A graduate of Temple University in Philadelphia, Deborah Sandler spent three years as a math major before switching to music. After earning a master of arts degree in musicology from New York University, Sandler completed all of her doctoral course work but caught the arts management "bug" before actually completing her dissertation. She took a part-time job writing grants for the Concerto Soloists Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia. She soon rose to the position of General Manager of the Concerto Soloists of Philadelphia Chamber Orchestra and remained in that position until 1982.
After taking some time off to have two children, Shira now 14 and Benjamin now 17, Sandler worked with the Board Member Institute of New Jersey conducting training sessions and designing workshops for not-for-profit organizations. She began consulting work in marketing and developing with the then three year young Opera Festival of New Jersey where she became Executive Director in 1988. She was named General Director in 1992. Sandler joined Kentucky Opera as a part-time consultant in January, 1998 and joined the Opera full-time in August, 1998.
Ms. Sandler has a long to-do list in Louisville. She is impassioned about creating new audiences for opera in our region and envisions that Kentucky Opera will be a regional center for excellence in opera. As the State Opera of Kentucky, Ms. Sandler would like the opera to travel throughout the state when possible, exposing as many as possible to this exciting artform. She is committed to making opera understandable for today's American adiences as well as creating a comprehensive education program for new opera lovers of all ages.
During her tenure with Opera Festival of New Jersey, Ms. Sandler built the company to a point where it was recognized by "Money Magazine" in 1997, as one of the premiere summer festivals in the U.S. Opera Festival has been internationally recognized for its thought provoking and excellent productions of 20th century works and for a clear and focused production style.
She has developed children's programs for both the Concerto Soloists and the Mozart in the Square Festival in Philadelphia. Ms. Sandler has served as a panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts, the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the Connecticut Commision for the Arts, and the Governor's Walt Whitman Creative Arts
Award. She currently serves on both Membership and Strategic Planning Committees of OPERA America.