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El Sistema USA Working Groups:

El Sistema USA is thrilled to launch the first year of the El Sistema USA 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 2019 – 2020 El Sistema USA Working Groups are:

  • Equity Centered Pedagogy
  • Growing New & Emerging Organizations
  • Public School Partnerships
  • Engaging High School Students

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 November of 2019 through Zoom Video Conference. In addition, the 2020 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 today!

Equity Centered Pedagogy
Growing New and Emerging Organizations
Public School Partnerships
High School Programming
Equity Centered Pedagogy

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.


Fall/Winter Meeting Dates:


Thursday, November 14, 2019 - 1:00 - 2:30pm EDT

Thursday January 9, 2019 - 1:00 - 2:30pm EDT


Click here to Register for the Equity Centered Pedagogy Working Group Meetings!




Monique Van Willingh, Director of Master of Arts in Teaching Program, Longy School of Music of Bard College (Los Angeles, CA)

Hillary Harder, El Sistema Coordinator, Elkhart County (Elkhart, IN)

Committee Members:


Ben Ede, Longy School of Music of Bard College MAT Program 

Cecille Elliot, BRAVO Oregon Youth Orchestras 

Christie Gray, Sistema Toronto 

Danielle Williams, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's ORCHKIDS 

Holly Iniece Shogbesan, Oakland Unified School District 

Elaine Sandoval, Researcher










Growing New and Emerging Organizations

Growing New & Emerging Organizations Working Group




In order to continue to expand the mission of creating social change through music, new and emerging organizations across a national network need administrative support, continued professional development, and mentorship for leaders at the forefront of helping students grow. The purpose of the “Growing New and Emerging Organizations” Working Group will be to lift organizations and visionaries who are new to the field, while creating a space for constructive conversation, potential partnerships, and developing a mission that works for their community.


Fall/Winter Meeting Dates:


Tuesday, November 5, 2019 - 12:30 - 2:00pm EDT

Tuesday January 7, 2019 - 12:30 - 2:00pm EDT


Click here to Register for the Growing New & Emerging Organizations Working Group Meetings!





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

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

Public School Partnerships Working Group




Many El Sistema-inspired organizations have an interest in partnering with their local public school system. Forming an effective partnerships 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. 


Fall/Winter Meeting Dates:


Friday, November 22, 2019 - 1:00 - 2:30pm EDT

Friday January 24, 2019 - 1:00 - 2:30pm EDT


Click here to Register for the Public School Partnerships Working Group Meetings!




Seth Truby, Executive Director, BRAVO Youth Orchestras (Portland, OR)

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

Committee Members:


Nick Malinowski, Kidznotes 

Nick Skinner, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's ORCHKids 

Mariesther Alvarez, Boston String Academy 

Marielisa Alvarez, Boston String Academy 

Brian Wiebe, Horizon Education Alliance 

High School Programming

High School Programming Working Group




As El Sistema-inspired organizations grow, more and more organizations are beginning to serve high school aged students. As this trend continues, our field has expressed a need for distinct strategies and effective ways to engage high school students vs. elementary to middle-school aged students. What are the challenges in serving high school students? What are programs doing to prevent attrition of high school students? How can student-leadership and youth voice play a role in engaging high school students? This working group will engage both leaders in and outside the field to discuss the landscape of youth programming for high school students and work towards solving challenges and showcasing best practices. 


Dates: TBA




Angelica Cortez, Education Project Manager, Los Angeles Philharmonic (Los Angeles, CA)

Jessica Zweig, Program Director, Play On, Philly! (Philadelphia, PA)

Committee Members:



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