Mina Zikri, Music Director

As founder, music director, and conductor of the Oistrakh Symphony of Chicago, Mina Zikri is using his considerable talents to forge relationships with artists and musical organizations throughout the world, all in the name of developing new audiences for classical music.  Recently he traveled with Daniel Barenboim as the backstage and assistant conductor for Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde on a tour that took them to Europe and South America performing at the Salzburg Festival in Austria, The Lucerne Festival in Switzerland, and at Buenos Aires’ legendary Teatro Colón.  He returns each season to his native Egypt to guest-conduct the National Symphony.

At a time when even some of the greatest orchestras in the United States are failing under the immense pressures of financial and cultural uncertainty, Zikri believes that the future of symphony orchestras can be, should be, and must be different form what everyone seems to expect.

A member of the faculty of DePaul University Community Music Division, his many career distinctions include his being named one of the twelve finalists in the 2007 Gustav Mahler International Conducting Competition, where he was chosen from 223 candidates from 40 countries.  He has attended the American Academy of Conducting in Aspen, Colorado, on a fellowship, and holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from DePaul University, as well as a Performance Certificate in violin.


Susanne Baker, Board Chair

Susanne Baker is the founder and director of DePaul University’s Community Music Division serving 700 students in the Chicago area. She is also an adjunct faculty member in the School of Music where she teaches piano pedagogy and coordinates the group piano program. Susanne serves on the Members Council of the National Guild for Community Arts Education, is a member of the planning committee for the 2011 Chicago Festival of Youth in Music and is the current Convener for the Chicago Consortium of Community Music Schools. She holds a B.S. in mathematics, M.A. in Education in Music, M.M. in Piano Performance and a D.M. in Performance and Pedagogy.


Joseph B. Lanuza, Secretary & Treasurer

Joseph is a retired business executive.  Most recently, he was Vice President, CNA Global Mergers and Acquisitions, for CNA Financial. In that capacity, he led multi-national M&A teams globally. Prior to that, he had primary responsibility for management reports to and analytical projects for senior management and the Board of Directors and was also responsible for competitor financial analysis and valuation of companies for possible acquisition. He has a BS in History and English, University of Wisconsin, Whitewater.

Rick Fizdale, Vice Chair

As former Chairman and CEO of Leo Burnett, Rick was the visionary behind the 1997 corporate reengineering that created eight Burnett business units, launched the most aggressive growth and diversification drive in the company’s history, got Burnett people closer to the work and to their clients, and ignited what Campaign magazine deemed Burnett’s “creative renaissance.”

Christine Janicki, Board Member

Christine Janicki (neé Worthing) brings to the Oistrakh Symphony more than 20 years of experience as performer, administrator and teacher. As a hornist, she has performed with Lyric Opera of Chicago, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Grant Park Orchestra, Joffrey Ballet, Chicago Opera Theater, Tower Brass of Chicago, Luciano Pavarotti, Dennis DeYoung, Mannheim Steamroller, numerous touring Broadway musicals, and recording sessions. Christine is currently the Director of Ensembles Personnel and Community Engagement for the Grant Park Music Festival and Stageband Contractor for Lyric Opera. She served as Visiting Assistant Professor of Horn at Illinois Wesleyan University for ten years. Christine holds a Bachelor of Music in Performance from Kent State University and a Master of Music in Horn Performance and a Performance Certificate from Northwestern University.

Brandon Allen, Data Analyst, & Strategic Initiatives

Brandon Allen is currently the Program Assistant for the School of Education and Social Policy and the School of Professional Studies at Northwestern University. Previously, he interned with Classical Kids Music Education, Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, Silk Road Rising, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and the Ravinia Festival. He currently volunteers with Classical Kids Music Education and DePaul University. He graduated magna cum laude with a B.M. in Performing Arts Management from DePaul University.

John King, Board Member

John A. King is currently the Director of Brokerage Operations with TD Ameritrade.  Previously he was at Aon Benfield (a subsidiary of Aon Corporation), McKinsey and Company, and Thoughtworks, Inc. He has served on the board of AXIS Dance Company. He has been on the board of Oistrakh Symphony Orchestra since November 2010 and is focused on fundraising and general board support for the orchestra. He has received a B.S. in Mathematics from Bates College and an MBA from the University of Chicago.

Yann Wooley, Board Member

Yann brings over 20 years of experience as an art related business owner and life time art lover.  Importance of being exposed to art is her main passion and mission.  She firmly believes in art being the ambassador in enriching our human experience at personal level but more importantly, collectively,  it enhances and advances our civilization.  Yann has been active in civic art circles by being a collector, commissioner, juror, curator, educator and by often lending philanthropic advices;  by fundraising for the cause.  Yann is a founder of owner of Pistachios Contemporary Craft and Jewelry Gallery in Chicago.


Emma Smoler, Executive Director

Classically trained violinist and licensed attorney, Emma Smoler was appointed Executive Director of Oistrakh Symphony in 2017.  Smoler holds a bachelor’s degree from Loyola University Chicago, and a Juris Doctor from the John Marshall Law School in Chicago.  Smoler has performed worldwide in orchestras and ensembles ranging from classical, to bluegrass, and rock and roll.  A 14-year resident of Chicago and daughter of an immigrant, Smoler finds that music is the language that unifies diverse groups of people.  Smoler’s background in law and social justice gives her a perspective on leadership that complements her artistic passion.       

Allen Shoenberger

Professor, Loyola Law School

Naomi Culp, Social Media & Communications

Kelley Torhauer, Website & Communications

Thomas Hale