Najwa Aswad is ZUMIX's Events Coordinator. She has done youth work since 2016 in Chelsea and Dorchester, and joined the ZUMIX team in June 2021. In addition to youth work, Najwa has also curated underground nightlife events for queer and trans communities of color in the Greater Boston area. She can often be found expressing her love for music through DJing. She is excited to combine her love for event curation, broadcast arts, and youth work in this role.
For over 15 years, Kim has been working in the arts as an artist, educator, administrator, and humanitarian. She is thrilled to be rejoining ZUMIX (after serving as Program Director from 2009-2012) as the new Director of Advancement and hopes her experience in nonprofit management, dedication to creative youth development, and passion for music can help serve the organization and the community of East Boston. Her past work has taken her to multiple cities and has included serving in leadership roles for two local arts organizations, founding and managing an independent theater company, teaching theater, facilitating workshops focused on building literacy through artmaking, and performing as a professional actress. In 2013, she was recognized as a Citizen Artist Scholar at the Aspen Ideas Festival. Kim holds a BFA in Acting from Boston University and a Masters degree in Arts in Education from Harvard University. However, her biggest accomplishment is her family, especially her sassy and sweet young daughter (cue sappy music).
Katie joined the ZUMIX team in June 2021, two years after moving to East Boston. She previously worked in higher education for 15 years, doing communications work at Berklee College of Music, Emerson College and Harvard University. She is a singer and believes in the power of music to shape individuals and communities.
Outside of work, Katie is an avid runner and cyclist, a flower fiend, a bookworm (and book reviewer), and a proud Texas transplant to Boston.
Chrissy’s passion for the Zumix mission began in middle and high school, where participation in choirs and learning to play the piano helped shape her musically and as a human. Upon moving to East Boston in 2006, Chrissy stumbled on a Zumix band playing in Maverick Square and immediately wanted to learn more. Prior to joining Zumix as the Director of Finance and Administration in October 2019, Chrissy served as a volunteer, parent to a Zumix student, and Zumix board of directors member for five years.
Chrissy brings more than 15 years’ experience assisting in multiple Boston nonprofits—many of them youth-serving—with their operations, human resources, finance, and administration needs. She holds a BA in Human Resources and an MBA in nonprofit management. As an active East Boston resident, Chrissy is thrilled to now bring her operations and finance skill-sets to Zumix, a career move she describes as “returning home.”
Chrissy has seen first-hand as a parent how organizations like Zumix provide a third space for youth to grow and develop and is thankful to be part of the team making that happen for hundreds of young people every week. Outside work, Chrissy makes time to sing in her church choir, go on weekend hikes, tend a small garden, and spend time with her husband and two children.
Over the past decade, Joe has worked in the fields of music, education and nonprofit development. After graduating from UMass Amherst with a degree in music performance and arts administration, he spent six years teaching private music lessons and touring New England as the drummer for the indie duo Kid Coyote. In 2019, he earned a certificate in grant writing from Bridgewater State University and began his career as a grant writer. As a freelancer, he has written proposals in a variety of different funding areas, including animal welfare, historical preservation, and transitional housing. He is excited to be able to support youth involvement in the arts.
Madeleine Steczynski, Co-Founder and Executive Director, is an East Boston resident. She founded ZUMIX in 1991 in response to the worst year of violence in the City of Boston's history. Together with ZUMIX's Board of Directors and Youth Advisory Board, she has grown ZUMIX from a kitchen table project into a vital East Boston community institution. As an advocate for the arts, Madeleine has served on the Executive Committee for East Boston Healthy Boston Coalition; was one of the founding members of Cultural Connections, a three-year effort to integrate arts as part of a Sustainable Community initiative funded by The PEW Charitable Trust; and served as an Artistic Fellow for The Boston Foundation’s Arts and Audiences Initiative. She also served for three years as a Cultural Fellow for the New England Foundation for the Arts Building Communities through Culture Initiative, and as a Community Fellow for Eureka Communities Boston.
