Thursday, March 19, 2015

Sphinx Founder to Lead Top Performing Arts School: Successor Announced

Aaron P. Dworkin  &  Afa Sadykhly Dworkin (Credit: Kevin Kennedy)
Aaron P. Dworkin is featured at, which warmly congratulates him and Afa Sadykhly Dworkin on their well-deserved promotions

March 19, 2015 - When the Sphinx Organization's founder and president Aaron P. Dworkin becomes the new dean of the University of Michigan's School of Music, Theatre & Dance in July, he will be leaving Sphinx in the hands of an accomplished successor.

The Board of Directors of the Sphinx Organization has announced the appointment of Afa S. Dworkin as president and artistic director of the organization effective July 20.  Since 1999, she has served as artistic director and vice president of programming for the organization, having also held the position of executive and artistic director for the past two years.

"The board is overwhelmingly excited to welcome Afa to this new role," Board Chair Dr. William H. Carson said. "This appointment marks a new chapter in the organization's history. Through this transition and selection process, it became abundantly clear that Afa represents the pinnacle of the key criteria critical to success in this position.  Her unmatched understanding of Sphinx's mission and history as its executive director and her capacity to inspire those around her represent a few of the many qualities which contributed to the board's unanimous decision regarding her appointment."  She will now oversee a $4.6 million dollar organization with a combined staff and faculty of more than 40.

Dworkin is a professional violinist with early training from the highly regarded Russian school of violin playing, and bachelor's and master's degrees with distinction from the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance. She is a frequent panelist and speaker on the topics of diversity, access and inclusion in the arts including the National Endowment for the Arts, Americans for the Arts, League of American Orchestras, National Association of Schools of Music and many others. 

Her tenure as executive director included successful oversight of the fundraising operations, as well as building relationships with major partners and supporters. She currently or has previously served on leading boards of directors including the Walnut Hill School for the Arts and the National Guild for Community Music Education and has been recognized for her dynamic leadership and accomplishments including most recently being named one of Crain's 40 Under 40 Honorees. Dworkin herself embodies a diverse mosaic of cultures, which have been reflected in her artistic convictions as a champion for new music with a focus on inclusion.  

"I am so proud that Michigan is home to the Sphinx Organization's headquarters and I can think of no better city than Detroit for its home base. The work they do here and across the country is invaluable and I am sure Afa will be successful as she works to ensure people of all ethnic and economic backgrounds have the ability to experience the benefit of music and the arts," Governor Rick Snyder said.

As the new dean at U-M, Aaron Dworkin will lead one of the nation's top 10 performing arts schools with a budget of $44 million, endowment of $140 million and more than 200 faculty and staff.  He is the first African-American dean of the school and only the second African-American in history to lead one of the nation's top 10 music schools. His appointment was approved by the U-M Board of Regents today.

A MacArthur Fellow, President Obama's first appointment to the National Council on the Arts and member of the Royal Philharmonic Society in London, Dworkin is widely recognized as one of the foremost international leaders in the arts.

"His lifelong commitment to excellence in arts education is widely recognized in the U.S. and abroad," Provost Martha Pollack said. "Aaron brings exceptional experience with organizational governance and a style that is collaborative, inclusive and pragmatic. He will lead the school with integrity, energy and enthusiasm."

Dworkin's term will be effective July 20, 2015 through July 19, 2020 and he will also receive a tenured professorship as the Paul Boylan Collegiate Professor of Music.

"Aaron has an impressive history of leadership experience and is respected by many in the arts community of not only Michigan but also the nation. His commitment to culture, diversity and learning will be a great benefit to the University of Michigan and I am confident students will accomplish great things under his direction," Snyder said.

Sphinx is the national organization dedicated to transforming lives through the power of diversity in the arts. Through its programming, Sphinx reaches approximately 20,000 young people and 2 million in live and broadcast audiences.  Its flagship programs include the annual national Sphinx Competition, the Sphinx Virtuosi Tour highlighting performances at Carnegie Hall, SphinxCon (the national convening for diversity in the arts) and yearlong grassroots efforts in music education. Learn more at

Comment by email:
Thanks so much Bill!  [Afa S. Dworkin]

No comments: