photo by Kevin Kennedy

Executive Director, Xavier Verna, arrives at the Ramsdell Regional Center for the Arts after having served for five years as Director of Education for the Sphinx Organization in Detroit, MI. The Sphinx Organization is one of the leading national arts organizations focused on youth and professional development through diversity in the arts. Xavier expanded Sphinx’s educational programming profile to a national level, which received one of the highest honors at the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards, hosted by former First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House.

At Sphinx, Xavier oversaw the development of local and national programming. In Detroit and Flint, Xavier worked with various partners and schools to provide after-school programming and live concert opportunities reaching over 1,000 students annually. He successfully led summer programs with major institutions such as Roosevelt University and Oberlin Conservatory to provide intensive chamber music training for young students ages 12-17. He also ran the National Sphinx Competition, inviting some of the most talented Black and Latino string musicians to compete for a top prize of $50,000 and worked with over 20 nationally recognized institutions to provide scholarships for further study.

A skilled and professional percussionist and educator, Xavier received his degrees from the University of Michigan School of Music, Theater & Dance in Ann Arbor, MI. He’s been passionate about education from the start and worked in several cities such as Ann Arbor, MI, Toledo, OH, and Alexandra, VA, among others. He’s worked with several schools as a private teacher, and as a Band and Drumline Director.

An accomplished musician, Xavier has performed nationally and internationally in a variety of ensembles. He’s appeared in PBS television broadcasts with the Sphinx Symphony, the unique all Black and Latino orchestra comprised of top professionals from around the country. Additionally, Rhyta Musik, an Eastern European brass band focused on educating and inspiring communities, has appeared on stages at ‘Ann Arbor Arts Festival,’ ‘Arts Beats, and Eats,’ and the international conference on diversity in the arts, ‘SphinxCon’. Xavier also co-founded the contemporary percussion group, Identity Cubed, a dynamic percussion group whose focus is to expose new and exciting works that transcend the standard percussion ensemble.

Xavier resides in Manistee County with his wife and her dog. In addition to the arts, Xavier is passionate about coffee, exercising, food, and enjoys travel.