Andrew Johnston - Executive Director And founder
After graduating from DePaul University with degrees in Jazz Studies and Performing Arts Management, Andrew began a two-year teaching commitment with Teach for America. During his two years in the program, Andrew taught music and math at an under-served high school in Nashville. Andrew founded Jazz Empowers in 2014 after seeing the major need for jazz bands in low-income schools. In 2015, the Jazz Empowers pilot program launched in two schools in Nashville. Since the launched of the pilot program, Andrew has led Jazz Empowers to significant growth serving 800 students and raising over $300,000 for jazz education.
Danny Fernandez - New York
Currently residing in New York City, Danny is an active Alto Saxophonist/flutist originally from El Paso, TX. He holds a bachelors degree in Music Education from the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), as well as a Masters Degree in Woodwind Performance from the California State University Fullerton School of Music. In 2004, Danny was given the honor of performing with the UTEP Jazz Combo in Washington, D.C. for a celebrity roast of long-time ABC anchorman, and UTEP alumni Sam Donaldson. He also is the founder of Fuego Latino, a Cuban Salsa group.
Nicole glover - New York
After studying at William Paterson University, Nicole returned to her hometown of Portland, Oregon in 2011. Upon arrival, she was invited to record on Esperanza Spaulding's Grammy-award winning album "Radio Music Society". She became a pivotal member of several groups lead by international acclaimed multi-instrumentalist George Colligan. Nicole moved to New York City in 2017, where she now resides. She has since recorded and toured with the great Gene Perla, and, additionally, Nicole has had the pleasure of performing with such great musicians as Mulgrew Miller, Wynton Marsalis, Esperanza Spalding, and many more.
Ricky Sebastian - New Orleans
Ricky attended the University of Southern Lousiana and Berklee College of Music. After studying at college he made a name for himself performing in New Orleans and in New York. Besides being an in demand recording and touring artist, Ricky has also lead his own projects such as The Spirit of Within. He also became the head percussion instructor at the University of New Orleans. Ricky has also performed with many note worthy musicians such as Mike Stern, Jaco Pastorius, John Scofield, and Ellis Marsalis.
Salvador Velasco - Houston
Salvador is an active performer and educator on the Houston music scene. Salvador recently graduated from the University of Houston where he studied trumpet performance, jazz studies, and graduated with a degree in music education. He currently is the director of jazz at Yes Prep Fifth Ward Charter School.
Christopher Dixon - Chicago
A native of Chicago, Christopher graduated from Vandercook School Of Music with a degree is music education. Christopher currently teaches music in a variety of settings across the city of Chicago. He is also an active performer, playing in a variety of settings on both trombone and euphonium. He is currently the director of jazz at Muchin College Prep.
Issac Armstead - Chicago
Mr. Armstead studied at Northern Illinois University where he received his BA in Music. His primary focus at NIU was trumpet performance, Music Administration, Jazz studies, and music education. Mr. Armstead is a working Chicago Artist that performs all over the city. Mr. Armstead has had the opportunity to play and study with musical geniuses such as; Reggie Thomas, Tim Warfield, Ron Carter, Art Davis, Wynton Marsalis, Tanya Darby, and Sean Jones. Mr. Armstead is the Director of Jazz at Passages charter schools in Chicago.
Jodi Gladstone- Los Angeles
Jodi obtained her master’s in Music Performance and Music Education. Originally from New York she now lives and Burbank and teaches there through the Long Beach Public School system. Jodi is the director of The Great American Swing Band which performs throughout California. Prestigious venues they have played at include The Hollywood Bowl, The Stardust Ballroom, Paramount Studios, and The House of Blues.
Alex Weitz - NYC
Originally from Arizona, Alex Weitz was a member of the award-winning Tucson Jazz Institute Ellington Band. Alex went on to complete both his undergraduate and graduate studies at the highly acclaimed University of Miami Frost School of Music, where he gained invaluable mentorship and experience as a member of the Henry Mancini Institute Jazz Septet directed by Terence Blanchard. In 2019, NYC jazz saxophonist and composer Alex Weitz won second place in the prestigious Michael Brecker International Saxophone Competition, and his original composition “Rude Awakening” won an ASCAP Herb Albert Composer Award.
