SEATTLE, WA – Seattle Symphony President & CEO Krishna Thiagarajan has announced Maria Kanakis Yang as Vice President of Development. Yang will begin her new post in August 2019.

Yang has extensive experience in strategic thinking and leadership throughout her career in fundraising for the arts. She joins the Seattle Symphony from the Smithsonian Institution’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden where she served as the Director of Advancement and led the Museum’s comprehensive fundraising efforts on a national and international scale, including major gifts, special events, exhibition and program fundraising, and capital projects. Prior to the Smithsonian, she implemented organization-wide strategies, resulting in surpassed fundraising goals and growth in audiences as well as broad-based giving as the Director of Strategic Initiatives at Orpheus Chamber Orchestra.

“Maria’s creative approach to fundraising combined with her history of building collaborative, agile teams will serve the Seattle Symphony well as we launch into a new era of artistic and organizational leadership,” shared Thiagarajan. “I greatly look forward to working with Maria and introducing her to the Seattle community.”

“The Seattle Symphony has a strong reputation for being a forward-looking, innovative ensemble,” shared Yang. “I am thrilled to work in collaboration with Krishna and the Seattle Symphony team to foster new support for this incredible orchestra while also continuing to cultivate their dedicated audiences and local community."

Photo by Jesse Yang

Photo by Jesse Yang


Maria Kanakis Yang joins the Seattle Symphony with a wide range of arts-dedicated fundraising experience. Most recently, she was Director of Advancement at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, part of the Smithsonian Institution. At the Hirshhorn, Yang led a national and global fundraising initiative, increasing both awareness and involvement in the museum beyond its Washington, D.C. home. Yang spearheaded these fundraising efforts at their greatest capacity in New York City, leading the organization’s most successful annual fundraising event and International Council program for three years. Prior to her position at the Hirshhorn, Yang was Director of Strategic Initiatives at Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, where she worked cross-departmentally to revitalize and streamline organization-wide initiatives and establish cohesive strategies within fundraising and marketing. Yang’s efforts resulted in tremendous growth for the orchestra in terms of support, visibility, audience and awareness. Yang also previously led the membership program at the New York Philharmonic, where she established new methods of outreach and cultivation for both the orchestra’s dedicated supporters, as well as their newer and younger audiences. 

Yang received her Bachelor of Music degree from the Eastman School of Music in Violin Performance. She also received a secondary degree in Graphic Design from the Parsons School of Design and certification in Management Studies for Marketing from the University of Rochester.


Led by Music Director Thomas Dausgaard, the Seattle Symphony unleashes the power of music, brings people together and lifts the human spirit. Recognized as one of the “most vital American orchestras” (NPR), the Seattle Symphony is internationally acclaimed for its inventive programming, community-minded initiatives and superb recordings on the Seattle Symphony Media label. With a strong commitment to new music and a legacy of over 150 recordings, the orchestra has garnered five Grammy Awards, 26 Grammy nominations, two Emmy Awards and was named Gramophone’s 2018 Orchestra of the Year. The Symphony performs in Benaroya Hall in the heart of downtown Seattle from September through July, reaching over 500,000 people annually through live performances and radio broadcasts.