Tara Aesquivel, Executive Director

Through her work, Tara Aesquivel strives to share the power of the arts with others. Tara’s professional experience includes strategic planning, fundraising, production, and community engagement for Pittsburgh Opera, LA Opera, A Noise Within, Antioch University Los Angeles, The Lukens Company, and Invertigo Dance Theatre. Tara is thrilled to bring her experience to the Executive Director role at the American Youth Symphony. Tara has a B.A. in Music from the University of Missouri–Kansas City, a Master of Arts Management from Carnegie Mellon University, and studied Cultural Economics at the University of Bologna. Tara volunteers with Emerging Arts Leaders/Los Angeles and the Cal State Dominguez Hills Innovation Incubator. She also enjoys traveling, camping, and being a mom.

Tara Aesquivel, executive director,

Isabel Thiroux, Director of Orchestra Operations

Isabel Thiroux has been with the American Youth Symphony since she first joined the viola section in 2001. After seven years in the orchestra, she “graduated” to working in the office, becoming Orchestra Manager in 2010 and Director of Orchestra Operations in 2015.

Ms. Thiroux studied viola at CSU, Long Beach with LA Philharmonic violist John Hayhurst and maintains an active career as a freelance violist performing regularly around the Los Angeles area.

Isabel Thiroux, director of orchestra operations,

Mia McNeil, Development Associate

Mia McNeil graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor’s degree in English and Journalism. She grew up in Chicago, Illinois and quickly fell in love with writing and musical composition.

Mia played violin throughout her childhood, studying at the Chicago High School for the Arts and Roosevelt High School in Seattle, Washington

Mia McNeil,  development associate,

Mandy Matthews, Manager of Community Engagement

Mandy Matthews is an arts educator, advocate, and leader grounded in making connections and building community. She has worked for Los Angeles based arts organizations including the Arts Council for Long Beach, The Broad Stage, and currently American Youth Symphony as the Manager of Community Engagement. In 2017 she completed Arts for LA’s arts advocacy program, ACTIVATE and founded an arts network and organization called EN-ACT, Educator’s Network: Art Creates Transformation. Mandy is also passionate about supporting college students and has facilitated professional development workshops and coached interns at CSULB and for the Los Angeles County Arts Internship Program. She is a graduate from Loyola Marymount University and holds two Bachelor Degrees in Dance and History, and recently received her Social Emotional Learning Facilitator certificate at UCLA. You can also find Mandy in the yoga studio teaching at CorePower Yoga!

Mandy Matthews, manager of community engagement,

Rich Johnson, Operations Specialist

Rich Johnson is a musician, sound designer, teaching artist and arts producer with a passion for bringing the arts to all. After studying music education with a clarinet emphasis at the Hartt School and music technology at NYU, Rich worked in New York City for 7 years both on and off stage including Radio City Music Hall, Abrons Arts Center, BEAT Festival and the NY Fringe Festival among numerous other arts productions. Rich is excited to be a part of the AYS team in helping to bring accessible, high quality orchestral music to audiences all over Los Angeles and beyond.  

Rich Johnson, operations

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

Max Mueller, share-a-stand lead