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Adrienne Thompson

Vice President for Enrollment & Student Services


A native Chicagoan, Adrienne Thompson returned to the Midwest in 2019 from the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s acclaimed Talent Development Program, which supports Latinx and African American students who want to pursue careers in classical music. A nationally noted champion for excellence and equity in classical music, Thompson is proud to lead Merit’s efforts supporting the recruitment of new students, stewardship of current students, class registrations and payments, awarding of scholarships and financial aid, and ensuring a welcoming, vibrant experience for all students and families. 

Most recently, Adrienne Thompson served as the inaugural Project Director of Chicago Musical Pathways Initiative (CMPI) since 2019. Chicago Musical Pathways Initiative (CMPI) is a training program that works with a diverse network of music and youth-focused organizations to identify and train talented student musicians from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds. The goal of CMPI is to increase diversity in America’s professional, musical landscape, particularly in its orchestras. Learn more about CMPI  

She continues to oversee the success of CMPI by serving as project advisor. In this new CMPI role, Thompson will guide the team she has built since 2019.   She also continues her commitment to the Atlanta Symphony as a consultant as well as provides support to the Cleveland Institute of Music in this capacity. 

Prior to her leadership role at the Atlanta Symphony, for twenty years, Thompson was a high school-level orchestra director at a primarily African American school in Georgia, where she raised the level of the student musicians from Level 3 to Level 6 over a five-year period.   

Thompson received a degree in flute performance from Chicago’s Sherwood Conservatory of Music (now part of Columbia College Chicago) and has an MBA from Indiana University. In 1968, as an eighth grader, Thompson became one of the first African Americans to attend Mount Greenwood Elementary School, known as the “Mount Greenwood 7.”