About the LYP Board

The LYP Board is a passionate group of 18 members focused on engaging the next generation of opera-goers. All LYPs who give at the Contributor level and above are eligible to apply for the Board. If you are a current LYP and interested in applying, please fill out the form below or email the Lyric Boards Office at Boards@lyricopera.org.

LYP Board Requirements
  • Donate at the LYP Contributor level or above
  • Attend quarterly board meetings
  • Serve on the Membership, Fundraising, Events, or Social Media committee
  • Act as an opera ambassador and encourage other young professionals to attend Lyric productions and events
  • Attend annual LYP fundraising events
  • Promote and sell tickets to your network

Meet the LYP Board


Shannon Shin

An opera fan from the age of four (when she listened to the complete Ring cycle with her father), Shannon Shin is an attorney at Dentons, where her practice focuses on complex commercial litigation and counseling clients in responding to state and federal investigations, regulatory actions and other inquiries. Her legal experience includes drafting an amicus curiae brief in support of Petitioners in the landmark Supreme Court decision Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt and presenting oral argument before the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Additionally, she has presented seminars on state attorneys general investigations and insurance coverage matters. Shannon earned undergraduate degrees from Johns Hopkins University and the Peabody Conservatory of Music, followed by a graduate degree from the University of Oxford and a law degree from the University of Michigan. She previously served on the Lyric Young Professionals Board as Co-Vice President last season and was a sponsor of the 2017& 2018 Halloween Masquerade.

Vice President

Joe Michalak

Joe Michalak joined the LYP Board in 2017 after having joined the LYP in 2013. He joined the LYP Board in order to help introduce Lyric to the next generation of opera fans, and give back to the arts community in Chicago. Joe is an Officer and Financial Analyst at CIBC, and also serves as the Treasurer of the Chicago Metamorphosis Orchestra Project (ChiMOP), a nonprofit organization which seeks to affect positive social change in young students with limited access to the arts.


Charles Todd

Charles Todd is the current Secretary and member of the Executive Committee of the Lyric Young Professionals Board. Charles has been attending opera for over 20 years, after first seeing La bohème at the Royal Opera House in London and has been a devoted attendee of the Lyric for the past decade. His love of the arts originated early on through both piano training and singing. His current passions include photography, travel, hiking, kayaking and food. Charles has also been philanthropically involved in Chicago’s Center on Halsted. Charles has a PhD in Philosophy and currently serves as Dean of Students at the University of Chicago Law School. This year, Charles is most excited to attend the Lyric’s full production of the Ring Cycle.

Events Chair

JJ Williams

J.J. has been a passionate member of the LYP Board since the 2016/2017 season, after having joined LYP as a member in the 2015/2016 season. Being able to share his enthusiasm for arts & culture with other like-minded people within the Chicago community, along with learning more about opera with every performance, are just a couple of the exciting parts of being involved with LYP. A classically trained musician since the age of 3, J.J. is a hobby pianist who relishes in sharing music with enthused houseguests. Professionally, he is an interior designer and antique dealer – beauty never seems to elude him, whether it is on Lyric’s stage or in every other area of life.

Fundraising Chair

Marian Klaus

Marian has been a member of the Lyric Young Professionals for the past three years and is excited to serve as the Fundraising Chair on the LYP Board. Her love for the performing arts originated back when she would listen to the beautiful music her mother would play on the piano, but her love for opera has developed more recently. Her first experience with opera was seeing Madame Butterfly in high school and in the past few years has loved discovering many operas for the first time. Marian is passionate about people and her community. Being part of LYP allows her to feed both of those passions. Marian is also driven by the philanthropic aspect of LYP. Support of the Ryan Opera Center means that we all have a hand in ensuring that those with the talent can hone their craft (right in our very own backyard). In her non-opera life Marian is a Global Employer Services tax specialist at Deloitte. She is also passionate about travel and spending time with family and friends.

