New Britain Symphony's executive director finds role with nonprofit a 'refreshing' change from toiling in corporate America

Published on Sunday, 7 July 2019 19:49
Written by Karla Santos


NEW BRITAIN - When Maryann Burns was laid off, after years of work in corporate America, she started to research local nonprofit organizations because she wanted to be on a board of directors.

Through her research, she found the New Britain Symphony Orchestra, where she became not a board member, but the new executive director.

Burns is the first executive director of the symphony in 10 years. She started under a temporary contract in February, but on July 1, she became the permanent executive director on a part-time basis.

Burns said she was told by members of the NBSO that her qualifications were outstanding, which is how she became an employee and not a board member.

Burns said she has never been a part of a musical organization, but her role with the orchestra is geared more toward running the office, the operations, the marketing, technology, finances, promotion, community outreach fundraising and grants, she said.

“I love it,” Burns said. “It’s different, but so similar to my corporate career. My background is project management which I think is what appealed to them because I could handle a bunch of balls in the air.”

Burns was laid off in September from an insurance company based in New York City, where she worked for five years. She referred to her new start with the NBSO as “refreshing.”

“It’s refreshing and I say that because in my corporate career the ladder stages had just gotten not fulfilling,” Burns said. “I was looking at kind of pursuing my old career and getting back into that. But the more I thought about it, I just had no passion for it anymore. I think I’ve been snuffed out. So I found the perfect balance using all my skills for a good organization.”

Burns said the passion and commitment she sees in the people who run the Symphony is what drives her.

Burns attended a series of workshops by the Community Foundation of Greater New Britain that helped as a guide to executive directors. She recently helped putting together a fundraiser that was also meant to help families of Family Promise and is currently helping organize a concert the Symphony will perform at the celebration of Plainville’s 150th anniversary.

“We’re delighted that Maryann has joined us as executive director; her background in strategic planning, coupled with her genuine enthusiasm, makes her an invaluable addition to the Symphony,” Cynthia Carlson, newly elected president of the Symphony Society, said. “People are instantly drawn to Maryann, and she has the ability to create opportunities for the NBSO to work with other organizations in the community, as demonstrated by our scholarship winner Alec Rich’s concert benefitting Family Promise.”

To learn more about the New Britain Symphony Orchestra, visit

Karla Santos can be reached at 860-801-5079 or

Posted in New Britain Herald, , New Britain on Sunday, 7 July 2019 19:49. Updated: Sunday, 7 July 2019 19:51.