Catching Up With Alums Megan Zhang (ARAD ‘20) and Mari Takeda (ARAD ‘20)

Megan Zhang (ARAD ‘20) and Mari Takeda (ARAD ‘20) are recent TC graduates. Megan is currently the Administrative Manager at Juilliard Preparatory Division, and Mari Takeda is currently the Donor Relationships Manager at Baltimore Center Stage. For this blog, they caught up with each other on what they’ve been up to since graduation. 

Left: Megan Zhang, Right: Mari Takeda

Mari Takeda (MT): How was your day at work today? What do you work on?

Megan Zhang (MZ): Today, I worked on the Music Advancement Program admissions and Pre-College Financial Aid. Both the Music Advancement Program (MAP)and Pre-College are conservatory-style educational programs at Juilliard for intermediate and advanced students between the ages of 8-18. Juilliard has an ongoing commitment to the principles and practices of equity, diversity, inclusion, and belonging (EDIB) and is committed to fostering an environment that is inclusive, supportive, and welcoming to all. Therefore, MAP admissions actively seeks students from diverse backgrounds underrepresented in the classical music field. Today, we were reviewing and discussing student auditions, interviews, and EDIB strategies for our incoming class. One way to ensure all students have access to this level of education is to offer financial aid, and so another part of my day was looking at financial aid applications and awarding students scholarships to help offset tuition. 

MZ: Speaking of scholarships and grants… you work in development, right? What are you currently working on?

MT: As the Donor Relationships Manager at Baltimore Center Stage (BCS), I work on Individual Giving and cultivating relationships with individual donors. BCS is a regional theater in Baltimore, MD, and just so happens to be located across the street from where I went to music school for undergrad! The work and steps towards antiracism they’ve taken as a theater really stood out to me when I was applying for the position back in November. We just had our Annual Gala, so I was working on that a lot for the last couple of months. It was my first time working on a Gala from start to finish, so it was really amazing to see the event come to life! We did an in-person, outdoor Gala as well as a virtual livestream of the event, so folks were able to take part in our celebration however they felt comfortable. As implied in my title, I work on cultivating strong and meaningful relationships with our donors, which has definitely been a challenge in COVID times and without being able to enjoy theater in-person. I can’t wait until we can safely be back in person again! I’m most looking forward to being able to attend a show at the theater and have a chance to meet our wonderful donors at our events! 

MT: What do you find most interesting about your job? 

MZ: The most interesting part of my job is that my responsibilities are primarily to further the mission of both the Pre-College and MAP by extending our commitment to EDIB. My favorite project right now is a large-scale commissioning initiative to diversify the repertoire our students play by commissioning a cohort of diverse composers to write solo pieces and etude books for each instrument in Pre-College and MAP. This has been really interesting to work on because I’ve been able to apply several of my ARAD courses such as Accounting, Law & the Arts, Business Policy, and Access to the Arts. 

MZ: Have you found yourself using any classes you took in ARAD in your current position?

MT: Absolutely! Support Structures with Professor Kirsten Munro was the course that really sparked my interest to pursue a career working in Development. I’m so glad that was one of the first classes we took, and it provided a really fundamental basis of the Development work I do everyday now. I ended up pursuing internship opportunities in Development that same first semester and just loved the work! I also have found the HR and Management & Leadership courses I took through the Department of Organization and Leadership incredibly helpful in understanding best practices in organizational leadership and development. 

MT: I miss taking classes, TC and ARAD a lot! How have you been spending your time outside of work?

MZ: After the past year, I’ve been improving my work-life balance so in my free time, I love to workout, do yoga, cook, read, and roam around the park. I’ve also been getting involved in outside arts administration organizations like the NYC Arts in Education Roundtable and the League of American Orchestras. I helped plan the Roundtable’s annual conference this past April, and I attended the League’s conference this month. 

MZ: What have you been up to outside of work?

MT: I’ve also been enjoying taking advantage of so many great conferences out there, now that they are virtually accessible! Outside of work, I’ve been staying busy helping out with the Reimagining Education Summer Institute (RESI) at TC. I worked with the RESI team throughout my time at TC, working on social media, marketing, and now on the tech team, and I’m so grateful to be still working with them as they are an amazing team doing incredible work! Aside from that, I recently had the opportunity to serve as a panelist for a grant for the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County in Maryland, which was a really incredible opportunity to see the grantmaking side of things. It was a funding opportunity for individual artists, and reviewing applications and seeing all of the project proposals amidst the COVID Pandemic was really inspiring. Fun fact – Katarina Wong was also on the same panel! It was a lot of fun working together on the panel. 

MZ: That sounds great! We would both definitely recommend to incoming ARAD students to get involved in other departments at TC. You were really involved with RESI and I was involved with the Music Ed Department. I would also recommend taking advantage of as many internship or part-time work opportunities as you can because you never know how that might build your network, expand your career interests or even lead to a full-time position. Well it was great catching up with you. I’ll see you around in NYC. 

About Megan Zhang: Megan currently works as the Administrative Manager of the Preparatory Division at The Juilliard School. She has interned at The Juilliard School, Lincoln Center, New York Philharmonic, Carnegie Hall, and VH1 Save the Music Foundation. In addition to her M.A. in Arts Administration from Teachers College, she holds a Bachelor of Music from the NYU Steinhardt in Music Education and a Minor in Global Education. 

About Mari Takeda: Mari currently works as the Donor Relationships Manager at Baltimore Center Stage. She has interned at Lincoln Center, New York City Ballet, The Kennedy Center, and DC Jazz Festival. In addition to her M.A. in Arts Administration from Teachers College, she holds a Bachelor of Music from the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University in Percussion Performance and a Minor in Business of Music. 

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