Miami Dade College

Kendall Campus

Dr. Melissa Lesniak is an accomplished non-profit executive, arts management educator, as well as an experienced orchestra and violin/viola instructor. As a non-profit leader she ran the Greater Miami Youth Symphony for nine years, growing the budget and number of participants exponentially. The program grew from serving 150 students in three orchestras on the weekend to multiple large and small ensembles, beginner classes, and summer camps. In addition, the budget grew from $100,000 to over $800,000 primarily through her successful grant-writing. Dr. Lesniak previously also directed the Shalala MusicReach Program at the Frost School of Music. Receiving local and state awards for excellence and programming as well as an endowment from the Frost family, Dr. Lesniak built the program to serve students throughout Miami-Dade County’s most underserved communities.

Dr. Lesniak’s grants have received first place scores from The Children’s Trust, Miami-Dade Cultural Affairs, and the State of Florida Cultural Affairs. She has also had successful grants from The Miami Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Kenan Charitable Trust, and numerous other private and corporate foundations. She has been a member of county and state grant panels for many years. She also teaches the course on grants, development, and budgeting for the graduate arts management program at the Frost School.

Dr. Lesniak performs with local orchestra organizations, and is a successful private studio instructor. Her violin and viola students have been accepted into major schools of music, and have also received scholarships. Her students also regularly receive superior ratings at Solo and Ensemble Festivals and are accepted into county and state honors orchestras, and her students have successfully auditioned for prestigious summer programs. She has also presented and written for teaching conferences and publications on issues of string pedagogy.

Dr. Lesniak is a graduate of the University of Miami Frost School of Music where she received a PhD in music education. She also has a masters in violin performance from Florida International University, and received a bachelors in violin performance and a business minor from Indiana University in Bloomington. In Bloomington, she studied with Mimi Zweig and worked in the IU String Academy. Dr. Lesniak was the Director of Foundation Relations at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts from 2021-2023 where she brought in six and seven figure gifts, and is now the Chair of Music, Theatre, and Dance at Miami Dade College Kendall Campus.