Leslie Wu FoleyDean and Executive Director of Preparatory and Continuing Education

Leslie Wu Foley joined the New England Conservatory administration in June 2010. Foley oversees the operations of the Preparatory School, which provides exceptional music training to 1300 students from early childhood through high school, and the School of Continuing Education, which offers lessons, classes, ensembles, professional development and certificate programs to adult learners.

Working with these two categories of music students, Foley is charged with upholding NEC Prep and Continuing Education’s legacy of providing conservatory-level training in a community music school, and to continue developing programs that will address our students’—and the field’s—ever-changing needs. Foley seeks to foster a healthy musical and creative ecosystem within the Prep community, where every studio, ensemble, and class is viewed as equally important to the vitality of the whole. “Not only are we nurturing future professional and amateur musicians, but also arts advocates, appreciative and knowledgeable audiences, creative and critical thinkers, effective collaborators, engaged citizens, and community leaders.”

Foley, who studied at NEC Prep from seventh grade through high school, majored in art history at Princeton and performed as principal cellist of the university orchestra. She brings to NEC more than 20 years of experience leading major arts and education institutions in the Boston area, including several key NEC partner organizations. As Managing Director of the Boston University Tanglewood Institute, Associate Director of Education and Community Programs for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Assistant Dean and Director of Admissions at the Longy School, and Director of the Dana Hall School of Music in Wellesley, she worked directly with the needs of music students in the age group served by the NEC Prep.

At the BSO she spearheaded the creation of free Community Chamber Concerts, which continue to this day. In founding the BSO’s Chinatown partnership, Foley developed community relationships that have carried over into a current NEC program that brings NEC students to the Wang YMCA every week to teach voice, guitar, and wind instruments to students from the Chinatown area. Foley’s involvement with local music organizations also includes her time as Executive Director of Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Director of Volunteer Services for the BSO, and Associate Director of the Tanglewood Music Center.

As Director of the Center for Art and Community Partnerships at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design—one of NEC’s neighboring schools for the arts—Foley shifted the school’s focus from partnering with individual non-profit organizations throughout the city to partnering with entire neighborhoods (schools, local businesses, civic organizations, etc). This “neighborhood immersion” concept has grown into a program that is now called the “Neighborhood Art Zone,” which was recognized by a six-figure Kresge Foundation grant. Projects that paired MassArt students with neighborhood needs include a mural project at Boston Medical Center that transformed the neo-natal care unit from a clinical, stressful environment into a more welcoming and relaxing space.

Foley’s volunteer work has included the Iraqi Children’s Project (Managing Director), the Rwanda Youth Healing Center (U.S. Advisory Board), and board membership with the Roxbury Repertory Theater, Cultural Access Consortium, Longwood Symphony Orchestra, and Boston Landmarks Orchestra. She has also been a member of LeadBoston’s Class of 2009 (Boston Center for Community and Justice) and the MassArt Civic Engagement Committee. She was Chair of the BSO Staff Diversity Committee and Co-Chair of the Colleges of the Fenway Civic Engagement Committee.

photo by David Costa