Lisa Ecklund-Flores Resigns as Head of Church Street School She Co-Founded

Lisa Ecklund-Flores in front of 41 White Street, the former Flea Theater, in December 2017, a few months before the school would move there from its longtime home on Warren Street. Photo: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

Apr. 05, 2021

Lisa Ecklund-Flores, executive director of the Church Street School for Music and Art, announced on Tuesday that she is retiring from her post as head of the Tribeca institution that she co-founded 30 years ago. Her last day, she said, will be at the end of August. The school has hired a search consultant to find candidates for the job.

“But I’m not stepping down as a faculty member,” said Ecklund-Flores, who also teaches at the school, and leads a chorus at Brookdale Senior Living in Battery Park City. “It’s really important to me that I continue my connection to my teaching.”

Ecklund-Flores, who just turned 65, formally announced her intentions to the school’s board in October. But she said the stress of the job led her to start thinking about retirement several years earlier when the school faced an untenable rent on Warren Street and was searching for a new home in high-rent Tribeca. It was a long and difficult period for the school before it finally found its current space in the former Flea Theater at 41 White St.

“I really felt I popped my cork with that one,” she said in a phone interview. “I was burned out by that process.”

Now Ecklund-Flores, who holds a PhD in developmental psychology and is a board certified music therapist, said she is looking ahead to a new mission: creating a teacher training program. “I’ve got so much experience and so much education and have worked so hard at developing a philosophy and an approach at the school,” she said, noting that she’s confident that she’ll find a market for her skills.

“We are thrilled for Lisa, who deserves to shape the next chapter of her life with the same passion and vision she has applied to growing the School for the past thirty years,” Judy Levine, the school’s board chair, said in a statement. She added: “We are enthusiastic about this opportunity to bring fresh energy, perspective, strategic thinking and innovation to the leadership of the School.”

As for Ecklund-Flores, she’s optimistic about the school’s future, minus her leadership. “The staff is strong, the faculty is strong, the community is strong, we’re all really tightly knit, she said. “None of that is going to change.

Ecklund-Flores and Lauri Bailey—former instructors at Washington Market School and Greenwich House Music School—founded the Church Street School in 1990 in a second-floor walkup with just two other teachers. Since then the faculty has grown to 35 and served more than 20,000 families.