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Home > About > News and Events > News > Member News > Duffie Adelson to Step Down as President of Merit School of Music

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Duffie Adelson to Step Down as President of Merit School of Music

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Image for Duffie Adelson to Step Down as President of Merit School of Music

Mar 23, 2015
Chicago, IL

On Monday, March 23, Duffie Adelson announced her retirement as president of Merit School of Music, after 33 years of devoted service giving thousands of Chicago-area children, especially children living in economically disadvantaged communities, the opportunity to grow through a high-quality music education.

Adelson notified Merit’s Board of Trustees, faculty, staff and parent/student community she will be stepping down on June 30, 2015. In the interim, she will continue her duties as Merit president and remain involved with alumni affairs, development and special projects.

“Talent is equally distributed in this world, but opportunity is not. Merit’s work changes the equation for countless youth by providing exposure to the beauty and power of music, along with opportunity for personal development,” Adelson wrote in a letter to the Merit’s faculty, staff, parents, students and supporters. “We have worked hard to create, within our walls, the kind of world we would like to see beyond our doors. Our accomplishments have been made possible because we have, collectively, served as Merit’s ‘band of believers.’ I thank you for marching in this band alongside me for the past 33 years. And I hope that each of you will continue to participate in this magnificent organization so that Chicago’s children can benefit from a high-quality music education for generations to come.”  
Hired in 1982 by Merit’s founders, Emma Endres-Kountz and Alice S. Pfaelzer, Adelson began her Merit career as a teacher. She subsequently served as associate director, executive director and president. Under her leadership, Merit’s student body grew to 5,000, its annual operating budget rose from six-figures to more than $5 million and Merit purchased its own home in the West Loop after completing a successful, $20 million campaign.
“Duffie has been an incredible leader, guiding Merit through major growth while serving as a mentor and role model for our faculty, staff, parents, partners, and most important, thousands of Chicago children,” said Barry Mitchell, chair of Merit’s Board of Trustees. “She has been the very embodiment of Merit’s ‘making music, building lives’ mission, and has had such a positive impact on so many children by making sure they had access to a high-quality music education regardless of their economic circumstances. Merit’s Board of Trustees thanks Duffie for her unwavering commitment to these children, to the entire Merit community, and for helping build such a strong institution that will surely benefit countless more children for years to come.”
Adelson has volunteered to remain as a resource as needed while the school’s board hires a new executive director following the departure of Thomas F. Bracy earlier this year for a new career opportunity, director of education for Conn-Selmer, Inc. Until that transition, Board Chair Barry Mitchell and Interim Executive Director Cheryl Wolfersberger are working closely with Merit’s management team, faculty and staff to provide management oversight for the school. Adelson will also continue her dedicated service as member of the board of trustees of the National Guild.
About Merit School of Music
Since its founding in 1979, Merit School of Music has successfully motivated and inspired more than 50,000 young people with high-quality music instruction. Our non-profit community music school is based at the Joy Faith Knapp Music Center in Chicago’s West Loop, and we also provide programs at nearly 50 locations in Chicago’s neighborhoods.  Our skilled faculty provides a multi-leveled, structured curriculum to youth—from newborns to teens—regardless of their ability to pay. Merit transforms the lives of Chicago-area youth by providing the highest quality music education – with a focus on underserved communities – inspiring young people to achieve their full musical and personal potential.
Pictured Above: Duffie Adelson

This resource brought to you by the National Guild for Community Arts Education.