Who We Are
Our mission to make music a part of every child’s education is achieved through the collaborative efforts of zSharp’s:
Annie Smith is a Bay Area based performer and teacher. She holds an MM in voice from San Francisco Conservatory and a BM in voice from Boston Conservatory. Recent operatic roles include Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro, Nella in Gianni Schicchi, and Pamina in Die Zauberflöte. She performs regularly with Oakland based hip-hop chamber group Ensemble Mik Nawooj, who recently made their east coast debut at the Apollo Music Cafe in Harlem. She also is a founder of Fête Concerts, which throws birthday parties for composers, educating and entertaining audiences with music and birthday cake. Annie began teaching in classrooms in 2014 with Music for Minors, and has been teaching voice and piano privately since 2010. This is Annie’s first year at zSharp.
David Peterson hails from Hackettstown, New Jersey, and received his BA in Music Education from the John J. Cali School of Music at Montclair State University, studying conducting and classical percussion. He has been a participant and educator in the marching arts activity for the past 15 years, during which time he earned a Drum Corps International Division III World Championship title, and a US Scholastic Band Association New Jersey state title. Currently, he and his wife Paige are the co-caption heads for the Benicia High School Indoor Drumline in Benicia, CA. With other educators, he is in the planning stages of starting a performing arts organization for girls in the Bay Area.
Denali Gillaspie is overjoyed to be with zSharp. Previously, they taught guitar and slam poetry classes in Tulsa, OK for a year after graduating from Colorado College, where they studied voice, visual art, and performance. As a member of Colorado College's co-ed a cappella group, Room 46, Denali enjoyed composition and arranging. They grew up playing music in the Bay Area as a singer-songwriter and a Bread & Roses performer. In 2008-2009, they taught English and music classes in schools in Thailand and India, and taught in a Buddhist monastery & nunnery in Nepal. Denali has been volunteering at San Quentin State Prison for the past two years, where they play jazz with inmates in the Arts in Corrections music program. They believe music can be a tool for fostering self-empowerment, self-expression, and community, and looks forward to a second year of sharing the gift of music with students TK-5 at Cox Academy!
Eli Maliwan is a San Francisco Bay Area Native. He began playing saxophone at the age of 9 and by high school enrolled in independent study to study jazz full time. During this time Eli was studying with several different teachers and taught for The Prominence Project, a non-profit organization that brought jazz classes and lessons to underprivileged kids in Marin County. Eli realized that teaching came naturally and that he connected with young people in his community who had a similar socio-economic background as him. Eli was raised by a single mother who was an immigrant from Thailand. In 2004 he attended the Oberlin Conservatory on a full financial aid based scholarship studying with Gary Bartz, Robin Eubanks, and Paul Cohen. Eli taught private lessons in Avon Lake, Ohio during his time at Oberlin. In 2008 he attended Portland State University and studied with Darrell Grant and Alan Jones. Eli also minored in Women’s Studies and was highly involved in the program. Eli received a Master’s Degree in Music from the California School for the Arts and toured with faculty member Alfonso Johnson. He taught jazz classes through Community Arts Partnership and privately at West Coast Music in Santa Clarita, CA. In the years after graduate school, Eli played saxophone on various cruise lines before settling back down to San Francisco where he currently plays music professionally in many different groups and teaches at several organizations including Stanford Jazz Workshop, Amabile School of Music, and zSharp.
Jennifer Wu is excited to join the zSharp team from Toronto, Canada, where she earned her Bachelor of Music in Music Education and Voice, and Bachelor of Education from Wilfrid Laurier University, and is currently in the midst of completing her Master of Arts in Community Music. She is an alumna of the Royal Conservatory of Music and a member of the Ontario College of Teachers. Jennifer has been teaching voice and piano for over 5 years, where her students ranged from 5 to 65 in age—one is never too old or too young to make music! Her love for diverse teaching experiences has given her the opportunity to work with international students, children with special needs, English language learners, as well as university students in a variety of settings. In the public school system, she has taught grades 1-8 in Music, Math and Language Arts. As a performer, Jennifer’s credits include, Cherubino in The Marriage of Figaro (Opera Laurier), and Hänsel in Hänsel und Gretel (Opera Laurier), as well as solo and collaborative recitals.
