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Troy Anderson, Suzuki-Orff School of Music (Class of 2010)

Troy Anderson was appointed executive director of Chicago's Suzuki-Orff School of Music in September of 2011---less than a year after he completed CAELI. Troy’s career in community arts education began in 2001 as the program director at the David Adler Music and Arts Center in Libertyville, IL. In June of 2007, Troy joined the staff of the Merit School of Music in Chicago as director of the Preparatory Program and moved into the role of dean of programs in December of 2007. While serving as dean of programs, Troy oversaw the installation of a curriculum and development of assessment tools to measure student achievement and overall program effectiveness. Troy also serves as vice-chair of the Western Great Lakes Chapter of the National Guild and on the Members Council.

Why did you apply to CAELI?

I was in a significant leadership position at the time I was applying for CAELI but hadn’t had much formal training in leadership or management at that point in my career. There was a lot of change occurring in the organization and I was faced with many challenging situations that I didn’t have the tools and resources to handle. I had hit a wall and needed a push. I needed to find skills to help me, and the people I worked with, navigate those difficult situations.

Was CAELI different than you expected it to be?

The experience was much more personal than I expected.  I finished CAELI with tools that really help me be a healthy leader—not only in my career but in my personal life too.

What aspects of CAELI were most beneficial to you?

Since CAELI, I’ve done a tremendous amount of exploration into my core values and how these influence my behavior and decision-making. In my new position as an executive director, I’ve also been able to develop core values for my organization. Values are essentially what is important to you and how you’re spending your time. Suzuki-Orff School of Music’s core values are learning, service, and standards. In support of these values, we’ve allocated more of our budget to professional development to enhance learning and to human resources to enhance service to our families and the schools we serve. We’ve also brought in people to help us develop new standards and assessments to ensure we are achieving our goals.

Additionally I've come to understand the tremendous importance of reflection and renewal. As arts administrators, it’s easy to get sucked into the day-to-day aspects of our work. CAELI taught me how to step back and reflect on my practice and what drives me.

To continue my development, I still periodically meet on my own with the executive coach from CAELI. I also refer continuously to the binder of resources I received at the institute and share copies of these materials with my colleagues.

For me, CAELI opened up a whole world of behaviors and competencies that are necessary for me to lead effectively. Having come into CAELI with no prior management or leadership training, the institute also helped me take some of my previous leadership practices to the next level.

What would you tell a prospective applicant?

Be prepared for this to change your life in some way. You can get so much out of this experience if you embrace the process and go in with your guard down. If you do, you’ll come out feeling like a new person. I personally don’t know how I would be functioning today without CAELI. I would encourage anyone to participate.

This resource brought to you by the National Guild for Community Arts Education.