Houston Grand Opera recently announced the election of Claire Liu as the new Chairperson of its Board of Directors, effective August 1, 2022. Liu will serve a two-year term, succeeding Allyn Risley in the role.
Liu’s appointment dovetails with a new era of leadership at HGO under Khori Dastoor, who was appointed General Director and CEO in the summer of 2021.
“Claire has a deep love for opera’s past, present, and future, and a rich history serving and supporting this organization,” said Dastoor in a press release.
“She brings to the table invaluable expertise gained during an impressive career as a corporate finance executive with a staggering track record leading growth and positive transformation,” Dastoor said.
Liu led the corporate finance team at LyondellBasell until retiring in 2015, previously working for more than 20 years at Bank of America. She joined HGO’s Board of Directors in December 2015 and currently serves on the Finance Committee (as Chair), Executive Committee, and Management Development Subcommittee. Liu is also involved on various boards and committees of the Houston Zoo, SEARCH Homeless Services, and United Way of Greater Houston.
“What an honor to be selected as new board chairperson for such a storied organization, at such a critical time in its history,” said Liu in a statement.
“From the years I’ve already spent in service to this board, I know that the world-class art on stage is matched by HGO’s world-class leadership and staff. I want to thank Allyn Risley for the remarkable job he has done guiding HGO through a difficult and transitional time,” Liu said.
Risley’s tenure as Board Chairperson spanned the COVID-19 pandemic, during which he has led the company in navigating unprecedented challenges, notably the creation of HGO’s first fully digital season.
The company had already begun experimenting with digital operas pre-pandemic by producing a series of mini opera films for YouTube. But COVID-19 lockdowns and safety concerns forced opera companies across Texas to commit to digital offerings, with HGO expanding its efforts into HGO Digital.
HGO is a leader in the opera world in commissioning new works (72 world premieres to date), including efforts to create works that reflect Houston’s diverse communities through its HGOco initiative. The company has won a Tony, two Grammy awards, and three Emmy awards – the only opera company to win all three honors.
Concurrent to Liu’s election, Dastoor also announced changes to the organization’s leadership structure.
A new seven-member Executive Leadership Team will now be comprised of Dastoor, General Director and CEO; Patrick Summers, Artistic and Music Director; Greg Robertson, Chief Philanthropy Officer; Molly Dill, Chief Operating Officer; Richard Bado, Director of Artistic Planning and Chorus Master; Elizabeth Greer, Chief Financial Officer; and a new Chief Audience Officer, for whom a search is underway.