Strum for Hope Directors

Rick Malzyner- Founder and Artistic Director

Born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Rick Malzyner has always utilized music as a therapeutic device to further improve him self and others. After the loss of both his grandparents to cancer, Rick got a glimpse of how much suffering one can undergo when facing this horrible disease. He made it his personal mission to be involved in helping others who were battling cancer. After moving to the US at the age of 11, he began playing the guitar and has never stopped to this day. Rick Malzyner thought of Strum for Hope in his teenage years and it was only made a reality once he arrived at UC Berkeley and met Sophie Needelman (Founder of The Defiance Project). Through this incredible partnership, Strum for Hope achieved the structure and resources to come into fruition.  Through a lot of hard work and dedication Rick and Sophie hope to establish a flourishing organization that will always do its very best to bring music into the hands of those who need it.

Sophie Needelman- Executive Director

Born and raised in Southern California, Sophie Needelman began  manifesting her love for the arts and her community in the form of involvement with various San Diego dance companies. Working with groups such as Eveoke Dance Theatre and Canyon Crest Academy’s Envision Dance Conservatory has inspired Sophie to combine her love of working with people and raising awareness through arts-related community engagement. Sophie has extended this passion to the Bay where she is currently pursuing her B.A. in Dance and Performance Studies and Rhetoric at The University of California at Berkeley. Since studying dance at the university level, Sophie has had the opportunity to explore dance from a much more academic and theoretical perspective. In addition to her academic endeavors as a college student and her creative endeavors as a blossoming dancer/choreographer, it is in Berkeley that Sophie has gotten her feet wet in the world of slam poetry. Whether it is behind the mic, on a stage, in a dance studio, or in front of her computer screen, Sophie hopes to create- in every capacity she can.