Transforming Lives Through Music
Francis Graffeo, President, is a seasoned leader with more than 20 years of experience in the performance and nonprofit spheres. As a trained conductor, he is deeply committed to the power of music to change lives. Before joining The People’s Music School, Mr. Graffeo served as Executive Director at the Joy of Music School in Knoxville, Tennessee where he increased the School’s educational reach, financial stability, and student enrollment. His original in-school education programs have taken music to thousands of students in Tennessee, Colorado and Oregon. Francis Graffeo holds degrees from Texas Tech University, The New England Conservatory of Music, and Centro Linguistico Sperimentale in Italy, and maintains an accomplished career as a conductor of opera, symphony and ballet.
Chief of Development and Operations
Miriam Goldberg Owens, Chief Operating Officer, oversees The People’s Music School’s Development, Marketing, and Administrative functions. Prior to joining TPMS, Miriam was an Associate Partner at McKinsey & Company. A leader in McKinsey’s Organization practice, she served clients on topics ranging from strategic planning, to large-scale reorganization, talent management transformation, inclusion and diversity, and professional learning. Before joining McKinsey, Miriam focused her career in education; she was a 5th grade science teacher with Teach for America and a Program Manager at Raise Your Hand Texas, an education advocacy organization. A native Texan and proud Latina, Miriam is also a lifelong musician. She studied piano from grades K-12, and at Harvard spent four years in the women’s a cappella group the Radcliffe Pitches, serving as Music Director and Stage Manager. She is currently the lead singer in the rock cover band Model-J. Miriam holds an AB from Harvard University, an MS in Education from Teacher U at Hunter College (now Relay Graduate School of Education), and an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
Chief of Staff
Marc Wilson, JD, Chief of Staff, has a long history and knowledge of educational initiatives and comes from the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools where he functioned as their Senior Director of Strategy and Operations, Legal Counsel. At Partnership, Marc collaborated closely with school principals, partner organizations and community leaders to develop and execute creative strategies and implement innovative systems to support school transformation. Marc also helped lead the organization’s policy advocacy on several key priorities, including a successful campaign for a more equitable district funding formula. Before joining Partnership, Marc spent nine years as an attorney in private practice at Latham & Watkins and Paramount Pictures, where his experience spanned from environmental law and policy to the international distribution of motion pictures.
Dean of Learning & Teaching
Natalie Butler grew up in Miami, FL and tried studying voice, violin, and cello before deciding upon the clarinet as her primary instrument.
Natalie received her Bachelors of Music Education from Florida State University and shortly thereafter moved (in the middle of winter, no less) to Chicago to begin her career as a music educator. She took a break from teaching to pursue and receive her Masters of Music from Northwestern University and later successfully completed the process to become a Nationally Board Certified Teacher in Early Adolescence through Young Adulthood Music.
Natalie spent over thirteen years teaching general music and conducting bands for students in grades pre-K-12 in the Chicago Public Schools while continuing to study clarinet privately and performing both clarinet and voice. In 2013 Natalie joined the team at The People’s Music School. Throughout her career Natalie has conducted, presented, and published her research on the national and international levels.
Natalie is honored to serve our amazing People’s community of students, families, and faculty and proud to serve alongside our dedicated staff.
Senior Facilities and Technology Manager
"Rita Simó always knew how music could transform lives, but she also knew how important it was to build a support system -- our amazing community of students, teachers, staff, family, friends and neighbors, which really makes the magic happen."
Senior Program Manager
"Music is a powerful tool, a universal language, and a form of communication. The work we do at TPMS is crucial in a world that can see so much progress. I have personally witnessed how artistic excellence can transfer into the everyday lives of my students and am honored to share my skills and show our students the different ways music can transform their communities."
Program Manager, Greater South Side
Originally from Southern California, Elena Grijalva is a Latinx trombonist who teaches and freelances in Chicago. She has held positions such as the Academy of Music Performance Coordinator with the Chicago Philharmonic, Artistic and Production Assistant for the Grant Park Music Festival and Program Coordinator for the Chicago Metamorphosis Orchestra Project. Working with these organizations has led Elena to have a passion for music administration. Being a Program Manager for the The People’s Music School has furthered her growth and dedication to create impassioned communities through the joy of music.
Elena holds a Master of Music degree in Performance from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee and a Bachelor of Music degree in Performance from Lawrence University's Conservatory of Music. Elena has participated in summer programs such as the Philadelphia International Music Festival, where she received the Young Artists in Residency Award, and Aspen Music Festival and School. She enjoys playing a wide range of genres and has showcased that in her first album entitled MOSAICO; which was released in October of 2020.
Program Manager, Albany Park
Grecia Landin is a native to Chicago, with a bachelors in Music Education. She is a woodwind player, and.has been teaching for nine years in public and private schools in the US and Internationally. Grecia is the Program Manager for Hibbard Elementary School in Albany Park. She strives to cultivate a positive learning environment for students that will allow them to be creative and awake to the beauty in the world through music. She is honored to be a part of The People’s Music School and represent her Mexican heritage for the community of Albany Park. Grecia enjoys reading, dancing, bubble tea, being in nature and traveling.
