2019 TOP 20 CEOS AND ENTREPRENUERS AWARDS
A Senior Executive Who Leads with Integrity and Compassion
Sunday, May 19, 2019
The Ballroom at Bayou Place
Kinga Ferguson is the executive director of Ars Lyrica Houston, the early music ensemble that has become a mainstay of the early music scene in Houston. Along the way, Kinga has become a force to be reckoned with. Born in Poland, and educated in France and the United States, she has always been passionate about the performing arts and cultural diversity.
As a young singer, Kinga traveled throughout Europe and South America with the award-winning chamber choir, Con Vigore, and became its first touring manager. While studying English in Lodz, Poland, she worked as an interpreter for the Opera Theater, Polish Radio and Television, and the International Ballet Festival. Kinga also worked as international relations officer at the Music Academy in Lodz and interned with the Jacques Thelen Agency as well as European Artistic Management in Paris. Kinga received a Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans while studying voice at Indiana University, where she also served as an administrator for the USA International Harp Competition. From 2002 to 2007, she sang with the Chicago Opera Theater, whose innovative presentations of Baroque and contemporary opera continue to inspire her.
A student of piano, voice, and operatic performance from an early age, Kinga went on to receive her Master of Music in Voice and Performance from Indiana University Bloomington. She also has an MA in English from the University of Lodz and an MBA from the University of Lyon. While studying music and arts management in Poland, France, and the United States, Kinga became interested in the convergence of nonprofit arts management, international cooperation, and the performing arts.
Bringing with her the cosmopolitan perspective that comes from extensive travel and study abroad, Kinga arrived in Houston in 2006 with an eye to bringing her multiple talents and international knowledge to a position in arts management in our vibrant music community. And, because she had traveled globally, studied other languages, and immersed herself in other cultures, Kinga was well prepared for living and working in a city as diverse as Houston.
Joining Ars Lyrica Houston as its first executive director in 2007, Kinga took charge of long-term strategic planning, contracting, marketing, public relations, audience development, fundraising, and planning for special events. Ars Lyrica Houston was founded in 1998 by world-renowned harpsichordist, organist, conductor, and musicologist, Matthew Dirst; it has since gained an international reputation for its distinctive programming of music from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
One of Kinga’s first accomplishments at Ars Lyrica Houston was to develop its first long-term strategic plan. The two areas she focused on were audience and resource development and effective public relations. Under Kinga’s leadership, the organization has achieved healthy budget growth, dynamic audience development, meaningful school and community outreach, and an increasingly prominent local and international profile. The company was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording in 2011. A small sample of Ars Lyrica’s many successful collaborations includes MFAH, Rienzi, Bayou Bend, Discovery Green, the Children’s Museum of Houston, and The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts Discovery Series.
In Houston, Kinga has found a supportive network of international friends as well as helpful resources that have guided her in her professional career. She credits The Rice University Leadership Institute for Nonprofit Executives (LINE) with enabling her to make the change from the European to the American nonprofit management system.
Matthew Dirst, who has worked with Kinga for over ten years, praises her devotion to the philanthropic work she is engaged in through Ars Lyrica and with other nonprofit and partner organizations and describes his colleague as someone with integrity and compassion. In her dealings with staff, musicians, board members, patrons, and contractors, Dirst calls Kinga’s manner exemplary and praises her ability to deal with the many challenging aspects of running a nonprofit from fundraising to staffing. According to Dirst, Kinga “embraces and demonstrates daily an organizational ethos that is at one with our mission.”
Long-time friend and collaborator on special events with Kinga, Jano Nixon Kelly, says this of her: “Ms. Ferguson is present at all performances, she is constantly championing the Ars Lyrica mission wherever she goes, and she is intensely involved in outreach within the community at large.”
CKW LUXE would like to congratulate Kinga Ferguson for being a CKW LUXE Top 20 CEOs and Entrepreneurs Awards recipient for 2019.