Omaha Area Youth Orchestras

The OAYO Team

For over 60 years, OAYO has built a musical community that fosters artistry and friendship that would not be possible without talented individuals who value music education that lasts a lifetime. OAYO is grateful to its staff, volunteers and parents who work together to build a pipeline of performances and music lovers in our community.

OAYO Administrative Staff Contacts

Sophia Potter, Executive Director (sophia.potter@oayo.org)

Alex Wewel, Program and Operations Manager (programs@oayo.org)

Abigail Lill, Marketing and Media Manager (abigail.lill@oayo.org)

Morgan Groninger, Development Manager (morgan.groninger@oayo.org)

Julissa Ramirez, Volunteer and Rehearsal Coordinator (julissa.ramirez@oayo.org)

Cassie Cosimi, Youth Symphony and Youth Philharmonic Rehearsal Manager (rehearsals@oayo.org)

Lydia Kirkland, Assistant Youth Symphony and Youth Philharmonic Rehearsal Manager (lydia.kirkland@oayo.org)

Dakota Valle, Youth Concert Strings Rehearsal Manager (dakota.valle@oayo.org)

OAYO Artistic Staff

 
OAYO Staff Bios
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Aviva Segall
Music Director and
Principal Conductor
Artistic Staff

Aviva.segall@oayo.org

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Patricia Ritchie
Assistant Conductor
Artistic Staff

Patty.ritchie@oayo.org

For over 20 years, Aviva Segall has held her “dream job” as Music Director and Principal Conductor for the Omaha Area Youth Orchestras.  Ms. Segall works nationally as a guest conductor, adjudicator and clinician with a variety of professional orchestras, national conferences, all state and festival ensembles.  A small sample of groups she recently worked with include the Omaha Symphony, ASTA national conference, Sewanee Summer Music Festival, Wisconsin middle level All State Orchestra and school districts throughout the country. She served on the Board of Directors for the American Symphony Orchestra League- Youth Orchestra Division, the Nebraska Music Education Association and on panels for the National Endowment for the Arts. Ms. Segall served as Conducting Apprentice with the Oregon Symphony Orchestra and was concurrently on the conducting staff of the Portland Youth Philharmonic. Ms. Segall studied at Wellesley College, the University of Southern California and Northwestern University as well as training at the Aspen Music Festival. Her Thomas J. Watson Fellowship studied rehearsal techniques in Europe. Ms. Segall's principal conducting mentors include Victor Yampolsky, Daniel Lewis, Murry Sidlin, and James De Priest. 

Patricia Ritchie combines her love for performing and teaching in Omaha, where she has taught Orchestra in the Omaha and Millard Public Schools for nearly 40 years. She earned her Bachelor of Music Degree in Music Education from Ball State University in Muncie, IN and her Master of Music Degree in Cello Performance from the University of Denver-Lamont School of Music. Patricia has served as a guest conductor and clinician, adjudicator, coach, private lessons teacher, OAYO board member, cellist with the Omaha Symphony, and has performed for movie soundtracks. She has served as President of Nebraska Chapter of American String Teachers Association, Chair of Orchestra Affairs for Nebraska Music Educators, and as a conductor for Nebraska Ambassadors of Music European Tours.

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Abigail Lill
Marketing  & Media Manager
Operations Staff

Abigail.Lill@oayo.org

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Sophia Potter
Chamber Music Program Director
Executive Director 
Artistic & Operations Staff

Sophia.potter@oayo.org

A native of Lincoln, NE, Sophia Potter began her cello studies at the age of 10 with Carol Work. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Cello Performance in 2007 from Oberlin College where she studied with Peter Rejto, Hans Jorgen Jensen, and Amir Eldan. In the spring of 2009, Sophia received her Masters of Music in Cello Performance from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, where she studied with Gregory Beaver. Sophia resides in Omaha where she directs and performs with the Rangbrook Ensemble, a professional string chamber ensemble. She is the Strings Coach for the Lincoln Youth Symphony and  she serves as the chair of the Artist Selection Committee for the Lincoln Friends of Chamber Music series. Sophia enjoys spending her free time gardening, travelling and hiking with her partner, luthier Dirk Henry, and relaxing with their two cats. 

