Church Street School has a new executive director

Church Street School for Music and Art has hired a new executive director — Dr. Chrissie Placilla, a violist who comes from the city’s Harmony Program, a music education non-profit that works in underserved communities, where she was the director of education. She will join the school in December. And with her arrival, longtime Church Street administrator Betsy Kerlin will step down as interim director *and* move to her home state of Washington to start a new chapter in her life.

Chrissie was previously a professor at Winston-Salem State University, where she also served as the director of chamber orchestra and head of the string area and musicology. She has also taught at Salem College, as instructor of violin, and at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts Summer Sessions as artist in residence of viola and chamber music. She is also a member of the Argos Quartet.

Chrissie’s musicology and performance research centers around promoting the works of BIPOC and women composers. Her pedagogy research focuses on using kinesthetic forms of learning to teach intonation and repertoire selection.

Betsy started with Church Street as a parent and volunteer 20 years ago, in 2003, and joined the staff officially in 2009. She will consult with the new director for the next several months, to get everyone situated, before she heads west.

“My husband and I have decided to move to the property and home I have in Washington in the town I grew up in there,” Betsy said. “It is just time for a change, and although I have cherished my time with CSSMA and in NYC, I’m ready to get back to the Pacific Northwest!

“I’ve been privileged to see countless students and families, including my own, find their creative voices and grow through the creative process at this amazing school. Everyone should have a place like CSSMA!”

Wishing Betsy all the best.



  1. Very sorry to hear Betsy is leaving. She is such a wonderful person and asset to CCSMA. Wishing her best of luck! We will miss her!

  2. Betsy will be so missed! She greets everyone with a smile and makes everyone feel welcome. Best of luck on her next chapter!