Polly Kahn, one of the original co-founders of the New York City Arts-in-Education Roundtable, was delighted to rejoin the board in 2014. Polly is principal of PK Arts Solutions/PK Orchestra Solutions, a consulting firm specializing in strategic planning, organizational assessment and program design, executive search, and executive coaching. She is formerly vice president of the League of American Orchestras, the service organization for American orchestras, where she designed professional development opportunities for orchestra boards, staff, musicians and music directors, including executive education programs and the national conference. At the League, Polly also served as the advisor to the education/community leaders in the League’s 800 member orchestras. She is formerly director of education for the New York Philharmonic and for the Tisch Center for the Arts at the 92nd Street Y; assistant director of the Lincoln Center Institute, and on the staffs of the Marlboro Music Festival and Casals Festival. Her 2014-15 articles speaking to best practices in the education and community realm in American orchestras have been widely distributed in Symphony Magazine, via the “Animating Democracy” series for Americans for the Arts, and via polyphonic.com. She is the recipient of the InterSchool Orchestras Award for Outstanding Contributions to Arts Education.
Board of Directors and Staff
Sobha Kavanakudiyil is a Co-Chair for The New York City Arts in Education Roundtable and she is the Director of The Graduate Program in Educational Theatre at The City College of New York. She also works as an Arts Education Consultant and is part of the inaugural class of the American’s for the Arts Speaker’s Bureau and a Mentor for the Arthur Miller Foundation and Department of Education mentoring program. She is the recipient of the Fulbright Specialist Fellowship and has traveled to Seoul, Korea and Puebla, Mexico to share her love of theatre with teachers and artists abroad. Sobha is committed to quality arts education! You can follow her on Twitter @MsSobhaK.
David King is an actor, director, poet, educator, curator and New York City native. He is a social justice advocate committed to collaboration, community empowerment and foundational professional development based on equity, inclusion and anti-racism principles. He is the Program Director of School Partnerships at Community-Word Project and Co-Founder of The Seven Collective – a NYC-based artist collective. He has acted in award-winning feature films screened at the SOHO International and Art of Brooklyn Film Festivals. As a member of Actors’ Equity Association, he received critical acclaim for Off Broadway and FringeNYC roles from The New York Times and Time Out New York. His chapbook, Because the View, is a collection of original poems, musings and photos inspired by growing up and aware in NYC. His writing was also featured in the poetry anthology The Barbershop Chronicles (Penmanship Books). He is a member of the Teaching Artist Affairs Committee and Taskforce on Equity and Inclusion. He previously worked at the Harlem Children’s Zone in early childhood education. He graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School and earned a B.A. in Theatre from The City College of New York (CUNY). He appreciates those who contribute to the process.
Kati Koerner has been the Hiltz Director of Education at Lincoln Center Theater since 2002. She is also a member of the drama faculty at The Juilliard School. Ms. Koerner’ s experience as an arts educator includes having been a high school drama teacher at Boston’s Commonwealth School, and a teaching artist for theaters and community-based organizations in the U.S. and in Germany. Ms. Koerner was Co-Chair of the New York City Arts in Education Roundtable from 2011-2017. She currently co-chairs the Roundtable’s annual Face to Face conference and chairs its Development Committee.
Traci Lester is Executive Director of National Dance Institute (NDI) an arts education organization founded by New York City Ballet principal dancer Jacques d’Amboise in the belief that the arts have a unique power to engage all children and motivate them toward excellence. Prior to NDI, Ms. Lester served as the Chief Executive Officer of LSA Family Health Service (LSA), an East Harlem-based human services agency. Before joining LSA, she was the Executive Director of Reach Out and Read of Greater New York, an early literacy, school readiness program, where she served for over a decade making waves in the field of early childhood development.