In 2006 ZUMIX was chosen as a Social Innovator for the Social Innovation Forum at MIT, the same year Madeleine was chosen by the East Boston Times Free Press as East Boston’s Woman of the Year. In 2007 Madeleine was nominated and participated in the Salzburg Global Seminar's Cultural Institutions Without Borders seminar in Austria; received the Canyon Ranch Be the Change Award at the Massachusetts Conference for Women; and was an advisor for the Music National Service Initiative in Washington D.C. In 2008 Madeleine spearheaded a development team in the acquisition and full renovation of an historic firehouse as a new home for ZUMIX.
In 2009 she successfully completed a $4.6 million dollar capital campaign and moved ZUMIX into its new home. In 2011 Madeleine started a 3-year learning journey as a prestigious Barr Fellow. In 2012, she was honored with a Berklee Urban Service Award. Madeleine attended Boston College, the School of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts – Boston, and the Executive Leadership Program at Harvard University.
Carolina first joined Zumix at the age of 11 in 2006 when she only knew three words in English and had just settled in East Boston as her new home. By singing with ZUMIX’s first chorus, she eventually became more involved with guitar, piano and voice lessons. Through a partnership ZUMIX had with then called Umana Barnes Middle School (now Umana Academy), the band The UB’s was formed which continued throughout her high school years. From attending Boston Arts Academy as a Visual Arts Major student from 8am-4pm and a band member and singer-musician at Zumix until 7pm, Carolina has always been a busy artist of all sorts! She obtained her B. A. from Wheaton College (in Mass) in Psychology, and is currently pursuing her Master’s in Mental Health Counseling with a Specialization in Expressive Arts Therapy from Lesley University. Her hope is to spread to as many people as possible the healing qualities that art and music have given her, and use the expressive arts as guides and helpers in figuring out the challenges being a human beings in today’s realities.
Brandon H. Allen, has been with Zumix since 2012 teaching private voice and the Voces Ensemble. He is a multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, arranger and music educator living and working in the Greater Boston area.
With a starting foundation in gospel music growing up in church, he went on to study classical and negro spirituals touring with The Boys Choir Of Harlem while still in middle school. There, he got to perform alongside greats like Kathleen Battle and Aretha Franklin.
In high school, he performed alongside Whitney Houston on Good Morning America with the Talent Unlimited Chorus before moving to Texas and earning the 1st Chair Bass 2 position in the TMEA competition, earning him several scholarships to study classical and opera.
While studying opera, he realized his passion was contemporary music (songwriting, production and business) and transferred to Berklee College of Music. There, he’d perform with Bootsy Collins, Patrice Rushen, Michael McDonald, the late John Blackwell Jr., Bobby McFerrin and many others while earning his degree in Music Business.
Along with teaching at Zumix, Brandon teaches at a middle school through Young Audiences, privately around the city while also performing with JHB (John Hanifin Band), Honey Train Music Services (Weddings & Corporate) and at church with the New Roads Worship Team.
Kadahj Bennett is an award-winning actor, educator and performer in the Boston area. Bennett has been a Teaching Artist in the community for the past 7 years with organizations such as Company One Theater, Actors Shakespeare Project and College Bound at Boston College. Bennett is a Luminary Artist at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and an Artist in Residence with the Freshman Arts Program at Harvard University. Kadahj works on stage, screen, in galleries and classrooms alike and is stoked to be back at Zumix. Bennett is an alum and has been involved in the Zumix community since 2003. With programs like Street Program or Beatmakers, Kadahj gained the tools to empower his own music career. As frontman and writer for the Downbeat Keys, a Brooklyn-based neon soul collective, Kadahj has toured SXSW, the East Coast college circuit and shared a bill with Bon Jovi at the Best Buy Center in Times Square. His current Boston-based Berklee band, Dancelujah, brings electronic hip hop soul to the city's music scene. A graduate of the Boston Arts Academy and recipient of the Posse scholarship to Hamilton College, Kadahj is looking to cultivate more young creators of color to tell their stories.
