Karen Brooks Hopkins was BAM’s president (where she worked since 1979) from 1999 until her retirement in June 2015. As president, Hopkins oversaw the institution’s 230 full-time employees and facilities, including the 2,100-seat BAM Howard Gilman Opera House, the 833-seat BAM Harvey Theater, the four-theater BAM Rose Cinemas, BAMcafé, and the BAM Fisher building, which houses the flexible 250-seat Fishman Space.
In May 2004, Hopkins concluded a two-year term as the chair of the Cultural Institutions Group, which comprises 33 prominent New York City cultural institutions. In this capacity, she also served as a member of the Mayor’s Cultural Affairs Advisory Commission and is currently a member of the boards of NYC & Company, the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, and the Global Cultural Districts Network. Hopkins is an active member of the Performing Arts Center Consortium, a national association of performing arts centers, and served as its chair from 1994 to 1996. She was also a participant on the advisory committee of the Salzburg Seminar Project of Critical Issues for the Classical Performing Arts from 2000 to 2002 and a fellow of the Cap Gemini Ernst & Young Center for Business Innovation from 2001 to 2002. In 2005, Hopkins received the Encore Award in Arts Management Excellence from the Arts & Business Council of New York, and she chaired the hospitality and tourism cluster of the Initiative for a Competitive Brooklyn. In 2006, she was elected by the New York State Legislature to the Board of Regents for a term that expired in 2010.
In the spring of 1995, Hopkins served as the executive producer of the Bergman Festival, a celebration of the life and work of Swedish director Ingmar Bergman. The festival’s success earned her a medal from the Royal Dramatic Theater of Sweden, the first time the honor was awarded to anyone outside of Sweden. Additionally, in recognition of her work on behalf of the Norwegian National Ballet, Norway awarded her its King Olav Medal. In November 2006, Hopkins was awarded the honor of Chevalier de L’Ordre des arts et des Lettres by the Republic of France for supporting the French arts in the United States. In 2007, she was named one of the “100 Most Influential Women in New York City Business” by Crain’s. That same year, she was appointed Commander of the Royal Order of the Polar Star, in recognition of her role in solidifying ties between performing arts communities in Sweden and the US. In May 2012, Hopkins was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from St. Francis College in Brooklyn. She was designated a “Woman of Achievement” by the professional association Women in Development in 2013 and named one of the “50 Most Powerful Women in New York” by Crain’s.
Hopkins was an adjunct professor in the Brooklyn College Program for Arts Administration for four years. Her widely read book, Successful Fundraising for Arts & Cultural Organizations, is currently available in a revised second edition through Greenwood Publishing. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland and received her MFA from George Washington University in Washington, DC. Hopkins resides in Park Slope, Brooklyn, and is currently the senior fellow in residence at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, a newly created position which she accepted upon her retirement from BAM.