This month we welcome a new staff member at the American Pianists Association. Meet Leigh Ann Hirschman, our new Director of Advancement!

This month we welcome a new staff member at the American Pianists Association. Leigh Ann Hirschman joins the team as our new Director of Advancement! Leigh Ann comes to APA after having led development for Trinity Haven, Indiana’s first home for LGBTQ youth experiencing housing instability. Prior to her work for Trinity Haven, Leigh Ann spent twenty-five years as the president of Hirschman Literary Services, a writing and editing firm serving clients with the major New York publishing houses. Leigh Ann’s book projects have been on several bestseller lists and published in more than two dozen languages. In addition, Leigh Ann is a classically trained pianist.

Leigh Ann and her husband, John, have lived in Indianapolis for the past 20 years and have two children.

Learn more about Leigh Ann from a discussion with Lee Clifford:

Photo of Leigh Ann Hirschman
Leigh Ann Hirschman

LEE
Leigh Ann, welcome! We are thrilled to have you join our team!

LEIGH ANN
Thank you! I’m thrilled to be here. I am a longtime fan of the APA and have taken great pleasure in attending its events. I’m honored to join the staff of such a vital organization, and I look forward to advancing the APA’s mission in every way possible.

LEE
That's great! I'm curious what attracted you to this role?

LEIGH ANN
When I heard about this position, my heart went running toward it. I love advancement work and I love the APA. In terms of fundraising generally, I am moved by the work of listening deeply to stakeholders and sharing an organization’s story. It’s rewarding to sustain and grow a family of supporters. People need to have purpose in their lives, and they need to feel connected to something. Advancement work creates opportunities for people to feel purpose and connection, and I enjoy facilitating that process. In terms of the APA specifically—what’s not to love? The APA is one of the finest arts organizations in the country and is absolutely the very best competition for young pianists in the United States. It has a crackerjack staff and board and a wonderfully devoted and generous circle of supporters. I also believe that now, in this challenging cultural moment, great music is crucial to our emotional and intellectual health and even to our relationships with one another.

LEE
I understand you play piano. Tell me about your education as a pianist.

LEIGH ANN
I began taking classical organ and piano lessons when I was seven. Although it was clear to me that I didn’t have what it takes to become a professional musician, I loved playing and took it seriously. In high school I worked for local churches as a substitute organist, and in college—although, again, I recognized that music was never going to be my career path—I took piano performance classes every semester. I have to be honest: as a busy adult with my own business and a family, I haven’t kept up my practice. But I am hoping that working for the APA will serve as inspiration to get back to the bench. I will always be grateful to my parents and teachers for providing me the chance to experience the beauty and growth that piano studies provide.

LEE
You’ve spent a large part of your professional career providing writing and editing services for major publishing houses. How did you get into that and how did that work evolve?

LEIGH ANN
I’ve described the importance of piano in my childhood. I had another love, and that was reading. You know those kids who are always walking into trees and falling up the stairs because they have their nose in a book? I was one of those kids, and I bet that some readers of this newsletter were, too. It was natural for me to major in English in college; after that, I received an MFA in creative writing. In grad school, I edited The Black Warrior Review, a national literary magazine, and I became hooked on publishing. Looking back, I can’t quite believe my confidence and chutzpah, but in the early 90s I moved to New York with the dream of working for one of the big publishing houses and somehow convinced the editor in chief of Ballantine Books to give me a job as her assistant. From there, I went on to become an editor at HarperCollins—and when my then-fiancé (now husband) and I moved to Chicago, I found that editorial work followed me there. Agents and editors kept calling to ask me if I could help their authors with their manuscripts, and I decided to launch my own business. I ran Hirschman Literary Services for around twenty-five years, providing writing and editing services for authors. I collaborated with some of the country’s smartest experts in parenting, psychology, and health on their book proposals and manuscripts. That career was all about listening to a person’s life work and then shaping that beautiful, complex story into a winning pitch that would convince book publishers to fund the book—and, eventually, convince readers to buy it. This experience turned out to be strong preparation for advancement work.

LEE
Can you describe your recent work with Trinity Haven?

LEIGH ANN
In 2017, I became the founding board chair of Trinity Haven, which opened last year as Indiana’s first home for LGBTQ youth experiencing housing instability. This was a full-time-plus role, and one of my most important tasks was development. I led the organization’s startup fundraising campaign, which meant that we had to persuade grantmaking organizations, corporations, and individual donors to contribute to a new not-for-profit that, at the time, existed only as a concept. Thanks to generous stakeholders from around the city, state, and country, our campaign exceeded its goals—and so did our subsequent annual funds. For me, one of the great privileges of launching Trinity Haven was working with thousands of incredible donors and discovering that I love connecting with donors and hearing their stories. I’m looking forward to meeting the whole APA family of stakeholders.

LEE
What events are you most looking forward to?

LEIGH ANN
Every single one! What could be better than attending an APA event, meeting pianists and piano lovers, and hearing some of the best music around?

LEE
Thanks so much for chatting today!

LEIGH ANN
Thanks to you and everyone at the APA! As I answer these questions, it’s the eve of my first day. I can’t wait to get started.

 

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Our diverse world shapes our music, the artistic language of our contestants. It delights, informs, and inspires us all. It is in this spirit that the American Pianists Association welcomes people of any race, ethnicity, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, and gender identity, as well as people with disabilities. We commit to learn from diverse talents, ideas, and voices. We pledge to create an environment for our artists, audiences, community partners, board, and staff that is based on the values of diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice. Further, we commit to enacting strategic and annual plans that provide focused, measurable strategies for living out these values every day.