Board of Directors
Susan Smith Leland
Susan Smith Leland recently retired from a 33-year career in education serving as the CFO for several school districts and most recently serving as the Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Support Services for the Renton School District. She earned her BA from Evergreen College in Liberal Arts and Masters of Education from Seattle University in School Business Administration. During her career she served as a board member and President of the Washington Association of School Business Officials (WASBO), created and served on the Certification Governance Board and was a member of the OSPI School District Accounting Advisory Committee. In addition, Susan attended the Social Change Institute on Cortes Island in B.C. developing new ideas for school/community engagement in the areas of the environment and social justice. Susan was awarded the Outstanding Student of the Year in the School of Education while at Seattle University. She was also awarded the highest honor from WASBO, their Outstanding Service Award and also received their Unsung Heroine Award, given by the Executive Director of the organization. Susan is a flute player and was a member of the Seattle All-City Band for five years. She is married to the love of her life, her husband Rod and has 3 children. They live in Auburn on Lake Killarney.
By Day: Alex Diaz is a Senior Product Marketing Manager for the web development platform, Webflow (previously Global Marketing Manager at Uber), with 9+ years working across a wide range of industries — from startups, ad agencies, and Fortune 500s — focused on go-to-market strategies, driving the strategic marketing framework among internal groups, and executing growth marketing tactics for products and brands. By Night: creative cooking enthusiast, amateur mixologist, and observer of global cultures + social behavior around tech, motivation, and communities. In-between: Executive Committee member for Minds Matter Seattle, member of the UW Communication Department Alumni Board of Advisors, and (previously) a long time advisory board member to Key to Change Studio before joining the Board of Directors.
Viesta retired inspired! She previously held positions at King County, the Port of Seattle, and Mount Zion Baptist Church. A graduate of South Seattle College, she is an avid gardener, enjoys all genres of music, collects coins, and unusual rocks. She is mother of two incredible sons — and enjoys spending time with her two companion pets Bella and Gracie.
Ain Powell is the Manager of Partner Networks (Employee Resource Groups) at Starbucks Coffee Company. A true ‘Local Girl’, Ain’s roots in the Seattle community run deep, always with a lens for inclusion. Ain’s passion for mentorship and education are aligned with Key to Change’s mission and she is committed to supporting each participant’s holistic development as self-aware leaders. Ain’s lives in Seattle with her two wonderful children Adam and Naomi and enjoys learning everyday. Her Motto: When you know better, you do better.
Brenda Barnes has been a leader in public radio for more than 30 years, serving as CEO of stations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Cincinnati, and Seattle, among others. She has served on the boards of National Public Radio, the public radio think tank Station Resource Group, Greater Public, and other national organizations in the field. She came to Seattle in 2018 to serve as CEO of Classical KING FM after 20 years of leading the classical stations in Southern California and the Bay Area. She is a member of the Community Development Roundtable, Seattle Rotary, the Seattle Chapter of the International Women’s Forum, and a proud member of the board of Key to Change Studio.
Leah Bradford Francis
Leah Bradford Francis is a Senior Program Officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In this role, she focuses on the Education investment portfolio in Washington state. Prior to the Gates Foundation, Leah served as Managing Director, Synergos Advisory. She led Synergos’ global social impact advisory practice guiding foundations, philanthropists and corporations on philanthropic strategy, program design/delivery, and public/private partnerships in developing markets. She oversaw client engagements in South America, Africa and South/Southeast Asia.
Prior to joining Synergos, Leah was President of the Kraft Foods Group Foundation. She led the company’s philanthropic strategy in community partnerships, humanitarian aid and employee civic engagement with a focus on food access and nutrition. In 2014, she was appointed by the Governor to the Illinois Commission to End Hunger. Leah’s philanthropy journey started at the Chicago Community Trust. She served as Program Officer in Community Development overseeing investments in affordable housing, workforce development, community organizing, justice system reform and economic development.
Leah’s career began in management consulting, having worked for both Deloitte and Accenture’s Human Capital practices. In these roles, she provided organizational development, change management, culture transformation, and strategic communications counsel to Fortune 500 companies and federal government clients. Leah also worked with several NGOs in sub-Saharan Africa on growth strategy and program development.
Leah currently serves on the Advisory Board of Cause Strategy Partners and MCE Social Capital. She holds an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and a MPA from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Her undergraduate studies in Sociology were completed at the University of Virginia.
Music Instructor & Coach
Ms. Chu is one of the most sought after young violists of her generation. Before joining the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra in 2013 as principal, she was a member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and enjoyed a varied career as a chamber musician and recitalist. Chu still has an avid chamber music career in addition to her role as principal viola, and collaborates with many artists including Gil Shaham, Itzhak Perlman, Joseph Kalichstein, Menahem Pressler, Jaime Laredo, James Ehnes, and members of the Guarneri, Emerson, and Orion quartets. As a recording artist, she has recorded for Deutsche Grammophon, Tzadik, Naxos, and the CMS Studio Recordings.
Chu has performed as soloist with many distinguished conductors including Hannu Lintu, Bramwell Tovey, David Robertson, and James DePreist. During the summer Chu performs and works with young musicians at the Aspen Music Festival and School, National Youth Orchestra-USA, and at the Marlboro Music Festival. In recent years, she has also performed at festivals in Seattle, Washington, Lake Champlain, Vermont, Portland, Maine, as well as Luzerne, Bridgehampton, and Skaneateles, New York.
Beth Guterman Chu received her Artist Diploma at the New England Conservatory studying with Kim Kashkashian, and her Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees from the Juilliard School studying with Masao Kawasaki and Misha Amory. She lives in St. Louis with her husband Jonathan, another violist, and their three children.
