Julie Rulyak



Julie Rulyak, Executive Director

Describe what you do in your current position: I am thrilled to be Head Turtle! Ok, but seriously: as the Executive Director of Turtle Bay Music School, my job is to ensure all members of our TBMS community (and that’s a lot of people!) are supported in joyfully exploring their musical potential to the fullest, using the most innovative approaches and cost-effective measures possible. I am responsible for overseeing every aspect of TBMS, including our public school programs, free concerts, on-site lessons, and classes. I am so very fortunate to get to work with all of our constituents, including our faculty, parents, students, Board of Trustees, public school partners, community businesses – the list goes on and on! It is also my job to secure sufficient resources to see that our programs not only survive, but thrive for the next 89 years and beyond. Perhaps most importantly, I must ensure that we keep TBMS’s core values at the forefront of every decision that we make, and to ensure that our programs and our people reflect them. Our core values state that:

  • Everyone is welcome to share our passion for music, regardless of age, ability, or economic status
  • Music education should be made available to all school-aged children
  • Community service is integral to TBMS as a way for the School to share its mission and values with the people of New York
  • TBMS is committed to creating a wide range of opportunities for our dedicated and talented faculty to pursue continued excellence as educators and performers.

I truly believe that TBMS is one of the finest organizations of its kind, and I am excited to be the leader of an organization that will continue to transform the way that learners of all ages, levels of ability, and walks of life can experience music learning.

How long have you worked for Turtle Bay? How long in your current position? I joined the TBMS family in 2005, and was promoted to Executive Director in June 2012!

Describe other work experience or education: I’ve previously served as TBMS’s Development and Marketing Director, and prior to working with TBMS, I worked as Managing Director of Cynthia Glacken Associates, a leader in not-for-profit communications strategy and design.

I am passionately committed to the growth and advancement of community arts and music making, and I’ve been fortunate to work with Third Street Music School Settlement and the National Guild for Community Arts Education (formerly the National Guild of Community Schools of the Arts) while developing curriculum for a Community Music Education Master’s Degree Program at New York University. In terms of professional interests, I have a soft spot for brand identity, strategic planning, and exploring best practices for fundraising and institutional advancement. I love to connect with colleagues who do similar work to advance the field of community music making, and have had the honor of presenting and discussing relevant topics in fundraising and organizational strategy at national, state, and local conferences and panels. I hold a B.M., summa cum laude, and M.A. from New York University’s Steinhardt School for Culture, Education and Human Development.

What is your favorite Turtle Bay memory and/or event? After eight years, it’s hard to pinpoint just one. I fondly remember the Em Lee Concert Hall Dedication that took place in November 2005, just days after I started working here. I can recall thinking to myself in that moment, “This place is wonderful; I hope I get to work here for a long time.” My favorite TBMS event is definitely the Annual Perform-A-Thon. Even though it can be a bear to organize, the event has become the absolute embodiment of the mission of TBMS, wherein all of our varied constituents come together to support community arts learning. Each performance contributes to the greater good.

Do you play any instruments? Describe any musical background you may want to share! I am trained as a classical vocalist and studied classical vocal performance in my undergraduate degree. I studied music education in graduate school, and trained in the Orff Schulwerk. As a child and young adult, I studied piano for at least a decade with a lovely lady named Mrs. Huey. She graciously tolerated my total lack of innate ability and supported me in my desire to keep learning. She let me work on the Peanuts theme for a really long time; I still can’t play it all the way through, but every now and again I try!

What is your favorite song and/or piece of music? There is no way I could ever choose a favorite, but I consistently love Duke Ellington’s Far East Suite, every song from The Sound of Music, and my husband’s first album Time Trials.

Who is your favorite composer/songwriter? I love Aaron Copeland, Erik Satie, Samuel Barber, Jake Heggie, Morten Lauridsen, Tori Amos, Ben Folds – oh dear, I could go on forever.

Where are you from? I grew up in lovely Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – more specifically, Irwin, Pennsylvania – but I’ve lived here in New York City for thirteen years.

Favorite color: Kelly green

Favorite food: I love any food that’s spicy! I also have a real affinity for a fast food retailer that I’m a bit embarrassed to admit. Here’s a hint: it rhymes with “Rocco Tell.”

Pets? Kids? Family members? I am so lucky to have the most wonderful family and friends in the entire world. My husband and I are looking forward to adopting a four-legged friend soon!