BOARD OF DIRECTORS
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Ron Claiborne, President, Journalist and Correspondent for ABC News
Rondi Charleston, Vice President, Jazz Singer, Lyricist, Composer, Recording Artist
Patricia Pastor, Board Secretary, Commercial Litigation Attorney
Becca Pulliam, Board Treasurer, Radio Producer, Writer
Tom Dempsey, Guitarist, Composer, Assistant Professor of Music, LaGuardia Community of College
Shireen Dickson, Choreographer/Producer
Jeff “The Jedimaster” Jones, Director/Producer
Wendy Rothman, Organizational Psychologist
Debra Vanderburg Spencer, Curator, Art Historian and Cultural Policy Specialist
Eli Yamin, Pianist, Composer, Educator and Founding Board President
President, Journalist and Correspondent for ABC News
Ronald Eldridge “Ron” Claiborne is an American journalist and correspondent for ABC News, he is the current “more news reporter” for the weekend edition of Good Morning America, anchored by Dan Harris. He joined ABC News in 1986.
Claiborne has previously worked in the New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami and Boston bureaus of ABC News. He has also covered international stories in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Persian Gulf, China, South America, Africa and Europe.
In 2007 and 2008, Claiborne covered the presidential campaign of Sen. John McCain. He has also covered such stories as the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal in 2002 and 2003, the Elian Gonzalez custody case in Miami in 1999 to 2000, the Yugoslavia conflict in Belgrade in 1999, the 2000 Bush presidential campaign, the 1992 Clinton presidential campaign and the 1991 Persian Gulf War. During the 2003 Iraq War, he reported from the Persian Gulf region and was “embedded” on the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln.
Claiborne was part of the ABC News team that won a 2000 Emmy Award for coverage of the seizure of Elian Gonzalez in Miami. In 2003, he was an Ochberg Fellow with the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, affiliated with the University of Washington.
Prior to joining ABC News, he was a general assignment correspondent for WNYW-TV, New York from 1982 to 1986. He was a reporter for the New York Daily News from 1980 to 1982 and a reporter and national editor for United Press International in New York, from 1977 until 1980.
Claiborne earned an MS in journalism in 1975 from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He received a BA in psychology from Yale University in 1974. He is a native of San Francisco, Calif., and grew up in Oakland, Calif., and Los Angeles.
Vice President, Jazz Singer, Lyricist, Composer, Recording Artist
Motema Music recording artist, Rondi Charleston, is an award winning jazz singer, lyricist and composer whose work has appeared in film, TV and on stage through the U.S. and in Europe. She recently collaborated with pianist Fred Hersch on music for the award winning film, “No Place on Earth,” which had worldwide theatrical release and was shown on the History Channel. Her fifth solo album, Signs of Life charted on JazzWeek, and JazzTimes says, “She is a songwriter whose poetic, narrative and compositional skills are comparable to such modern masters as Joni Mitchell and Paul Simon.” She has performed to sold out crowds at Yoshi’s, Catalina’s, Dakota, Birdland, Blue Note, Joe’s Pub and at Jazz at Lincoln Center as part of the the Women in Jazz Festival Jazz at Dizzy’s. Rondi is also an Emmy and Peabody award-winning journalist, having worked with Diane Sawyer at ABC News PrimeTime Live.
Board Secretary, Commercial Litigation Attorney
Patricia Pastor is a commercial litigation attorney and serves as general counsel to business clients on a wide variety of legal matters. Her work with major New York City firms includes large scale transactions, sales, acquisitions and reorganizations. She advises her clients on contract, employment, regulatory and compliance issues; litigates commercial and civil disputes in federal and state courts; and defends clients in government agency proceedings. Ms. Pastor’s prior work investigating child abuse charges for the NYPD brings a unique perspective to her role as an attorney. She is a pro bono advocate for victims of domestic violence in family, civil and criminal court proceedings; and serves on the Board of the National Organization for Women – New York State. She has petitioned for asylum in the U.S. on behalf of individuals fleeing political and religious persecution in their countries of origin.
