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 faculties of the Global Leaders Program, SAAVY Arts Venture, and Senior Ambassador of the Sphinx LEAD program while regularly lecturing at major Universities and 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 and arts organizations to develop new strategies and initiatives that helps provide equitable access to the arts. As a professional trumpeter, Stanford has performed as 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 hold degrees from The Curtis Institute of Music and the New England Conservatory’s Sistema Fellows Program. Visit his site www.stanfordthompson.com to learn more.
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.
Driven by mission and a passion to support children, Beth has spent nearly a decade in nonprofit development helping to raise resources and awareness for high impact organizations. She began her career and grew with the nonprofit children’s oral health organization Kids Smiles, helping to connect donors to a mission in which they found deep meaning and could see the impact of their gift on the children served. Inspired by her career, Beth began volunteering to support children, schools, and programs in her community as the Co-Chair of the Mt. Airy Community Council’s Education Committee and as a Member of the Finley Recreation Center Advisory Council. As a child who benefited from access to music instruction, she continues to carry a passion for children’s programming while now supporting music education at Play On Philly and helping to connect others to POP’s important work.
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.
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
Special Programs Manager
Alexandra has been a flutist since elementary school and brought her love of music with her to the many nonprofits for which she has volunteered. After completing her degree in Music Management from Berklee College of Music, she went on to work with AmeriCorps VISTA encouraging at-risk students to complete their education and connect with their community. She accomplished this through teaching flute and music theory, arranging service-learning opportunities for her students and raising funds to help students cover college related expenses. Since moving to Philadelphia, she has been volunteering with Girls Rock Philly assisting with the organizing of their camp week and teaching piano.
St. Francis De Sales Site Coordinator
Simms is a motivational speaker, community development strategist, and youth advocate with experience impacting change at the state and local levels through art education, advocacy, and programming. Her diverse background includes degrees in Fashion Design and Business Administration partnered with a professional career as a vocalist and violist. D’ylaya has performed with many artists including Stephanie Mills, Boys to Men, and the Philadelphia Orchestra. In 2017, she was honored by the United States Senate for her work advocating for adults with disabilities and awarded a citation by the City Council of Philadelphia for providing positive alternatives for at-risk inner-city youth by developing programs that connect aspiring artists in fashion, music and visual arts with organizations including ConKerr Cancer, Recovery Center, and Walnut Street Theatre.
Development and Communications Coordinator
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. 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 recently 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.
Independence Charter School West Site Coordinator
Christa Converse holds her Bachelors degree in Music Education from Messiah College, and her Masters degree in Music Education from University of the Arts. She has taught Kindergarten through 8th grade for 11 years in both charter schools, and the public school system. She plays oboe, and regularly performs with the Chester County Pops Orchestra and Immaculata Symphony, where she also serves on the board of directors.
Freire Charter Middle School Site Coordinator
Anna Meyer is the Site Coordinator and Flute Teaching Artist at Freire Charter Middle School. She is also on faculty at Temple University and plays with several of the region’s orchestras, including the Reading and Delaware Symphonies. Anna is finishing her doctorate at Temple and has recently published a method book for beginner flutists. She has a private studio out of her home and is a founding member of the Lyra Ensemble.
POPSO Site Coordinator and Community Engagement Coordinator
Moriah is a graduate of Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan where she completed her degree in Instrumental Music Education. During her time at Wayne, she studied trumpet with Dr. Mark Flegg, and had the opportunity to perform at multiple ITG (International Trumpet Guild) conferences. She is a member of the International Women’s Brass Conference (IWBC), and is honored to continue to support and promote all women brass musicians. With a love for teaching, Moriah commits her summers to instructing music camps around the southeastern Michigan area. She believes that commitment, compassion, and human connections are the most powerful tools we can use as educators. As that being her mindset, she is thrilled to be a part of the POP team!