Tara Aesquivel

Executive Director


Through her work, Tara Aesquivel strives to share the power of the arts with others. Tara’s professional experience includes strategic planning, fundraising, production, and community engagement for LA Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, A Noise Within, Antioch University Los Angeles, The Lukens Company, and Invertigo Dance Theatre. Tara has a B.A. in Music from the University of Missouri–Kansas City, a Master of Arts Management from Carnegie Mellon University, and studied Cultural Economics at the University of Bologna. Tara continues learning through professional development programs, including Annenberg Alchemy, the Executive Directors’ Leadership Institute, Dance/USA’s Institute for Leadership Training, and the Arts Innovation and Management program with Michael Kaiser. Committed to equity, Tara participates in learning about diversity, equity, and inclusion, by participating in courses such as Undoing Racism and a DEI masterclass with Vu Le. Tara has served on Advisory Boards for Inner-City Arts and Emerging Arts Leaders/Los Angeles. She has also served as a guest speaker, panelist, writer, and adjunct faculty member covering topics in fundraising and nonprofit leadership. She also very much enjoys traveling, photography, and being a mom.

Isabel Thiroux

Director of Orchestra Operations


Isabel Thiroux has been with the American Youth Symphony since she first joined the viola section in 2001. After seven years in the orchestra, she “graduated” to working in the office, becoming Orchestra Manager in 2010 and Director of Orchestra Operations in 2015.

Ms. Thiroux studied viola at CSU, Long Beach with LA Philharmonic violist John Hayhurst and maintains an active career as a freelance violist performing regularly around the Los Angeles area.

Mandy Brockhaus

Manager of Community Engagement


Mandy Brockhaus is a Northern-California native, who has since found a home in Los Angeles for the past ten years. As an experienced nonprofit leader, she has developed and led community engagement initiatives at the Arts Council for Long Beach, The Broad Stage, and currently American Youth Symphony. She has produced a variety of community events from classical concerts to festivals and interactive workshops to virtual arts experiences. With a passion for developing accessible pathways to arts careers, she serves as Peer Group Leader for Los Angeles County’s Arts Internship Program. Mandy is also a skilled facilitator and has spoken at numerous events and workshops that offer professional development in career-readiness, arts integration, and social emotional learning. Mandy is a graduate from Loyola Marymount University and holds two Bachelor Degrees in Dance and History. In 2017 Mandy completed Arts for LA’s arts advocacy program, ACTIVATE, and in 2019 received her Social Emotional Learning Facilitator certificate from UCLArts & Healing.

Mia McNeil

Development Manager


Mia McNeil joined the staff of the American Youth Symphony in the summer of 2018 as development associate. Mia’s goal for her work at AYS is to cultivate an audience of classical music enthusiasts that is inclusive of the beautifully diverse communities of Los Angeles. Towards this end, she has developed projects that have reflected AYS’ commitment to nurturing access, equity, and inclusion throughout programming and leadership. Mia is dedicated to fostering a new and growing community of listeners, by developing a sense of community that is inviting to a wider range of audiences of various demographics.


Mia McNeil graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor’s Degree in English and Journalism. She grew up in Chicago, Illinois and quickly fell in love with writing and musical composition. Mia played violin throughout her childhood, studying at the Chicago High School for the Arts and Roosevelt High School in Seattle, Washington.

Mark Gutierrez

Community Educator & Share-A-Stand Lead Instructor


Mark Gutierrez is a Los Angeles born upright/electric bassist, vocalist, composer, lyricist, and producer. He has been performing and creating music in the greater Los Angeles area for over ten years with a variety of ensembles, ranging in genre from Latin music, to Jazz, to Classical/Orchestral, to Hip Hop and more. An alumni of the American Youth Symphony, Mark now works with AYS’ Share-a-Stand program to bring advanced music training to students in LAUSD.