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Colombian-American violinist, Vanessa Kestner, leads an accomplished life and career as an arts administrator, educator, and performer.

Director of the A Gift For Music (AGFM) program in Orlando, FL, Vanessa is dedicated to increasing the accessibility of music education to under-resourced students. During her time with AGFM, an El Sistema inspired program, Vanessa has been fortunate enough to work with hundreds of students annually to bring about social change through the power of music.

A passionate educator, Vanessa taught as a violin instructor with the Sphinx Organization. She then went on in the year 2020 to be selected as one of nine arts leaders of color to join the SphinxLEAD cohort. Leaders in Excellence, Arts & Diversity (LEAD) is an empowerment program designed to evolve the landscape of arts leadership. Through LEAD, Vanessa has participated in leadership retreats at top institutions nationwide, including the Juilliard School, New World Symphony, Interlochen, Minnesota Orchestra, and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. Dedicated to transforming the arts industry to become more diverse, equitable, and inclusive, Vanessa has completed Jennifer Brown’s DEI Practitioner’s Program and is an alumna of Cornell University’s Diversity and Inclusion Certificate Program.

Vanessa holds a Bachelor of Music Education and a Master of Arts in Arts Administration from Eastern Michigan University.

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