Deborah F. Rutter

John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
Leadership, Policy, and Communications
Scientific, Cultural, and Nonprofit Leadership

President of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Deborah Rutter is one of the leading voices in arts administration today. As leader of the national cultural center, Rutter oversees programming across all genres, as well as a global network of education initiatives. In 2016, Rutter, along with Renee Fleming and Dr. Francis Collins, started Sound Health, an on-going partnership between the Kennedy Center and National Institutes of Health, in association with the National Endowment of the Arts exploring potential health benefits of music.

In 2019 Rutter opened the REACH — the first expansion of the Center‘s campus designed to bring audiences into the artistic process — setting the stage for a dynamic era of growth. She has expanded programming to fully represent the diversity of art in America, and introduced social impact and wellness programs across communities. Rutter sits on the board of Vital Voices, is a member of the board of directors of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and served as co- chair of its Commission on the Arts.

In recognition of her advocacy for the role art plays in diplomacy she was one of the inaugural recipients of the European Union’s Transatlantic Bridge Award in 2022.

In May 2023, Deborah was awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Arts by Duke University.

Before her tenure at the Kennedy Center, Rutter held executive leadership roles with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association, the Seattle Symphony, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Rutter is a graduate of Stanford University and holds an M.B.A. from the University of Southern California.

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