Board of Directors

Maritza Dominguez Braswell, Board Chair

Maritza is a Partner at the national law firm Fox Rothschild LLP. She concentrates on commercial litigation including multibillion-dollar finance cases as well as prosecuting and defending mid-sized contract disputes and tort claims. Maritza has litigated high-stakes cases for Fortune 100 companies, professional sports franchises, cannabis investors, large-scale developers and public entities.

Prior to becoming a Partner at Fox Rothschild, Maritza was a founding member of Rollin Braswell Fisher LLC (RBF Law), leading the firm’s commitment to social justice and earning RBF a nomination from the Colorado Lawyers Committee for 2018 Law Firm of the Year.  Maritza also lived her commitment to diversity and inclusion at RBF where over half of the attorneys were either women, ethnic minorities, and/or identified as LGBT. Maritza oversaw RBF hiring the first DREAMer in Colorado to be admitted to the Colorado Bar. At Fox Rothschild, Maritza is a member of the Diversity Committee and the Women’s Initiative.

Maritza has been recognized as a national top Latino lawyer and was named one of Colorado’s Top 25 Most Powerful Women by the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce in 2017. She is an active member of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce, and the Colorado Lawyers’ Committee.

In addition to her board work for El Sistema Colorado, Maritza is on the board of the Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network, which works to ensure justice for adults in immigration detention and immigrant children who have suffered neglect and violence.

Shannon Batal, Vice-Chair

Shannon grew up in a suburb of Chicago. She played the cello for many years in the school orchestra, culminating in the opportunity to travel abroad and perform at the Musikverein in Vienna, Austria while in high school. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Spanish Literature as well as a Master of Education, all from the University of Notre Dame. As an undergraduate, Shannon was an Academic All-American and captain of the golf team. Go Irish! Shannon was an Elementary classroom teacher, reading specialist, and special educator in Arizona, Texas, and Florida before deciding to stay home with her children.

In addition to her work for El Sistema Colorado, Shannon has volunteered with the Junior League since 2009 and served on the Board of Directors of the Junior League of Denver since 2017. Under her leadership, the Junior League of Denver has created several new initiatives including L.U.V.S., the Junior League of Denver’s annual day of service. She also enjoys teaching religious education to 3-6 year olds at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church. Shannon and her husband Joe live with their four sons in Stapleton. Shannon has a special love for students with learning differences and she is a tireless advocate for children and families. Her commitment to El Sistema stems from her belief that every child deserves an opportunity to develop their talents and thrive.

Maria Naylor, Treasurer

Maria has over 18 years of management and business development experience. She got her start in the hospitality industry, where she spent 14 years building and expanding a restaurant group in Arizona which grew to a $14M company. During that time, her focus was on management development, operations, and expansion strategies. In her current role as Partner at Singular CPA Services LLC, Maria is responsible for business development, client service and retention, and community engagement.

Her commitment and passion for El Sistema Colorado stems from her deep-rooted belief that music education opens up the equity pipeline and should be available to all children.

Clay Fox, Board Member

Clay has vast industry experience helping businesses across the U.S. execute on strategic initiatives, business optimization, organizational design, technology improvement, and more. Currently, Mr. Fox works for Progress Equity Partners, a middle market private equity firm in Denver, monitoring and helping grow partner companies. Previously, Mr. Fox also worked for multiple investment firms across multiple funds where he was responsible for originating, executing, and improving investments in private and public markets.

Mr. Fox holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration in Finance from Texas Christian University. His home is in Denver, CO where he enjoys fly-fishing, skiing, music of all kinds and any time with family and friends.

Maria Gonzales, Board Member

Maria Gonzales serves the American Alpine Club (AAC) as the Chief Advancement Officer, overseeing fundraising efforts and donor focused initiatives. While originally from Santa Fe, NM she relocated to the Rocky Mountains from Washington, D.C. after living there for almost a decade. Prior to joining the AAC in 2018 she led development efforts and social enterprise initiatives at Catholic Charities USA. Most recently Maria worked hand in hand with fortune 100 multinational corporations as well as individual donors at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C. 

Maria completed her undergrad and graduate work at Arizona State University where she received an M.A. in Political Science, a B.A. in Political Science, and a B.A. in Journalism. She is proud to call herself a die hard Sun Devil. Additionally, she obtained a Certificate in Non Profit Management from Georgetown University in 2015. 

Maria is passionate about giving back to her local community and is thrilled to be a part of El Sistema’s work to offer music education to underrepresented students.

Knight Hinman, Board Member

Knight has a passion for growing and supporting business by creating loyal client relationships based on advocacy, trust and respect. After college, he founded and operated two companies in Denver, before beginning his career in risk management with a worldwide leader in commercial insurance products. Knight has a Bachelor of Science degree in communication studies from Northwestern University and holds the Certified Insurance Councilor designation from the National Alliance for Insurance Education. Knight enjoys leadership roles in the Boy Scouts with his boys, golf, camping, fishing, skiing, and is an avid Denver sports fan.

