Our Staff

Meet the passionate and committed people who make the magic happen at SJMA

Sarah Godoy


Sarah has worked in Vancouver’s Eastside for nearly two decades, many years of which were spent a short walk away from the music school at Oppenheimer Park. Her longstanding involvement with this community has given her a nuanced understanding of many of the issues that families here face. 

Her background in the visual arts through Emily Carr University has made Sarah a committed advocate of the importance of the creative disciplines to any child’s development.  She grew up practicing martial arts, eventually competing at an elite level internationally, and can testify to the fact that behind any child’s successful bid for excellence there is always a committed network of caring adults.

As a mother, Sarah is filled with gratitude for the existence of this special musical community.  She is passionately dedicated to advancing Saint James Music Academy’s vision for beauty and joy for the children and families of the Downtown Eastside.

José Cerón Ortega​

 Music Director of Orchestras

José Cerón-Ortega has developed intense musical activity in various countries as an instrumentalist, adviser, coach and conductor of groups and musical ensembles.

As a close collaborator of the State Foundation for the National System of Youth and Child Orchestras of Venezuela (FESNOJIV), and the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestras, José has worked with diverse levels and ages. He is the Founder Director of the Amadeus Orchestra in Trujillo State, and National Coordinator of the Cerón’s Musical Initiation System (CMIS), a method used as a starting point for the social and cultural project of the world renown Venezuelan musical organization known as “El Sistema”.

Born in México City, graduating as a violinist from the National School of Music of the National University of Mexico (UNAM), José studied orchestral and operatic conducting at the Rimsky-Korsakov State Conservatory in Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation; and obtained a Certificate with honours in Music Conducting from the University of Capilano in North Vancouver.

He has been Chief Conductor of Tachira’s Simón Bolivar Regional Symphony Orchestra in Venezuela, Director of Bahia Blanca’s Regional Symphony Orchestra in the Province of Buenos Aires, Professor of Chamber Music and Orchestral practice in the National University of San Juan, Argentina and a Musical Director of the Sunshine Coast Community Orchestra in Gibsons B.C.


Charissa Hurt

Director of Development

Charissa has a passion for the arts; as a young child, she had a desire to be onstage and to perform. She studied Theatre and has worked in the arts industries where she has seen first hand the positive impact that art can have on a person.  After completing her Master’s in Arts Management and Non-Profit Management at the University of Oregon, Charissa went on to work in fundraising.  She is excited to be a part of the Saint James Music Academy family and to be working with others to bring music to the lives of children in the Downtown Eastside.

Administration and Programming

Hannah Walker

Program Director

Christine Ito​

Program Administrator

Negin Attar

Volunteer Coordinator

Olivia Lohan​

Director of Nutrition & Community Life​

Chad Gilmore

Operations Manager

Katie Neal

Reception and Administrative Assistant

Marlaina Vincent

Program Assistant and Teaching Assistant

Kurt Ward-Theiss

In kind Instrument Donations

Khitam Kaddour

Operations Assistant & Reception​

Noemi Tordoya​​

Nutrition Program Assistant

Satya Walker

Program Assistant and Teaching Assistant

Aaliyah Cardinal

Teaching Assistant

Lucie Steiler-Track

Nutrition Program Assistant

Graphic and Web Design

Elena Hsu


Join Our Team

Join a passionate team committed to social change through the power of music.

Not all heroes wear capes! Come join a community of changemakers.


Community building and collaboration. Together we can do big things!