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  • LAPA
  • Sep. 10, 2021

    New Hire and Promotions Join Renae Williams Niles, Chief Content and Engagement Officer;
    Karen Sturges, Chief Financial Officer; Margie Kim, Chief Philanthropy Officer and
    Mona Patel, General Counsel to Round Out LA Phil New Executive Structure

    Chad Smith, Chief Executive Officer; Emanuel Maxwell, Chief Talent & Equity Officer; Summer Bjork, Chief of Staff; Daniel Song, Chief Operating Officer; Renae Williams Niles, Chief Content and Engagement Officer (announced Spring 2021); Karen Sturges, Chief Financial Officer (announced Summer 2020); Margie Kim, Chief Philanthropy Officer (announced Winter 2020); and Mona Patel, General Counsel.

    LOS ANGELES, September 10, 2021 - Chad Smith, the David C. Bohnett Chief Executive Officer Chair of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, today announced the completion of the LA Phil’s new executive team with the hiring of Emanuel Maxwell as its Chief Talent & Equity Officer and the promotion of Summer Bjork to Chief of Staff and Daniel Song to Chief Operating Officer. Maxwell, Bjork and Song join Renae Williams Niles, Chief Content and Engagement Officer; Karen Sturges, Chief Financial Officer; Margie Kim, Chief Philanthropy Officer and Mona Patel, General Counsel in comprising the LA Phil’s new leadership, and all report directly to the Chief Executive Officer.

    Chad Smith stated, “With our executive team now complete, we look to the future as we expand our diverse programming across all of our venues and platforms, enhance our digital initiatives, grow our YOLA programs and build on our core belief that new perspectives, new voices, and new works  enhance every aspect of our organization. The challenges of the past 18 months have taught us that we must continuously seek new ways to serve our communities, by being even more flexible and adaptive, and relentless in our quest to push our artform forward.”

    Smith added, “We are delighted to welcome Emanuel Maxwell to the LA Phil family, and Summer Bjork and Daniel Song to their new positions, where we know they will be invaluable to the LA Phil as we build the foundation for this great orchestra’s next century of work.”

    Emanuel Maxwell, Chief Talent and Equity Officer, joined the LA Phil in August 2021 in this newly created position that will lead the strategic talent development of the organization’s prospective and current employees and continue to build diversity and inclusion across the organization. This role drives strategic efforts to nurture and broaden the talent pool and ensure the highest level of organizational performance. Prior to joining the LA Phil, Maxwell most recently was with Guckenheimer, a leader in corporate dining experiences, where he managed the human capital side of the business in addition to leading culture change, span of control and organizational structure assessment, process improvement and reporting, and equity assessments. He acted as the “Chief COVID Officer” when the pandemic hit and worked shoulder to shoulder with the executive team to build the strategic framework for the pandemic response. Prior to joining Guckenheimer Maxwell spent  9 years at Aramark, a $9 billion market cap company in the foodservice, facility management, and uniform industry, where he led Human Resources for sports and entertainment in the US and Canada. In his early career he held roles with Valassis (formerly ADVO), Chevron Texaco, EXULT, and British Petroleum.

    Summer Bjork, Chief of Staff, first joined the LA Phil in 2005 as an Artist Assistant. She has since held a variety of positions across multiple departments, assuming the role of Chief of Staff in April 2021. In this newly created role, she leads annual strategy as well as a broad and evolving portfolio of strategic initiatives. Previous positions include Director, Strategy & Special Projects, overseeing the organizational strategy planning process and helping drive the transfer of management and stewardship of The Ford; Centennial Director, leading the organization-wide planning and execution of the 2018-2019 Centennial portfolio of initiatives, including Celebrate LA!, the free, eight-mile street festival that launched the season, and the Judith and Thomas L. Beckmen YOLA Center site search and purchase, design process, early construction, and New Market Tax Credit funding; Concert Manager, managing orchestral concert production at Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Hollywood Bowl, and on international tours; and Manager, Artists Department. In her career outside the LA Phil, Bjork spent time in Deloitte Consulting’s Human Capital practice, focused on people-related business solutions, including strategic communications, change management, and risk assessment and mitigation planning.

    Daniel Song, Chief Operating Officer, has more than 15 years of experience in various senior leadership roles in the orchestra and performing arts field. Since returning to the LA Phil in 2017 as Vice President, Philharmonic and Production, Song has overseen the management of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, concert production, stage facilities and equipment, vendor procurement and management, scheduling, touring, and media initiatives. His work has included collective bargaining and labor relations and supervising a $52 million budget. In June 2021, Song assumed the role of Chief Operating Officer of the LA Phil and expanded his portfolio to include internal business operations and the venue stewardship of the Hollywood Bowl, The Ford, the Judith and Thomas L. Beckmen YOLA Center in Inglewood, and Walt Disney Concert Hall. Prior to his tenure with the LA Phil, Daniel served as Vice President and General Manager of the Aspen Music Festival and School where he was responsible for managing the strategic planning efforts, operational oversight, and coordination for the eight-week, 400-event festival and school. A native of Los Angeles, he started his career in 2004 with the LA Phil in roles in philanthropy, artistic planning, and orchestra management and is a member of the Board of Directors for the League of American Orchestras where he serves on the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee. 

