2014-15 New Staff at Juilliard

Lara Allen, the new associate director of research and prospect management, is wrapping up a master’s degree in the history of art and design at Pratt Institute; her thesis focuses on Manitoga, the home of 20th-century industrial designer Russel Wright. She also holds a master’s degree in liberal studies from Hollins University and a bachelor’s in dance from Scripps College. She previously worked as the prospect researcher for Pratt and the International Rescue Committee, and she and her wife are expecting their first baby in December. 


Tena Bailey, the new I.T. coordinator, is a graduate of Pace University, where she earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in information technology. Most recently, she worked at SUNY Downstate Medical Center.

Jason Chandler-Renfro, financial aid assistant, recently moved to New York from Dallas and holds a B.A. in music with a minor in theater studies from Southern Methodist University. He has spent the last 14 years as the international sales coordinator at AMX, and he also worked as the baritone section leader at Church of the Incarnation for the past 11 years. While in Dallas, he was a member of the Schola at St. Mark’s School, and he has sung with the Dallas Bach Society, the Orchestra of New Spain, the Helios Ensemble, and the Dallas Symphony Chorus. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, movies, fine dining, baking, and attending the symphony, opera, and theater. 

Adam Cheung, the new assistant controller, has nearly two decades of auditing and accounting experience. Before coming to Juilliard, he was the controller for the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor, the Association of National Advertisers, and the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants. He holds an M.B.A. in finance from Baruch College and is also a certified public accountant, a certified treasury professional, and a chartered alternative investment analyst charter holder. 

Kristi Davis, the associate director of development operations, has a background in information management for higher education and arts and cultural nonprofit organizations. She recently completed her master’s degree in library and information science at Pratt Institute, where she was formerly the database manager for institutional advancement.

Alexandra Day is the director of communications and marketing strategy. She has worked at a number of corporate and nonprofit institutions in Paris, London, and the U.S., including the International Herald Tribune, IMG Artists, and Universal Music. Most recently, she was the director of public relations at Lyric Opera of Chicago. Prior to that, she held posts as director of communications and business development for soprano Renée Fleming (’85, voice) and special projects manager at the Metropolitan Opera. She holds a bachelor’s degree in comparative literature from Princeton University. 

Adam Gagan’s new job as operations manager combines his passions for the arts, education, and operational efficiency from a system design perspective. He moved here from Florida, where he had worked as an industrial engineer, project manager, and adjunct math professor while pursuing acting on the side. He holds a master’s degree in systems engineering and bachelor’s degree in business management. Aside from work, he enjoys being active and exploring all that New York City has to offer. 

José García-León, the new associate dean for academic affairs, came to Juilliard from the University of New Haven, where he was associate dean of the college of arts and sciences and an associate professor of music. He graduated from the Conservatorio Superior de Música in Seville, Spain; received a B.A. from SUNY Binghamton; and a D.M.A. in piano performance from the Manhattan School of Music. He has had an active performing and scholarly career and his main teachers have been Nina Svetlanova and Sophia Rosoff. 

Liza Handziak, assistant scenic charge artist, earned her B.A. at the University of Wisconsin–Parkside and studied scenic art at Cobalt Studios. Since moving to New York City in 1999, she has painted for Papermill Playhouse, Manhattan Theater Club, Wolftrap Opera, Goodspeed, and Broadway shows, and has worked on many films and TV shows, including painting for five years on NBC’s Late Night With Jimmy Fallon. She’s an advanced certified scuba diver and also enjoys riding horses, her rooftop garden, her rowdy cat Teddy, and living in Brooklyn with her wonderful partner, Kevin.

Sam Larson, graphic designer, received his B.F.A. from the University of Minnesota  and his M.F.A. from Rutgers University. He has worked as a designer for many nonprofits, including the U.S. Fund for UNICEF and Lincoln Center. He lives in Jersey City, where he enjoys working in his letterpress studio. 

Ashley Lawler is the new carpenter/artisan in the prop shop. Born in Rochester, N.Y., she has a B.F.A. in scenic design from SUNY Fredonia and an M.F.A. in properties construction from Ohio University. Her work has been seen both on and off-Broadway; shops and theaters she has worked for include Jerard Studio, Spaeth Design, and the Public. She was also on the full-time design/prop team on the N.Y.C. build of Punchdrunk’s Sleep No More. Regionally, she has been a props person at the Chautauqua Theater Company, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Utah Shakespeare Festival, and Santa Fe Opera.

