From the President: Welcome!

The date of our official program launch is near and our team at El Sistema Colorado is so very excited!

As we look into January 2012, the future is very bright indeed. We began serving more than 70 kindergarteners as part of our in-school program this fall. On January 9th, El Sistema Colorado will begin its after school program serving over 30 third graders at Garden Place Academy in Denver’s Globeville neighborhood. The third graders cannot wait!

The path to these events over the last year has been challenging and rewarding, but most importantly, our board has been lucky enough to work with some wonderful people. After all, isn’t it always the people who surround us that make us successful?

My heartfelt thanks to Garden Place principal, Rebecca Gaustad and her staff for being such advocates in preparing for this most important time. We have benefited from the wonderful guidance of Dr. Diana Howard, our program coordinator. Dr. Howard brings to us over 25 years of education experience in the arts and education leadership. She is highly regarded for starting arts-integrated schools in impoverished communities as a principal, most recently at Kunsmiller Creative Arts Academy in Denver Public Schools. Her deep understanding and passion for children’s intellectual development is clear every day. I want to thank her for the leadership she has shown so far and for the contributions she is about to make as we officially launch.

We have also been very lucky to identify and hire three incredible teaching artists, all of whom have very strong capabilities as musicians and teachers as well as a serious commitment to the children at Garden Place Academy. These teaching artists came to us through a hiring process that resulted in the receipt of more than 20 resumes submitted by people of unquestionable talent and passion.

I also want to thank some of our volunteers and thought partners for their contributions over the past year.  Because of their generous time, and wisdom we are poised for a uniquely strong start next month. These include —

  • The Garden Place Academy team, but especially Rebecca Gaustad and Monica Johnson, Garden Place’s principal and music teacher
  • The team at the Colorado Nonprofit Development Center
  • Eric Booth, Senior Advisor to El Sistema USA
  • Dan Berkowitz, Manager of YOLA; El Sistema, Los Angeles
  • Lorrie Heagy, Alaska Teacher of the Year, Glacier Valley Elementary School
  • Stanford Thompson, Executive Director, Play On Philly!; El Sistema Philadelphia
  • Terry Minger and the team at The Piton Foundation
  • Christine Soto, nonprofit & foundation consultant; formerly Denver Foundation Vice President of Programs
  • Lisa Roy, Executive Director of the Timothy and Bernadette Marquez Foundation
  • Max Wycisk, President, Colorado Public Radio
  • Steve Blatt, Director of Community Programs, Colorado Public Radio
  • Rich Rainaldi, President and Co-Founder of Civicore
  •  Nora Robinson, Director of Education, Colorado Symphony
  • Susan Bonsall Rosenberry, non-profit management consultant
  • Obe Ariss, Development Director of the Epilepsy Foundation
  • George Engdahl, Development Director, Parkland Foundation (Dallas, TX), formerly Vice Chancellor, University of Denver and VP of Development for the Chicago Symphony
  • Christopher Scott, management consultant
  • Bill Fulton, Co-Director, Civic Canopy

And there are many more. For all of them, I am deeply grateful.

As we look to January, so many opportunities exist.  I will keep everyone up to day with the latest developments.  In the meantime, please help us get the word out! You can also get involved through donating or giving your own time. If you would like to volunteer, please let us know by emailing Thank you for your interest and support of El Sistema Colorado.

Best wishes,

Together, we will thrive by loving children first and loving music second.