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Britt names new president and CEO

Submitted photo Abby McKee will become the new head of operations for Britt Music and Arts Festival May 1.

A nonprofit executive with an extensive musical background and leadership experience across the West Coast will lead the Britt Music & Arts Festival for its 60th season.

Abby McKee, who has more than 15 years of experience leading nonprofits and spent the last five years at the helm of the Portland Baroque Orchestra, will take the reins May 1 of the music and arts festival best known for its live performances under the stars at Britt Hill in Jacksonville.

Outgoing president and CEO Donna Briggs will retire after 11 years with Britt.

Under McKee’s leadership at Portland Baroque Orchestra, she helped to increase the nonprofit’s operating budget by 50%, and during the pandemic helped launch a digital concert hall and video service called “Great Arts. Period” that showcased PBO and the arts community in the greater Portland metro area, according to a press release issued Wednesday by Britt.

PBO’s website shows that the digital platform features orchestral concerts — some running close to an hour long — that are professionally shot and edited, and free to access.

In a statement, Britt Board Chair Dominic Campanella called McKee “the right leader for Britt.”

“As we celebrate our 60th anniversary, returning to a full season of Britt Festival Orchestra and Britt Presents performances, Abby has the experience, vision and enthusiasm to take Britt to new heights,” Campanella stated in the release. “We are thrilled to welcome her to Southern Oregon.”

“The Britt Music & Arts Festival is a cultural gem, presenting extraordinary arts in one of Oregon’s most beautiful places,” McKee stated, adding that the arts “provide us the opportunity to gather, celebrate and share experiences as a community.”

McKee is the daughter of two music educators. In 2003, she received a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of South Carolina after a full-ride scholarship as a flutist. In 2005, she completed her Master of Music from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

Over the past decade and a half, McKee has also served as executive director of the Bach Collegium San Diego and as director of cultural events at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, and developed nonprofit leadership skills that include program development, fundraising and organizational leadership.