Many businesses suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic, but lifelong cellist and golfer Joe Loehnis (MBA ’18) will tell you that the performing arts industry was hit especially hard. After all, how could musicians perform for live audiences when safety dictates that people stay six feet apart?
As CEO of the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra (WCO), Joe had to pivot quickly to keep the organization afloat—and the music playing. He introduced new digital technologies and also curated artistic experiences that would engage modern and diverse audiences. One of his most notable achievements was reimagining Madison’s beloved summer tradition, Concerts on the Square, to safely continue amid the pandemic’s limitations.
“We exist to serve our community,” Joe says. “I asked myself, ‘When is music most relevant to people?’ Well, it’s when they’re looking for hope or inspiration, and we all needed that when COVID started.”
When Joe isn’t breaking new ground at WCO, he’s lending his time to community boards and organizations such as Destination Madison and Downtown Rotary of Madison.
“It’s important for community members to find a way to give back, whatever that looks like,” he says. “It just makes the community that much tighter.”
Joe credits his foundational education at WSB for his ability to juggle the many responsibilities associated with nonprofit work. He decided to pursue a business degree while playing competitive golf as well as caddying, which eventually led him to a part-time MBA program at WSB.