Edwin "Steadi Eddy" Cabrera is a Lynn-based filmmaker and co-founder of Grind House Recordings, a media company focused on promoting local hip-hop music. Edwin's passion lies in promoting independent music and uplifting the hip-hop culture in Lynn. He primarily does this through The Grind House Podcast, which highlights talented hip-hop artists, along with his work with the Lynn Hip Hop Wall of Fame, a mural that commemorates and helps preserve Lynn hip-hop culture. His work in the community can also be felt at Raw Art Works, where Edwin served as the Production Coordinator and Instructor at the Real to Reel Film School, a program he also graduated from in 2009. Edwin received his B.A. in Communications with a certificate in Film Studies from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2013.
An avid explorer of sound and rhythm, different world cultures and innovative approaches to music, Manila-born vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Jireh Calo is an ever-evolving composer, arranger, and producer. Growing up mostly self-taught, her music embraces the spirit of freedom, improvisation and exploration. She draws much inspiration from jazz traditions, indigenous oral traditions, African and Latin Afro/Cuban rhythms, American folk, hip hop culture, soul music, and a variety of world music.
Jireh remains active today as an artist-educator, performing and creating music while working closely with the youth, teaching and being deeply involved with her local and global community. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Contemporary Writing & Production from the Berklee College of Music and a master’s in Contemporary Performance (Global Jazz Concentration) from the Berklee Global Jazz Institute. She has performed extensively around the Philippines and in Boston, where she is currently based, and has performed international festivals in Malaysia, the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, and Los Angeles.
Leo Colon, Guitar & Bass Instructor, was born in the Dominican Republic and started his musical education at the Conservatorio Nacional de Santo Domingo. After moving to Boston in 1995, he studied jazz improvisation with Charlie Banacos, Jay Weik and Steve Neil. In 1998, Leo led a jazz quartet featuring Martin Dalmasi on sax, and has been a member of the R&B/Funk/Raggae band “In the House” since 1999. In 2001, Leo joined the Christ Episcopal church in Hyde Park, as the musical director. He is also the Director of the Do Re Mi School of Music in Roxbury. A multi instrumentalist, Leo founded the Diver City Band in 2001 along with Mario Aranda and the ZUMIX Guitar Ensemble in 2005. He has been teaching at ZUMIX since 1998 and privately, from his home studio, since 1990. Leo Enrolled at Berklee College of Music in the Spring of 2009 to pursue a Professional Music Degree. www.leocolonmusic.com
Marlene Del Rosario, Piano Instructor, is a composer, vocalist and pianist. She leads The Marlene Jazz Ensemble and is a regular in the New England jazz circuit. Opening for world-renowned Cuban pianist, Omar Sosa at the 2008 Philippine International Jazz Festival, Marlene has also performed and appeared on television in the Philippines, Peru and in Boston. She has entertained Princess Chulabhorn of Thailand as well as Filipino Presidents, Fidel Ramos and Cory Aquino, and recently, Massachusetts governor, Deval Patrick, Mayor Menino and local senators. She is also Musical Director for the Citi Performing Arts Center's Celebrate Musical Theater Sing Out Loud Workshops. Other credits include representing her country and winning 2nd place at an international competition in Japan for her peace-themed composition, which was also performed for Pope John Paul II for an audience of over a million. Marlene was also musical director for several school musicals (Umana Barnes and the Park School), as well as ZUMIX’s Warmth program. Her discography includes a children’s Ballet album and two US-released CDs, including the latest, “Marlene LIVE with a Little Help from Her Friends”, which has garnered critical praise and is played in jazz stations nationally and in Canada. Marlene is a native of Manila, Philippines and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Management Economics. She moved to the US to pursue musical studies at the Berklee College of Music and has studied under Lazlo Gardony, Cheryl Bentyn, Livingston Taylor and Bob Gullotti. www.marlenemusic.net
Corey DePina, Director of Programs, grew up in Roxbury as a first-generation American from a family of Cape Verdean immigrants. Now living in West Roxbury, Corey is an accomplished rapper and a skilled workshop and program facilitator. He performs and teaches all over the United States. He served on the board for Critical Breakdown - one of Boston's biggest and longest running all-age open mics - and has done workshops on the history of hip-hop, as well as creative writing and performance. Corey studied for two years at Massachusetts Communication College and has completed many BEST Initiative youth worker trainings, including the Advanced Youth Workers Certificate program. Corey continues to share his passion of performance, social justice, hip hop, and education to help convey the important role music plays in both personal and community development. His current endeavor is fusion-conscious homemade lyrics to heavy Dubstep music to help spice up his creative writing and performance.
