Francesca Laguardia is the Chair of UpBeat NYC. Francesca received a J.D. from NYU School of Law and has successfully defended her Ph.D. dissertation in Law and Society at NYU. Prior to completing her dissertation, Francesca worked as Director of Research at the Center on Law and Security at NYU School of Law. Francesca has studied music throughout her life, performing with the New York City Opera Children's Chorus as a child and continuing to study voice through her college years. She began as a music theory major at the University of Chicago before switching to a major in Law, Letters, and Society.
Vince Warren is the Secretary of UpBeat NYC. Mr. Warren is the Executive Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), a national legal and educational organization dedicated to advancing and defending constitutional and human rights. Prior to his tenure at CCR, Mr. Warren held the position of national senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), where he led constitutional and impact litigation to advance civil rights and liberties. In addition to his other pursuits, Vince has been a professional musician for over 20 years, specializing in Jazz, Blues, Rock, Reggae and Funk drumming. Currently, Vince plays with the Blue Soul Jazz Quintet and the afro-pop band, Denbaya with Makane Kouyate.
Penny Sinanoglou is the Treasurer of UpBeat NYC. Penny graduated magna cum laude from Columbia University before receiving a Ph.D. in History from Harvard University. She is currently an Assistant Professor of History at Wake Forest University. As a child Penny studied piano and sang in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine's professional children's choir, and continued to study music through high school and college.
Liza Austria is a modern dancer and jazz/Brazilian vocalist performing regularly in New York City. As a child she studied piano and sang in the professional children’s choir at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Liza holds a bachelor’s degree in “Dance, Community and Social Change” from the Gallatin School at New York University. Since 2009 Liza has served as director of UpBeat NYC.
Richard Miller worked as a public school music teacher in New York City from 2009-2013. In 2007, he began working with NYC public school students as a teaching artist for Music and the Brain where he discovered the transformative role music can play in children's lives. Richard holds a degree in Jazz Performance from William Paterson University and is an active jazz saxophonist in NYC. He currently studies composition with Paul Caputo and his music has been performed at venues around the city including Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. In the Spring of 2009, Richard founded UpBeat NYC with his wife, Liza Austria, where he is working to develop UpBeat NYC into a robust, El Sistema inspired nucleo serving the Mott Haven neighborhood of the South Bronx.