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Virtual Forums are intended as a space for members to gather as a community, problem solve, and create new tools and skills for our work. We intend to grapple with the problems and questions probing our field forward, and to build community with one another. Each group has different goals, but is intended to offer training, and/or problem solving space related to the field. Each group is facilitated by members and leaders from the field. This year’s virtual forums will include:

Chief Executives Forum

The Chief Executives Forum is an invite-only working group for Executive Directors of member organizations. Monthly meetings will consist of program leaders sharing and discussing insight from their experiences with the ultimate goal of strengthening their respective organizations. Topics range from “Back to School: Navigating the Return to In-Person Learning” to “Navigating Identity with Young People,” and everything in between.


Facilitated by Christie Gray

CEO, NYO Canada


Guest Facilitated by Nick Skinner

Vice President, BSO OrchKids

Music Theory Teaching Artist

Christie Gray is a music educator, community advocate and CEO of NYO Canada. She holds a Bachelor of Music in violin performance from the University of Victoria, and a Graduate Diploma in Administration (not-for-profit management) from the John Molson School of Business at Concordia University. Christie is a performer, composer and recording artist, and has taught violin and fiddle to countless children and adults. Christie has also held roles as a senior arts administrator, focusing on marketing, communications, community development and fundraising. She is a frequent speaker on the subject of diversity, equity, and inclusion in arts education, and has spoken at conferences and events for El Sistema USA, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Longy School of Music of Bard College. Christie is currently a network steward for the Sistema Canada Network and facilitator for the CEO Forum for El Sistema USA. Christie lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada with her husband Ian and 2-year-old son, Lennon.

The Power of Strategic Planning 

We welcome Nick Skinner, Vice President of OrchKids who will discuss their most recent strategic planning process and reflect on the power of self evaluation and change within organizations. Many programs are reevaluating post COVID. We all have the power to change and evolve in order to be more intentional and impactful. Bring your questions relating to your organizational strategic priorities and we will discuss together!

  • Thursday, October 13, 2022, 1-2 pm ET
  • Wednesday, December 7, 2022, 12-1 pm ET
  • Thursday, February 2, 2023, 12-1 pm ET
  • Thursday, April 6, 2023, 12-1 pm ET
  • Tuesday, June 6, 2023, 12-1 pm ET
  • Thursday, July 6, 2023, 12-1 pm ET

Teaching Artist Forum

The newly formed Teaching Artist Forum aims to provide a space for Teaching Artists working with El Sistema-inspired programs to collaborate, network, and workshop teaching ideas and strategies. Through six discussion-based forums facilitated in partnership with the Teaching Artists Training Institute (TATI), participants will explore best practices in music education by looking at case studies from peer Teaching Artists, address common classroom success and challenges, and idea swap tools for implementing new teaching techniques.

Facilitated by

Teaching Artists Training Institute

tati logo

Led by Anna Barson

Managing Director, TATI

Teaching Artist Training at the New World Center Miami Beach

Anna Barson is based in Durham, NC and is a passionate educator, musician, and arts advocate. As the Managing Director of the Teaching Artists Training Institute (TATI), Anna is excited to develop a sustainable community of belonging that provides applicable and tangible tools and resources for music educators across the US. Anna looks forward to deepening her impact as a nonprofit leader through community-building, training teaching artists to develop culturally responsive classrooms, and engaging nonprofit leaders and educators in conversations around access, equity, inclusion, and social justice in the music classroom.

Prior to working with TATI, Anna taught orchestra at the elementary and middle school levels before transitioning to administrative positions at Kidznotes, an El Sistema-inspired music education nonprofit, and SKJAJA Fund, a community-based scholarship program. Anna holds a dual Bachelor of Music degree in Cello Performance and Music Education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Master of Arts degree in Arts Management and Cultural Leadership from Colorado State University.

Outside of work, Anna can be found performing with local orchestras, testing out new recipes in the kitchen, or camping in the mountains with her dog, Milo.

