New Leaders Onboard

Tommy Neblett has been named the dean of dance at Boston Conservatory at Berklee. Neblett has been affiliated with the Conservatory since 1994 and has been in the dance profession for more than 35 years. As a performer, Neblett has worked with Dan Wagoner and Dancers, Laura Dean Dancers and Musicians, Concert Dance Company of Boston, Maryland Dance Theater, and Prometheus Dance. Neblett has also performed in films, fashion shows, nightclubs, operas, and theater productions. He has served on the dance faculties of Harvard University, Emerson College, Walnut Hill School for the Arts, the Dance Complex, and the Oure Idraetshojskole in Denmark. He holds two bachelor’s degrees from James Madison University.

After serving as an associate professor and interim chair of dance at the Conservatory, Mila Thigpen has been named the dance department’s new chair. She came to the Conservatory in 2015 after serving as a teaching fellow at Harvard University and dance lecturer at Tufts University. She has extensive experience as a choreographer, dance performer, and conference and workshop presenter. Thigpen earned her B.A. degree from Kenyon College, M.F.A. at the Boston Conservatory, Ed.M. at Harvard Extension School, and anticipates earning her doctorate from Texas Women’s University in 2019.

Matthew M. Marsit has been named chair of instrumental studies at the Conservatory. In his new position, he will oversee all instrumental areas within the Conservatory’s Music Division. Since earning his master’s degree in orchestral conducting from the Conservatory in 2012, Marsit has led ensembles and performed as a solo, chamber, and orchestral musician throughout the United States. He is the director of bands for the Hopkins Center for the Performing Arts at Dartmouth College, music director of the Charles River Wind Ensemble, and assistant conductor of Symphony Nova. He has previously held conducting positions at Ithaca College, Cornell University, and Drexel University, among others.

Michele Darling has joined Berklee’s Electronic Production and Design Department as assistant chair. She is an accomplished sound designer, composer, recording engineer, and educator who worked for years as part of the Emmy Award–winning production team at Sesame Workshop. Her career highlights also include sound work for several animated television shows, online media, games, and applications. Darling holds a B.S. in music from Indiana University Jacobs School of Music and a master’s degree in music technology from New York University.

Toki Wright has assumed the role of assistant chair of Berklee’s Professional Music Department. He formerly headed the hip-hop studies program at McNally Smith College of Music and is a veteran performer, recording artist, and radio program creator and curator. He won two Emmy Awards for original music he composed for documentary films and has won two Clio Awards for advertising campaigns. Wright earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota.

Aja Burrell Wood is the new managing director for the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice. An enthnomusicologist, Wood is a specialist in jazz, women in jazz, black classical musicians, blues, hip-hop, and other genres related to the African diaspora. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Howard University and is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Michigan.