Membership Chair

Stephen Brown

Stephen Brown has been a LYP member since 2016 and started serving on the LYP Board in 2019. His first LYP event was co-hosted with the Young Professionals of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, where he previously served as a YP ambassador. Growing up in a musical household, Stephen learned French Horn in school and performed in several ensembles through high school and college. Today, he enjoys live music at venues across town and listens avidly to WFMT. Stephen works for the North American commercial division of S.C. Johnson & Company where he supports several cross-functional teams. He speaks fluent German and his favorite opera at Lyric so far has been Das Rheingold.

Social Media Chair

Lauren Wood

Lauren Wood joined the Lyric Young Professionals in 2014, just a few months after moving to Chicago from her native Atlanta. While looking online for volunteer opportunities that might let her step onto the famed Lyric Opera stage without having to sing or perform, she discovered the LYPs and has been a passionate advocate ever since. Lauren works in advertising by day (and often night), writing songs about cleaning supplies and poetic paeans to various prescription medications. She has no professional opera experience, but will weep and tweet upon hearing Leontyne Price sing Verdi.

Member at Large

Vindya Dayananda

Vindya joined the LYP board in 2017 and has embraced the opportunity to learn more about the magical world of opera while engaging with the tight knit community of art lovers and philanthropists in Chicago. In her professional life, Vindya works for William Blair as an Investment Banking Associate focused on the healthcare industry. Prior to Blair, Vindya worked for Cancer Treatment Centers of America in a Corporate Finance role before pursuing her MBA at the University of Chicago. Aside from opera and finance, Vindya is an avid traveler and an aspiring golfer.

Member at Large

Neil Dewan

Neil joined the Lyric Young Professionals Board in 2019, after having been a member since 2016. He has attended performances at Lyric since 2007 and has come to depend on the drama, passion, and virtuosity to get him through the winter months. This year, he is most excited to meet new members of LYP and learn what draws them to this art form. In his professional career, Neil is a certified public accountant who specializes in audit and employee benefit plans. Otherwise, he loves trying new foods and visiting Chicago’s lakefront.

Member at Large

Sara Junya

Sara has been a member of Lyric Young Professionals since 2016 after returning to Chicago from her residency in New Orleans. As a medical student at Rush Medical College, she found a great amount of joy and solace in going to Lyric to not only escape from medical textbooks for a couple of hours, but also to delight in the wonders of a Lyric performance.  Once returning, Sara knew she wanted to continue her involvement with Lyric and became an LYP Member at Large in 2019. Her favorite opera is Pagliacci, which goes to show that great experiences can come in small packages. Outside of attending operas, Sara is an obstetrician and gynecologist and recently relocated to San Diego to join Sharp Rees-Stealy medical group.  She enjoys travel, culinary adventures, and can always be found post-yoga.

Member at Large

Lauren Neal

Lauren recently joined the Lyric Young Professionals Board as a Member at Large in 2019. New to LYP, she has been attending opera at the Lyric for many years, starting at a relatively young age. Lauren earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin followed by a Masters of Science from the University of Kansas.  In her professional experience, Lauren has worked in digital advertising for over 8 years, and currently works at Nextdoor, a social networking service for neighborhoods.

Member at Large

Natalie Pace

Natalie joined the Lyric Young Professionals Board as a Member at Large in 2018. Although relatively new to the LYP Board, she is not new to opera, having attended her first Lyric production in 1998. In her professional life, Natalie works for Amazon focusing on strategic partnerships. Prior to Amazon, Natalie worked in Finance for nine years and is now pursuing her MBA at the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business. She has volunteered for many nonprofits in the past such as Young Life and HFS and is excited to bring her experience in fundraising to the Young Professionals. Aside from opera, Natalie is an aspiring golfer, skier and an avid traveler.  

Member at Large

Samuel Rosenberg

Sam joined the LYP board in 2019 after several years as an LYP member. A native Chicagoan, Sam began attending performances at the Lyric as a child. His focus on the board is to improve the fundraising efforts of the LYP and to expand opportunities for others to  appreciate opera. Sam is currently an attorney at Pedersen & Houpt, PC, continuing that firm’s long standing relationship with Lyric.

