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May 12, 2017

Meet Katie Lander

As a Major Gifts Officer in the Development Department, Katie Lander’s primary mission is to secure charitable gifts of $25K+ for WNET. “It’s a multifaceted and strategic process of identifying, engaging, cultivating, soliciting, and stewarding major donors, centered on building relationships and helping donors support WNET and public media in ways that are meaningful for them,” Katie says. “This can take the form of gifts towards specific projects, program areas, or general operations. What makes WNET unique from a fundraising perspective is that through public media, you can advocate for and facilitate donors’ ability to support multiple causes at once. Arts and humanities, science, education, social justice, climate change, human rights — we do it all.”

Read on to learn about Katie’s eclectic background, her favorite places in Hell’s Kitchen, memorable donor events, and more.

Katie Lander

Katie Lander

What is your background, and how did you land at WNET?

I was born and raised in beautiful Lexington, Kentucky, and went to Centre College in Danville. My background is in theatre, vocal music and literature. I’ve done a little bit of everything in theatre — tech, stage management, teaching, performing. There was a time when I thought I wanted to pursue acting, but a drama professor helped me see my strengths in numerous areas and introduced me to the business and leadership side of the performing arts. I eventually came to appreciate the importance of making the art happen as much as making the art itself.

For several years, I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area working in regional theatre, then came to NYC in August 2010 to get my MA in Arts Administration at Teachers College at Columbia and have been here since. Before starting at WNET last May, I was at Jazz at Lincoln Center, where I was Research Coordinator and then Major Gifts Officer. I learned of the position at WNET from Lisa Ueki, whom I knew from when I was a graduate intern at Lincoln Center. Coincidentally, I had started looking for a new position, so I applied and it worked out well!

The Development Department hosts many events throughout the year. Are there any events you have worked on that were especially memorable, and is there an upcoming event you’re particularly excited about?

The Great Performances: Hamilton’s America screening at the United Palace in October was glorious. I’m your typical #HamilFan and saw the show soon after it opened on Broadway, and the screening was one of the best things I’ve ever been involved with. Kate Legg deserves an award for making that happen. Then there was the Victoria screening at the New-York Historical Society in December, which I spearheaded with help from the phenomenal Alex Blair, Jonathan Kitt, and others on the team. I’m an unabashed Anglophile and love history, so managing that event was a great fit for me and it was a beautiful evening. The next event I’m leading is on May 17, a salon around American Masters hosted in a private home for current and prospective major donors.

For our Media with Impact campaign, we’ve been asking viewers to share stories describing how THIRTEEN has influenced their life. How has THIRTEEN (or the PBS station of your childhood) inspired you?

Folks talk about how PBS impacted their childhoods and that’s profoundly true for me too. A later and more specific example is in August 1998, the night before I started my senior year of high school. That night, the Lincoln Center Theater production of Twelfth Night aired on Live From Lincoln Center on KET, my home station, starring Helen Hunt, Kyra Sedgwick and Paul Rudd. I was enthralled, and thought it was the best thing in the world that I and millions of others could see it, with added significance for me as I was about to start a decisive year in my young life.

Which three shows airing on our stations this month are you most likely to watch, stream, or record?

King Charles III on Masterpiece! I saw the play last year and it gave me chills. Sadly, the actor Tim Pigott-Smith, who played Charles, passed away recently. I also saw him play Cassius in London when I was in college, and his performance as Charles was riveting. Can’t wait to experience the film adaptation. Also, American Epic and Dolphins: Spy in the Pod from Nature.

Where do you live, and what are some of your favorite places in your neighborhood?

Lucky me, I live a few blocks down 9th Avenue in Hell’s Kitchen! Can’t beat the commute, but it can be chaotic and the tourists get me ornery. Fortunately, there are lovely spaces along the Hudson River Park to read and find peace by the water. For food/drink, a few out of many — Amy’s Bread, Tartina, Ardesia, Annabel, B Squared, The Jones, Lillie’s Victorian Establishment, Two Boots. For shopping, I love Domus, and I’ve become a devotee of Kiehl’s skin care since moving to the neighborhood.

What book are you currently reading?

A friend loaned me a book about LBJ’s presidency called Indomitable Will by Mark Updegrove, which I’ve nearly finished, and I just started Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson.

Do you have a special interest or hobby outside of work? If so, tell us about it!

I serve on the Board of a small theatre organization called Manhattan Musical Theatre Lab, which presents in-development musicals. Also, I sing in a band, informally — a bunch of my Jazz at Lincoln Center friends started a rock band and I sing with them. They’re all professionally-trained musicians, but we just have fun and do classic rock/pop/soul songs we like. We get together to jam about once a month and perform about once a year. And for years I’ve been writing recreationally. I want to get serious about it, so I’m taking a writing class in June!

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