Mountain View Voice

News - July 16, 2010

CSMA director announces departure

Jeffry Walker says it's time to move on

by Nick Veronin

Jeffry Walker, executive director for the Community School of Music and Arts, is leaving his position after 3 1/2 years.

Walker, who said in a press release that it was simply time for him to move on, plans to continue advocating for music and arts programs in public schools.

"He accomplished what he wanted to do here," said Evy Schiffman, marketing and communications director for CSMA.

"When I arrived at CSMA, my goal was to work ... to expand the school's core mission of providing arts for all," Walker said. He added that during his time at CSMA he learned a great deal about the importance of getting music and art programs in public schools.

CSMA offers financial aid to economically disadvantaged students and takes its programs to local public schools in the hopes of bringing art and music education to as many as people as possible.

Youth and adults of all skill levels may take classes at its headquarters, the Finn Center in Mountain View. CSMA also runs programs in 30 schools throughout Silicon Valley.

According to Schiffman, Walker had only planned to be at CSMA for about 4 years when he took the position in 2007. She said the school's previous executive director had served about the same amount of time as Walker.

Mountain View resident Kathy Thibodeaux, a former CSMA board member, will take over as interim director at the end of July. A committee will be formed to search for Walker's replacement, according to Mike Couch, chair of the CSMA board of directors.

Schiffman said the committee will likely be looking for an "administrator with the heart of an artist," in their search.

"I think that's what we got with Mr. Walker, and that's what we want moving forward," she said. Walker is an artist and a playwright.

Couch said that the search committee may end up hiring a consulting agency to help find the ideal candidate. Besides hoping to find an administrator with artistic sensibilities, he said that the school's director must also possess solid fundraising abilities.

"It's a real art," Couch said. "(Fundraising) has been challenging in the past couple years."

"Just asking for money doesn't particularly work," he said. It takes someone with a deep understanding of art, who can "explain why funding arts education is important to our community and our society." Couch believes in the enriching power of art and cited studies linking music education to a better understanding of math concepts.

He is optimistic that the CSMA's stature in the world of music and arts education will attract many qualified candidates.

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