Little Kids Rock Welcomes Venz as Chief Program Officer and Chief Academic Officer

Mike Lawson • News • October 2, 2019

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Little Kids Rock has welcomed Steve Venz as their first chief program officer and chief academic officer.

Venz has been transforming public education through the arts in Los Angeles and Orange County for over 20 years and is excited to be bringing his unique point of view on the future of music education to the organization. Starting in 2002 as the Los Angeles Unified School District’s (LAUSD) music administrator, Venz led the development and implementation of a district-wide plan to address the lack of student access to music education throughout the city.

“Whether teaching in a classroom, working in a professional development setting, or serving as an administrator, Steve Venz makes a difference in the lives of individuals. Regardless of the educational setting, Steve unites people in common purpose for the betterment of all music education,” says Frank Heuser, associate professor at the University of California, Los Angeles Department of Music.

Venz became the founding principal of the award-winning Quincy Jones Elementary School in 2010. As recognized by leaders in education, the school substantially increased student academic achievement, along with one of the highest student attendance and parent participation rates in Los Angeles. He was recognized by United Teachers of Los Angeles as one of the top twenty principals in LAUSD. 

“In our advocacy and policy work we address issues on multiple levels – from the classroom, to the principal’s office, to the school district, to the county office of education, to the state legislature, and occasionally at the national level. Steve is the one person I’ve worked with whose experience and expertise encompasses all of those domains. Even more importantly, his efforts embody the spirit of an artist – innovative, relentless, bold, and deeply connected to what matters most – the kids,” adds Joe Landon, executive director of the California Alliance for Arts Education.

In 2014, Venz was appointed Visual and Performing Arts Coordinator for the Orange County Department of Education, serving 500,000 K-12th grade students in 27 school districts in Orange County, California. Over three years, arts education increased throughout the county by 32 percent with the launching of new initiatives that focused on advocacy efforts to increase arts and STEAM instruction, particularly for Title I students, English Learners, and students with diverse abilities.  

“We worked with Steve throughout our three-year state policy initiative and we counted on him to help explain the ground-level truth of how schools, and districts, administer arts education. Congratulations to Little Kids Rock for bringing in Steve to advance your programmatic leadership of music education,” says Narric W. Rome, vice president of Government Affairs & Arts Education at Americans for the Arts.

Having served previously on the Little Kids Rock board of directors, Venz brings with him the knowledge that will support the 18-year-old organization in its growth phase. With Steve’s leadership as the organization’s first-ever chief-level academic officer, Little Kids Rock anticipates large-scale impact in the music education space.

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