Published : Wednesday, June 13, 2018 | 6:31 PM
Lora Unger, Chief Executive Officer of the Pasadena Symphony and POPS, has been selected by the New York-based International Association of Top Professionals as Top CEO of the Year.
Unger was selected for her outstanding leadership and commitment to the profession, the organization announced on Monday.
Unger has been leading the Pasadena Symphony and POPs for almost a decade. Overall, she’s been in the music industry for over two decades and has proven herself as an accomplished professional and expert in the field.
As a dynamic, results-driven leader, Unger has demonstrated success not only as the Chief Executive Officer for the Symphony since 2014. She was initially hired as its Chief Operating Officer to help lead the orchestra from crisis to fiscal sustainability.
“With Unger on their side, she played a critical role in transforming the orchestra’s artistic leadership, reinventing their brand, and then moved the orchestra into two world-class performance venues,” the Association said. “She more than tripled their audience base and cemented the orchestra’s place in the region as the pre-eminent voice for live symphonic music.”
Ungar said her drive for achievement is like “taking a dashboard approach to defining success.”
“Success for an orchestra is measured beyond the financial bottom line. It’s measured by how we steward the customers’ experience and their access to our concerts,” Unger said in the press release. “It is measured by how we grow artistically and deliver the moments of shared bliss that only come from a live concert experience. You have to strike the sweet spot of balancing entertainment and high art, while also honoring your responsibility to provide music education for our children and access to all our concerts for their families and the greater community that we serve.”
The Pasadena Symphony and POPS is best known for its popular concerts at Pasadena’s Ambassador Auditorium and the Los Angeles Arboretum, but Unger has expanded the orchestra’s after-school education programs from grades 6-12 to elementary schools grades 3-4, teaching children how to play string instruments. Unger states that 50 percent of the orchestra’s annual budget relies on donations, which means that she has to inspire customers beyond just the value of the cost of a ticket to a concert.
“It’s an emotional transaction that reflects the intrinsic value of how deeply our concert experiences transform people, and I am just deeply honored to be part of it,” she said. “This orchestra does it all and does it at a very high level-performing baroque, choral and the grandest of symphonies, to the popular music of The Great American Songbook and beyond.”
It was also Unger who persuaded Michael Feinstein to take over as the orchestra’s conductor after the passing of Marvin Hamlisch in 2012.
Originally from Louisville, Ky., Unger knew at a very young age she wanted to have a career in the fine arts while also using her savvy business mindset. She received her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Louisville and attended the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music for her graduate degree.
Unger has received numerous awards throughout her career and has been recognized for her outstanding leadership and commitment to the music industry. She has been featured as a Woman Achiever in Business Life Magazine, and in May last year she also was featured in The Pulse Magazine.
For 2019, the IAOTP is considering her for a feature in TIP (Top Industry Professional) Magazine and for the Empowered Woman of the Year Award.
“Choosing Lora for this award was an easy decision for our panel to make,” said Stephanie Cirami, IAOTP President. “She is talented, humble, gracious, and brilliant at what she does. We felt she would make an amazing asset to our organization and we are looking forward to meeting her at the gala.”
The IAOTP is an international boutique networking organization that handpicks the top professionals from different industries. These professionals are given an opportunity to collaborate, share their ideas, be keynote speakers and help influence others in their fields.
Top CEO honorees are distinguished members of the association based on their professional accomplishments, academic achievements, leadership abilities, longevity in the field, other affiliations and contributions to their communities. The honor is given at the IAOTP’s annual award gala at the end of the year.
In the IAOTP release, Unger said she loves doing what she is doing and feels this is just the beginning. Her motto is “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.”