kwyatt-picKatie Wyatt – Executive Director

Katie Wyatt is an accomplished musician, educator and innovator in music and social entrepreneurship. She co-founded and assumed the post of Executive Director of the El Sistema inspired Kidznotes in July 2010, serving Raleigh and Durham, NC.

Including her work with El Sistema, Katie is a national leader in the orchestra field in creating programs for access and opportunity for all children to experience the transformative power of music. Recently Katie was honored as one of Musical America’s “30 under 40 for 2013.”

Before Kidznotes, Katie was selected as part of the first-ever Abreu Fellows program at the New England Conservatory, deepening her knowledge of El Sistema and orchestra management. As Director of Education and Community Engagement for the North Carolina Symphony from 2007 to 2009, she created and expanded programs that would inspire and captivate young audiences for the future of symphony orchestras.

Leading up to her work in orchestra management, Wyatt was a violist with the New World Symphony and the Youth Orchestra of the Americas. Her call to leadership in the arts was inspired by YOA’s joint performances with the Simón Bolívar Orchestra of Caracas, Venezuela, in 2005. The power and success of El Sistema moved her to begin thinking about how and where else this passion for music could translate to benefiting communities.

Wyatt holds Bachelor’s degrees in Political Science and Viola Performance from Indiana University as well as a Master’s Degree in Viola Performance from the Cleveland Institute of Music. As an accomplished violist, Katie has toured and performed nationally with the New World Symphony, the North Carolina Symphony and the Columbus Symphony among other professional orchestras and internationally with the Verbier Festival, Spoleto Festival and the Youth Orchestra of the Americas orchestras and quartets in the major concert halls of the United States, Europe, Mexico, Central and South America, China, Japan, and Taiwan.


Keith PictureKeith Strombotne – Director of Development

Keith is a North Carolina native who’s spent the past few years growing and positively impacting private companies in the Triangle. He most recently held the position of Director of Business Development and Marketing for one of Raleigh’s leading consulting firms, RPG Solutions. As a member of the leadership team, Keith helped implement processes, drive revenue growth and position the firm as an industry thought leader.

Keith made the decision to pursue his entrepreneurial goals and left the corporate world in 2012. In addition to Kidznotes, he’s currently the CEO and Co-Founder of an early stage software company located in downtown Raleigh called Participic. Keith was introduced to Kidznotes after volunteering and working closely with Band Together, a local nonprofit that uses music as a platform for social change. Joining the Kidznotes team in January 2014, Keith is now lead fundraiser and helps to drive strategic growth in Durham and Raleigh. His goal is to help create an El Sistema movement in the Triangle in which Kidznotes is out in front leading the charge. He brings a fresh perspective to philanthropic development and community partnerships that will position Kidznotes for continued growth and lasting impact for years to come.



Rashad Hayward – Durham Artistic Manager & Advanced Ensemble Conductor

As the Artistic Coordinator, Rashad Hayward ensures that the music education Kidznotes students receive is appropriate for beginners, intermediate and advanced students. Rashad has helped write curriculums to ensure each child’s success through all of Kidznotes’ various levels and ensembles. He hopes to see Kidznotes succeed in producing brilliant musicians and individuals.

As the Advanced Ensemble Conductor, he brings his years of orchestral training to conduct and train mature musicians in the youth orchestra of Kidznotes. He brings his knowledge of orchestral repertoire to create an atmosphere that is both fun and challenging in order to always stimulate growth.


stevenSteve Warren – Durham Operations Manager He’s new to the Team!  Photo coming soon.

Steven Warren, trombone, from Ponca City, OK, holds degrees in music from Oklahoma State University, Northwestern University, and The Colburn School. He has studied under prominent teachers such as, Paul Compton, Michael Mulcahy, and Mark Lawrence. While at Northwestern University he was a substitute 2nd trombone with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. He most recently was a member of the Disneyland Diamond Celebration Band performing regularly at Disneyland in Anaheim, CA.

He now resides in North Carolina working for Kidznotes, an after school music program serving underserved communities bringing classical music to children of all social and economic backgrounds.


Vandora Davis – Executive Assistant & Business Manager – Details Coming Soon!


alexAlexandra Plueckhan – Raleigh Operations Manager

Alex, the daughter of German parents, was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and raised in several different parts of the world. Having played a variety instruments, including the violin and the electric bass, Alex discovered that her passion was working with musicians rather than being a musician herself. After graduating high school, she volunteered with El Sistema in Ecuador for one year. This experience launched an effort to enhance her skills and breadth of knowledge from practical work experiences in the arts. With a Bachelor’s in Languages, Literature and Culture, she speaks four languages.

Alex was excited to join the Kidznotes team in September 2014 and is looking forward to support and help implement the fundamental idea and vision of El Sistema in NC. She enjoys seeing children grow with and through music and is inspired by their accomplishments.


StephenStephen Pysnik – Development Associate

Stephen is a recent graduate of the Musicology program at Duke University. Before coming to Duke, Stephen studied music at Ithaca College in his home state of New York. He is an active musician around Durham and currently sings with the Duke Vespers Ensemble and the Singers of New and Ancient Music, among others. He has also played trumpet with the Duke New Music Ensemble and the Duke Jazz Ensemble.


headshotMelissa St. John – Director of Marketing

When you Like and Share our posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Google+, you are connecting with us through Melissa!  She manages our social media presence as well as sending out Press Releases, updating the website, producing our monthly email Newsletter, creating Eventbrite pages for concerts, arranging media interviews when possible, and generally communicating with our community about Kidznotes and our mission to touch the lives of every child with orchestral music instruction.


Our team also includes 25+ teaching artists who instruct students 5 days a week. Meet them on our Teaching Artists page.