Randy Wong was appointed executive director in 2012 and promoted by the Board of Directors to President in 2018. He previously held management positions in the Music-in-Education National Consortium, and has built his career around the development of music programs for under-resourced communities. As President of HYS, Mr. Wong oversees all aspects of the organization. He is the first alumnus, professional musician, and educator to lead HYS.
A strong believer in the efficacy of strategic partners, Mr. Wong has helped to engineer several succesful partnerships, including an annual Side-by-Side with the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra, Music in the Clubhouse with the Boys & Girls Club of Hawaii (Honolulu and Nanakuli clubs), and the Orchestral Learning Alliance with the National Orchestral Institute+Festival.
Mr. Wong holds degrees from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and New England Conservatory. He has published research on music’s essential roles in communities and education, and served on the New England Conservatory faculty from 2009-2018. He is also an alumnus of the Emerging Leaders Program (League of American Orchestras), the Executive Program for Nonprofit Leaders (Stanford Graduate School of Business), and the AmEx Leadership Academy (Center for Creative Leadership). In 2018, the Hawaii Community Foundation presented him with a Ho’okele Award for nonprofit leadership.
A professional musician, Mr. Wong is a bassist in the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra, and has notably performed with celebrated artists including Orquesta Nacional de Jazz de Mexico (ONJMX), Jake Shimabukuro, George Clinton, and others. He studied classical double bass with Todd Seeber (Boston Symphony Orchestra) and Jeffrey Turner (Ret. Principal, Pittsburgh Symphony), jazz bass with Cecil McBee and Keala Kaumeheiwa, and further jazz studies with pianist Michael Cain (M-Base, Jack DeJohnette’s Special Edition, Me’shell Ndegeocello). Mr. Wong leads The Waitiki 7, an ensemble inspired by midcentury exotica music, and co-founded the label Pass Out Records. His music has been licensed for TV, film, performed by symphony orchestras, acclaimed by national press including Mother Jones, Giant Robot, JazzTimes, and NPR, and has topped college, world, and jazz radio charts. (Apple Music subscribers can find Waitiki’s music under Apple’s curated “Essential Exotica” playlist.)
Born and raised on Oahu, Mr. Wong participated in HYS as a youth and attended Hanahauoli and Iolani schools. Prior to leading HYS as its executive director, he served in multiple paid and unpaid positions, from coaching at its Pacific Music Institute to adjudicating auditions and administering an essay contest. Wong says, “I am very grateful to HYS for being a constant, positive force in my life, and am honored to now serve as its president. Our vision to make music a right, and not a privilege, deeply resonates with me—all children should have an opportunity to learn a musical instrument, and to become the best version of themselves.”
Beyond HYS, Mr. Wong serves on the Nominations Committee of the League of American Orchestras’ Youth Orchestra Division, is a founding member of the Leadership Team of Hawaii Public Radio’s Generation Listen (and chairs its Membership Committee), and has served as a Music Panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts.