Varina Bleil, executive director,
Isabel Thiroux, director of orchestra operations,
Alice Dutton, director of community engagement,
Lea Pandy, development associate,
Max Mueller, share-a-stand lead instructor, 

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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, Southern California Leadership Network’s: Leadership LA, Executive Service Corp’s: Executive Directors Leadership Institute and Developing Development, Courage to Lead, and most recently the Stanford Executive Program for Non-profit Leaders.


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.

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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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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.