What ignited and fueled your passion for the arts?
I was surrounded by the arts in my hometown of Washington, DC. My childhood was filled with the music of Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, the Temptations, and European classical music. My senses were enlivened through the National Symphony Orchestra concerts, visits to the Smithsonian museums and walking through the D.C. streets surrounded by the rich architecture of our nation's capitol. My earliest memory of taking a dance class was pre-kindergarten. I fell in love with dance and had great opportunities to study with Debbie Allen, Denise Jefferson, Bertram Ross, Charles Augins and Michael Malone. Incidentally, I am a proud dance graduate of NYU Tisch School of the Arts. 

Why did you decide to become an administrator in public arts education?
Mentors are huge factors in my life. Two of my mentors since 9th grade are the founders of the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, a public arts high school in DC -- Peggy Cooper Cafritz and the late Michael Malone. I benefitted from their vision which was to ensure that talented young people in DC had the opportunity to receive quality arts training in the arts. I was inspired by their commitment to young urban youth. I too am dedicated to being a part of young people's lives to guide them toward their aspirations in the arts but more importantly in making a difference in the world with the actions of justice and equity. The arts are all about peace and global connections.

What has been the best thing you've learned from leading several different public arts schools? 
I have had the privilege and honor to lead the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts in CT, the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in DC, the San Diego School of the Performing and Creative Arts, and now LACHSA, all public arts schools. I have discovered that many of the top arts public high schools have many similarities and challenges -- passionate young people, dedicated staff, terrific and involved parents, community partnerships, and of course, there is never enough funding to support the programs. The best thing I have learned is how to be an invisible juggler. Principals and heads of schools are pulled in many different, opposing directions. What my childhood experiences taught me is how important it is to listen, to seek clarity, and that relationships matter.

How did you hear about LACHSA? 
I've known of LACHSA for many years. I served on the Board of Directors of Arts Schools Network (ASN) for eleven years. ASN brings heads of arts-focused schools together throughout the year to share and learn about our work with young people in the arts. In our visits to arts-focused schools around the country, we are able to stay abreast of trends and happenings around curriculum, programs, facilities, student support and all the demands of leading schools. Long before I imagined working at LACHSA, I attended LACHSA's 25th Anniversary Celebration. In December of 2013, I brought a bus-load of students from my school in San Diego to LACHSA to see Spring Awakening and to tour the school. I had no idea I would be the Principal a year later. When I was offered the Principal position, I felt as if I was walking into a very familiar school setting. 

Why did you want to take the principal position? 
My last position with the San Diego Unified School District did not directly involve young people. I was developing an arts integration program for Title 1 schools through the central office. I was missing the rhythm of young people. I have an enormous amount of energy and experience to share with the LACHSA community. I want to build on the past successes of LACHSA while focusing on areas of the school that needs attention – the academic curriculum, student intervention and support, collaboration, communication, diversity, and transparency. 

What was your first impression about LACHSA? 
I have several impressions. The LACSHA community is filled with terrific and eager students who are hungry to learn, dedicated staff who give 100% plus in their work, an uber-involved parent community whose contributions are boundless, and great partners such as the LA Phil that is helping us attract future LACHSA students. 

How have your first 6 (or so) weeks been? 
I have felt a tremendous amount of support from the entire school, the LACOE staff, the CSU LA, our partners, the Arts High Foundation, and the parents. Thus far my experiences have been invigorating and endless. 

What are some major goals that you have for the school? 
The arts' offerings are strong. In the immediate time, I plan to work with my colleagues to calibrate the scope and sequence of our English department. We will re-visit the tenets of Common Core State Standards and what CCSS looks like in all subjects around literacy, writing, analyzing texts, and much more. The LA Phil YOLA program serves as a great place to recruit students who will bring a different type of diversity to our student population. I also want to work with staff to develop intervention strategies to support those students who are struggling academically. We should also continue to share our talents with the Los Angeles community. I want to work with the Arts High Foundation to raise more revenue. 

Is there anything in particular you'd like the LACHSA alumni community to know about you?
In Thailand, I once had an elephant give me a light massage on my back with his foot. I have a photo to prove it. Trust, courage, adventure and risks are a part of my DNA.

What are some of your favorite past times?
I love to travel and see the world. When I am not attending a dance, music, museum, gallery or literary art event, I can be found reading. I have an eclectic taste for books. I love spending time with family and friends. I am always searching for the next best place to dine. 

How do you like Los Angeles? 
I love LA. I feel so at home in this vibrant city. I thrive on international, metropolitan cities. I lived in DC and NYC and LA offers some of the familiar amenities I am used to but with a west coast flair.

Any special plans for the holidays? 
We are heading to DC and NYC to spend time with family and friends. My 10th grade niece just finished dancing in the Nutcracker in Fairfax, VA. She doesn't know that we are surprising her with tickets to see Misty Copeland perform in the American Ballet's performance of the Nutcracker at the Brooklyn Academy of the Arts. She thinks we are going to NYC to just see Rockefeller Center's Christmas tree.