About Us

The Royal Conservatory of Music (RCM) is one of the largest and most respected music institutions in the world and has been providing the definitive standard of excellence in music curriculum for more than 135 years. Considered by many to be the gold standard in music education, the RCM provides an established and tested learning system for students of all skill levels through a network of more than 20,000 private music teachers.

The Smart Start curriculum was developed by RCM in collaboration with neuroscientists and RCM's most accomplished music educators. This umbrella of experts combines 60 years of thought leadership in music education, with science-backed research to deliver the rich, developmental benefits, to all children, in their earliest possible stages of learning.


Our team



Shalisa Kline Ugaz, President and Chief Operating Officer RCM America

Patrick Duperre, Senior Vice President RCM Learning Systems

Peter Gowdy, Manager Business Development Operations and Data


Educational Pedagogy 

Catherine West, Pedagogy Lead


Research Centre

Dr. Sean Hutchins, Director of Research

Safia Khalil, Lab Manager 


Programs Team

Leah Waldo, Director, Smart Start 

Charles Burchell, Program Manager 

Mariam Suso, Program Coordinator 


Business Development Team

Carrie Campbell, Director, Business Development and Operations

Matteo Cerilli, RCM America Coordinator

Lindsey Pino, Business Development Lead 

Kimerica Parr, Business Development Lead

Allyson Stout, Business Development Lead 

Lucas Wong, Business Development Lead

Karen Beluso, Business Lead

Queenie Yang, Business Lead


Information and Technology Team

Ian Koster, Vice President, Information and Technology and CIO

Illia Pelkonen, Director, IT Application and e-Commerce Solutions

Christine Rusk, Transformation Lead

Artak Tchalgouchain, Development Manager 

Iris Wu, Full Stack Developer 

Illia Chalyk, Full Stack Developer

Marketing Team

Andrea Chan, Director, Digital Marketing and Creative Services

Laura Velasquez, Designer, Marketing Communications

Nima Naik, Manager, Digital Marketing

Kelly Tong, Manager, e-Commerce & E-mail



Bahareh Ameri

Beth Brownell Eaton

Andy Luck

Bailey Grineage

Suzanne Schwenger

Saloomeh Fassaie

Elise Pennington

Brigid Finucane


Publishing Team

Elaine Rusk, Vice President Academics and Publishing

Amanda Lucier, Manager

Jennifer Gilchrist, Manager Licensing 

Geoffrey Conquer, Manager

Alison Sloan, Director, Academic Products and Services 

Elaine Schmidt, Faculty 

Dejan Badnjar

Andrew Fitzpatrick


Development supported by the Digital Learning Department

For Teachers and Parents! Download our Free Smart Start Handbook which includes:

  • Musical activities from the Smart Start curriculum
  • Curated articles about the connections between music, language, cognition, and learning
  • A handy guide to enrollment and getting started with the SmartStart app