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!
Melanie Hsu (Community Organizing Director) is honored to step into her new role at Girls Rock Philly. Since 2015, Mel has worn many hats within the organization: volunteer, instrument instructor, band coach, volunteer coordinator, workshop facilitator and eternal cheerleader! She is excited for her relationship with the GRP Community to continue evolving in courageous and transformative ways.
Mel has been a teaching artist for several art organizations throughout Philadelphia and is best known for naming her teaching studio “The ClassWomb,” due to the intentional steps she takes to build her learning spaces as sites of continual rebirth and evolution. “The ClassWomb” celebrates mistakes, questions, frustration, slowness and vulnerability as the birthplace of growth. Through the exploration of music, Mel and her students empower one another by embarking on the radical process of learning without shame and expressing without fear.
Raised primarily a classical cellist, Mel has a deep and eternal love for the low frequencies of the bass clef. As a multi-instrumentalist, Melanie composes and performs for film, theater, dance, poetry and epic neighborhood parades. Her work can be explored here!
Candice Johnson (Operations Manager) 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.
Philly native Julia Rainer (Program Facilitator) is a singer, guitar player, song writer, and producer. She has been writing and performing in the Philly scene for over 10 years, and earned her Undergraduate Degree in the Music Business & Technology program at University of the Arts. Julia has devoted herself to non-profit work through her positions at Weathervane Music and The Boys’ & Girls’ Club. In 2017, Julia released her debut LP ‘Spirits’ with the local label Creep Records. Her aspirations for 2018 include touring, writing and recording new music, and connecting with new audiences, as well as continuing to connect and work alongside a growing community of people for social, racial, economic, and gender justice.