Alejandro Lleras, Board Member

Alejandro Lleras hails from Venezuela as a direct musical descendent of El Sistema founder, Dr. Jose Antonio Abreu. He works as a Human Resources and Faculty Affairs Manager for the department of surgery in the School of Medicine at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.

El Sistema was part of his family’s daily lifeblood growing up. Alejandro played clarinet from the age of seven and within a few years became a member of El Sistema’s top youth orchestra in Venezuela alongside Gustavo Dudamel, El Sistema’s most famous graduate and longtime Los Angeles Philharmonic Music Director. The orchestra was conducted by Maestro Abreu, who taught Alejandro first-hand the power El Sistema has to build life-skills, “affluence of spirit” as Abreu put it, and the vitality of an entire community. Lleras was recruited into the esteemed Interlochen Arts Academy High School in Michigan and later received his Music Performance Degree from the University of Colorado School of Music in Boulder. Alejandro emits Abreu’s deep passion. His inspiration is infectious when sharing his story with our young musicians or others.

Carrying on Abreu’s legacy, Alejandro is critical in shaping the direction of El Sistema Colorado, be it through insights about core principles or program philosophy and design. Alejandro is also excited to be returning to his musical roots and looking forward to teaching clarinet on a volunteer basis.

Deb Norris, Board Member

Deb Norris has been a human resources professional and leader for a variety of companies in Denver for the past 35 years.  Her current gig is providing HR support to the United States Antarctic Program by hiring qualified workers to travel to Antarctica and support the scientific research at McMurdo Station, Palmer Station, and the South Pole Station.

Norris graduated from the University of Iowa with a BA in Speech and Dramatic Arts and from Denver Seminary with a MA in Counseling. Her heart belongs to music and learned to play the piano at 7, percussion at 12, and until a few years ago, sang with the Colorado Symphony Chorus for 20 years. She is active in the non-profit community and campaigned for the continued support of the SCFD.

During her most recent trip to Antarctica, she led the McMurdo Christmas Choir with multiple performances at Christmas parties, Christmas services and singing over the radio to the remote field camps. She serves the El Sistema Colorado board with love and enjoyment.

Les McMullen, Board Member

Les is currently the Vice President of Wealth Planning at Trilogy Financial, following a successful career as a business owner and corporate executive.  He’s developed and manages a team of advisors dedicated to expanding the strategies and action plans his clients’ use while pursuing their financial goals. Les provides the mentorship and leadership to a diverse team of representatives as they develop their financial planning skills.

Earlier in his Trilogy career, Les was nominated as the Rookie of the Year and the Rising Star representative. Leslie holds the FINRA Series 6, 7, and 63 registrations with LPL Financial, the Series 65 registration with Trilogy Capital, Inc., and also holds Colorado life and health insurance licenses.

His involvement with El Sistema Colorado is rooted in his firsthand knowledge of growing up without many opportunities, and his fierce passion for ensuring all kids receive an equal swing at life, with more opportunities to succeed.

Andrea Silvas, Board Member & Family Liaison

Monika Vischer, Board Member

Monika served as the Interim Executive Director for two years  and is a Co-Founder of El Sistema Colorado. Monika has been a public radio host for 33 years. She is currently Classical Program Director for Colorado Public Radio. Monika was integrally involved in creating the Classical Public Radio Network, a nationwide radio service funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Through the course of her regular interviews with classical music’s luminaries, Monika spoke with El Sistema founder, José Antonio Abreu and LA Philharmonic Music Director, Gustavo Dudamel (El Sistema’s most famous graduate). Monika is impassioned to see Denver’s underserved children benefit from El Sistema’s riches.

Anthony McWright, Board Member

Anthony McWright is the principal for Denver School of the Arts within the Denver Public School District. Anthony is from a small town in Mississippi. After high school he realized quickly he wanted to pursue a career that involved music. As a result, Anthony earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music education and later he earned his Specialist Degree in educational administration. Anthony has been in education for nearly 30 years, in part as a classroom teacher and building level administrator.

Along with teaching or leading in schools, Anthony performs professionally as trombonist and vocalist. Anthony has performed in various symphonies, concert bands, musical productions, jazz, pop, and rock bands, as well as various vocal ensembles. Anthony shares that he lived a life enthralled by music and still enjoys performing today. He lives in southeast Aurora with his wife Nicole. Anthony is looking forward to serving the mission established by El Sistema Colorado, in hopes of inspiring youth to pursue their dreams. He knows all too well how music can change someone’s life. If asked, he will tell you it changed his for the better.