Hanover, MD (April 27, 2022) — Major, Lindsey & Africa (MLA), the world’s leading legal search firm, today announced the placement of Aswathi “Ash” Zachariah as general counsel at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (The Kennedy Center) in Washington, D.C. The search was conducted by Melba Hughes, partner, executive director and national in-house diversity practice leader, Deborah Ben-Canaan, partner and senior practice leader, and Craig Donaldson, director, all with MLA’s In-House Counsel Recruiting group.
The Kennedy Center is America’s living memorial to President John F. Kennedy and the nation’s cultural center. Under the guidance of Chairman David M. Rubenstein and President Deborah F. Rutter, the combined 19 theaters, stages, and spaces make the Kennedy Center one of the nation’s busiest performing arts campuses attracting more than three million audience members and visitors each year to more than 2,000 performances, events, and exhibits. Now celebrating its 50th Anniversary, the Kennedy Center—along with its artistic affiliates, the National Symphony Orchestra and Washington National Opera—produces and presents music, dance, and theater, balancing classical art forms with artists and creators in contemporary genres such as comedy, jazz, and Hip Hop.
As a member of the senior leadership team reporting to President Deborah Rutter, Ash will oversee and direct all of the day-to-day legal and related business affairs of The Kennedy Center, the National Symphony Orchestra, the Washington National Opera and their respective affiliated entities. She will provide ongoing legal counsel related to the operations and initiatives of these entities and programs as well as strategic and governance counsel to their respective senior management teams and the boards of trustees. Ash will also manage a staff of in-house lawyers, a paralegal, and multiple paid and pro-bono outside counsel.
“When we met Ash, we felt that she was the perfect candidate for this iconic institution. She embraces the arts, is committed to Washington, D.C., and is a passionate advocate for and supporter of The Kennedy Center. Ash is smart and thoughtful and is the right leader for this organization at this important time in its history,” added Deborah Ben-Canaan. “At MLA, we pride ourselves in identifying, attracting and placing great leaders. The cultural center of the United States, The Kennedy Center demanded our finest performance and I believe we did just that,” added Melba Hughes.
Ash most recently served as general counsel for the Inter-American Foundation (IAF), a U.S. government agency that invests in community-led development across Latin America and the Caribbean. She oversaw all internal and external legal matters for the IAF and served as chief legal counsel and risk officer while directly supervising a team of associate general counsel. Prior to IAF, she served as associate general counsel for the National Endowment for the Arts and as assistant general counsel for Maryland’s National Capital Park and Planning Commission (MNCPPC). She began her legal career as a corporate and real estate associate with Arent Fox Schiff. Ash earned her J.D. from The University of Denver and her B.S. from the University of Colorado at Boulder.
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