Barbara Zach Lee is Executive Director of Lincoln’s Symphony Orchestra, a fully professional orchestra that serves Nebraska’s capital region. She joined the orchestra staff in 2001 as Operations/Personnel Manager & Music Librarian, taking responsibility for all details of concert production. Since taking the helm as Executive Director in 2005, Zach Lee has guided Lincoln’s Symphony Orchestra through a critical time of artistic growth and audience expansion. She led a financial turnaround, strengthened the board and governance structure, increased the number and variety of concert offerings, oversaw the development and implementation of a strategic planning process, and built a creative and successful annual gala featuring a performance by the orchestra. She has prioritized consensus-building among the organization’s internal stakeholders, which has led to six collaborative rounds of collective bargaining negotiations with the local chapter of the American Federation of Musicians. Working with LSO’s Music Director, she has overseen the programming of increasingly diverse and challenging repertoire, the inclusion of works by living composers on the majority of concerts, the commissioning of more than twenty new works, the appointment of LSO’s first Composer-in-Residence, and the production of the LSO’s first commercially–available recording. Zach Lee has also focused attention on community engagement, education, and partnerships with health and human service organizations throughout the community.
Barbara Zach Lee leads the fundraising efforts of Lincoln’s Symphony Orchestra and has developed excellent relationships with area foundations, corporate sponsors and individual donors. Her stewardship has seen the orchestra’s annual operating budget nearly triple, along with the creation of a reserve fund for both opportunities and emergencies, and an impressive record of balanced budgets. In 2011 she secured major multi-year underwriting to allow Lincoln’s Symphony Orchestra to move to a new home in the Lied Center for Performing Arts, purchase percussion equipment, and expand the strings section of the orchestra. In conjunction with the new venue, LSO implemented an affordable ticket price initiative in an effort to become meaningfully accessible to every segment of its community. Since then, the orchestra has performed for more than twice as many audience members as they did previously, and 85% of LSO’s individual donors increased their contributions to support this initiative. Throughout the pandemic, LSO committed to pay every orchestra member 100% of their salary, even though they were not able to fit every musician onstage due to distancing requirements.
In 2007, the League of American Orchestras invited Barbara Zach Lee to be one of twelve national participants in the inaugural class of the two-year long Executive Leadership Program. She was also elected by her peers to serve as chairman of their management group.
At the local level, Zach Lee has served as chairman of the Downtown Rotary music committee, Vice President of Membership for Nebraskans for the Arts, Treasurer of Lincoln Crossroads Music Festival, and serves on the Mayor’s Parking Advisory Council. She is an alumnus of Leadership Lincoln, a member of the Lincoln Arts Council and Lincoln’s Young Professionals Group, and a volunteer for the TeamMates Mentoring Program. She was a recipient of the Lincoln Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” award, a finalist for Lincoln’s Non-Profit Executive of the Year Award, received the Governor’s Award for Emerging Leader in 2010, and received the Alumni Achievement Award in Music from UNL’s Hixson-Lied College of Fine & Performing Arts in 2015.
Zach Lee graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with dual degrees in mathematics and piano performance.