Kathleen van Bergen
CEO and President
John and Joanne Fisher Chair
Now in her 13th season at the helm of Artis—Naples, CEO and President Kathleen van Bergen continues to chart an assured and ambitious course for the organization. Her dedicated oversight is recognized throughout Southwest Florida and the greater arts community as an example of leadership geared toward prudent growth and relationship building. Naples Illustrated named her one of its Leading Ladies in 2016, saying, “van Bergen has led Naples’ premier cultural center to a new level.” Named one of Musical America’s “Top 30 Professionals of the Year” in 2019, she is described as “a woman with a mission, a vision and a board to support both.” In 2022, she was named among Gulfshore Life magazine’s “Forces of Philanthropy,” a select few leaders of Southwest Florida who “propel the philanthropic community into the future through mentorship, collaboration and camaraderie.”
Since 2011, Kathleen has put her focus on balancing a multidisciplinary artistic mission with strong financial performance. From the beginning of her tenure, she has made balanced budgets and operational surpluses a priority: The balance sheet has more than doubled over the last decade, and as of 2021, the organization is debt free. In 2016, Artis—Naples announced the Future—Forward Campaign for Cultural Excellence, a Master Plan to reimagine the Kimberly K. Querrey and Louis A. Simpson Cultural Campus, embrace artistic and community initiatives, substantially increase the endowment and grow the permanent collection for The Baker Museum. By the time the campaign concluded it had exceeded $95 million in these four key areas, and the Artis—Naples endowment has surpassed $100 million. Under Kathleen’s leadership, a variety of challenges have been met, including those brought on by Hurricane Irma in 2017 and the subsequent repair and expansion of The Baker Museum, the multi-year challenge posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact felt by audiences following Hurricane Ian in 2022. Throughout these challenges, artistic excellence, community partnerships and growth has remained a top priority. The Baker Museum has greatly expanded its permanent collection with key acquisitions and presented numerous landmark exhibitions in conjunction with prominent artists and museums, including Isabelle de Borchgrave; Dale Chihuly; the National Portrait Gallery, London; and École des Beaux-Arts, Paris. During Kathleen’s tenure, the Naples Philharmonic has expanded in size and scope while reaching new levels of artistic achievement. Kathleen has also been instrumental in the development of numerous long-term relationships with world-renowned artists, including Artis—Naples Artistic and Music Director Designate Alexander Shelley and celebrated violinist and Artistic Partner James Ehnes as well as the Vienna Philharmonic and Berliner Philharmoniker, who both made their Florida debuts this decade. In addition, Kathleen’s vision for multidisciplinary thematic planning has allowed Artis—Naples to leverage its unique resources in order to enhance patron experiences with the visual and performing arts.
Kathleen has built a dynamic leadership team at the organization, recruiting senior leaders from cultural organizations around the country. She has also overseen the expansion of Artis—Naples’ offerings and multidisciplinary focus, including the acquisition of the Naples International Film Festival in 2017. The diversity of artistic excellence and world-class programming is one reason The Wall Street Journal said Artis—Naples has ushered in “an impressive new phase” for classical music in Southwest Florida.
A violinist by training, Kathleen has made music a central part of her life. Prior to joining Artis—Naples, she held several key positions, including artistic and executive director at the acclaimed Schubert Club in Saint Paul, Minnesota; vice president of artistic planning for The Philadelphia Orchestra; and vice president and director of artistic administration for the St. Louis Symphony.
Kathleen has served on the boards of the American Composers Forum, the Rose Ensemble, Exhibits Development Group and the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce, and she currently serves on the board of From the Top, the Community Advisory Board of Gulfshore Life and the Eastman School of Music National Council. She holds a bachelor’s degree in violin performance from the Eastman School of Music and has completed the Tuck Executive Program at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business and the Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management program at Harvard Business School. In 2022, Kathleen was a recipient of the Eastman School of Music’s Centennial Award, given in honor of its 100th year to 100 individuals who exemplify the school’s mission and legacy through their artistry, scholarship, leadership, community engagement and philanthropy.