The great poet Maya Angelou said, “ You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” My mother understood this and was determined to rear my brother and I in a manner that placed strong values on education, respect, sacrifice, community, and love. We were instructed to not only become fathers to our biological children but to also become fathers to children who may have had experiences similar to ours. We were given the charge to make a difference in the world by sharing the talents and gifts that we gained through our personal experiences. The gift that was given to me was the gift of the performing arts. I joined band in fourth grade and it truly transformed the road that was before me. There are alarming statistics that favor a path of destruction for individuals who are raised in conditions similar to mine. I was fortunate to have had caring, compassionate, and competent instructors throughout my educational journey leading me on a path to success. I was raised in an underserved community and my life was transformed by music education. My life’s mission is to present music education as a vehicle to enhance and develop life skills. I will lead, train, and educate staff to transform students as well as the communities in which they live. It is this type of reach that will support the progress that we as humanity look to gain throughout the world. As an organizational leader, I am student-centered. I engage students and stakeholders by meeting essential needs. I possess over 17 years of experience in music education, performance, and leadership. My professional approach is to lead by serving. My strengths are my abilities to understand, inspire, and obtain buy-in from parents, students, and colleagues. I am a visionary who is passionate about the transformative abilities of music education. These transformations transcend the walls of the rehearsal space or classroom and into the student’s communities. This knowledge has allowed me to be featured in several international publications including ASCD’s, “Teaching with Poverty in Mind” by Eric Jenson. A commitment to student achievement and a mission to serve students from diverse communities through music has defined my career. It is now time to mobilize this commitment through the Griffin Institute of Performing Arts. We will provide those same valuable experiences that were afforded to me to students across Southern Cook County. The Griffin Institute seeks to expand our reach and begin to share our philosophy of love, community, and service to students and families throughout Southern Cook County. The Griffin Institute of Performing arts will provide a platform for mentorship, education, and community service. We will utilize our wide array of skills and understanding of diverse communities to develop innovative approaches. These approaches will transform communities by way of arts education. These approaches will launch our mission into greater territories to ensure students and families from all walks of life have the opportunity to be touched by the gift of the arts no matter their economic status. Please join us as we embark on our journey to make change, one student at a time.