Toledo Symphony’s Director of Education Identified as Emerging Leader by the League of American Orchestras

Toledo Symphony’s Director of Education Identified as Emerging Leader by the League of American Orchestras

Published Friday, October 12, 2018 1:00 pm

On Thursday, October 11, 2018, the League of American Orchestras announced the 2018-2019 members of its Emerging Leaders Program. Rachel Zeithamel, Director of Education and Community Engagement for the Toledo Symphony Orchestra (TSO) was one of twelve selected from a national pool of applicants to participate in the field's premier initiative for cultivating the potential of orchestra professionals.

“I am both humbled and honored to have been chosen to participate in the League of American Orchestras’ Emerging Leaders Program,” said Zeithamel. “It is a great privilege to join other professionals who share the same passion for what they do and who are constantly searching for innovative ways to better their organizations.”

Rachel Zeithamel joined the Toledo Symphony in 2009. As Director of Education and Community Engagement, Ms. Zeithamel oversees the Toledo Symphony School of Music (TSSM) and Toledo Symphony Youth Orchestras (TSYO), representing over 400 students, and acts as a liaison between the TSO and educators throughout northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan. During her tenure with the TSO, she has recruited new teachers, improved the consistency and quality of instruction, increased access to education for tuition-assisted students, created innovative programming for adults and children, and grown the TSSM and TSYO to record enrollment.

“Rachel has done so much to raise the profile of our many educational programs, educational performances, and area outreach,” says Zak Vassar, President & CEO of the Toledo Symphony. “I join the League of American Orchestras in applauding her great work and focus. Rachel is a good example of the talented team that the Toledo Symphony has working in our community.”

Also announced among the twelve participants is Maribeth Stahl, Sr. Director of Development at the Nashville Symphony. Ms. Stahl began her career in 2003 at the Toledo Symphony, working in a variety of marketing and corporate development roles. She relocated to the Nashville Symphony after six seasons in Toledo.

The Emerging Leaders Program participants were selected through a competitive application process; the League sought individuals who bring the imagination, drive, vision, and commitment to grow as leaders in their own orchestras and serve as champions for the field. Applicants were chosen based on their leadership experience and growth potential; adaptive capabilities and collaborative skills; diversity in experience and perspectives; passion for and commitment to orchestras; and potential to shape and influence the orchestra field as it evolves to meet changing audiences. 

"For 75 years, the League of American Orchestras has been charged by the field to develop strategic thinkers and innovators," said League President and CEO Jesse Rosen. "These twelve Emerging Leaders Program participants are stewards of our field's future, and will be equipped with the knowledge they need to lead now and throughout their careers."

The 2018-2019 cohort—the most diverse in the history of the program—is comprised of orchestra executive directors, a conductor, a professional orchestral musician, and managers in a cross-section of orchestra departments, including education and community engagement, development, marketing, operations, programming, and sales. Most have between ten and fifteen years of experience.

This year’s program participants will take part in virtual and in-person seminars and have the opportunity to learn from top leaders from inside and outside the orchestra field. Over the course of ten months, the cohort will engage in one-on-one coaching, mentoring by field leaders, in-depth seminars led by leadership experts, visits with executives and institutions from outside the orchestra field, and the opportunity to launch a capstone project at the League's National Conference, to be held in Nashville in June 2019.

The Emerging Leaders Program is made possible by generous grants from American Express, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.


The Toledo Symphony Orchestra is a community-supported organization of professional musicians and teachers who deliver quality performance and music education for all.

Formed in 1943 as The Friends of Music and incorporated in 1951 as the Toledo Orchestra Association, Inc., the Toledo Symphony Orchestra (TSO) has grown from a core group of twenty-two part-time musicians to a regional orchestra that employs sixty-five professional musicians who consider the Toledo Symphony their primary employer, as well as numerous extra players annually as repertoire demands. This year, the Toledo Symphony celebrates its 75th Anniversary season.

The Toledo Symphony reaches more than 260,000 individuals annually through performances and education programs. The series concerts (Masterworks, Pops, Chamber, Mozart in the Afternoon, and Family Series) are the critical underpinning of the orchestra’s artistic mission and regularly draw people from 135 postal zip codes. Additionally, Music Under the Stars, a free summer band concert series, is held annually at the Toledo Zoo. Education programs, student performances, and community concerts are held in schools, neighborhood churches, performing arts centers, and community facilities throughout the region; many are offered at no charge or provided at a reduced fee to help expand participation.

The Toledo Symphony is a member of the Toledo Alliance for the Performing Arts (TAPA).


The League of American Orchestras leads, supports, and champions America's orchestras and the vitality of the music they perform. Its diverse membership of more than 2,000 organizations and individuals across North America runs the gamut from world-renowned orchestras to community groups, from summer festivals to student and youth ensembles, from conservatories to libraries, from businesses serving orchestras to individuals who love symphonic music. The only national organization dedicated solely to the orchestral experience, the League is a nexus of knowledge and innovation, advocacy, and leadership advancement. Its conferences and events, award-winning Symphony magazine, website, and other publications inform people around the world about orchestral activity and developments. Founded in 1942 and chartered by Congress in 1962, the League links a national network of thousands of instrumentalists, conductors, managers and administrators, board members, volunteers, and business partners. Visit

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