Jennie Oh Brown Named Next CYSO Executive Director

Jennie Oh Brown headshot. Photo by Forestt Strong Lafave
Photo credit: Forestt Strong Lafave

It is with great excitement that we share that celebrated artist, arts administrator, educator, and visionary Jennie Oh Brown has been selected as CYSO’s next Executive Director. Beginning May 22, Jennie will work in tandem with the CYSO team to build on our mission of inspiring personal excellence through music by identifying new educational and performance opportunities for our young musicians, expanding community partnerships to provide musical training and access in under-served communities throughout Chicago, and increase CYSO’s profile as one of the nation’s cultural and musical gems. In addition, as a CYSO alumni parent, she will bring a unique perspective on the impact and importance of the programming CYSO provides our students. 

A celebrated artist, arts administrator, educator, and visionary, Jennie brings a wealth of experience and a wide-ranging skill set to her new position. She has most recently served as Artistic Director with Epiphany Center for the Arts, curating programs and concerts and developing educational programming throughout the landmark venue’s performance spaces. Jennie previously served as Executive and Artistic Director of Ear Taxi Festival in 2021, founder, director, and faculty member of Credo Flute, and on faculty at Wheaton College and Elmhurst University. She is founder and director of Picosa chamber music collective, Artist-in-Residence at Epiphany Center for the Arts, and serves on the board of Chamber Music of America. 

“CYSO has set a high bar for inspiring generations of young musicians and leaders,” Jennie said. “Great music has the power to change culture and to heal spirits. It is more than beautiful sounds; We are creating citizens through this artistic life who are learning to lead, to encourage one another with empathy and kindness, and to serve the greater good. It is a true honor to have been selected as the next Executive Director, and I look forward to working with Music Director Allen Tinkham and the entire CYSO community to create an impact for years to come.”

In addition to her many administrative arts leadership positions, as a flutist, Jennie has been an energizing and creative force in the field of classical music for more than 20 years. As a recording artist, her solo album, Giantess, was featured in the Chicago Tribune’s Best classical albums of 2019: World premieres, historic revivals, and enticingly eclectic music (Howard Reich). 

“Jennie is a force within the Chicago and national music scene, and we are thrilled to officially announce her as our next Executive Director,” said Board Chair Ross Bricker. “We were seeking a collaborative, innovative, and inspiring individual as our next leader, and we look forward to growing and flourishing with Jennie’s background and expertise. I am confident that her vision and skillset will propel CYSO to new levels, ensure it remains a best-in-class program available to all, and bring the enormous benefits that CYSO provides to students throughout Chicagoland.”

“Jennie’s unique experience as an arts administrator, music educator, and acclaimed musician is exceptionally aligned to strengthening and invigorating CYSO’s mission of inspiring and cultivating personal excellence through music,” said Music Director Allen Tinkham. “We share the belief that music has the power to open hearts and minds, and we are committed to building on CYSO’s reputation for unparalleled performances of diverse repertoire including the music of living and underrepresented composers. I am privileged to partner with Jennie for the next chapter of CYSO.”

“Jennie’s experience as a CYSO parent deeply informs her approach to this new role, and I am looking forward to working alongside her as we work to engage even more families in the CYSO experience,” said Madalyne Maxwell, Interim Executive Director. “She understands the challenges and triumphs of raising a young musician and will be an amazing advocate for CYSO as we deepen partnerships with new communities and new students.”

Jennie holds Doctor of Musical Arts and Master of Music in Performance, Repertoire, and Literature degrees and the Performers Certificate from the University of Rochester, Eastman School of Music, in Rochester, NY. She earned her Bachelor of Music degree from Northwestern University in Evanston, IL and is a graduate of the Interlochen Arts Academy. Jennie is a member of both the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and the diversity and inclusion and historical flutes committees of the National Flute Association.

As we welcome Jennie to the CYSO family, we also want to take a moment to express our gratitude to Interim Executive Director Madalyne Tregellas Maxwell. Madalyne did an extraordinary job stepping into the interim ED role while also continuing to juggle her duties as Director of Operations over the past 6 months. Her dedication to CYSO shined during this time and we are thankful for her service to keep CYSO on course. In addition, members of the board and CYSO’s leadership team wore many additional hats during this process and devoted extra time and energy to ensuring that things ran smoothly. Thank you to everyone who lent a hand during this transition!

Stay tuned for more info about opportunities to meet Jennie in person at events coming up over the next few months!

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