Abigail is a playwright and editor that hails from a small farm town in Iowa. She has been active in the Omaha performing arts scene for several years, and has also produced her plays all over the country. When she isn't working, Abigail participates in the hockey community, both coaching kids and playing with several different adult leagues as a goalie. She enjoys filling her days with her four children, husband, and many pets. Abigail studied music for thirteen years, primarily in the clarinet family, as well as the bagpipes. She currently resides in North Dakota. 

Morgan Groninger
Development Manager
Operations Staff

Morgan.Groninger@oayo.org

Morgan has recently moved to Omaha after working towards her MA in Integrated Media Communications from the University of Nebraska Lincoln. While studying at UNL, Morgan worked at Nebraska Public Media as their Production Coordinator, working closely with UNL's Glenn Korff School of Music to provide coverage of events. Originally from Norfolk, Nebraska, Morgan received her BA in Music with a Vocal Emphasis from the University of Nebraska in 2016, and she also studied clarinet for 10+ years. When she's not studying, Morgan loves to adventure outdoors, learn new recipes, and relax with her husband and son.

Alex Wewel 
Program and Operations Director
Operations Staff

programs@oayo.org

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Born in Arkansas and raised in Nebraska, Alex considers herself a Nebraska Native. The arts have been an integral part of her life beginning at a young age with piano lessons. Throughout the years Alex has been a part of many ensembles ranging from concert choir, show choir, concert band, jazz band, marching band, and solo piano performance. She recently graduated from the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s School of Music with a BA in Music Entrepreneurship and is now working towards an MBA, also from UNO. For fun, Alex enjoys spending time with family and friends, creating art and music, engaging with the community through volunteerism, and gardening. She loves working alongside talented and mission driven people at OAYO which provides positive and meaningful experiences for hundreds of student musicians who perform within its orchestras. 

Julissa Ramirez
Volunteer and Rehearsal Coordinator
Operations Staff

Julissa.Ramirez@oayo.org

Julissa is a graduate of UNO with a degree in music entrepreneurship, She has played bass for 12 years and percussion for 3. Raised in Grand Island, NE, Julissa came to Omaha in 2016. When not at OAYO, you’ll find her at Family Learning and Childcare. In her free time, she enjoys napping, watching Marvel films and collecting stickers

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Cassie Cosimi
YS and YP Rehearsal Manager

Operations Staff
rehearsals@oayo.org

Cassie makes sure  OAYO rehearsals run smoothly! She is an OAYO alumna (flute/piccolo) from Papillion. While she has worked with OAYO for 7 seasons, music is not actually her main career! She attended Creighton University, earning a BS in Biochemistry in 2017 and a MS in Clinical Anatomy in 2018. She plans on pursuing a PhD in Microbiology. Aside from music and science, she  enjoys sewing, woodworking, and baking.

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Lydia Kirkland
Assistant YS and YP
Rehearsal Manager
Operations Staff

Lydia.Kirkland@oayo.org

Lydia Kirkland is a Music Education, Music Entrepreneurship Dual-Major, with a Medical Humanities minor, and she plays the flute at the UNO School of Music! Some of her hobbies include trying new places to eat, exercising, spending time with friends, as well as helping with local marching bands. She is looking forward to getting married in May 2023. 

Dakota Valle
YCS Rehearsal Manager
Operations Staff

dakota.valle@oayo.org

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Recipient of the prestigious Daugherty scholarship, flutist Dakota Valle is quickly making her presence known in the global community as a flutist. In 2019, she attended the Costa Rica International Flute Festival where she performed in a masterclass for renowned Brazilian international solo artist Rogerio Wolf, and also performed at the 2019 Chicago Flute Festival.

After attending the Venezuelan-based El Sistema National Symposium, Valle has become an advocate for similar projects to serve young musicians in need in the Omaha metropolitan area.

A senior education major at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, Dakota performs in the Heartland Flute Choir, and FourOmaha Quartet, the latter of which frequently performs outreach concerts around the Omaha community. She will complete her student teaching this fall at St. Pius/St. Leo Catholic and Skutt Catholic High School.

Dakota loves swing dancing, her family and friends, and Jesus :)

OAYO Board of Directors

Alex Zimmerman, OAYO President

Brett Werner, OAYO Treasurer

Andrew Almodova, OAYO Secretary

Maggie Ebert, OAYO Board Member

Derrick Fox, OAYO Board Member

Nathaniel Ruleaux, OAYO Board Member

Ken Sigmon, OAYO Board Member