Program Manager, Back of The Yards
Azalea is originally from Monterrey, N.L., Mexico. She has a Master’s degree of Music Performance in Opera Directing from The Sarah and Ernest Butler School of Music at The University of Texas at Austin, and a Bachelor’s degree in Vocal Performance from The University of Texas at Brownsville.
She has directed and performed at multiple Young Artists Programs, including The Cohen New Works Festival at Austin, TX, Butler Opera International, The Butler Opera Center Young Artists Program, Opera NEO in San Diego, CA, Greensboro Light Opera and Song in North Carolina, and Up North Vocal Institute in Boyne City, Michigan.
Azalea has experience teaching voice, piano, early childhood education, choir, Spanish, among others. She is a versatile director and teacher who loves to inspire her students through music, art, and an interdisciplinary curriculum.
Program Manager, Uptown Academy
Program and Administration Coordinator
With a passion for music and administration, Colombian born Paula Martinez-Marrugo is carving a career in the arts with a focus on organizations that promote inclusion and diversity. Ms. Martinez-Marrugo is currently serving as a Program Coordinator for The People’s Music School in Chicago for both of their Uptown and Back of the Yards locations. She has also been selected as a Project Inclusion Administrative Fellow with the Chicago Sinfonietta.
Her experiences coordinating and managing student and faculty concerts as a Senior Counselor at Camp Encore-Coda in Sweden, Maine, serving as a Teaching Assistant and Graduate Assistant at the University of Southern Mississippi, as a Supervised Study Coordinator at the Louisiana School for the Maths, Science and the Arts (where she closely worked with the Academic Services Department and high school students), and a bassoon teacher at Mississippi’s Petal Middle School led to her interest in arts administration.
As a professional bassoonist, Martinez-Marrugo has performed with different orchestras, bands, and chamber groups around Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. She has also served as a private bassoon instructor, music theory teacher, and chamber music coach for middle school, high school, and college students.
Martinez-Marrugo holds degrees in both Business Administration and Music Performance from Northwestern State University. She recently graduated with a master’s degree in bassoon performance and a minor in music education from the University of Southern Mississippi.
Teacher Development Lead
Senior Curriculum Support Manager
Megan is passionately committed to sharing her love of music with young people through her work as a teaching artist and Senior Manager of Curriculum Support. Before joining The People's Music School, Megan completed a Doctor of Musical Arts degree at Northwestern University and held the position of principal oboist of the Sarajevo Philharmonic Orchestra.
Ariel Garcia was born and raised in Chicago’s La Villita neighborhood where at the tender age of eight, he began his formal training on the violin. Ariel holds degrees from the DePaul University School of Music, the University of Nebraska, and is a doctoral candidate at the University of Wisconsin. He has had extensive performance experience with orchestras such as the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, the Illinois Symphony Orchestra, and the Madison Symphony Orchestra. Ariel is also an avid chamber musician. He is a founding member of the Music of the Americas Ensemble (MAE), a Chicago based ensemble consisting of classically trained Latino musicians from all over the Americas.
Professional Development Coordinator
Creativity is connected to the core of the arts, and it is a very important part of what inspires humanity to create objects, machines and solve practical problems. Great ideas are born and developed through a creative process, and incorporating improvisation from early stages of music education can help students to develop that creativity. Playing and learning diverse repertoire can be a great way to engage with the students, when they see themselves represented and they identify with the composer, music can be more accessible for them.
Institutional Giving Manager
Dana Treglia is an accomplished fundraising professional with nearly a decade of experience. As Institutional Giving Manager, Dana manages TPMS’ diverse portfolio of foundation, corporate, and government supporters. Prior to joining TPMS, she served as Director of Development for A Red Orchid Theatre in Chicago, IL. There, Dana was responsible for developing and executing a comprehensive fundraising plan for the fast-paced and growing non-profit theatre.
In addition to her extensive event and volunteer management experience, she is certified in Project Management Strategy. Dana holds an MA in Humanities from the University of Chicago, and earned her BA in English from Stonehill College.
She is deeply dedicated to collaborative engagement and the execution of mission-based work. Dana loves to chat about live theatre in Chicago, her many years attending Newport Folk Festival, and the timeless appeal of corgis
Marketing & Communications Associate
Ellie DePastino believes in the power of digital storytelling and its unique ability to bring individuals and communities together. Her experience in nonprofit media and communications is vast, having worked as a marketing and media manager with several nonprofits local to her hometown of Pittsburgh, PA. A lifelong musician, Ellie grew up playing the violin and piano. She studied violin at The College of Wooster in Ohio, where she received her B.A. in History and was awarded the Daniel and Clarice Parmelee Endowed Prize Fund for excellence in the Wooster Symphony Orchestra. Over the years, she taught violin and piano lessons out of her home and at the British International School in Lincoln Park.