Andrea Jácome (Community Organizing Director): Andrea is excited to transition from the Creative Director to the Community Organizing Director at Girls Rock Philly! She hails from Atlanta by way of Colombia and Ecuador with a background in popular education, cultural organizing, and booking. For 4 years, she was previously involved as a facilitator and core-member of Taller de Paz, a transnational project empowering internally displaced youth in Suba, Colombia by way of creative workshops ranging in urban agriculture to ¡Mujeres Unidas! A graduate from Swarthmore College majoring in History and Latin American studies, she was the former booking director of Olde Club where she co-curated shows ranging from hip hop to burlesque. She likes to study herbalism and organize around food and music.
Samantha Rise (Program Director): Samantha (she/her/hers) is honored to join the GRP team as Program Director. Samantha first fell in love with this city as a student at Temple University, where she earned her BFA in Jazz Performance. Since graduating, Samantha’s passion for music and community building are the heart of her work: Over the last decade, she has worked as a teaching artist and enrichment instructor in Philly, New York, New Jersey and in the D.C area. For the past several years, Samantha has enjoyed public service in the Public Library, first as a Youth Services Librarian in western Wyoming, and most recently as a mentor in the Free Library’s Maker Jawn–an inquiry-driven, participant led makerspace movement in North Philadelphia.
In addition to her experience as an Teaching Artist and Arts Advocate, Samantha brings her deep commitment to social justice to her position, and is thrilled to support GRP in it’s work to operationalize these values. In addition to work as Program Director, Samantha performs with Philly based kid’s band, Alex and the Kaleidoscope, as well as local indie project, The People. She is in in love with the process of producing her self-titled debut, Brighter Days, and looks forward to its release this fall. Check out some of her music here!
The return to Philadelphia is in equal measure homecoming and new adventure, and she looks forward to living the questions and amplifying the incredible work happening at Girls Rock Philly. Samantha looks forward to greeting you more formally (and informally) in the days and weeks to come!
Dorie Byrne, Cheshire Agusta, Melanie Hsu, Candice Johnson and Jennifer Swanson are our after school instructors. Combining their extensive volunteer experience at GRP with their strong educational and musical backgrounds, they make up an invaluable program staff cohort.
Cheshire Agusta has been GRP’s resident drum instructor. She comes to GRP with boundless enthusiasm and a BA from Bryn Mawr College in music history and composition, graduate work at Lowell University in the Kodaly method of teaching music to children, fifteen years experience teaching both privately and at Philadelphia community music conservatories and rock schools. She has been the set drummer for bands of various styles and her current band, Stinking Lizaveta has been writing, recording and touring US and Europe for twenty years.
Dorie Byrne began volunteering at Girls Rock Philly in 2010 as an instrument instructor, and joined both the board and the staff in September 2012. She has a Bachelor of Music in Music Education from the University of Miami. Dorie runs a dog-walking business and teaches piano and voice lessons when she’s not working at the Girls Rock after-school program. She enjoys composing live scores for theatrical performances and plays accordion in the band Upholstery.
Mel Hsu and her cello, Charles, are rather inseparable. Mel’s high school band teacher once told her that there was no place for her or her cello in the school jazz band. Amused by this assertion, Mel has since had no interested in remaining complacent within stylistic expectations for her instrument. Although Mel was raised as a classical cellist, she and Charles have been coaxing each other into realms of indie soul, folk, hip-hop and jazz for the past seven years. In the spirit of musical restlessness, Mel adventured into the realms ofjazz on the “big cello” while at Wesleyan University and now has the honor of teaching upright and electric bass at Girls Rock Philly.
Candice Johnson started volunteering with GRP in summer of 2013 and is now the Barracuda Club Coordinator. After graduating from Rutgers University, Candy taught English in France and worked in Student Services at the English Language Programs at Penn. In addition, Candy has been organizing shows with Permanent Wave Philly since 2012 and currently plays guitar and bass in local bands Bike Crash and Mermaid Parade.
Jennifer Swanson, MMT, MT-BC, is a board certified music therapist. She received her Masters in Music Therapy from Temple University. She has experience working with individuals and groups, including adolescents experiencing grief/loss, LGBT identity, depression, and anxiety. She loves witnessing people find enhanced strength, confidence, and connection through writing music. She enjoys songwriting on her own, and with her wonderful musician friends and colleagues. She plays flute, guitar, piano, and djembe.