The Washington Ballet has named Michael Pastreich, president and chief executive of the Florida Orchestra, as its new executive director, the ballet’s board announced Monday. Pastreich will start work May 6.
Pastreich’s arrival overlaps with the final weeks of outgoing executive director Michael Mael, who will step down as planned at the end of his contract on June 30.
For the past 11 years, Pastreich, 52, has led Florida’s largest orchestra, which is based in the Tampa Bay area. Before that, he was executive director of the Elgin Symphony Orchestra in Illinois.
With Artistic Director Julie Kent’s vision of what the Washington Ballet can be, the company “is rife with potential,” Pastreich said in a phone interview. “The board clearly wants to build a great ballet, and they want to know what it takes to do that.”
The key, he said, is determining “what the D.C. area uniquely needs, and how do we become profoundly valuable? If we fixate on how we can become as valuable as possible, then we will become a great organization. If we ever forget to put that at the center of every decision we make, we will fail to become a great organization.”
Pastreich joins an institution that has suffered financial setbacks over the past few years. In March, Mael said the organization still carried a debt of $2 million, but he expected to see a small surplus at the end of fiscal 2019.
“Every organization I’ve been to has had debt when I arrived,” Pastreich said, “and none of them had debt when I left.”