Zachary D. Lazar, Jr. Named Board of Directors Chairman; Liz Sharp Elected Women's Board President

July 17, 2013

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 CHICAGO (July 17, 2013) – The Joffrey Ballet and newly named Executive Director Greg Cameron are pleased to announce that Zachary D. Lazar, Jr. has been elected Chairman of the Joffrey Ballet Board of Directors and Liz Sharp, a founding member of the Joffrey Ballet Women’s Board, has been elected as its new President.  Lazar, President of Illinois and Florida with BMO Private Bank, has served on the Joffrey Board since 2007 and succeeds former Board Chair Jason Tyler.  Sharp, a respected Chicago attorney with her own law practice in commercial litigation, real estate and employment law, has served on the Women’s Board since 2002 and succeeds former Women’s Board President Melissa Babcock.  Both the Board Chair and Women’s Board President serve two-year terms.

“Under Ashley Wheater’s artistic leadership, the Company has never danced better—garnering rave reviews throughout the country last winter during our 22-city American tour.  It is an exciting time of transformation at the Joffrey, and I am confident that under Zach and Liz’s leadership, the company will flourish administratively as well as artistically—enhancing the Joffrey’s national and international reputation,” said Cameron.  

Lazar oversees the strategic development and delivery of BMO Private Bank’s personal wealth management platform to high net worth individuals, families and organizations, including closely-held and family-owned businesses, endowments and foundations throughout Illinois and Florida.  As a graduate of Loyola University of Chicago with a Business degree in finance, he has worked in the financial services industry for more than 20 years.  Prior to joining BMO, he was President and CEO of Northern Trust Bank Missouri.  Lazar has served on the Board of Children’s Memorial Hospital as well as on the Board of Governors for Kohl Children’s Museum, the Board of Trustees of Woodlands Academy, as a Trustee of the St. Louis Zoo, and as a Board Member of Washington University’s George Warren Brown School of Social Work in St. Louis, Missouri.

Sharp, an accomplished attorney with over 26 years of extensive private practice and general counsel experience, began her career at Freeborn & Peters, where she became partner, then served as general counsel for a privately held Chicago holding company.  In 2010, she founded her own law firm and represents clients in commercial litigation, commercial real estate and employment law matters.  She is a member of the Illinois Bar, The United States Supreme Court, Seventh and Second Circuits Court of Appeals, and the Trial Bars of the United States District Courts for the Northern District of Illinois and the Central District of Illinois.  She holds the AV® Preeminent™ rating, the highest professional performance rating in Martindale-Hubbell's peer review rating system.  In addition to The Joffrey Ballet, Sharp has served in leadership positions on the Field Museum’s Women’s Board and Founder’s Council, Smith College President’s Council, the Junior League of Chicago, the Latin School of Chicago, The Menomonee Club for Boys and Girls and Thodos Dance Chicago.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel serves as the Honorary Chair of the Joffrey’s 62-member Board of Directors.  The Board is comprised of leaders in Chicago’s business, philanthropic and civic communities.  Board members serve as the governing body of the Joffrey—providing leadership, overseeing policy and direction, and are responsible for the fiscal accountability of the organization. 

The Joffrey Ballet’s 150-member Women’s Board, comprised of philanthropists and business leaders, works to raise critical operating funds for the company and promote the Joffrey’s Community Engagement programs.  Through signature fundraising events such as Couture and Cocktails, The Nutcracker Family Dinner and the Joffrey Spring Gala, the Women’s Board raises over $1.7 million annually for The Joffrey Ballet.

Lazar and Sharp assume key leadership positions in The Joffrey Ballet as it gears up for its 2013-2014 “Masters of Dance” season.  The season includes five different programs that launch with “Russian Masters,” September 19-22, featuring the 100th anniversary performance of Vaslav Nijinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rite of Spring).

The Joffrey Ballet is Chicago’s premier ballet company and dance organization committed to artistic excellence and innovation, presenting a unique repertory encompassing masterpieces of the past and cutting edge works of today.  The Joffrey is committed to providing arts education and accessible dance training through its Joffrey Academy of Dance and Community Engagement programs.  For more information on The Joffrey Ballet and its programs, visit Joffrey.org