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Afa S. Dworkin

The Sphinx Organization

One of Musical America’s Top 30 Influencers, recipient of the Kennedy Center Human Spirit Award, and Detroit Crain’s 40 Under 40, Afa Dworkin is President and Artistic Director of the Sphinx Organization, one of the nation’s leading organizations in fostering diversity in the arts. Working at the Sphinx Organization since 1999, she has developed a comprehensive national database of musicians of color, established partnerships with more than 100 global partners, coordinated the program content of an interactive educational CD-ROM utilized in schools nationwide, and led the organization’s most successful fundraising campaign. She has been responsible for curricular direction and artistic content of all programs, including the Sphinx Competition for young Black and Latino string players, the annual national tour, and the annual Carnegie Artists Series. She has launched key partnerships with dozens of symphony orchestras around the country, including the Cleveland Orchestra, the Boston Pops, and the Baltimore Symphony, among others.

She is a frequent speaker at International Arts & Ideas Festival, Chamber Music America, National Association for Schools of Music, League of American Orchestras, ICSOM, Americans for the Arts, Association of Canadian Orchestras, and others. She has served as an adjudicator for the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs; Association of Performing Arts Presenters; 3Arts Awards; the National Endowment for the Arts; Charlotte Arts and Sciences Council; Independent Sector’s American Express NGen awards; Florida, Indiana, and Oklahoma State Arts Council grants; and Atlanta Symphony’s Talent Development Program. She has participated in the educational institution research panel hosted by Surdna Foundation, and adjudicated the Artistic Excellence category grants for the National Endowment for the Arts. As a writer, she has contributed to Strings Magazine, Polyphonic.org, and the Michigan String Teachers Association magazine. She serves as faculty for Roosevelt University’s Master’s Program in Performing Arts Administration.  She is a Trustee for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and CultureSource.

An accomplished violinist trained in the Russian National Conservatory system, she graduated with High Honors from the University of Michigan with Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Violin Performance. She may be heard as an electric violinist on a CD entitled “Bar-Talk”, featuring the renowned violin duets by Bela Bartok. She was a member of the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra from 1994−2000, entering the orchestra as a college freshman, and has performed with symphony orchestras and chamber groups in Russia, Azerbaijan, Switzerland, Austria, and the United States. She also has international corporate experience, having previously served as a tri-lingual interpreter and an executive assistant to the president at ARCO, the International Oil and Gas Company in Baku, Azerbaijan. She resides in the Ann Arbor, Michigan, area with her husband and two sons.

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