Rene Dongo, Radio Station Manager, joined ZUMIX in 2017. As a filmmaker, media maker and teaching artist he has found the intersection of community and youth arts education to be a pivotal step to helping young people grow and find their voice in the communities they live and learn in. At ZUMIX he works to support community and youth produced radio programming.
Outside of ZUMIX Rene has worked as a teaching artist for the ICA’s Fast Forward video program which offers a year long program dedicated to serving teens interested in filmmaking and also at the Urbano Project as part of a duo of teaching artists focused on crafting radio pieces centered on spoken word poetry inspired by the community of Egleston Square. He is a graduate of Emerson College and is currently working on creating more work using different mediums between radio and video production.
Ava Dudani is a vocalist, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, educator, and community organizer. Originally from the Allston-Brighton neighborhood of Boston, Ava is dedicated to the growth of art spaces in the city of Boston as opportunities for community building. She is a graduate of Berklee College of Music and she is continuing to share her music locally in and around Boston.
In addition to her own creative projects, Ava is a passionate music educator. She has mentored youth across Boston at locations including the Boys and Girls Club of Boston, Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center, and Berklee City Music. She continues to strive for students to foster their most authentic selves through music education.
W.J. Edward Emerson, Creative Tech Manager, is a Boston based drummer and audio engineer. Not originally from here, he moved to Boston in 2008 to pursue a Bachelors in Performance and Music Production and Engineering at Berklee College of Music. After graduating he went on to work as an engineer at several of Boston’s historic venues, like the Regatta Bar. There, he has worked with a diverse array of performers; from mixing monitors for singer, James Bay, or rap duo, Run the Jewels, to mixing front of house for jazz legends like Ron Carter, Wayne Krantz, and Kenny Garret, in addition to drumming for seminal artists like Simon Shaheen, Mulatu Astatke, and Masary Studios. Since joining Zumix in 2019, he continues to play drums for Kina Zoré, a Mozambican band that performs throughout New England.
Reynaliz Herrera is a Mexican-born percussionist, composer and educator. She began pursuing music at the Escuela Superior de Musica y Danza (Mexico), and graduated from The University of Ottawa (BMUS) and The Boston Conservatory (Master of Music). Reynaliz has performed in the U.S., Mexico, Cuba, Canada, Spain, Italy and Germany.
In 2012, Reynaliz created and founded “Ideas, Not Theories,” a theatrical percussion company featuring her own musical works and programs. She has performed “Ideas, Not Theories” at festivals and venues in the U.S., Mexico and Canada, including The International Festival of Arts & Ideas (CT), The Institute of Contemporary Arts Boston, The Currents New Media Festival (Santa Fe), Please Touch Museum (PA), The Flea Theater (NY), The National Arts Center of Canada, The Boston Children's Museum, Brooklyn Children's Museum, Maker Faires, NY International Fringe Festival 2015, NYU/KoSA/HLAG Day of Percussion 2016, ILLUMINUS, Cambridge Arts River Festival, and many local festivals and venues.
Reynaliz has also collaborated as a percussionist with The National Arts Center Orchestra (as a percussion soloist), Danza Contemporanea En Concierto in Mexico, and Double Edge Theater Company, Flamenco Boston, Grooversity, the band Muy Cansado, Boston Percussion Group, and Boston Opera Collaborative, among others in the U.S. She has also performed at other renowned venues like SXSW, The Palau Hall (Spain), Teatro Amadeo Roldan (Cuba), the Peabody Essex Museum, Wang Center Theatre, and the Revolutions International Theater Festival (New Mexico).
Reynaliz has won competitions and awards, including Mexico’s National and State’s Youth Awards, PERCUBA International Percussion Competition in Cuba, the NACO Bursary Competition, and the MTV Latinamerica Agent of Change Award. Her recent projects have been funded by The Boston Foundation and The Somerville Arts Council. She has also been an active percussion and music instructor in the Boston area. Reynaliz enjoys making her lessons fun, creative and productive, and is super excited to teach at ZUMIX!
