Stanford Thompson Named 2021 Alan Cooper Leadership in the Arts Honoree

Musician and Educator
Stanford Thompson Named
2021 Alan Cooper Leadership in the Arts Honoree

Head shot of Stanford Thompson. Mr. Thompson is a black man with close cut hair a a goatee. He wears a medium blue button down shirt.

Baltimore, MD – October 13, 2021 – Philadelphia-based musician and educator Stanford Thompson has been named the Alan Cooper Leadership in the Arts (ACLA) 2021 honoree. Named after Mid Atlantic Art’s Executive Director from 1994 through April 2017, the Award honors an arts leader who has demonstrated outstanding leadership in the arts sector within the mid-Atlantic region.

Stanford Thompson is the Founder and Executive Director of Play On Philly and founding member of El Sistema USA and the National Instrumentalist Mentoring and Advancement Network. Recognized as a TED Fellow, Stanford believes that music education is a powerful tool for positive personal and community change. Mr. Thompson serves on the faculty of the Global Leaders Program and regularly presents at major universities and music conservatories about leadership, entrepreneurship and social justice. As a consultant, he has guided the development of dozens of music programs across the United States and collaborated with major orchestras, higher education institutions, and arts organizations to develop new strategies and initiatives that help provide equitable access to the arts. As a professional trumpeter, Stanford has performed as a soloist and member with major orchestras around the world and continues to perform throughout the Philadelphia region. Stanford is a native of Atlanta, GA, a graduate of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s Talent Development Program and holds degrees from The Curtis Institute of Music and the New England Conservatory’s Sistema Fellows Program.

Mr. Thompson was chosen by a panel of arts professionals from the mid-Atlantic region. The final selection was based on the published Award criteria. Mr. Thompson will be recognized at Mid Atlantic Art’s spring board meeting.

Mid Atlantic Art’s Board Chair, Romona Riscoe Benson said “Stanford’s dedication to music education and its impact on the students accessing Play on Philly is unquestionable. His understanding that the arts are a tool for social and community change makes him an ideal honoree for the ACLA Award. I am delighted to recognize a fellow Philadelphian, and look forward to shaking his hand – in person – this spring!”

Regarding the nomination pool, Theresa Colvin, Mid Atlantic’s Executive Director stated, “The sheer magnitude of innovative and exceptional work being done in our region is inspiring. From organizations reinventing presenting and artists taking on social justice, to journalists tackling arts criticism and creators building new types of communities – the impact and dedication is just staggering.”

Information about the 2022 round of the Alan Cooper Leadership in the Arts Award will be available this winter. Nominees will have demonstrated impactful leadership in the arts in one or more of Mid Atlantic’s nine partner jurisdictions of Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Image: Stanford Thompson. Credit: Bret Hartman / TED.

About Mid Atlantic Arts
Mid Atlantic Arts supports artists, presenters, and organizations through unique programming, grant support, partnerships, and information sharing. Created in 1979, Mid Atlantic Arts is aligned with the region’s state arts councils and the National Endowment for the Arts. We combine state and federal funding with private support from corporations, foundations, and individuals to nurture diverse artistic expression while connecting people to meaningful arts experiences within our region and beyond. To learn more about Mid Atlantic Arts visit

Karen Newell
Director, External Affairs
Mid Atlantic Arts