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Register for a Working Group Below

El Sistema USA is thrilled to launch the first 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.

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.

Download Notes from Past Webinars:

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.

Click to register for Spring/Summer Meeting Dates:

Download Notes from Past Webinars:


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 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.

Spring/Summer Meeting Dates

Click below to register for a Public School Partnerships Working Group Meeting!

Download Notes from Past Webinars:


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 Skinner, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s ORCHKids
  • Mariesther Alvarez, Boston String Academy
  • Marielisa Alvarez, Boston String Academy
  • Kent Dutchersmith, Horizon Education Alliance

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.




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

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

Committee Members:


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 below!

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