Jeri Lynne Johnson is the Founder and Artistic Director of the Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra. She founded Black Pearl in Philadelphia, PA as a model for the 21st-century American orchestras combining artistic excellence with cultural diversity and meaningful community engagement. Black Pearl has been recognized as a leading innovator in social justice in classical music and it its brief time, Black Pearl has earned numerous grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and is the only organization in the US ever to win three prestigious Knight Arts Challenge grants. Ms. Johnson holds Music and Religion degrees from Wellesley College and a Master’s in Music History and Theory from the University of Chicago. In 1998 she won the Jorge Mester Conducting Scholarship to attend the Aspen Music Festival and her conducting teachers and mentors have included Sir Simon Rattle, Marin Alsop and Daniel Barenboim. In 2005 she made history as the first Black woman to win an international conducting prize when she was awarded the Taki Alsop Conducting Fellowship. Ms. Johnson has broken barriers in Europe and the US as the first African-American woman on the podium for many orchestras and has conducted the Philadelphia Orchestra, Dallas Symphony, the Bournemouth Symphony (UK), the Weimar Staatskapelle (Germany) among others.