Heather A. Hitchens is a nationally recognized arts leader with nearly 30 years of performing arts administration, policy, and program development experience.
Hitchens currently serves as President & CEO of the American Theatre Wing (ATW). As CEO, she is charged with maintaining its brand of excellence in the Tony Awards (founded by ATW in 1947) as well as overseeing and shaping the ATW’s other vital grant making, professional development, educational, and media programs. Since starting her work at ATW in 2011, she has tripled the Organization’s budget, and overseen an expansion of its programs that has resulted in a more than triple increase in the Organization’s investment in programs.
Highlights include bringing the OBIE Awards into the Wing’s portfolio ensuring Off and Off-Off Broadway are recognized for the crucial role they play in the theatre ecology, and creating and launching the Andrew Lloyd Webber Initiative, a multi-tiered initiative to advance diversity in the theatre. In addition, Hitchens reconceived ATW’s much beloved “Working in the Theatre” public access television show into a thrice Emmy Nominated docu-series.
A seasoned leader, ATW is Hitchens’ fourth CEO post. Prior to ATW, Hitchens was appointed by the Governor of the State of New York to serve as Executive Director of the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) where she oversaw the distribution of over $123 million in grants to more than 2,000 New York State arts organizations in every artistic discipline. She also fostered closer collaboration and partnerships between the arts and other sectors including tourism, economic development, and parks, and in collaboration with a number of private and public funding sources, launched the New York State Cultural Data Project, which developed more comprehensive and reliable data about the impact of the arts in the state.
Prior to her leadership at NYSCA, Hitchens served as the President of the renowned national service organization Meet The Composer for nearly a decade where she revitalized the Organization’s programming and strengthened its financial standing. Hitchens also served as CEO of the Delaware Symphony Orchestra and worked in the development department of the American Music Theatre Festival.
Hitchens is on the faculty of Baruch College’s M.A. in Arts in Administration Program where she teaches Cultural Policy, and is a trustee of the Actor’s Fund. Hitchens holds a M.S. in Arts Administration from Drexel University and a B.M. in Percussion/Music Business from DePauw University.