Karen Brooks Hopkins, President Emerita

Karen was an employee of the Brooklyn Academy of Music (“BAM”), America’s oldest performing arts center, for 36 years serving as its President from 1999 until her retirement in 2015 when she was designated President Emerita. As president, Karen oversaw the institution’s 230 full time employees and various theatrical venues ranging from the 250-seat Fishman space to the 2100-seat Howard Gilman Opera House.

Currently, Karen is a Board member and Senior Advisor to the Onassis Foundation for the Public Benefit. She also served as the Nasher Haemisegger Fellow at SMU DataArts located at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas from 2016-2021. She is also a Director of the Trust of Governors Island and a Board member of the Jerome L. Greene Foundation. From 2009 – 2010, she was selected by the New York State Assembly to represent Brooklyn on the State Board of Regents. From 2015-2017, Karen served as the inaugural Senior Fellow in Residence at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Karen was awarded honorary degrees from St. Francis College, Long Island University and Pratt Institute and, in 2019, she received an honorary Doctorate of Laws from Columbia University. She has also received several international honors including the King Olav Medal from Norway, the Chevalier de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from France and the Commander of the Royal Order of the Polar Star from Sweden. During her tenure as President of BAM, the institution was awarded the National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama.

In 2013, Karen was named one of the 50 Most Powerful Women in New York by Crain’s New York Business. She was also honored as a member of the first Crain’s Hall of Fame in 2015.

Karen is the author of Successful Fundraising for Arts and Culture Organizations, currently in its 2nd edition. In 2021, her memoir of her years at BAM was published by powerHouse Books in 2021 and was followed by an international book tour which included over 35 stops in 2022.

Karen Brooks Hopkins, BAM President
"When I first came to BAM in 1979, I could not have imagined the thriving arts complex that we have become or how Brooklyn has truly evolved into a creative destination that reflects the energy of 21st-century New York City." -Karen Brooks Hopkins
More BAM Leadership
Joseph V. Melillo, Executive Producer, Emeritus

Joseph V. Melillo served as BAM’s executive producer from 1999 to 2018.

Board of Trustees
Board of Trustees

BAM’s Board of Trustees is a diverse mix of New York City’s corporate, civic, cultural, and educational leaders.