Founded in 2020 by a generous grant from the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, the Teaching Artists Training Institute (TATI) believes that transformational music education starts with transformational training for teachers. TATI works to equip Teaching Artists of El Sistema-inspired and community music programs, many of whom come from classical performance backgrounds, with the tools and skills needed to strengthen their teaching practice for the betterment of their students. Through reflection, dialogue, observation and feedback, teachers learn to be their own best coach and critic.

Teaching Artists Forum- Summer Camp, Intensives, and Prepping
Join peer Teaching Artists from across the country as we discuss all things Summer! From Summer Camp games and activities, to preparing students for Interlochen and YOLA, share tips and tricks with peers and build your own summer teaching plan! We’ll also discuss planning for success to kickstart your Fall teaching.
  • Thursday, October 13, 2022, 12:00 – 1:00 pm ET
  • Wednesday, December 7, 2022, 12-1 pm ET
  • Thursday, February 9, 2023, 12:00 – 1:00 pm ET
  • Thursday, April 13, 2023, 12:00 – 1:00 pm ET (POSTPONED TO APRIL 20)
  • Thursday, June 8, 2023, 12:00 – 1:00 pm ET

Program Director & Manager Forum

The Program Director & Manager Forum is an action-oriented, working group focused on sharing best programmatic tactics, strategies, and practices within the field. These sessions are aimed at Program Directors, Program Managers, Site Directors, but may be useful and applicable to other program decision makers and Teaching Artists.  

As Program Directors & Managers’, your position within an organization is unique in that you interface with many stakeholders within the program, whether that be students, families, teaching artists, and executive staff. Some of you may also deal with community partners, donors, and boards.  

These sessions are intended to create a network of Program Directors and share out best practices collectively. Sessions will be a hybrid of some panel discussions and group discussions.


Facilitated by Gabrielle Molina

Executive Director, Project Music

Molina, Gabrielle_Headshot (1)

Gabrielle Molina (she, ella, siya) is currently the Executive Director of Project Music, a youth development and El Sistema-inspired music nonprofit located in Stamford, CT. In addition to her work at Project Music, Gabrielle is a faculty member and career coach at the Longy School of Music of Bard College. She has also recently joined the coaching faculty of AIM, the Academy for Impact through Music. Gabrielle has worked previously at YOLA (Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles) and at iCAN (The Incredible Children’s Art Network), two El Sistema-inspired programs in Southern California. Prior to joining the leadership team at Project Music, Gabrielle founded Teaching Artists International, a music nonprofit that created teaching artist exchanges spanning across 4 continents. She is the winner of the 2020 Sphinx Tank, awarded to the “Next Great Cultural Entrepreneur.” Gabrielle has held fellowships with the National Arts Strategies, the Global Leaders Program, Mass Challenge, and the Harvard Innovation Labs. Gabrielle holds K-12 teaching credentials in CA and CT. She holds a Master’s in International Education Policy from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education.

Program Design – Challenges and Opportunities

We are excited to bring together program leaders from across the US to discuss program design. This panel will feature 4 distinct programs, including YOLA in Los Angeles, Tocando in El Paso Texas, ECoSistema in Goshen, Indiana, and Paterson Music Project in Paterson, NJ. During this panel, program leaders will introduce the structure and design of their respective programs, as well as discuss the opportunities and challenges they face as a result. Participants will have the opportunity to engage in a Q&A with each presenter, and to brainstorm ways to apply new learnings and ideas to their home programs. Don’t miss out on this unique opportunity to learn from and connect with other program leaders!

  • Wednesday, October 5, 2022, 12-1 pm ET
  • Wednesday, December 7, 2022, 12-1 pm ET
  • Wednesday, February 1, 2023, 12-1 pm ET
  • Wednesday, April 5, 2023, 12-1 pm ET
  • Wednesday, June 7, 2023, 12-1 pm ET
  • Wednesday, July 5, 2023, 12-1 pm ET


Past Webinars

You can access past webinars in our resource hub!

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