Business Monthly Bio - Leah Wilson-Velasco



After graduating from Whitman College, new Walla Walla Symphony CEO Leah Wilson-Velasco returns to Walla Walla after spending several years in Boston. Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Business: Walla Walla Symphony CEO.

Hometown: Albuquerque, N. M.

What brought you to Walla Walla?: She's a 2003 graduate of Whitman College and her husband, Michael Simon, is from Walla Walla. They returned to Walla Walla after living in Boston. "We have family nearby and we wanted to be closer."

Favorite memory: "When I was a sophomore in high school I switched from violin to viola ... I was performing Berlioz' 'Symphonie Fantastique' and everything just fell into place. It was very clear to me that was what I wanted to be involved in. That moment when I was 15 or 16 was a magical experience ... You can watch a symphony on a large screen and that satisfies the culture consumption but nothing can replace the thrill of seeing something live."

Current favorite performer?: Josh Ritter. "I saw him live not too long ago in Boston and he was so joyful on stage ... The same thing happens when I watch Yo Yo Ma perform."

Favorite movie: "We're more into T.V. shows. I like 'Modern Family.' It's clever and funny and endearing. You can watch increments and get a good laugh."

Favorite food: "Probably anything with green chili. It was a staple when we were growing up. You can put it on pizza, on eggs, in a sandwich."

Favorite book: "I'm reading 'Cutting For Stone' by Abraham Verghese."

Favorite hobby: "I'm hoping to turn into a gardener. I enjoy cooking and baking and playing my viola. I love a long dinner with friends."

Favorite place in the area: A drive up Five Mile Road, up Mill Creek to watch the sun set over the Valley.

Most recent local purchase: A cup of coffee from the Patisserie.

Dream vacation: "I'd love to go back to Hawaii."

Worst job: "One summer I was washing dishes (at music camp). It's hard and very thankless work. There's no recognition."

Alternate dream career: Opening a coffee shop with her husband. "We're quite the coffee addicts."

Person you'd most like to talk with: "My great-grandmother. She was a pioneer." In her early 20s and unmarried, she headed west to stake out land in South Dakota, something few women at the time dared to do.


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