Meet our Leadership Team
Founder and Executive Director
Stanford Thompson is a musician and educator who serves as the Founder and Executive Director of Play On Philly and Founding Board Chairman of El Sistema USA, bringing music education to students in underserved areas throughout Philadelphia and beyond. Recognized as a TED Fellow, Stanford believes that music education is a powerful tool for positive personal and community change. Mr. Thompson serves on the faculty of the Global Leaders Program and regularly presents at major universities and music conservatories about leadership, entrepreneurship and social justice. As a consultant, he has guided the development of dozens of music programs across the United States and collaborated with major orchestras, higher education institutions, and arts organizations to develop new strategies and initiatives that help provide equitable access to the arts. As a professional trumpeter, Stanford has performed as a soloist and member with major orchestras around the world and continues to perform chamber music and jazz. Stanford is a native of Atlanta, GA and holds degrees from The Curtis Institute of Music and the New England Conservatory’s Sistema Fellows Program.
Elizabeth started her career in the nonprofit world while attending the University of Pennsylvania; one summer she tried her hand at face-to-face fundraising and never looked back. During her tenure she had the privilege of campaigning for Children International, Plan International and CARE, which provided an excellent perspective of how generous her fellow Philadelphians can be. Other nonprofit experience includes the Office of the Secretary of the University of Pennsylvania, The Benefit Bank and the Walnut Street Theater. Most recently, she worked in administration, marketing and development at Federation Early Learning Services.
Clarinetist and educator, Jessica Zweig, believes that all children deserve the opportunity to engage in high quality music education. Jessica formerly served as the Site Director for Play On, Philly at St. Francis de Sales School and Program Manager at Harmony Program in New York City. As a Board Member of El Sistema USA, Jessica served as the chair of the 2018 Symposium focused on collective impact and racial equity and currently serves as Chair of the Membership and Engagement Committee. As a trained, professional clarinetist, Jessica has performed extensively throughout the Washington, DC area as well as in Perigord, France and Vienna, Austria. As the Founder and Artistic Director of All Points West chamber music collective, she collaborated with notable institutions such as the Woodrow Wilson House, the Sackler Gallery, the Atlas Performing Arts Center and the National Trust for Historic Preservation to create innovative classical music programming in unusual spaces. As an educator, Jessica taught elementary school music at the Sheridan School (Washington, DC) and served as clarinet faculty at Suitland High School for the Performing Arts. Jessica received her B.M. and M.M in Clarinet Performance from the University of Maryland, School of Music
Andrés is one of the young talents who emerged from the renowned social and musical program known as El Sistema. He began his musical studies at the age of 2 in the Jacinto Lara Conservatory and at only three years old, he raised the baton for the first time to conduct Ode to Joy along with the Children’s Orchestra and Choir of the Lara State. Andrés has devoted most of his musical career to the academic education of Venezuelan children and young musicians, always committed to the deep progress of culture through communities. He is Principal Trumpet for the Miami Symphony Orchestra.
With a passion for education, social justice and music, Mike has found a good home at POP. After receiving his BA, Mike discovered the joy of teaching young children as a volunteer. While pursuing an MA in Teaching from Rider University, his love of music pulled him away from general education, and his journey at POP began. Music has been a part of Mike’s life from an early age. Since childhood he has played the drum kit, but later dabbled in the guitar and piano. Now he produces electronic music whenever his young daughter is napping. After serving as a teaching artist in POP’s exploratory classes, Mike directed the PEAC program for two years and now serves as its Program Manager
POP Administrative and Site Staff
Meet our administration staff and site coordinators
Executive Assistant and Office Manager
Patty has spent the majority of her career focused on helping nonprofits reach new audiences, connect with their current community and organize to reach their goals. Whether volunteering at Abington Friends School or planning conferences for the Philadelphia Area Council for Excellence, she excelled at engaging communities of like-minded people to work together towards one purpose. Most recently, she served as Executive Assistant to the President and Assistant Secretary to the Board of Directors at Forest Incentives. Patty and her husband have two fabulous children; seeing them develop into successful and confident young adults inspires her to help other children experience the same advantages in life.
Donor Relations Manager
Jessica Scipione is a development professional with nearly a decade of experience fundraising for arts and cultural organizations in Greater Philadelphia. Most recently, she was Development Director at ArtWell; previously, she held positions as Development Director at Philadelphia Photo Arts Center and Assistant Director of Development & Alumni Relations at the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania. She serves on the Advisory Board of Artblog, is a sponsored member of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance’s Emerging Leaders Circle, a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, and has volunteered as a Peer Panelist for the Philadelphia Cultural Fund. Jessica earned her BFA in Graphic Design and Art History from the School of Art and Design at Alfred University and her MS in Arts Administration from Drexel University.
