A New Crop of Academic Leaders

By Nick Balkin, Libby Botsford, Allen Bush, and Tori Donahue

Boston Conservatory at Berklee

On June 6, Cathy Young was named the executive director for Boston Conservatory at Berklee making her the first woman to lead the 150-year-old institution. Young formerly served as the conservatory’s dean of dance, a position she has held since joining the institution in 2011. She will oversee the conservatory’s Dance, Music, and Theater divisions, as well as all operations for the institution. The role of executive director is a new position for the conservatory, which merged with Berklee in 2016.

Under Young’s leadership, the dance division at the conservatory grew from 60 students in 2011 to 150 students today. During her six-year tenure, she has overseen the implementation of a comprehensive new curriculum designed to prepare dance artists for 21st-century entrepreneurial dance careers.

A nationally recognized master teacher, Young has taught and conducted residencies at more than 30 colleges, universities, and dance festivals across the country.

Michael Shinn has been named as the dean of music for Boston Conservatory at Berklee and will oversee the school’s Music Division. An accomplished pianist, Shinn has worked as a performer, educator, entrepreneur, and arts advocate. Previously, he served as the chair of keyboard studies at the Juilliard School of Music, where in addition to teaching, he developed digital learning tools and courses for Juilliard’s online program.

In 2011, Shinn established and directing pianoSonoma, a successful music festival in Sonoma County, CA.

Music Business/Management

Tonya Butler is the new assistant chair of the Music Business/Management Department. She is the first woman to hold a leadership role in the department. An accomplished educator, attorney, administrator, and motivational speaker, Butler comes to Berklee from Minnesota State University, Mankato. There she directed the Music Industry Studies program. She previously served as the coordinator of music business at the University of Memphis and course director of entertainment marketing and media distribution at the Los Angeles Film School.  

Prior to teaching, Butler spent 14 years as an entertainment attorney working in-house for record and publishing companies and film studios.

Percussion Department

Omar Hakim—a master drummer who has played on countless hits, from David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” to Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky”—is the new chair of the Percussion Department.

One of the most influential drummers of the past 40 years, Hakim is renowned for his versatility. He has hundreds of albums to his credit and has collaborated with scores of prominent artists, including Miles Davis, Madonna, Lionel Richie, Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen, Mariah Carey, Chaka Khan, D’Angelo, and others.

A native of New York City, Hakim took up the drums at five years old. During the 1980s, he rose to prominence as a member of the seminal fusion band Weather Report.

He later recorded with Bowie, Miles Davis, and Sting. In the 1990s, Hakim toured and recorded with Lionel Richie and Madonna. In 2014, Hakim released his critically acclaimed third solo album, We Are One.

VP for Innovation and Strategy

Panos Panay has been promoted to vice president for innovation and strategy. Panay, a Berklee graduate who founded the artist booking platform Sonicbids, will remain the managing director of Berklee’s Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship (BerkleeICE). In that role, Panay led the founding of the Open Music Initiative, whose mission is to create an open protocol for identifying and compensating creators of music.

Panay will work across all Berklee divisions, departments, and campuses to develop, advance, and implement innovative new programs and overall strategic direction for the institution. This will include developing relationships, partnerships, and future-oriented projects that fulfill Berklee’s vision to transform arts education and to empower artists to better the world.

Additionally, Panay will explore the role that emerging technologies—including artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and augmented reality—plays in the education and creative industries through the development of various learning and research-based initiatives.

Film Scoring Department

Sean McMahon has been named assistant chair of the Film Scoring Department. Originally from Toronto, Canada, he earned his bachelor’s degree in film scoring from Berklee in 2000 and later completed the University of Southern California’s Scoring for Motion Pictures and Television graduate program in Los Angeles.

McMahon worked for Hollywood film composer Christopher Young as his project manager and orchestrator. McMahon's orchestration credits include Spider-Man 3The GrudgeGhost Rider, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, and Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas, among others. Additionally, he penned orchestrations for composer John Ottman and scored the video games Jump Dewds! and Strata.

Berklee Online

Carin Nuernberg has been promoted to vice president of online education. A foundational team member of Berklee Online, Nuernberg played an instrumental role in creating the design and development model for teaching music online. Under her leadership, Berklee Online has launched more than 180 courses and earned recognition from the University Professional and Continuing Education Association, winning its best online college course award for eight years in a row and a Strategic Innovation in Online Education award.

In her new role, Nuernberg will oversee the development and expansion of Berklee Online’s graduate and undergraduate degree programs, instructor-led courses and certificate programs, massive open online courses (MOOCs), and campus events for online students.

In addition, Nuernberg will collaborate across the college to create flexible and affordable pathways for students in pursuit of their educational goals. She will oversee the college’s book publishing operation, Berklee Press, and provide leadership for ensuring accreditation, accessibility, and a unified approach to program and curriculum development.