Staff

 

Varina Bleil, executive director, varina.bleil@aysymphony.org
Isabel Thiroux, director of orchestra operations, isabel.thiroux@aysymphony.org
Alice Dutton, director of community engagement, alice.dutton@aysymphony.org
Lea Pandy, development associate, lea.pandy@aysymphony.org
Mario Acosta, programs & admin associate, mario.acosta@aysymphony.org
Max Mueller, share-a-stand lead instructor, max.mueller@aysymphony.org 

Varina Bleil
Executive Director

Varina Bleil has been the Executive Director of the American Youth Symphony since February 2014, and was previously the Executive Director of Inside Out Community Arts, and Development Executive at The Help Group. Prior to working in the nonprofit sector, Varina worked in the entertainment industry where she served as a development executive, producer and writer. Her experiences included Senior Vice President at Weed Road Pictures, staff writer on the SyFy TV series “Eureka”, and Associate Producer on the film Mr. & Mrs. Smith. Varina received a Bachelor of Science from the University of Texas and a M.Ed. (Arts in Education) from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where she worked closely with the Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations.

Varina served on the Board of Directors of Elemental Music for five years before transitioning to their Advisory Board, and currently serves on the Advisory Board of CSUSB’s Community Based Art Prison Arts Collective. Varina is a graduate of the Annenberg Alchemy and Alchemy Plus, Executive Service Corp’s Wells Fargo Executive Directors Leadership Institute and Developing Development, Courage to Lead, Southern California Leadership Network’s “Leadership LA”, Hershey Cause Communications “Communicating for Results,” and most recently the Stanford Executive Program for Non-profit Leaders.

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Isabel Thiroux
Director of Orchestra Operations

Isabel Thiroux, Orchestra Manager, joined the staff of the American Youth Symphony in 2007 as an Administrative Assistant, and was promoted to her current position in 2009. She currently reports to both the Executive Director and the Music Director.

Ms. Thiroux graduated from CSU, Long Beach with a BM in Viola Performance in 2004. She is an AYS alumna who trained in the orchestra from 2001 to 2007.

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Alice Dutton
Director of Community Engagement

Alice Dutton joined the staff of the American Youth Symphony in Fall 2011, and became Director of Community Engagement in Summer 2015.

Alice’s goal for her work at AYS is to build a community of music lovers that reflects the demographics of the city of Los Angeles. Toward this end, she has spearheaded projects that have brought AYS musicians into underserved classrooms, and have brought hundreds of local students to AYS concerts.

Alice graduated from New College of Florida in 2007 with a degree in Humanities.

Lea Pandy
Development Associate

Lea joined the AYS staff in September 2017. She is a clarinetist and passionate about supporting music and arts in general. Originally from the suburbs of Los Angeles, Lea spent a few years in New York City teaching clarinet to teens and adults as well as engaging support for music education, by working in the development departments at The Kaufman Music Center and Interschool Orchestras of New York. Prior to her time in New York City, Lea received her Bachelors degree in Clarinet Performance from Peabody Conservatory. When Lea isn’t practicing or in the office, she loves to cook and create new recipes for her food and music blog.

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Mario Acosta
Programs & Administration Associate

Mario is a guitarist and music enthusiast who studied musicology and music industry at UCLA! With his diverse taste for a variety of styles and genres, writing about music and making others excited about it has always been one of his favorite hobbies. Music program administrator in the morning, dog-loving- coffee-taster at night!

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Max Mueller
Lead Instructor, Share-A-Stand program

Max Mueller is a cellist, composer, and music educator. He first became involved with AYS in 2010, working with David Newman to edit the scores of the Goldsmith III concert. He has been an active consultant ever since, and officially joined the staff in January 2016, taking a leadership role in expanding the “Share a Stand” program, bringing AYS musicians to music classes in underserved middle schools.