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Register for a Working Group Below

El Sistema USA is thrilled to enter its second year of the El Sistema USA Virtual Working Groups, groups designed to gather El Sistema USA leaders and Teaching Artists together both virtually and in-person to discuss critical topics.

What are the Working Groups?

The Working Groups are communities of El Sistema leaders & Teaching Artists bound together by a common interest in a particular topic. The groups provide spaces for open conversation, shared learning, and have the explicit goal of developing toolkits and deliverable takeaways for the field.

Led by facilitators in the field, these groups offer leaders, administrators, and teaching artists the chance to gather online to share resources, hear from external speakers, and challenge each other to solve common problems.

In addition to meeting virtually, the resources, notes, and recordings generated from these groups will be available online for all members. In January, at the National Symposium, each group will have a chance to participate in a Deep Dive to further discuss their topics and goals.

What are the topics of the Working Groups?

The 2020 – 2021 El Sistema USA Working Groups are:

  • Equity Centered Pedagogy
  • Third Friday Forums
  • Public School Partnerships
  • Chief Executives Forum

How can I get involved or join a Working Group?

The El Sistema USA Working Groups are currently open to all staff of El Sistema USA Member organizations. Each group will meet every other month starting in September of 2020 through Zoom Video Conference. In addition, the 2021 El Sistema USA National Symposium will host a Deep Dive Space for each group to further their conversations in-person.

Are you interested in learning more?

Read more about each group below and register below!

Equity Centered Pedagogy Working Group


In order to promote holistic child development, we need teacher development that provides space to consider social emotional learning, culturally responsive pedagogy, supporting all learners, and striving for musical excellence. The focus of the Equity Centered Pedagogy Working Group will be to curate experiences and conversations centered around this work with the explicit goal of developing conversations, toolkits, and resources to assist teaching artists in El Sistema-inspired programs.

Click here to access a list of Anti-Racist and Equity-Centered Resources developed by the Equity Centered Pedagogy Working Group

2021 Meeting Dates:

February 5, 1:30-3:00 pm EDT 

Building Structures of Belonging and Equity: Pillars of a Healthy Program Culture and Pillars of Holistic Teaching Practices

April 30, 1:30-3:00 pm EDT 

June 4, 1:30-3:00 pm EDT 

Click here to access past webinars in the store:


, El Sistema USA

Monique Van Willingh

ESUSA Board Member and Director of the Master of Arts in Teaching, Longy School of Music of Bard College

, El Sistema USA

Christie Gray

Executive Director, Sistema Toronto

, El Sistema USA

Hillary Harder

Program Director, ECoSistema, Goshen College

, El Sistema USA

Holly Shogbesan

Music Educator / Expressive Arts Therapist, Oakland, CA

, El Sistema USA

Cecille Elliott

Director of Creative Play, BRAVO Oregon

Third Friday Forums


An open forum for Members to come together to share challenges, lessons learned, and offer suggestions to one another to help solve problems and build the capacity of our organizations, teams, and communities. Designed to be an informal learning/sharing forum for Executive Directors, Program Directors, and overall program leadership. Facilitated by Anne Henry and Jessica Altfillisch and supported by members of the committee, participants will engage with one another in open discussion, with a predetermined topic for each meeting. Meeting topics and schedule outlined below.

2020-2021 Meeting Dates:

October 16, 1:00-2:00 pm EDT – Back to School

  • In returning to school/ programming, what went well and what didn’t?
  • What are your expectations for the transition from Fall to Winter in preparation for a COVID19 resurgence?
  • If you hosted in-person sessions, how did it go? What have you learned?
  • How are you addressing screen-time burn-out?

November 20, 1:00-2:00 pm EDT – Evaluating Synchronous and Asynchronous Online Learning


January 15, 1:00-2:00 pm EDT – El Sistema Evolution: Start-Up to Maturity to Impacting Systems

February 19, 1:00-2:00 pm EDT – 2021 ESUSA National Symposium and Seminario

March 19, 1:00-2:00 pm EDT – Sustainability and Long-Term Financial Stability

April 16, 1:00-2:00 pm EDT

May 21, 1:00-2:00 pm EDT

Click here to access past webinars in the store:


, El Sistema USA

Anne Henry

Co-Founder & Executive Director, Soundscapes (Newport News, VA)

, El Sistema USA

Jessica Altfillisch

Kirkwood Community College & Executive Director, Harmony School of Music – Cedar Rapids, IA

Committee Members:

  • Norma Nuñez-Ruch, Allentown Symphony Orchestra
  • Carol Minter, Soundscapes (Newport News, VA)
  • Lorrie Murray, Bay Area Music Project
  • Yuki Namata Resnick, Buffalo String Works

Public School Partnerships Working Group


Many El Sistema-inspired organizations have an interest in partnering with their local public school system. Forming an effective partnership has many considerations including what makes an effective partner, how to scale the partnership, reasons to enter into a partnership, as well as the benefits for both the El Sistema-inspired organization and the public school. This working group will provide a space to discuss the benefits and challenges of public school partnerships. In addition, the group will work towards the explicit goal of working to create a partnership template that can be adapted and used by organizations across the country.

2020-2021 Meeting Dates:

September 25, 1-2:30 pm EDT – Back to School: How do you take the chaos and make it into something productive?

Facilitators Kaitlyn Korogy (Community Opus Program Manager, San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory) and Nick Skinner (Director of Operations, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s OrchKids) will lead a discussion and break out sessions on what programs have been doing to plan for going back to school with their school partners, now that we’re back what is really working and what’s not, and what can we put in place now to prepare for the future?

November 6, 1:00-2:30 pm EDT

An open discussion and problem-solving session where Baltimore’s OrchKids acts as a case study for El Sistema programs and public school partnerships. Questions and issues include:

-How is communication going, what are the pitfalls, how do you respond?

-Budget cuts are anticipated for the Spring and next school year, how do you prepare?

-The Principals and district leaders may have different ideas about how to operate school partnerships – how do you decide with whom to partner?

December 18, 1:00-2:30 pm EDT

Focusing on Successes

An open discussion and exploration of the Tocando Music Project as a case study for successes in El Sistema programs and public school partnerships during COVID-19.

January 29, 1:00-2:30 pm EDT

March 12, 1:00-2:30 pm EDT

April 23, 1:00-2:30 pm EDT

June 4, 1:00-2:30 pm EDT

Click here to access past webinars in the store:


, El Sistema USA

Kaitlyn Korogy

Community Opus Program Manager, San Diego Youth Symphony & Conservatory (San Diego, CA)

, El Sistema USA

Nick Skinner

Director of Operations, Baltimore
Symphony Orchestra’s OrchKids

Chief Executives Forum


The Chief Executives Forum is a new, invite-only working group for CEOs or Program Directors of El Sistema inspired programs. This working group’s monthly meetings will consist of program leaders sharing and discussing insight from their experiences with the ultimate goal of strengthening their respective organizations, but also the alliance among El Sistema inspired programs.

2020-2021 Meeting Dates:

October 9, 12:00-1:00 pm EDT

November 13, 12:00-1:30 pm EDT

December 11, 12:00-1:00 pm EDT

January 8, 12:00-1:30 pm EDT

February 12, 12:00-1:30 pm EDT

March 12, 12:00-1:30 pm EDT

April 9, 12:00-1:30 pm EDT

May 14, 12:00-1:30 pm EDT

June 11, 12:00-1:30 pm EDT

July 9, 12:00-1:30 pm EDT


, El Sistema USA

Stanford Thompson

Founding Board Chair of El Sistema USA,
Founder and CEO of Play On Philly

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