Camille Delaney-McNeil

(MM ’11, flute)

Arts Administrator, Flutist, Singer, Educator

Camille Delaney-McNeil is a fierce advocate for social change through music as well as a classically trained singer and flutist. After receiving her Bachelor of Music from the University of Maryland, College Park and a Master of Music from the Peabody Institute, Johns Hopkins University, Camille began her journey of advocating for youth in music with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra OrchKids program. She held the position of Director of Programs serving close to 2000 Baltimore City students. In addition to her many contributions to the artistic/program design and strategic development of OrchKids, she also curated and created the OrchKids Green Festival to celebrate and spotlight West Baltimore as a cultural hub for young musicians as well as coordinating for three years a large-scale neighborhood beautification project.

Throughout her career, Camille has been the recipient of many awards, including the 2017 Leading Women Award, from the Daily Record, an honor given to 50 women who are under 40 years of age for career accomplishments as well as being selected for the inaugural cohort of the SphinxLEAD program with the Sphinx Organization. SphinxLEAD is a 2-year leadership development program established to empower the next generation of arts executive leaders and to challenge them to envision how their ideas can effect positive change in the field. In May 2021, Camille was appointed the Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s YOLA program as well as Director of its ground-breaking Beckmen YOLA Center in Inglewood, California.

Camille currently sits on the Board of El Sistema USA and is frequently engaged for panel discussions, presentations and workshops on DEI, youth access in music education, and dismantling social justice barriers and equity issues in the classical music field. She is also regularly sought after for her leadership in advocacy for social change through music. Camille can be seen and heard on platforms such as Maryland Public Television (MPT), National Public Radio (NPR), as well as national conferences such as SphinxConnect, National Guild for Community Arts Education Conference, Los Angeles Philharmonic’s YOLA National Conference and other notable convenings.

Tell us about your journey to your current career path. What were the pivotal moments? What surprised you?

My journey and career started out as a musician. I went to school, I was a music performance major for flute with a minor in voice, and I was assured that I was going to go down the path of pursuing orchestra auditions and forming my own chamber group and performing (which I still love to do). What surprised me was a path moving towards social justice activism through art, and through arts administration. That’s not something, at least in my training, that was a pathway that people were highlighting. I almost had to stumble upon it. A big milestone for me was working in Baltimore with young people who had limited access to numerous resources in the most unjust and unfair way, and a lot of societal impositions placed upon generations of young people who had such potential to do amazing things. That was a defining moment for me that I wanted to shift my career into doing more work to rectify that through arts and healing and what I was trained in.

What opportunities did you take advantage of in school that helped you to build helpful skills and experiences?

The opportunities that I took advantage of in school, really, I pushed myself to find experiences outside of my major. I was a performance major, and I looked to surrounding things like stage management, administration, registrar’s office, volunteer work, and education. That led me to my path today; the fact that I was young in my career and found unique ways to involve myself in something immediately outside of my scope was critical.

How has your network and/or community impacted your professional journey?

Network is key. It is one of the most important things that you need to have as you define your career. Because of my network, doors have opened for me. Really, it’s as simple as maintaining relationships. Setting calendar reminders in your phone to just reach out with people, give them an update. Don’t be scared to share updates with folks. You’re not bothering them, sometimes people really want to know what’s going on and they just simply don’t have time to reach out. Never assume you’re bothering someone until they tell you you’re bothering them. That’s how you build network and stay connected with people, and they’ll be excited to see you grow.

Who has been an influential mentor for you and why?

One of my most influential mentors was a former executive director that had been in many other positions for a long time. She came from a completely different background from me; she was from outside the arts field in the nonprofit world. She not only opened doors for me regarding learning about how to be a leader, how to manage people, how to connect with people, but also the business savviness of putting together organizations, organizing people, putting in systems and infrastructures. She invested in me; she saw the potential that I could do. She really took time to invest in me and ensure that I could grow with the talents that I had. Without that critical mentor in my life, who’s still in my life and I consider her like family now, a lot of things would not have moved for me right away. Choosing and approaching a mentor is very important, and very critical to your success. You always need a mentor, no matter how far along you are in your career.

Have your goals and priorities changed over time? If so, how?

I think my goals have evolved over time. Like I mentioned previously, I was on the path to being a musician and performer. I’ll say that the goals were similar. I wanted to impact people and connect them with something that unifies us across the planet. Very ambitious, and I think I still want to do that, but I want to do it in a way that restores and heals people in history and injustices and educates people. Because I think with education, a lot of things are rectified, and healing processes can begin. So, my goal now is that whatever I’m focused on pouring my energy into, it’s really to that end and that’s how I choose how I invest my time and who I surround myself with to accomplish those goals.


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