Board Treasurer, Radio Producer, Writer
Becca Pulliam produced 23 seasons of the weekly series JazzSet from NPR Music, hosted by Dee Dee Bridgewater and Branford Marsalis. One edition featured a story with actualities from the Jazz Drama Program’s first production,When Malindy Swings, at Louis Armstrong Middle School in Queens. In addition, Pulliam produced 28 consecutive live, all-night, coast-to-coast Toast of the Nation specials, live on New Year’s Eve from NPR and WBGO Jazz 88 in Newark, NJ. In 2014-15, she has written the Berlin Philharmonic in Concert series for WQXR in New York, and the Spring Gala for the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. As Please Repeat the Question Productions, Pulliam makes the podcasts from the annual conference of the National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education, Hunter College.
Guitarist, Composer, Assistant Professor of Music, LaGuardia Community of College
Guitarist Tom Dempsey’s reputation for hard swinging sophistication and pure musicality have made him a distinctive voice in the New York jazz scene. Tom has performed and/or recorded with world renowned jazz musicians including: Wynton Marsalis, Paquito D’Rivera, Brad Mehldau, Kenny Barron, George Coleman, Jack McDuff, Bobby McFerrin, Mel Torme and Dave Brubeck. Dempsey performs as a leader and a sideman at some of the top jazz venues throughout the world including Jazz at Lincoln Center, San Francisco Jazz Festival, The Blue Note, Yoshi’s, Smalls and Smoke. He has recorded eight CDs
as a leader and has appeared on numerous recordings of other artists. As a well-respected jazz educator Dempsey currently teaches for Jazz at Lincoln Center, New York Jazz Academy, CUNY/LaGuardia Community College where he is an Associate Professor of Music and the Director of Music for The Music Program. He has published seven books for Alfred Music, and five interactive educational products True Fire.
Shireen Dickson has worked in dance and arts education for over 20 years – as a performer, teaching artist, lecturer, curriculum developer, and NYC Dept of Education classroom teacher. She spent 10 years performing with and assisting award-winning choreographer Dianne McIntyre at renowned performance venues, dance and jazz festivals throughout the country. In addition to currently directing the 25-year old Okra Dance Company (which presents programs featuring African American vernacular and world rhythmic and folk dances) Shireen has developed programs and presented for a diverse range of institutions including NY Dance Parade, Elizabeth Streb, Pilobolus, National Black Arts Festival, and United Federation of Teachers. Shireen is a founding member of the Collegium for African Diaspora Dance based at Duke University and directs their bi-annual international conference.
Jeff “The Jedimaster” Jones
2009 Grammy Award Winning Producer & Voting Member of The National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences. Producer of ”Real Jazz” heard weekly on Sirius XM Satellite Radio.
Jeff is currently under contract with Jazz at Lincoln Center, producing, recording / mixing albums & special projects under the direction of Wynton Marsalis. Additionally Jeff produces and records through his company World Alert Music in Manhattan.
Raised in a musical household, Jeff’s classical training was overseen by his mother, an Opera Singer. In his early studio days Jeff learned firsthand, working with legends: Don Elliot, John Hammond, Russel Simmons, Rick Rubin, Arthur Baker, Hank Shocklee, Jam Master J, Teruro Nakamura, and Puff Daddy. Jeff’s scope is wide, and encompasses the realms of Jazz, Classical & Rock.
Jeff’s passion as an inventor and developer, has earned him the reputation and nickname “The JediMaster” of recording techniques. His Guerilla recording of Wynton Marsalis won him a 2006 Grammy Nomination. EMI President Bruce Lundvall credited Jeff’s mixes of Willie Nelson as “The best sounding live album, I’ve ever heard”. Dr John considers Jeff “The next Tommy Dowd”.