Member at Large

Joan Sanborn

Joan is a new addition to the LYP Board. She’s always had a love of music and learned to read sheet music before she could read words. Growing up in Houston, she took regular piano and ballet lessons. The first opera she attended was The Marriage of Figaro at age 11, and she’s been a regular opera-goer ever since. Joan does her best to embrace her inner nerd and has self-guided study sessions before she watches a show, but she also just really loves sitting back and enjoying the music. Her favorite aria is “Madamina, il catalogo è questo” from Don Giovanni.

Joan currently works on the trade floor at BP. She has always enjoyed hiking and cooking, but she’s been spending her Covid-19 social-distancing time exploring new hobbies like board games, darts, and whittling.

Member at Large

Brian Shumaker

Brian Shumaker may have fallen asleep at his first opera Madama Butterfly) at age 14, but no worries, he's a huge fan anyway. A native of Louisville, KY, he first joined LYP in 2011. As a "retired" classical tenor, he loves interacting with new people at all stages of their opera development through LYP and being an ambassador for the art form. He performs regularly with the Apollo Chorus of Chicago and even still sings professionally on occasion. He works in learning design and development for a corporate training firm.

Member at Large

Sunghee (Sunny) Sohn

Sunny joins the Lyric Young Professionals Board as a Member At Large for the 2020/21 Season.  Music has been a lifelong love for Sunny.  She grew up with opera thanks to her father who sang tenor arias around the house.  She played the cello and piano and sang in various school and church choirs.  At Cornell University, she was one of the original members of Hearsay, an all-female a cappella group.  She hopes to help the LYP expand the reach of opera to new generations and help increase the accessibility of opera for diverse communities and audiences.  Sunny earned her bachelor's degree from Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations and a graduate degree in Global Affairs from New York University. After more than five years as a Human Resources professional, Sunny earned her law degree from Loyola University Chicago. Sunny is the Assistant General Counsel at Griffith Foods International Inc., a global food seasoning company. She is also on the board of the Korean American Bar Association of Chicago and Hanul Family Alliance, a local non-profit providing comprehensive community-based services to Asian American and immigrant seniors and families in the Chicagoland area. 

Member at Large

Marne Smiley

Marne feels at home with her LYP family. The more people she met who are involved with the opera, the more she wanted to contribute. She felt like the people who love opera have a curiosity about the world, whether it be traveling, community involvement, or language. She could feel the many countless and unnoticed hours that go into the opera and she really connected with that. She really loves the opera, but most importantly she loves what it brings out in the people involved in it.

In her non-opera life she is an entrepreneur, passionate about life and the people in it. She has a marketing and consulting agency, where she helps people and companies become better version of themselves. She currently serves on the Board of Governors at the Mid-America Club and is Co-Chair of the Philanthropy group at Union League. She is also an active member the Otoe-Missouria tribe and is starting a non-profit focused on homelessness. She climbs mountains, races mountain bikes, runs, has a few Chicago-to-Mackinaw sailing races under belt, and does not drink caffeine.

Member at Large

Ben Wasmuth

Ben is new to the Lyric Young Professionals Board in 2020, having been a member for several years prior, but has been regularly attending Lyric Opera performances since 2012 (his favorite opera is Rigoletto). He played both trumpet and piano through high school in the suburbs of Detroit, MI, but best connected with the carillon (a tuned tower bell instrument played by means of a keyboard), playing throughout his time at the University of Florida, where he studied accounting. Ben is currently a Senior Manager with the Washington National Tax office of RSM US LLP, specializing in the taxation of partnerships and financial instruments, having been with the firm since 2012. Outside of work and Lyric, Ben enjoys camping, cycling, fishing and other outdoor pursuits. Ben looks forward to working with the rest of the Lyric Young Professionals Board to advance LYP’s mission throughout this most difficult and unusual time.