Christopher Lee-Rodriguez, Guitar and Sprouts Instructor, is a musician, songwriter, and educator. He graduated summa cum laude from the prestigious Berklee College of Music with a B.A. degree in Music Education. Chris has spent the past five years teaching music through different nonprofits and school systems in both Massachusetts and New York. Some of these organizations include ZUMIX in East Boston, Highbridge Voices in the Bronx, and Midori & Friends in Harlem. Chris has also toured the country and internationally performing with his band, Really From (formerly known as People Like You), and has released their critically acclaimed album, “Verse,” through Topshelf Records. His philosophy as a musician and an educator is that teaching music is the ultimate tool for social change and development because it gives students the opportunity to transform into the greatest version of themselves. "
Laura Macias, Sprouts Coordinator & Piano Instructor, received her Bachelors in Music Composition and Theory from the Petrie School of Music at Converse College and her Masters in Music Composition from the Longy School of Music, where she was awarded the Nadia Boulanger scholarship. In 2005 she was selected to be part of the European American Music Alliance, where she was awarded a scholarship to study composition at L'Ecole Normale in Paris, France. In 2008, she completed the Kodaly Music Training at the New England Conservatory. Laura is an active composer in the Boston area. Her musical catalog includes compositions for chamber orchestra, art songs, chamber music and incidental music for the theatre. Laura was recently selected as a composer to participate in the 2011 Vancouver International Art Song Institute. Her music was also recently featured in concerts given by the Boston New Music Initiative ensemble. Besides writing art music, Laura enjoys working with children. Laura has been working to map a path for our youngest members to actively participate in group programs and to increase and deepen their involvement as they grow. She has a strong belief in developing music fundamentals and her youthful personality makes learning fun.
Wilce Mascary was born and raised in Massachusetts. He moved to the city of Boston in late 2017 to stay close to his family. Wilce started his youth work journey in early 2018 working with youth in Brockton,MA. Around the same time he found a passion for poetry and has been performing since. Wilce served two years of service through Americorps, one at ZUMIX and one at the Burke High School in Dorchester, MA as a City Year representative. In 2019 Wilce was hired on as a full-time member of the ZUMIX team. Over the years his passion for service has grown and is available to help youth find their next steps in life after high school.
Adventures in Music vocal instructor and local Singer-Songwriter Ali McGuirk works with students to find their most authentic and confident voice. Ali has made a career for herself doing just that. When she is not at ZUMIX, she is on tour as a solo artist, leading her 4-piece electric band, or participating in a range of exciting collaborations, from folk to hip hop. As a 10-time Boston Music Award Nominee and 2-time winner, for Blues Act of the Year (2018) and Live Residency of the Year (2018) she brings real life experience to her AIM lessons every week. Students learn about breath support, vocal health, musicianship and life skills in lessons that are based around their interests. You can find Ali's album, Slow Burn, online wherever you stream. More info at www.alimcguirk.com
Ed Meradith, Piano, guitar, vocal Instructor, has been a Boston area musician for over twenty years, and has been with Zumix for over 18 years as a teacher (AIM and PIF), collaborator, and co-director of the Divercity Band, and Sprouts/Radio Drama co-facilitator. As a composer, songwriter, guitarist, and vocalist, Ed’s composed music for many projects and events. As a pianist, Ed played at the Ritz for many years, as well as the Boston Harbor Hotel and the Park Plaza, and is currently Music Director at St. John’s Episcopal church in Winthrop MA.
Brian Paulding, Brass Instructor, is a music enthusiast with passion for and experience in many diverse aspects of the music industry. A seasoned performer and dedicated educator, he is committed to fostering children's talents and love for music through the music they listen to and enjoy. Brian graduated from Berklee College of Music with a degree in Entrepreneurial Music Business/Management and an Africana Studies minor in 2011, and currently plays trombone with several reggae and hip-hop bands including Endangered Speeches, Toussaint the Liberator, and Shango Axe. He has performed at Sugarloaf Reggae Festival (ME), Beantown Jazz Fest, Cocoa Beach Reggae Festival (FL), and the Blue Note (NYC), and has had the opportunity to share the stage with Burt Bacharach, Fred Wesley, Everton Blender, and Oddisee. Brian now lives in Jamaica Plain where he writes and records his original music. In addition to trombone and trumpet, Brian also plays a bit of keyboards and percussion.
