General Director and CEO
Deborah Sandler Kemper became General Director of the Lyric Opera of Kansas City in 2012. She is known throughout the opera industry for her strong commitment to artistic excellence, company growth, and deepening community connections.
Previously, Sandler Kemper served as General Director of Kentucky Opera where her expertise as both the artistic and management leader of the company gained acclaim for productions of high artistic quality. In addition, as leader of an outstanding artistic and management team, she was recognized for implementing a strategic plan which led to the expansion of the audience through increasing subscriptions, securing financial stability and extending the company’s educational and outreach programs. Sandler Kemper began a young artists training program and oversaw an innovative series of education programs which incorporated the use of puppetry in opera for young people. Known for well-balanced casts and discovering new talent, Sandler Kemper is credited as the first General Director to cast a young Joyce Di Donato in the role of Rosina in Kentucky Opera’s production of Il Barbiere di Siviglia in the beginning of her career.
Deborah Sandler Kemper began her career as General Manager of the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia and later moved to the Opera Theatre of New Jersey as General Director, managing both the artistic and administrative functions. In New Jersey, Sandler Kemper was recognized for her ability to increase the artistic quality and expand the capacity of the company by developing community awareness through artistic initiatives and dynamic education and outreach programs. The budget tripled in size under Sandler Kemper’s leadership and she was recognized for innovative artistic programming.
In service to the future of opera and the American Opera service organization OPERA America, Sandler Kemper’s passion for opening doors to expand the role of women in professional opera was the impetus for the first ever field wide conversation on this topic, which took place in May, 2015 in Washington, DC. She has been a leader and catalyst regarding the convening of women to advance this cause and served as the founding chair of the Women’s Opera Network at OPERA America.
Originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Sandler Kemper is a graduate of Temple University with a degree in music. Sandler Kemper earned a Master of Arts degree in Musicology from New York University, completing all of her doctoral course work. She has also studied at the Mandel Center for Nonprofits at Case Western Reserve and at the Fundraising School at Indiana University.