The Glimmerglass Festival, the summer opera and music theater company in Central New York, has announced the appointment of Robert Nelson and Van Broughton Ramsey as the company’s newest Life Trustees. This change to the Festival’s leadership was formalized during the organization’s April board meeting, which also welcomed two new Trustees, Georg O. Budenbender and Tim Lord.

Robert Nelson (right) and Van Broughton Ramsey (left) at the 2023 Glimmerglass Guild Gala | Photo by Brent DeLanoy

Robert Nelson, who served as Chair of the Festival’s Board of Trustees from 2019 to 2023, brings a wealth of experience to his new role as a Life Trustee. He is a former real estate developer and served as the Vice President and CFO of Michael Novarese, Inc. early in his career, as well as Museum Director for The Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising from 1999 to 2008. Throughout his four-year tenure as Chair, Nelson showcased exceptional leadership during particularly challenging years for the company. His unwavering dedication was evident as he invested countless hours collaborating with staff to navigate the unprecedented global pandemic, including staging the innovative 2021 “Glimmerglass on the Grass” season. Among Nelson’s many achievements as Chair was leading the successful search for the Festival’s new Artistic & General Director, Rob Ainsley.

Joining Nelson as a Life Trustee is his spouse, Emmy Award-winning costume designer Van Broughton Ramsey. Known for their generosity and commitment to fostering a sense of community, the couple has opened their home to the Festival for years, hosting events, meals, and Festival Artists. Ramsey has volunteered his time and expertise to the Festival as a speaker for the Apprenticeship Seminar Series, sharing his advice for the next generation of designers. Nelson and Ramsey have provided substantial financial support for the Festival, with a particular focus on initiatives like the youth opera and supporting Young Artists. Additionally, they spearheaded the establishment of the Zambello Gay Tribute Fund, which honors the Festival’s previous Artistic & General Director, Francesca Zambello, and her wife, nationally renowned lawyer Faith E. Gay, and inspired countless others to contribute.

“Robert and Van are pillars of the Cooperstown community and figureheads of the Glimmerglass family; all who meet them are impressed by their warmth and hospitality. Their selfless generosity and advocacy touches so many organizations and causes in the area, but Glimmerglass has been by far the luckiest recipient of their passion, dedication, and expertise. My personal gratitude to Robert for his role in bringing me to this great company and community is equaled only by the gratitude of our staff and Trustees for his years of leadership,” shared Rob Ainsley, Artistic & General Director of the Festival.

Ainsley continues, “Robert’s stalwart resolve and guiding hand as Board Chair undoubtedly saw the organization through one of the most challenging periods in history for the performing arts; we are very fortunate to benefit from his ongoing guidance in his new role as an Honorary Life Trustee, the highest mark of respect we are able to bestow.”

Georg O. Budenbender and Tim Lord, the Festival’s new Trustees, bring their unique expertise and passion to the organization. Budenbender, the retired President and CEO of E.ON North America, Inc., is an avid mountaineer, having conquered major peaks worldwide. Lord, the Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director of the Bronx-based nonprofit DreamYard Project, is dedicated to supporting young people as they work toward higher learning, meaningful careers, and social action. The Glimmerglass Festival is excited to welcome these exceptional individuals to its Board of Trustees, further strengthening its commitment to artistic excellence and community engagement.

Click here to learn more about the Glimmerglass Festival and its upcoming productions.

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