Episode 55: Generate and Cultivate Engagement

Zakiya Thomas, Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Executive Director of Education, Community Engagement and Inclusion, discusses how evaluation and accountability are key for institutions seeking to reach new audiences.

She says the same rigor that organizations apply to visitor experience or to the quality of work on display needs to also be applied around how that organization works with communities and the kinds of outcomes they expect to see.

Zakiya ThomasFor more than fifteen years, Zakiya Thomas has worked to develop engaging educational and public service initiatives designed to strategically align business, marketing, public relations and community engagement objectives.

She currently serves as the Executive Officer for Education, Community Engagement and Inclusion for the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

For five years she served as Director of Education and Community Initiatives for the Boston Ballet where she oversaw the organization’s nationally-acclaimed education programs Citydance, Taking Steps, and Adaptive Dance. While there, Zakiya worked to develop new initiatives designed to strengthen the Ballet’s ties with the Greater Boston community. Prior to joining the Boston Ballet team, Zakiya worked for the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston where she managed the Museum’s community programs and shaped new audience development initiatives that involved internal staff, external constituents and the Museum’s board.

Zakiya studied violin for over 20 years, including time spent at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music in Houston, Texas. She holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at Austin and a graduate degree from Boston University, having studied both journalism and arts administration respectively. Zakiya also received her Master’s in Education from Harvard University with a focus on Education Policy and Management. For five years she served as a member of the Massachusetts Cultural Council board, and the board of Sociedad Latina in Boston’s Mission Hill neighborhood. She currently serves on the Board of the North Bennet Street School in Boston.

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