    Renae Williams Niles, Chief Content and Engagement Officer, joined the LA Phil in June 2021 providing strategic guidance and articulation of the LA Phil’s organizational goals and policy, and overseeing all programming (classical, non-classical and humanities) across Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Hollywood Bowl, The Ford, the Judith and Thomas L. Beckmen YOLA Center, as well as LA Phil residencies and tours. In her new role, she also will be responsible for Youth Orchestra Los Angeles (YOLA), learning programs and initiatives; communications, public relations, marketing and sales; and will guide further integration of the LA Phil’s diversity, equity and inclusion goals. Williams Niles joins the LA Phil from the Culver City Education Foundation, where she served as Executive Director. She has worked in the arts and nonprofit sectors for more than 25 years in capacities including Company Manager for the Lula Washington Dance Theatre, Director of Grant Programs for the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, Vice President of Programming for The Music Center, and the first Chief Operating Officer/Associate Dean of Administration for the University of Southern California Glorya Kaufman School of Dance, where she co-led the diversity and inclusion commitment. She is currently Board Chair of the Association of Performing Arts Professionals, the national membership organization for the professional performing arts field.

    Karen Sturges, Chief Financial Officer, joined the LA Phil in 2020 and oversees the LA Phil’s financial and information technology functions. She has held several senior financial roles in the entertainment industry including SVP & CFO, Global Television Distribution at NBCUniversal; VP, Financial Planning & Analysis at Warner Bros Entertainment; and Executive Director, Finance at Sony Pictures Entertainment. With more than 25 years in the media and entertainment industry, her professional experience includes public accounting, internal audit, controllership, system implementation, process transformation, and financial planning and analysis. Sturges is a Certified Public Accountant who began in audit with Arthur Andersen where she earned her CPA, before serving in positions at Disney and Sony Pictures Entertainment in senior finance roles within the Television Distribution business. In 2005 Sturges took on Financial Compliance and Process Improvement and Corporate Financial Planning and Analysis roles at Warner Bros. She then served as CFO for the Global Television Distribution and New Media business at NBCUniversal before moving to Endeavor Content in 2019 where she built the finance function and oversaw all financial aspects of its productions, acquisitions, sales and distribution of TV, film and audio content.

    Margie Kim, Chief Philanthropy Officer, is responsible for the leadership and management of all LA Phil fundraising efforts, including the formulation, planning, and execution of fundraising strategy. The department encompasses the annual fund, major gifts, grants, corporate sponsorships, planned giving, volunteer services, Board development, endowment and capital campaigns, and special gala and recognition events for Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Hollywood Bowl, The Ford and YOLA. She will also finish out the Centennial Campaign that commenced in 2012 and concludes in 2021 with a current goal of over $500 million. With more than 30 years in human services, higher education and conservation, Kim joined The Trust for Public Land as its Chief Philanthropy Officer in 2010 and successfully planned, organized, and led the organization’s first national campaign raising more than $460 million by its completion. During her tenure, she reorganized the Philanthropy department, doubled its number of staff, and raised more than $720 million. She also previously served as Deputy Director of Development for the California state program at The Nature Conservancy before becoming Director of Philanthropy for the Asia-Pacific region, Vice President for the West Region of the National Audubon Society, and Director of Development for Audubon California. Before entering the field of conservation, Kim was Director of Development for the Humanities at UCLA for ten years.

    Mona Patel, General Counsel, joined the LA Phil in 2012 as Vice President of Human Resources & General Counsel, and she serves currently as the General Counsel on the Executive Team. Patel oversees COVID and legal compliance, risk management, contracts, and labor negotiations for the LA Phil at Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Hollywood Bowl, The Ford, and Judith and Thomas L. Beckmen YOLA Center. Prior to joining the LA Phil, she served as General Counsel and Executive Vice President for People & Organizational Development at the LIVESTRONG Foundation. She has held similar roles at Athleta/Gap, Patagonia, and Burton Snowboards. Patel has also served as pro bono counsel for 1% for the Planet and the Chill Foundation.


    About the LA Phil 
    Under the leadership of Music & Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel, the LA Phil offers live performances, media initiatives and learning programs that inspire and strengthen communities in Los Angeles and beyond. The Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestra is the foundation of the LA Phil’s offerings, which also include a multi-genre, multidisciplinary presenting program and such youth development programs as YOLA (Youth Orchestra Los Angeles). Performances are offered on three historic stages—Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Hollywood Bowl and The Ford—as well as through a variety of media platforms. In all its endeavors, the LA Phil seeks to enrich the lives of individuals and communities through musical, artistic and learning experiences that resonate in our world today.
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