Administrative Staff

Steven C. Murray, Executive Director
smurray@youthsymphonykc.org

Development
Bri Hopkins, Development Manager
bhopkins@youthsymphonykc.org

Samantha Messina, Grant Writer and Database Administrator
samantha@youthsymphonykc.org

Program Operations
Russ Pieken, Director of Operations
rpieken@youthsymphonykc.org

Mackenzie Brazier, Program Coordinator
mbrazier@youthsymphonykc.org

 

Steven C. Murray, Executive Director

Steven C. Murray is a nonprofit executive specializing in the areas of branding, technology, resource utilization and institutional advancement. Mr. Murray began as Executive Director of the Youth Symphony of Kansas City in December 2010. Before his appointment with the Youth Symphony, he designed and implemented education strategies at professional orchestras for five years, serving as Director of the Cedar Rapids Symphony School of Music (Iowa) and Education Manager for the Kansas City Symphony. He has served in a variety of leadership roles within the nonprofit sector for nearly 20 years.

Mr. Murray earned degrees in music education and communication arts (EM – television/radio) from Wartburg College (Waverly, Iowa). Mr. Murray is an Eagle Scout and serves on the Board of Directors of the League of American Orchestras Youth Orchestra Division, serving as Vice-Chair for two terms. He is an unabashed two-spacer, though insistent upon AP style in all other respects, and is an occasional tweeter at @stevencmurray.

 

Bri Hopkins, Development Manager

Bri Hopkins joined the Youth Symphony team in 2017 and has recently been promoted to serve as Development Manager. She earned her bachelor of arts in theatre and arts administration from Drury University, and cultivated her passion for arts advocacy and entrepreneurship. As a student, Bri was an agent of engagement for the community and helped connect people through the arts which she is excited to continue in Kansas City. Bri’s past efforts in arts advocacy have taken her from Jefferson City to Washington D.C. to educate Missouri’s senators and representatives at the state and federal level.

 

Samantha Messina, Grant Writer and Database Administrator

Samantha Messina is currently pursuing a bachelor of arts in music, with emphasis in clarinet, at the University of Missouri – Kansas City’s Conservatory of Music and Dance. She regularly teaches lessons to beginning clarinet students in South Florida, which is where she is originally from. Aside from clarinet, Messina interned with the Youth Symphony’s development department for two and a half years before being hired as the Grant Writer and Database Administrator. She enjoys reading in all capacities, spending time with family and friends and organizing events such as the UMKC Honor Band and Orchestra Festival during her free time.

 

Russ Pieken, Director of Operations

Russ Pieken has been a music educator for 20 years in Kansas and Missouri. During this time he taught strings/orchestra at the elementary, middle and high school levels. Russ has been privileged and honored to have conducted performances in Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, and for the dedication of the World War II Memorial in Washington, DC.  Groups under his direction have also performed for the Kansas Music Educators Association Conference and National Association for Music Education. In 2008 he was awarded the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts/National Symphony Orchestra National Music Educator Fellowship.  Russ holds a Bachelor of Music Education degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music and a Master of Education degree from Baker University. Russ is proud to be an alumnus of the Youth Symphony of Kansas City.  Russ is married to his wife of 20 years, Laurie, and they have two wonderful, kind and compassionate kids, Joseph and Norah.

 

Mackenzie Brazier, Program Coordinator

Mackenzie Brazier is a graduate student at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance, where she is pursuing a Master of Arts in Music with Teaching Certification. She also earned a Bachelor of Music in Oboe Performance and a minor in Business Administration from UMKC. Mackenzie has played in many ensembles including UMKC’s Wind Symphony and Wind Ensemble, various chamber groups, and the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra. In addition to school and her work as Program Coordinator, Mackenzie privately teaches oboe and performs gigs in the Kansas City Metro area. In her free time, Mackenzie enjoys running, reading, and spending time with her dog, Titan.

 

 

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