Ben Paulding is an American percussionist who extensively lived in Kumasi, Ghana, where he had over 200 performances with the Centre for National Culture and the Nsuase Kete Group. An active performing musician, he currently plays drums/percussion in Kotoko Brass, Air Congo, the Agbekor Drum and Dance Society, and the Ahenema Cultural Group (NYC). Ben teaches music at Brandeis University, Inspire Arts and Music, and Zumix, and is a member of the Vic Firth Education Team.
His recent publications include the article “Meter, Feel, and Phrasing in West African Bell Patterns” in African Music (2017), the book chapter “Kete for the International Percussion Community” in Discourses in African Musicology: J.H. Kwabena Nketia Festschrift (U. of Michigan & U. of Ghana, 2015), and the article “Kete for Drumset: Left-Foot Bell Approach” in Rhythm! Scene (2014). Recent conference presentations include Percussive Arts Society International Convention (2015), Analytical Approaches to World Music (2016), and Northeastern Chapter of the Society for Ethnomusicology (2017). Ben holds his MA in Ethnomusicology from Tufts University, where he studied with David Locke and Attah Poku, and his BA in World Music from UMASS Dartmouth, where he trained with Royal Hartigan and Kwabena Boateng.
William Rodriguez is a professional drummer and educator who currently lives in the Boston. He was self taught at age 9 and then became more involved in the music department in his hometown of Freeport, Long Island. After high school he attended Berklee College of Music for four years. Being heavily involved in the Berklee community, he was also a Berklee city music mentor for two years teaching drum lessons as a volunteer. Currently he is the drummer for local Boston folk/rock band The Wolff Sisters. He has been with with them for 2 years and is featured on their album Cahoon Hollow. They were also nominated for Folk Artist of the year of 2018 at the Boston Music Awards. William continues to perform all over the New England area with The Wolff Sisters and with various bands in the area. He believes that with passion, patience, and perseverance his students can reach their highest achievements in music and in life.
Omar Sosa started coming to ZUMIX as a participant in 1999 at the age of 6. He started off taking guitar lessons with Leo and then continued to participate in more and more programs including Diversity Band, Street Program, The ZUMIX Vocal Choir, The ZUMIX Jazz Ensemble, and various other programs throughout the years. Through his involvement with ZUMIX and the Berklee City Music Programs he was awarded a full-tuition scholarship in 2011 to attend Berklee College of Music and graduated in 2015 with a Bachelor's Degree in Jazz Composition. He is now working at ZUMIX as an Administrative Assistant and Teaching Artist, and continuing to gig throughout the Boston area with various bands including his own project, Pangea, which fuses elements of jazz, rock, and many other genres to produce their own sound. Their debut EP, titled Animal Instincts, was released on February 3rd, 2019 and can be found on most streaming sites as well as on Bandcamp. Be sure to follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and Bandcamp @pangeaband93 to stay up to date on upcoming shows and releases.
Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/
Instagram link: https://www.instagram.com/
Bandcamp link: https://pangeaband93.bandcamp.
Brittany Thomas, Director of Creative Media + Technology, joined ZUMIX in 2014 and led ZUMIX Radio to its launch on the airwaves at 94.9FM. She loves every weird conversation that happens in the radio studio and the new connections it builds between people. As a LocaloreLIVE grantee, Brittany designed a collaborative narrative project, Constelación de Historias, creating live storytelling events to document and connect neighbors' work for housing justice in East Boston. Brittany has facilitated youth media production as a fellow for the Boston Public Health Commission, and currently serves on the advisory board for the Center for Cooperative Development and Solidarity -- a grassroots organization supporting worker-owned cooperatives in East Boston. Brittany grew up in New Hampshire and graduated from Middlebury College with a BA in International Politics and Economics. Her spirit instrument is a saxophone.
Board of Directors
Director, Salsa y Control Dance Co.
Vice President of Marketing & Development, East Boston Neighborhood Health Center
Litigation Associate, Ropes & Gray