Wendy Rothman, business entrepreneur and organizational psychologist, is a renowned and sought after professional with a focus on developing human capital. With a background that combines successful entrepreneurship with advanced training in psychology, she brings unique breadth and perspective to the work of performance management. Combining measurement rigor with real world business success, Wendy is a practical and inspiring advisor to executives at all levels. Her academic training combines a PhD in Psychometrics (the scientific discipline of testing and measuring human characteristics) with a Masters in Organizational Behavior. While completing her post graduate studies, she went on to build and grow 4 businesses in the discipline of managing and developing Human Capital – the largest of which grew to over $110 million in revenues. This experience grounded her academic training with real world understanding of the issues and choices facing executives in general and executive women in particular. Since 2001 she has been the President of Wenroth Consulting, Psychology at Work – a consortium of business psychologists specializing in leadership development, executive assessment & performance coaching as well as career transition counseling. Today, Wendy is an elected member of The Committee of 200, an organization for preeminent women Presidents and CEOs. She is a published author, speaker, broadcaster, and recognized expert in maximizing human behavior at work.
Debra Vanderburg Spencer
Curator, Art Historian and Cultural Policy Specialist
Debra Spencer, a museum-trained curator and art historian, also specializes in cultural policy.
Spencer holds a Master’s from Harvard University Graduate School of Education, with adjunct
studies in Film at M.I.T. She also studied Painting, Museum of Fine Arts School Boston, and Art
History, Western Michigan University and Harvard University. An independent curator, Spencer’s current clients are the William J. Clinton Foundation Headquarters, Gallery MC and Wilmer Jennings Gallery at Kenkeleba, NYC. Former clients include The Romanian Cultural Institute, Bucharest, Romania, President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, Washington, DC and the Harlem Arts Alliance. Recent contributions to arts policy include the Schomburg Center/NYPL and NY State Council on the Arts.
Spencer’s training in museology was at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston and Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Art, Boston, the latter of which influenced her curatorial style of focusing on interdisciplinary and multi-media exhibitions. Recently, she organized an exhibition series showcasing over 60 NYC-based artists that represented 18 countries and 4 continents.
Spencer speaks and writes on issues of contemporary art. Recent presentations include: Women in Business and Gender Equality in the Arts, UNESCO Paris; Independent Curatorial Practices, Arts and China Federation of Literary and Arts Circles of Beijing; and The Emergence of a Figurative in African American Art.
Congress retained her services to design and manage the nationwide competition for the Congressional Memorial to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., permanently installed in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol. Spencer was awarded two NEA Fellowships in Arts Management, was a founding member of the African American Museums Association, and is a member of the American Alliance of Museums and International Council on Museums.
Pianist, Composer, Educator and Founding Board President
Mr. Yamin is currently the Managing and Artistic Director of Jazz Power Initiative. A jazz composer and musician, he is on the music faculties of Marymount College Manhattan and Lehman College, where he teaches jazz and blues history, piano and voice. As a Steinway artist and band leader, Mr. Yamin has performed at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall in New York, and at The White House and the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. He has performed at major festivals in Western Europe and served as a cultural ambassador touring on behalf of the United States Department of State, performing at concert halls and festivals in Albania, Brazil, Chile, China, Guatemala, Greece, India, Mali, Montenegro, Romania and Russia. His multiple recordings include Live Burghausen, with tenor saxophonist and jazz icon, Illinois Jacquet, I Feel So Glad with his Blues Band, You Can’t Buy Swing with Jazz Quartet and Louie’s Dream – for our jazz heroes with clarinetist Evan Christopher. Mr. Yamin led Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Middle School Jazz Academy for its first decade growing the program from 13 students in Manhattan to 75 students on three. His videos for Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Jazz Academy have received well over one million views. He composed his first jazz musical with Mr. Carlson, When Malindy Swings (based on a poem by Paul Laurence Dunbar), with grants from Meet the Composer/New Music for Schools and The Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation. The musical gained a national broadcast audience when it was featured with an excerpt on National Public Radio’s Jazz Set with Branford Marsalis. Mr. Yamin and Mr. Carlson were inspired to write four more jazz musicals of their own over the next four years. Their success led to the organization’s launch as a non-profit founded on a groundbreaking idea to provide jazz education as it had not been done before, and based on the jazz principles of “swing rhythm unites, blues expression heals, improvisation empowers and story engages and enlightens.” By combining the power of experiential learning with story-telling and immersion in the language and culture of jazz, children and teenagers have the unique opportunity to experience jazz music across a multidisciplinary curriculum, and a potent tool for communication with audiences of all ages.