Mary Lou Aleskie, Executive Director of the International Festival of Arts & Ideas in New Haven since September 2005, has provided leadership at the helm of numerous international organizations and projects as an executive producer and presenter in support of landmark premieres as well as masterworks of the performing arts. During her tenure, the Festival has been recognized among the top arts presenters in the nation by the National Endowment for the Arts and has grown its audience in record numbers. The hallmark of the festival under her leadership has been the deepening of local community roots while expanding the profile of the festival internationally. The marriage of local and international engagement has resulted in distinctive programming connecting critically acclaimed performances with insightful dialogue. Recognition of the Festival as a major cultural tourism destination and proven driver of economic impact for the region has placed the International Festival of Arts & Ideas firmly among the world’s most well respected cultural festivals.
From 2002-05 Ms. Aleskie served as President and CEO of La Jolla Music Society, San Diego’s premier presenter of world-renowned orchestras, dance companies, and soloists and producer of the award-winning chamber music festival, La Jolla SummerFest. For the decade prior Ms. Aleskie was Executive Director of Da Camera of Houston, the ensemble music presenter and producer in residence at The Menil Collection. At Da Camera she was responsible for advancing local and international visibility of the company’s unique brand of thematic and theatrical chamber music concerts which toured the world’s most prestigious venues from the Barbican Centre to the Kennedy Center.
Ms. Aleskie began her arts leadership career in theater serving as general manager and chief financial officer of the Tony Award-winning Alley Theatre where she produced many ground-breaking projects including the first American tour to Russia and Lithuania of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and the world premiere of Frank Wildhorn’s Jekyll & Hyde, which transferred to Broadway for a long and successful run. She produced the inaugural season of Anne Bogart’s SITI Company founded in collaboration with renowned Japanese director Tadashi Suzuki and worked with legendary theatrical agent Helen Merrill representing many of the great playwrights and designers of the American theater. Prior to working in the performing arts field, Ms. Aleskie began her career in New York City as an auditor for international accounting and consulting firm Deloitte where her clients included the American Symphony Orchestra and NBC.
Ms. Aleskie is a frequent speaker and panelist as well as invited international delegate to numerous arts and culture forums including most recently China Shanghai International Arts Festival Forum focused on the UNESCO Convention on Promoting and Preserving Diversity of Cultural Expression where her paper, “From the Many, One: A Festival of Worlds” was published and presented. She is a Chief Executive Global Fellow of National Arts Strategies; serves on the Arts Advisory Committee of the Yale-China Association and is now the Board Chair Elect of the Executive Committee of the International Society of Performing Arts (ISPA). Appointed by the Connecticut State Senate Majority Leader, she serves on the State’s Planning Commission for Higher Education and is an Associate Fellow of Branford College at Yale University.