience working with nonprofits, she is chair of the Elaine P. & Richard U. Wilson Foundation and is a board member for many local organizations including GEVA Theatre, Rochester Museum and Science Center, George Eastman House, St. John Fisher College and the Seneca Park Zoo Society.  She serves as a trustee of RPO Fund, Inc., the RPO’s independent endowment organization, and is a member of several active RPO planning committees.