Eric Mortensen joins the library staff as digital media librarian. He recently received his master’s in library science from Pratt Institute and has a bachelor’s in music and German with focus in piano and musicology. Prior to library school, he worked for many years as a web developer for CNN.

Panchali Null is the new box office assistant. She is a professional singer with experience in classical singing as well as 20 years on Broadway. She appeared in Zorba with Anthony Quinn, Cabaret with Joel Grey, Fiddler on the Roof with Topol, Showboat directed by Hal Prince, and the original Ragtime. Recent employment includes being an associate in the patron ticket department of the New York City Ballet. She holds an M.F.A. in opera from Carnegie-Mellon University and a bachelor’s in music education. 

Todd Porter, director of residence life, has worked in this field for a decade, most recently as the associate director for residential life at Mount Holyoke College. He received his undergraduate degree from the Lamont School of Music at the University of Denver, where he studied cello and chamber music, and his master’s and graduate certificate in student affairs administration from Ball State University. An avid distance runner, he serves on the board of trustees for the AIDS Foundation of Western Massachusetts and spends as much time as he can with his dog, Penny.

Angelica Reynoso, who has joined Juilliard Global Ventures as the office manager/executive assistant, earned a B.S. in film and television from Boston University. Her diverse background includes working as Jason Bateman’s personal assistant and working in post-production with Steven Soderbergh and his team on multiple films. Most recently she had a taste of the tech start-up world while supporting the staff that created the mobile social media app Ultravisual. She was born and raised in New York City and enjoys dancing ballet and hip-hop and more recently has become an avid lover of k-pop music.

Lindsay SanFilippo, the associate director of annual giving, comes to Juilliard most recently from the Asia Society; she has also worked at various organizations around N.Y.C. including the National Audubon Society and Carnegie Hall. She is a music enthusiast and an avid golfer. 

Leah Schwartz, a lifelong fan of the performing arts, is the director of business development for Juilliard Global Ventures. She grew up in Pittsburgh, Pa., and Aix-en-Provence, France, and graduated from Harvard University, where she concentrated in social studies and rowed on the varsity crew team. She joined Goldman Sachs as a financial analyst, spending time in the investment banking and private equity divisions, where she worked on large transactions in the industrial and energy sectors.

Joshua Simka, a tenor who joins The Journal as editorial assistant, graduated from Juilliard in May with a bachelor’s in voice. As a student, he wrote articles and did fact checking for The Journal. He’s a native South Floridian and tends to his interests in classical music and writing.

Hannah Spratt has joined the human resources department as an administrative assistant. After graduating from the University of Missouri, Columbia, in 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and technical theater, she spent a year and a half interning and working as a freelance stage manager along the East Coast.

Matt Ward, the new percussion department coordinator, is a principal member with the Argento Chamber Ensemble, Talujon, the American Modern Ensemble, and Associated Solo Artists and is also a co-founder of Timetable. He holds a B.M. from the Manhattan School of Music and an M.M. and a D.M.A. from SUNY Stony Brook. He is on the faculties of the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College and Brooklyn College, and can be heard on the Aeon, Albany, Argo, Capstone Records, Newport Classics, and Soundspell record labels.

Anna Weisling has joined the I.T. staff as instructional and music technology specialist. Most recently, she was at Buck University Technical College in London where she was a lecturer in creative media computing. She holds a master’s in sonic arts from Queens University in Belfast and a bachelor’s in communications and media from the University of Wisconsin.

Emily Wells, who was an intern in Vocal Arts last year, has joined the department’s staff as projects administrator. Before arriving at Juilliard, she worked as the assistant programs administrator for the Aspen Opera Theater Center and was the marketing/outreach coordinator for the Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra. She holds a bachelor’s degree in music from Syracuse University and a master’s in music from Northern Arizona University.

Matt Wolford (B.M. ’10, bass trombone) is the operations and New Juilliard Ensemble manager in the orchestra department. After Juilliard, he completed his M.M. degree at Northwestern University, close to his native Chicago. He has spent recent summers working behind the scenes at music festivals such as Tanglewood and Music Academy of the West. He is excited to be back in New York City and tries to get out and explore whenever possible.

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