Music Instructor and Coach
A software engineer by trade and a musician at heart, Geoffrey Liu began studying piano at the age of 7, and three years later, picked up the violin. He found his passion for classical music at the age of 13, after listening to a recording of Beethoven’s Waldstein piano sonata. Since then, Mr. Liu has been active in his musical community as a pianist, violinist, and violist. In high school, he was the recipient of numerous awards, including a three-time honorable mention at the Northwest Chopin Festival, and a first place prize at the 2012 WMEA Solo and Ensemble Contest. As a result of winning the latter competition, Mr. Liu was invited to perform his solo at Benaroya Hall in Seattle, an experience he still cherishes as one of his most memorable performances.
Mr. Liu continued his music education at the University of Washington, graduating in 2016 with a major in Computer Science and a minor in Music. During his time at the university, he studied piano with Dr. Dainius Vaicekonis, and regularly performed with the UW Symphony Orchestra on violin and keyboard. He was twice the recipient of a music scholarship, and was a finalist in the 2013 UW Concerto Competition.
After college, Mr. Liu moved to California, where he was an accompanist at the Community School of Music and Art (CSMA) in Mountain View, regularly accompanying students of all ages and for a diverse variety of musical styles. He was also a keyboardist, violinist, and violist with Redwood Symphony, an all-volunteer orchestra in the Bay Area known for performing and premiering ambitious works across the musical repertoire.
Aside from his career aspirations, Mr. Liu enjoys hiking, photography, and travel. He currently resides in Seattle, a place he has considered home for the majority of his life.
Composer in Residence
Caleb is the inaugural Composer-in-Residence at Key to Change. He composes original works for both violin and viola for string students of all musical levels that they will perform virtually in the Spring Recital of 2021.
Caleb Vaughn-Jones has also composed pieces for cello that push the boundaries of the instrument. His compositions display his unique life experiences, embodying traditional classical music, American folk, and distinct rhythms and harmonies from the African continent.
Caleb’s performance career began as a touring chamber musician. He has collaborated with actors and appeared in plays such as “Melancholy Play” by Sarah Ruhl and the US premier of Euripides’ “Ion” at the Shakespeare Theater in Washington, DC. Caleb also appeared on screen in the major-motion picture “Step Up” (2006). In 2010, Caleb was the featured cello soloist with the Prague Filmharmonic on the soundtrack of Civilization V, composed by Geoff Knorr.
Caleb lived in Port Elizabeth, South Africa for 9 years. During that time, he served as the principal cellist of the Eastern Cape Philharmonic Orchestra. In 2018, he held artist residencies at the University of Pretoria’s UP 4 Strings program and Kingswood College. Caleb is a 2018 recipient of a Sphinx MPower grant from the Sphinx Organization in Detroit, Michigan.
In 2019, he was commissioned by Nelson Mandela University to compose and produce a recording for the art exhibition entitled “Provoke/Ukuchukumisa/Daag-Uit”. For this commission, Caleb produced the title track “Rite of Passage,” depicting the journey of Nelson Mandela throughout the African continent as he sought foreign governmental support for the Anti-Apartheid Movement.
He is the Founder and Executive Producer of Regulus Sound Productions, which produces music for Firaxis Games and other film and TV companies.
Caleb is the founder of www.thefuturemuse.com, a blog dedicated to helping musicians learn more about the music business, recording tips, and bits of advice that he learns from his own experience.
He currently lives in Los Angeles with his wife Britni and daughter Ava.
Executive Assistant and Office Manager
Originally from south central Pennsylvania, Ashley and her family took a giant leap of faith when they moved to the Seattle area in 2018, in part because they wanted to be around a more diverse community, as well as have their three children attend a school where all the other kids didn’t look like them. Graduating from Eastern University with a dual major in youth ministries and theology in 2006, Ashley began her career in camp ministry at Kenbrook, serving as the program director. In 2011, Ashley took on the most challenging role of her life — being a stay-at-home mom to three children under the age of 4. During that time, she received her personal training certification, served as a substitute teacher, taught group fitness classes at her local YMCA and volunteered with the PTO. The experience she gained in these positions, as well as managing a bustling household, has prepared her well for this position, and she looks forward to serving on a wonderful team.
Dan Schmitt graduated with a BA in Music History & Theory from Hiram College, in Hiram, OH in 1976 and moved to Washington state soon thereafter. He began working for nonprofits in Seattle in 1991. In that year he was hired by VSA arts of Washington, a state affiliate of VSA arts, a national arts and disabilities organization. Dan became the Executive Director of VSAAW in 1995 and continued in that capacity for 11 years. As the organization’s sole development officer, his work with VSAAW prepared him for later roles with Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestras (Associate Director of Development, 2011 – 2018) and Children’s Home Society of Washington (Private Grants Manager, 2018 – 2021). As a musician himself, he is pleased to return to the field of music education through his affiliation with Key to Change. A student of African, Afro-Cuban, and Afro-Brazilian music, Dan performs in the Seattle area as a singer, bassist, and percussionist. He is also President of the Seattle World Percussion Society, a home-grown Seattle institution that has produced the annual World Rhythm Festival for the past 27 years.
- Bernard Ablola, Founder, Think Strategy
- Chris Tugwell, CEO, Be Well Consulting
- LeAnne Moss, Executive Director of the Renton Regional Community Foundation
- Stephanie Ellis-Smith, CEO Phila Giving
- Vivian Phillips, Arts Consultant
- Vincent Hernandez, Senior Credit Analyst, PACCAR Financial
- Marcie Maxwell, Community Leader
- Peter Drury, Chief Strategy Officer, Wellspring Family Services