As a clarinetist, educator, and arts administrator from sunny California, Lea is a fierce advocate for equity in the arts and has used her expertise in development to raise funds for accessible arts programs on both coasts at Kaufman Music Center in New York and American Youth Symphony in Los Angeles. Lea started at POP as their Development and Communications Coordinator and now serves as POP’s Communications Manager. She has made it her goal to utilize the arts as a tool for social change and was selected as one of 40 international leaders in music to participate as a 2019 cohort member for the Global Leaders Program, an executive leadership program for social changemakers in music. As part of this program, Lea shared her diverse expertise in development and music education as a consultant for NGOs and shared her musical experience with underserved youth in Chile and the Bataan province in the Philippines. Lea earned her Bachelors in Music in Clarinet Performance from the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University.
It has always been a passion of Laura’s to work with children and families, particularly in underrepresented communities. She believes that all children should have access to high-quality education, including the opportunity to pursue their interests and express their creativity through the arts. Laura is a graduate of La Salle University and holds a bachelor’s degree in Elementary and Special Education. Throughout her career, she has worked in a variety of settings in the education, healthcare, and nonprofit sectors. Laura has an amazing son who inspires her every day and reaffirms her mission to help children grow and succeed. Although she does not play an instrument, Laura believes in the transformative power of music and is excited to be helping POP serve the Philadelphia community!
Christopher Santantasio has built his career on the premise that all children deserve an education rich in the arts. An award-winning writer and educator, he has held teaching positions at the Syracuse City School District, Gateway Lab School (Wilmington, DE), The Ohio State University, and The Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth. Before rejoining POP as grant writer, he previously served as the first conductor and musical director of the POP Symphony Orchestra. As a musician, Chris has performed as principal euphonium with the New York Wind Symphony and the First State Symphonic Band. His writing can be found in several publications including Music Educators Journal and One Story Magazine. He holds a bachelor’s degree in music education and performance from the Crane School of Music, and a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing from The Ohio State University.
Program Coordinator, St. Francis De Sales School
Allison is a vocalist by training and a longtime advocate of arts education. She holds performance degrees from Gettysburg College (PA) and Georgia State University in Atlanta, and has worked with kids in musical settings for almost a decade. A New Jersey native, Allison spent three years at the Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts, where she worked in several departments, serving children from 13 counties across Northern New Jersey. Allison’s most recent work with the Paterson Music Project inspired her to advocate for music education on a larger level, and she is thrilled to be a part of the team at POP.
Dr. Anna Meyer manages the POP Emerging Artist Collective program. She is also on faculty at Temple University and plays with several of the region’s orchestras, including the Reading and Delaware Symphonies. Anna has her DMA in Flute Performance from Temple and has recently published The Monster Flute Method Book: A Beginner’s Guide to Learning the Flute. She maintains a thriving performance career with her husband Erik and a private studio out of her home. She is a founding member of the Lyra Ensemble.
Program Coordinator, Independence Charter School West
Anna Negron has spent her professional life working with and learning from children throughout the country. After graduating from Gettysburg College with degrees in English and Spanish, Anna moved to Tulsa, OK as part of Teach for America to teach pre-K students in East Tulsa. Her passion for early childhood education, a deep interest in linguistic accessibility, and a willingness to learn from those around her has made her a fierce advocate for educational equity for some of our nation’s youngest learners. Upon completing her Teach for America corps commitment, Anna worked as an education specialist for a family childcare network in Brooklyn, NY helping at-home daycare providers hone their practices around lesson planning, curriculum implementation, and data collection to best serve the children in their care. Having recently returned home to the Philadelphia area, Anna is excited to continue supporting students and families at Independence Charter School West to provide enriching musical opportunities and create a network of support for some of Philadelphia’s brightest students.
Program Coordinator, St. Rose of Lima School
As a string bass player and strong advocate for the arts, Sarah began her career as an elementary music teacher in Portland, Oregon. She earned her master’s degree from Portland State University in Curriculum & Instruction and TESOL – which specializes on developing a culturally responsive curriculum while helping students become a leader for change and social justice in their learning communities. During her studies she travelled to Ghana, West Africa to study traditional Ghanaian music and ultimately got a job as an English and Math teacher in Accra. Sarah then joined the Peace Corps where she served as a Primary Teacher Trainer and Literacy Coordinator for Peace Corps The Gambia. She learned to speak Wolof and lived with a host family in a remote village with no access to running water or electricity. Now in Philadelphia, Sarah is excited to work with POP students and help them discover their dreams and passions in life through music education.