Most recently, Ms. Lester was recognized by the Manhattan Borough President as a Cultural Leader in New York City (2018). She is the recipient of the American Association of University Women’s Selected Professions Fellowship (1998), the National Association of Health Service Executive’s Community Service Award (2004), and was named to TheGrio’s 100 List as an African-American history maker and industry leader in the field of education (2012). She is also a member of the Greater New York Association of Fundraising Professionals and the American Society for Public Administrators Pi Alpha Alpha Honor Society.
She earned a Bachelor’s Degree from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, a Master of Business Administration from Rutgers University, a Master of Public Administration from California State University and holds a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Columbia University’s Institute for Nonprofit Management. (Photo credit: Eduardo Patino.nyc)
Toya Lillard is Executive Director of viBe Theater Experience. A native Houstonian, Toya graduated from Houston’s High School for Performing and Visual Arts. She has directed plays, developed curricula, led advocacy efforts and implemented innovative teaching artist training programs both in and out of our city’s schools. Prior to joining viBe, Toya served as Director of School Programs for The New York Philharmonic’s Education Department, where she helped to develop its nationally recognized School Partnership Program. In addition to leading viBe Theater Experience, Toya is also part-time faculty at The New School, where she teaches Global Dramatic Literature, Devised Theatre, and Portfolio 1. Toya is also an adjunct professor at CUNY CityTech, where she teaches Black Theater. Toya holds a B.A. from Vassar College, and an M.A. from New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study. Toya serves on the Board of the New York City Arts in Education Roundtable, and is an Affiliate Representative on the Board of the Downtown Brooklyn Arts Alliance.
Ayo Oti, SHRM-CP is a certified human resources professional who enjoys creating impact through strategy and operations. Her experience spans from working in startup environments to establish key processes around data management and human resource operations, to working within more established programs to bring entrepreneurial insights to the management of existing projects. She has worked in a variety of sectors and across different functional areas.
In 2016, Ayo was part of the launch team for the CUNY Cultural Corps initiative that provided paid internship experiences for CUNY students and alumni at various cultural institutions, thanks to the Department of Cultural Affairs and The Rockefeller Foundation. While not currently working in the cultural sector, Ayo is a patron of museums and performing arts organizations. She is currently an Apollo Young Patron and part of the Alvin Ailey Young Patrons Circle. She is excited to learn from, and contribute to, NYCAiER as an At-large board member.
Gary Padmore joined the New York Philharmonic, bringing with him decades of experience in education and community work. Prior to the Philharmonic, he was the Director of Education & Community at Orchestra of St. Luke’s where he created a concert series celebrating works by composers of color, doubled enrollment in its youth orchestra program, and increased school and community partnerships. Gary also led education programs at Midori & Friends and Brooklyn Philharmonic, served as an adjunct lecturer at Queens College, and was a teaching artist at several local organizations. As a steward of symphonic music and arts education, Gary sits on the boards of the NYC Arts in Education Roundtable and The Dream Unfinished: an activist orchestra. A trumpet player and native New Yorker, Gary has degrees from Queens College and Mannes School of Music. He was named one of Musical America’s Top 30 Professionals of the Year in 2019.
Dr. Bryan Powell an Assistant Professor of Music Education and Music Technology at Montclair State University. Prior to joining MSU, Bryan served as the Director of Higher Education for Little Kids Rock, and the Interim Director of Amp Up NYC, a partnership between Berklee College of Music and Little Kids Rock. Bryan is a musician and music educator with public school music teaching experience in the New York City Department of Education. Dr. Powell has published multiple articles in peer-reviewed journals and has taught courses at NYU, Ithaca College, Boston University, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Slippery Rock University, Lebanon Valley College, and Bergen Community College. Bryan is the founding editor of Journal of Popular Music Education and is the Executive Director of the Association for Popular Music Education. Dr. Powell currently serves as the Chair of the NAfME Popular Music Education SRIG and is an International Affiliate for Musical Futures.
Karen Sam, a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School, has worked at several international firms. Currently, she writes on the law of taxation. She is also an accomplished amateur musician.