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DBT40 Honoree: Arreon A. Harley-Emerson

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Position: Executive Director

Employer: The Choir School of Delaware

Age: 32

Music has taken center stage in the life of Arreon A. Harley-Emerson as he seeks to uplift and empower Wilmington’s youth through song. Harley-Emerson is the executive director and conductor of the Choir School of Delaware, a comprehensive, after-school program that serves Wilmington’s youth and families through music and mentoring.

Harley-Emerson uses music as a tool to engage children in preparing for their futures, enrich them academically, and provide one-on-one mentoring.

As the board president of the Delaware Arts Alliance, Harley-Emerson works to ensure that all Delawareans have equitable access to the arts. He also serves as the national chair of the Diversity Initiatives Committee for the American Choral Directors Association, a professional network of choral conductors that aims to inspire people through education, performance, composition and advocacy.

With a commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging, Emerson-Harley has consulted with various arts and culture nonprofit organizations to ensure that they remain relevant in the 21st century.

Harley-Emerson contributed a chapter to “The Oxford Handbook for Choral Pedagogy” entitled “The Gang Mentality of Choirs: How Choirs Have the Capacity to Change Lives,” and gave a TEDx Talk with the same title.

Outside of work, Harley-Emerson also gives back to The Peabody Conservatory’s Children’s Chorus, where he sang growing up, and to the House of Ruth, a domestic violence shelter where he and his family lived when he was a child.

A huge musical theater fan, Harley-Emerson has been in 22 musical productions and frequently goes to see shows on Broadway with his husband. He also has a deep affinity for potatoes, which he will eat in whatever form they are prepared. 

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