Appointed as Founder & Director of NEC's Entrepreneurial Musicianship (EM) department in 2009, Rachel Roberts was charged with designing and leading a major new initiative that would equip young musicians with key extra-musical skills to support their artistic careers. Since then, Rachel has launched a wide range of experiential programs and curricula, including a signature grant initiative, courses on arts entrepreneurship, fellowships, entrepreneurial internships, creative performance projects, and more.
Rachel has navigated both the non-profit performing arts and higher education sectors, having held unique positions in both that focus on organizational development. Prior to joining NEC, Rachel served as the first Director of Strategic Planning Engagement for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (ASO), working on organization-wide strategic and governance objectives. She led the ASO’s grand opening festivities at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre at Encore Park, a 12,000-seat outdoor facility that served as the ASO’s summer home. She also instituted the orchestra’s "new traditions" during the inaugural 2008 summer series, inclusive of themed cuisines, Top of the Lawn pre-concert talks, audience text messaging, and Backstage Live intermission features. Rachel arrived at the ASO after completing the League of American Orchestras’ Orchestra Management Fellowship program, working with the orchestras in Aspen, Detroit, South Dakota, and Atlanta.
Rachel holds a Masters Degree in Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. A student of the Special Studies Program, she designed coursework focused on leadership and organizational development.
Using her background in higher education and non-profit management, Rachel has investigated best practices for creating learning communities, specifically within organizational contexts where leadership development of individuals can support broader institutional growth. During the summer of 2015, Rachel participated in two programs with Harvard's Center for Asia Leadership Initiatives. She participated in a socio-economic and political research trek throughout June, meeting with cultural and economic leaders in the Philippines, China, Hong Kong, Thailand, South Korea, and Mongolia. In July and August, Rachel served as a Fellow of Leadership Communications for the Asia Leadership Institute, joining an eight-member team teaching five-day leadership development workshops in China, Malaysia, South Korea, and Japan.
Growing up in Iowa, Rachel studied flute and piano, which led her to pursue a degree in flute performance at the Eastman School of Music (ESM). Through the ESM’s Catherine Filene Shouse Arts Leadership Program, she discovered the full range of professional pathways within the music industry, prompting her to explore a career in orchestra management that began as the Artistic and Production Assistant with the Houston Symphony.
Throughout her career, Rachel has continued to pursue her passion for flute, both in performing with colleagues across the country and by serving as flute faculty in NEC's Preparatory School.
Rachel has also taken in active role in the Boston Mayor Marty Walsh's initiative to eliminate the gender wage gap. She volunteers with the Office of Women's Advancement to lead workshops on how to build salary negotiation skills. To date, Rachel has led 22 workshops and educated nearly 600 women throughout Boston .