Jazmín Morales has been able to apply her learnings from the Sphinx LEAD program back to Colburn’s Center for Innovation and Community Impact.
Jazmín Morales, Assistant Director for Colburn’s Center for Innovation and Community Impact, has been busy the last two years with the Sphinx Leaders in Excellence, Arts, and Diversity program. We discussed her experience with Sphinx’s mission of diversity, her experience in the program, and how it has impacted her work at Colburn.
What got you involved with Sphinx LEAD?
I’ve been aware of Sphinx for well over a decade since I learned about their competition as a young Latina string player, and I’ve followed their work closely throughout my career. When the opportunity arose to be part of their programming as an administrator, I jumped to apply and was really excited when I was chosen to be part of their inaugural cohort for LEAD.
As a member of the inaugural cohort, how has your experience been so far?
I love being a guinea pig for programs like these because when you’re a part of a founding cohort, you have the opportunity to really shape what the experience will be for others who come after you. Sphinx has been amazing about incorporating our feedback into the program and tailoring experiences to our unique needs.
As I near the conclusion of my second year in the program, I’m looking forward to finding ways to remain involved with future cohorts and building a strong alumni group to support future LEADers.
Is the Sphinx LEAD curriculum meant to be supplemental to arts administration in general or is it leading you down a certain path?
Each cohort is uniquely diverse with a broad range of experiences and expertise. Some LEADers are executive directors of mid-size organizations, some are full-time musicians and teaching artists, others are in emerging leadership roles at major institutions like New World Symphony, Manhattan School of Music, and Carnegie Hall. The curriculum is broad for that reason—we’re getting exposed to different areas of the field.
I have a master’s in arts management, but this has been the hands-on practicum I never received in grad school. It’s highly tailored to my experience in this particular field. Arts management programs are much broader than just classical music, so to be part of a program that is this specific has been deeply enriching. In the program we practice mock fundraising asks, headhunter interviews, and sharpen our skills in finance, marketing, and strategic planning. We get to meet and learn from the top leaders in the field in a small group setting. It’s actually pretty incredible.
Has it been helpful to have people involved from different aspects of music?
Absolutely. Working in the arts can sometimes feel like being in a silo. You get stuck in your corner of your institution or your part of the work. Conservatories have so much in common with presenters, orchestras, advocacy organizations, and all of these intersections in the field, but we often get laser-focused on our day-to-day activities. Through LEAD, I’ve been able to step out of my silo to see and learn from people who are doing a hugely broad range of things that are complementary to my work, but that I might otherwise not be aware of or engaging with regularly if I didn’t have this cohort.
Can you elaborate on how Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) work appears in the Sphinx LEAD program?
We get to hear from EDI consultants about the projects they’re leading to advance this work in the field. But more than that, we get to learn from each other about the EDI work we’re leading in our respective institutions, and how we’re navigating that work in real-time.
Especially over the summer as the urgency behind racial justice has grown, almost all of us have been called upon by our respective organizations to respond and lead efforts. Our group chat is constantly lighting up with ideas, suggestions, and helpful resources, and we’re all in frequent communication about what our institutions are doing, and how we’re trying to move this work forward.
What are you hoping to be able to apply to your work at Colburn’s Center for Innovation and Community Impact specifically?
Many of our LEAD retreats have been at other music schools and training programs—like Juilliard, Cleveland Institute of Music, and New World Symphony—so I’ve been able to get a first-hand sense of what’s happening in our peer institutions and better understand where Colburn fits into the national landscape.
I feel like I’ve been able to apply almost all of my LEAD learnings in my work at Colburn, but if I had to point to a specific project, I’d definitely say that my contribution to the development of our EDI initiatives has allowed me to really put my full LEAD network, resources, and learnings to use.
Is there anything else that you’d like to comment on?
As part of my participation in the program, I was matched with a mentor, Deborah Borda, president of the New York Philharmonic, as well as a coach, Jesse Rosen, president of the League of American Orchestras. Two years ago, I could have only dreamed of just meeting either Deborah or Jesse, but now they are actively participating in my professional development. I am so grateful to Sphinx for the amazing opportunities it has facilitated for me and my LEAD colleagues. But even more so, I’m excited to see how this effort will change the field over time. We already have several LEADers moving into big CEO positions. My hope is that programs like this will bolster these leaders with the support and energy needed to help them realize a new vision for the future of the field.