In this series we invite you to meet and learn from thinkers, doers, and believers who find success by actively living in the grey.

We’re so excited to introduce you to Alexis Kende. Alexis is currently the Director of Cultural Programs at the World Youth Alliance, an international non-profit that connects young people in developing and developed countries. She is also an accomplished musician, beginning her violin studies at age five and continued her professional training at Juilliard and the Peabody Conservatory.

Alexis has blended her passion for music with her professional work in a number of ways. Previously in her career, she worked for New York City Opera at Lincoln Center, first as a grant writer and then in the Special Events department. 

In 2010, Alexis established the World Youth Alliance Chamber Orchestra, where she works now. The orchestra is an ensemble of pre-college musicians ages 10-17 from Juilliard and Manhattan School of Music and they perform at universities, places of worship, and prominent public venues such as the United Nations.  

More recently, Alexis established an independent music program known as the Manhattan String Orchestra.  This program targets even younger musicians (ages 7-15) and provides them with opportunities to perform in Manhattan.  In addition to providing professional training for young musicians, the goal of both ensembles is to inspire young musicians to reflect on the role of music in their lives, and to recognize how their music can serve their communities.

Alexis is so inspiring as she continues to find new ways to blend her personal and professional lives.

Read on to learn more about Alexis:

What does living in the grey mean to you?

It’s about being involved with work that impacts people in a truly human way. It’s about helping others to respect themselves and then desire to go beyond themselves to live for others.

How do you define success?

Success is when you are at peace with who you are and are involved in work that allows you to express that and inspire others.

What’s the first thing you read in the morning?

My email, facebook feeds – usually something mindless that helps my mind to wake up! What helps most is starting my day with yoga or pilates. When I do this, I feel more tranquil and have a clearer mind throughout the day.

Do you have a motto?

Live in the present by being grateful for what you have, but always remain mindful as to whether you are growing into the person you want to become.

Do you work differently than you did one year ago?

I have become better at delegating and not micro-managing. As a leader, I think it’s important to be strong, clear, and very organized in delegating responsibility, but also flexible, sensitive to others, and humble enough to let others contribute their unique perspectives.

How do you ensure your intentions become actions?

I’m big on making lists! I maintain a running list of things I want to accomplish, and throughout the day I update it by adding new tasks, crossing off completed tasks, etc. At the end of the day, I re-arrange the list to get my priorities in order for the following day. I also set long-term goals for myself and write them down, reviewing them periodically to make sure I’m not losing sight of the big picture.

What’s the best piece of advice you have for someone beginning their grey journey?

Know what you are passionate about, and find a unique way to deliver it. Think about how working in that niche is something that can sustain you long-term; not only financially but intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. Become familiar with your strengths and weaknesses so you know how you need to grow, and what expertise you need to seek out in others.

Meet more members of the Live in the Grey Community:

Sara Boucherteacher
Tim Sparks, filmmaker
Jeff Raider, co-founder of Harry’s and Warby Parker


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