Ken Fischer is President of the University Musical Society at the University of Michigan (U-M), a position he has held since June 1, 1987. UMS, an independent multi-disciplinary performing arts presenter with a long and deep affiliation with U-M, is located in the center of the Ann Arbor campus and offers 60-90 performances each season, performed in up to seven University and community venues. UMS sponsors an extensive education program, commissions and presents new work, and hosts many artists’ residencies.
Ken has contributed to the performing arts presenting field as a speaker, workshop leader, writer, consultant, panelist, and cultural ambassador under U.S. State Department auspices to Brazil, China, Lithuania, and Mexico. He currently chairs the Board of Directors of National Arts Strategies and the National Advisory Board of the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP) and serves on the boards of International Society for the Performing Arts, Arts Midwest, Cultural Alliance of Southeast Michigan, Sphinx Organization, and Ann Arbor SPARK. He is also active with the Interlochen Center for the Arts, Major University Presenters, and Chamber Music America. He received the Fan Taylor Award from Association of Performing Arts Presenters in 2011 and the Patrick Hayes Award in 2003 from ISPA for his career achievements in the performing arts, and was named one of the five most influential presenters in the U.S. by musicalamerica.com. In 2012 he received the Mariam Noland Award for Nonprofit Leadership from the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan. Ken has served on the Board of Directors of Arts Midwest since 1992. During that time he has been a member of Arts Midwest’s Performing Arts Advisory Committee and has participated in two Arts Midwest delegations to China. Ken was also a host site supervisor for Minority Arts Administration Fellows in 1992 and 1994.
Before his move to Ann Arbor, Ken lived and worked in Washington, D.C. as a higher education association executive, management consultant and independent concert presenter. His mentor was the late Patrick Hayes, founder of the Washington Performing Arts Society and founding president of ISPA. Ken has adopted Hayes’ inclusion policy for the arts – “Everybody In, Nobody Out.” Ken has a B.A. degree in religion from The College of Wooster in Ohio and is a Ph.D. candidate in the study of higher education at the University of Michigan. He is married to professional flutist Penelope Peterson Fischer. Their son Matt is Director of the App Store at Apple and lives with his wife Renee Danielson Fischer and sons Alexander and Reid in the San Francisco Bay area.