Megen Balda joined the Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies in 2003 and has led the organization as executive director since 2011. She leads strategic planning, fundraising, and program development, and oversees the daily operations of the 28-member artistic and administrative staff with a $1.3 million budget and $600,000 endowment. In partnership with the Board of Directors, Megen ensures that GTCYS prioritizes students in the community and focuses on the future with an eye toward diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Under her leadership and vision as executive director, GTCYS has experienced tremendous programmatic growth and momentum, including doubling enrollment, adding four new orchestras, creating Harmony, an El Sistema-inspired program for underrepresented youth, reinstating international touring, and broadening access through increased tuition assistance. Organizationally, GTCYS has maintained balanced budgets each year, grown a healthy cash reserve, and increased financial support and engagement with stakeholders.
Prior to her work with GTCYS, Megen held positions with The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Minnesota Chorale. She is a 2010 alumna of the James P. Shannon Leadership Institute through the Wilder Foundation, and a 2016 graduate of Leadership St. Paul. From 2016 to 2020, she served as Chair of the Board of Directors of the League of American Orchestras’ Youth Orchestra Division (YOD). A YOD board member since 2012, Megen also served as secretary and chair of the public value committee.
Born in Kansas, Megen studied arts administration and earned a Bachelor of Music degree in organ performance from St. Olaf College where she studied with Dr. John Ferguson. An accomplished collaborative pianist and organist, Megen resides in Shoreview with her husband Jon Kjarum and their Bernese Mountain Dogs, Sofie and Ava.