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.
Kim Demery is a multi-talented music educator, author and speaker who received her music education degree from Northwestern University. She has a solid teaching foundation in public arts education and has been a featured presenter for the North Carolina Symphony education program. Demery’s work with her students has been featured at the North Carolina Music Educators Conference and on UNC-TV’s “Carolina Now.”
With 18 years of professional corporate experience, she managed training and development in Broadcast Operations at HBO Communications in New York. As the Director of Programming for Kidznotes, she uses her varied experiences to encourage her students to learn the language of music and become life-long lovers of the arts capable of “unlocking the world.”
Keith 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 – Artistic Coordinator & 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.
Daniel Nichols – Luthier & Stage Manager
Daniel Nichols comes to Kidznotes with a background in musical instrument repair spanning almost a decade. A 2010 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro’s Bryan School of Business, he plans to use his talents to ensure that every teacher and student has the materials needed to thrive in our program.
Daniel plays a variety of instruments, ranging from strings to woodwinds and has experience teaching old-time fiddle music. In his free time, he is an avid camper and backpacker, recently completing a northbound through-hike of the Appalachian Trail.
Tiffany Walker- Executive Assistant & Business Manager
Tiffany is a North Carolina native and 2005 graduate of Meredith College with a degree in Business Administration. She has spent 10 years in non-profit administration. Most recently, she held the position of Director of Programming and Administration at KAEC, a non-profit organization in Garner, NC. In this position, she helped found and open a successful community outreach center, ELEOS, in the heart of Garner. ELEOS is a community outreach center that assists and enriches youth and low income families in the Garner area through music, creative writing, art and dance.
Tiffany has traveled globally and most recently visited to Soweto and Kwe-Thema, South Africa to carry the gift of art, music and dance to poverty stricken villages. Tiffany was introduced to Kidznotes while working and volunteering in the Wake County Public School System. Tiffany has a passion for youth and believes a child’s life can be changed by the opportunities that the gift of music provides. In her free time, she loves to volunteer in local community outreach projects and sing.
Alexandra Plueckhan, Site Coordinator
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.
Stephen Pysnik – Program & Administration Assistant
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.
Our team also includes 25+ teaching artists who instruct students 5 days a week. Meet them on our Teaching Artists page.