May 27, 2010

NEC Appoints Leslie Wu Foley as Executive Director of Preparatory and Continuing Education

Mark Churchill to Become Dean Emeritus and Focus Fulltime on His Leadership Role in El Sistema USA

Bringing with her more than 20 years of experience leading major arts and education institutions in the Boston area, Leslie Wu Foley has been named the new Executive Director of Preparatory and Continuing Education at New England Conservatory.  Foley, a graduate of Princeton University and a cellist, is currently serving as Director of the Dana Hall School of Music in Wellesley.  Her appointment, announced today by President Tony Woodcock, takes effect June 7.  

In her new position, Foley will oversee 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.  She will work closely with Elisabeth Christensen and Sean Hagon, the directors respectively of Prep and SCE. Mark Churchill, longtime head of Prep and SCE, will become Dean Emeritus while continuing to lead El Sistema USA.  Based at NEC, El Sistema USA provides support and advocacy for American programs based on Venezuela’s renowned music education model. One of its signature projects, which Churchill spearheaded this year, is the Abreu Fellows program, which trains leaders of local music centers known as nucleos.

“We’re absolutely delighted to welcome Leslie Wu Foley to NEC,” said President Woodcock.  “Her leadership experience and her ability to reach out to parents, students, and—particularly—the community made her the perfect fit for Prep/SCE.  Another plus was her past affiliation with several of NEC’s partners, which will enhance the Conservatory’s ongoing collaborations.”

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.  Before taking up her position at Dana Hall, she was Director of the Center for Art and Community Partnerships at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. Prior to that, she was Associate Director of Education and Community Programs for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Executive Director of Boston Modern Orchestra Project, and Assistant Dean and Director of Admissions at the Longy School. In an earlier stint with the Boston Symphony, she was Director of Volunteer Services for the BSO and Associate Director of the Tanglewood Music Center.  

Foley’s extraordinary commitment to community engagement has been demonstrated by volunteer work with 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.

“I'm humbled to have been offered the stewardship of such an extraordinary institution,” said Foley. “And I’m privileged to join the remarkable team that Mark Churchill has built through his decades of leadership. While no one can fill Mark's shoes, I hope to continue moving Prep/SCE forward in a way that honors its current vision, while creating new opportunities for students of all ages and levels of experience to find their place within our community.”

For further information, check the NEC Website at: and  


Recognized nationally and internationally as a leader among music schools, New England Conservatory offers rigorous training in an intimate, nurturing community to 720 undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral music students from around the world.  Its faculty of 225 boasts internationally esteemed artist-teachers and scholars.  Its alumni go on to fill orchestra chairs, concert hall stages, jazz clubs, recording studios, and arts management positions worldwide.  Nearly half of the Boston Symphony Orchestra is composed of NEC trained musicians and faculty.

The oldest independent school of music in the United States, NEC was founded in 1867 by Eben Tourjee. Its curriculum is remarkable for its wide range of styles and traditions.  On the college level, it features training in classical, jazz, Contemporary Improvisation, world and early music. Through its Preparatory School, School of Continuing Education, and Community Collaboration Programs, it provides training and performance opportunities for children, pre-college students, adults, and seniors.  Through its outreach projects, it allows young musicians to engage with non-traditional audiences in schools, hospitals, and nursing homes—thereby bringing pleasure to new listeners and enlarging the universe for classical music and jazz.

NEC presents more than 600 free concerts each year, many of them in Jordan Hall, its world- renowned, 106-year old, beautifully restored concert hall.  These programs range from solo recitals to chamber music to orchestral programs to jazz and opera scenes.  Every year, NEC’s opera studies department also presents two fully staged opera productions at the Cutler Majestic Theatre in Boston.

NEC is co-founder and educational partner of From the Top, a weekly radio program that celebrates outstanding young classical musicians from the entire country. With its broadcast home in Jordan Hall, the show is now carried by National Public Radio and is heard on 250 stations throughout the United States.

Contact: Ellen Pfeifer
Public Relations Manager
New England Conservatory
290 Huntington Ave.
Boston, MA 02115