Leslie Koch Named President of Ronald O. Perelman Performing Arts Center at World Trade Center
The Board of Directors of the Ronald O. Perelman Performing Arts Center today announced the appointment of Leslie Koch as its next President. Koch succeeds Maggie Boepple, the Perelman's current President who has worked on the project since 2012 and will continue to serve as an advisor.
Koch, best known for her tenure as President and CEO of the Trust for Governors Island from 2006 to 2016, is nationally recognized for work spanning the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. Under her leadership, Governors Island was transformed from an abandoned military base to a vibrant public space, with an extraordinary new park, up-to-date infrastructure, a mix of year-round tenants and an innovative array of arts and cultural programs. During her tenure, visitation grew from 8,000 per season to more than 600,000, drawing New Yorkers from all five boroughs and visitors from around the world.
"Leslie led the way in helping us transform an old military installation into a stunning new public park and cultural attraction in the middle of New York Harbor," said former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Chairman of the 9-11 Memorial and Museum. "Now she will bring her talent and drive to creating another iconic destination - the Perelman Performing Arts Center - at the World Trade Center. Her experience and expertise make her the perfect person for this important role, and we are excited to welcome her as we complete construction of what will be the final piece of the puzzle in rebuilding the World Trade Center site.
"We also want to express our deep gratitude to the Perelman's Inaugural President, Maggie Boepple, for her more than seven years of tireless work in making this dream a reality. Everyone who visits the Perelman in years to come will experience an extraordinary space that she helped make possible."
Once complete, the Perelman will provide flexible midsize performance space in which to produce theater, dance, music, and chamber opera that embraces emerging, established, and non-traditional artists and audiences. Its unique design, with movable interior walls, can be reconfigured into dozens of different stage environments to accommodate creative vision and collaboration across artistic disciplines.
"Leslie is an outstanding choice to help lead this iconic arts and cultural center into the future," said Ronald O. Perelman. "The possibilities and potential of the Performing Arts Center are limitless. I am extraordinarily proud of what we have accomplished so far and excited for what is yet to come. I look forward to working with Leslie, Bill, and the entire team to help bring this center to life as a premier destination for art and culture in the community, the city, and the world."
"We are thrilled to welcome Leslie Koch, who brings extraordinary experience from Governors Island and her career in the cultural, nonprofit, public, and corporate communities," said Ric Clark, a member of the Perelman's Board of Directors, Chairman of the Downtown Alliance, and Chairman, Brookfield Property Group and Brookfield Property Partners. "We are confident that with Leslie working in close collaboration with our outstanding Artistic Director, Bill Rauch, the Perelman will become a vital part of Lower Manhattan and New York City's cultural landscape, developing innovative work that engages with communities worldwide."
The Perelman will be a lively commons where people can gather on the sheltered outdoor staircase or in indoor public meeting spaces, dine at a full-service restaurant and a café, and enjoy performances that take risks and defy expectations.
"I am honored to join the Perelman and work in partnership with Bill Rauch," said Koch. "Bill and I share the belief that the arts are what bring us together as a people. This beautiful building will welcome artists and audiences from everywhere. It is my privilege to work with Bill, the Board of Directors, and the Perelman staff and team to bring the longstanding vision for culture at Ground Zero to life."
Conceived as the keystone in Daniel Libeskind's 2003 master plan for the rebuilt 16-acre World Trade Center site, the Perelman will be a state-of-the-art venue and global hub for creation and rebirth.
"I am thrilled to begin collaborating with Leslie, who has dedicated much of her professional career to advancing the arts and making the joy of creative expression accessible for all communities," said Bill Rauch, Artistic Director of the Perelman. "I look forward to creating work that offers hope for the future and realizes the inclusive promise of our nation."
"Inventive and passionate, Leslie transformed Governors Island into a magical public space, and I have no doubt that she'll bring the same level of commitment and imagination to her new role," said the Perelman Artistic Advisor and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and screenwriter Lynn Nottage. "Under the leadership of Bill and Leslie, the Perelman Performing Arts Center promises to be a dynamic cultural space that celebrates the diversity of artistic voices around the world and engages audiences in a fresh and unexpected way."
Earlier this year, the Perelman reached a significant milestone when gigantic steel beams that will support the monolithic 17,000-ton building were installed at the site. Sitting on top of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Calatrava Transit Hub and vehicle helix structure, the engineering and construction of the Perelman is completely unique. Designed by REX, the building will be an iconic 138-ft tall cube with a glowing marble facade located adjacent to the 9-11 Memorial north reflecting pool.
"I am delighted that Bill and Leslie will open this fabulous building," said Maggie Boepple. "Leading the Perelman project has been an exciting and inspiring challenge. I am grateful for the support of our tremendous Board. I also want to thank the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, including Chair Rick Cotton, and Chief of Major Capital Projects Steve Plate, who have literally laid the foundation for this amazing cultural facility. The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation has provided essential leadership and support since the project's inception."
Koch, a native New Yorker, spent more than a decade in the high tech sector in Seattle, principally at Microsoft where she oversaw the development and marketing of several flagship products. She returned to New York City to launch the Fund for Public Schools in 2003. Under her leadership, the Fund, which is the partner to the New York City Department of Education, raised more than $160 million in support of NYC's public schools. From 2006 to 2016, she spearheaded the revitalization of Governors Island as President and CEO of the Trust for Governors Island. Since 2016, she has served as an independent advisor on public-private partnerships in the fields of culture, education, and public space around the country, working with such organizations as Pivotal Ventures, an investment and incubation company created by Melinda Gates, as well as the New York Public Library. Koch received a BA from Yale College summa cum laude and a Master's Degree in Public and Private Management from the Yale School of Management. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and dogs.
For additional information about the Ronald O. Perelman Performing Arts Center, visit theperelman.org.
Photo Credit: © LUXIGON