Karen Deschere, Executive Director of Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts, Passes Away

Karen Deschere passed away after a long battle with cancer on January 11, 2019. A lifelong music lover, Karen devoted herself to her work in the arts across the country, including serving as the Executive Director of the Hudson Valley Philharmonic; Managing Director for Education at the Grammy Foundation in Los Angeles; Executive Director of the Chicago Symphony Chorus and Civic Orchestra of Chicago, adjuncts of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra;  President and Chief Executive Officer of the  Wisconsin Conservatory of Music in Milwaukee; Education Director at Boys and Girls Harbor in Harlem. Most recently, Karen served as the executive director of Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts in New Jersey since 2014. 

In a memorial post, Wharton remembered Karen's "love for music and her deep commitment and undying passion to change lives through music." Outside of work, Karen sang in many church choirs wherever she moved across the U.S. 

Karen was both a respected and loved member of the National Guild member community as well as a participant in the 2017 Community Arts Education Leadership Institute (CAELI). Those who participated in the program with Karen remember her generosity, kindness, and passion for arts leadership. She will be missed by many; the Guild and our community are thankful to have had Karen’s voice and leadership over these many years.

A memorial service celebrating Karen’s life will be held on February 9, from 11 AM – 1 PM at The First Presbyterian Church in the City of New York,  48 Fifth Avenue (Between 11th and 12th Streets), NYC 10011

In lieu of flowers or other tributes, contributions may be sent to The Karen Deschere Fund for Excellence at Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts, 60 Locust Avenue, Berkeley Heights, NJ 07922.

Read the full release from Wharton here.


Published: February 07, 2019