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Kim Kays, Executive Director
Kim brings over a decade of experience to zSharp as a music educator, school leader, and nonprofit founder and director. She fell in love with music in high school where she participated in concert choir, marching band, pep band, dance troupe, and musical theater. Her experience in education spans from Kindergarten to Twelfth Grade general music, choir, band, theater, and dance. Most recently, she was the Dean of Student Advancement at Erie Elementary Charter School in Chicago where she coached teachers in classroom culture, student engagement, and effective teaching strategies. In 2014, she founded Swing for Kids, a nonprofit that provides in school Swing Dance instruction to Chicago Public School students. She attended Greenville College, earning a degree in Music Education and was an active member of the Greenville College Choir, under the direction of Dr. Jeff Wilson, and concert band, under the direction of Dr. Chris Woods. She earned her Master’s Degree in Urban Education Leadership from DePaul University. In her free time, Kim is an avid swing dancer and vintage fashion lover.
Sonya Harway, Program Director
Sonya is a music educator, singer-songwriter, pianist and vocalist. She came to zSharp from Washington DC, where she earned her Bachelor's degree at The George Washington University in Piano Performance with a concentration in Vocal Studies. She continued her graduate studies in musicology and music pedagogy at The Catholic University of America. Sonya has taught music to students from preschool to high school with fourteen years of teaching experience, including five years with zSharp. She has participated in orchestras, choirs, and a cappella ensembles on both coasts, in addition to leading her own bands. Sonya completed Level One with SF Orff in Carmel Valley in 2016 and will return for Level Two in 2017.
Grant Support Volunteer, Grant Support Volunteer
Allison is a Bay Area native and has been in the nonprofit field for over six years. After earning a Bachelor's degree in Communication Studies from the University of San Francisco, she's gone on to work and write for March of Dimes, Seven Tepees Youth Program, and other youth based organizations. A music lover and choir member since childhood, she has a personal appreciation for music and arts programs in public schools. She is very excited to help zSharp further it's mission!
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Joshua Lachs, President, Board of Directors
Josh brings a deep background in executive leadership within the nonprofit, education, and social enterprise sectors. Most recently, Josh served as CEO for Breakthrough Collaborative, an award-winning national organization focused on college- and career-readiness; and the country’s largest pre-residency program for aspiring educators. He currently consults for several social venture start-ups in the areas of strategic and business planning, talent development, external relations, and resource development. Previously, Josh served as Chief Officer of Workforce Development & Community Engagement for Goodwill Industries of San Francisco, San Mateo, and Marin, a nationally reputed job training enterprise. In his prior life, Josh spent many years serving as a university dean, where he led several continuing education divisions. Deeply committed to zSharp's music education mission. Josh grew up with a love of world music and learned Arfo-Cuban percussion as an adult. He and his family call Berkeley their home. His boys attend public school. He holds a B.A. from UC Berkeley in Comparative Religions and two Masters degrees Education Policy and Administration from Columbia University.
As a practicing attorney for nearly 20 years, Adam has held executive- and board- level positions in both the for-profit and non-profit worlds. He gets his love of music and singing from his mother and maternal grandmother. He grew up singing in church and school choirs, performing as a soloist and participating in various other performance arts. Cherishing the important role music has played in his life, Adam hopes to share that passion with others through his involvement with zSharp. Professionally, he has worked with composers, filmmakers and music publishers in relation to the licensing and distribution of digital content. In addition to music, his other loves are travel, food, wine and art. He’s a published writer and photographer. He holds a BA from the University of Virginia and his JD from the University of California-Berkeley.
Miki began taking piano lessons at the age of five and competed in local and state level competitions throughout her childhood. She was accepted into The Florida State University’s School of Music where she was awarded both academic and music scholarships and earned a Bachelor of Musical Arts. One of her lasting memories of Florida State, in addition to becoming a life long ‘Nole football fan, was that she, along with all music majors, attended one hundred and twenty student recitals as a prerequisite to receiving a music degree. It was at this time that she developed a strong foundation and appreciation for musical arts. Although her career took her away from the piano and into financial services, she is passing along her passion for music to her son, who also plays the piano. She is currently a regional director for a national retirement plan provider with a focus on working with tax-exempt organizations. Miki, her husband, and son reside in Kensington. She excited to be apart of the zSharp team and is looking forward to moving forward the ideals and mission.
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