Graeme Norris - NYC
In 2011 Graeme attained a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Performance from the Jazz Music Institute in Brisbane, Australia. Graeme moved to New York in 2012, and graduated from the Masters in Jazz Performance degree program at Manhattan School of Music in 2014, where he studied with Dave Liebman, Gary Smulyan, Garry Dial, Rich Perry and Jim McNeely. He has undertaken further study in the US with Jackie McLean, Barry Harris, and Grant Stewart. Graeme worked as a woodwind specialist at Promise Academy in Harlem and currently is on the pre-college faculty at Manhattan School of Music.
Marsia Frank - Nashville
Ms. Frank is a 2006 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she studied Classical Piano Performance and Music Education, later earning her M.Ed. in Behavior Analysis. Originally from a small, dairy-farming community in northern Wisconsin, Ms. Frank moved to Nashville to be part of the vibrant growing city. She has spent her career inspiring young musicians as well as working as a Behavior Specialist in the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools. Ms. Frank is most excited to help grow a rigorous and enriching music program here Nashville Classical in 2019–2020.
Board Of Directors
Marshall Towe - Board President
Marshall spent a career as a technology executive with Motorloa, QUALCOMM and VeriSign having lived in Indonesia, Hong Kong, Singapore, London and Australia. He was most recently a founding partner of two electric vehicle start-up and the sole founder of Cascadiant Energy, a Singapore based green tech company that provided clean energy solutions to companies to their shrink carbon footprints by deploying all forms green energy. His company was acquired by private equity in 2017 and Marshall joined the board of the start-up Nearify. Marshall has a long history of philanthropic causes as the founder of Sustainable Philanthropy and founder and Chairman of the Singapore International Jazz Festival, as well as serving on multiple advisory boards including Restore Haiti, Java Jazz Festival in Indonesia, the University of Illinois-Chicago and the Asia Green Energy Forum.
Marqo Patton - Board Vice president
Dr. MarQo Patton hails from Columbus, OH, but has lived in Nashville, TN since attending Fisk University. Graduating from Fisk with a B.S. in Business Administration with a concentration in Music Business, Patton is a former member of the Fisk Jubilee Singers. While there, he served as an intern for the Nashville chapter of The Recording Academy. He later earned an M.Ed. in Instructional Practice, and the Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from Lipscomb University. Dr. Patton has taught in Metro Nashville Public Schools for eight years, six years as a founding Music Industry teacher at Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School. Currently, he’s a Faculty Fellow of Music Business at Belmont University. Additionally as an artist and consultant, Patton manages Jusreall Music Group Global, LLC (JMGG). More information is available at jmgroupglobal.com.
Warren HAwkins - Nashville
Originally from Birmingham, AL, Warren earned a B.B.A. in Finance and B.S. in Political Science from the University of Georgia. After graduating, he taught 6th grade math teach in Stone Mountain, GA through Teach for America. He went on earn a M.Ed focusing on technology and innovation from the Harvard Graduate School, which transitioned him to become the founding Director of Operations as KIPP Nashville College Prep, a top performing charter school in North Nashville. Warren currently manages driver growth in Tennessee and Indiana for Lyft and spends most weekends at the dog park with his Beagle named Maddy.
Larraine Voll Morris - Nashville
Formerly from New York City and the Washington, DC area, Larraine is a new resident to Nashville, where she retired from Marriott International Headquarters in Maryland. As a new Board member, Larraine brings extensive experience in business and strategic planning having held numerous executive positions in global sales, marketing and operations at Marriott. Since retiring and moving to Nashville, Larraine established Strategic Insight Advisors, whose mission is to help non-profits tackle key business issues, develop strategic plans and create solutions for the future. Larraine believes in the importance of Jazz Empower’s mission to keep music and jazz alive through our schools and exposing and inspiring the next generation to its roots, soul and life long influence.
Jordan Holland - Nashville
Jordan Holland hails from Columbus, Ohio. Jordan is Graduate of Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of Performing Art where he obtained a Masters of Music in Performance. Jordan graduated from Fisk University with a Bachelors degree in Music with a concentration in Vocal Performance. Jordan continually works diligently at perfecting his craft and is eager and pleased to present his artistry to the world. Presently, Jordan resides in Nashville, TN, where he is operating in his craft and love of music. Jordan lends his artistry to many different productions and concerts as an artist and soloist, session singer, and also as a background singer for well know local artist. Jordan also works at Vanderbilt University with Residential Colleges.
Frank Giovetti - Nashville
Frank devotes most of his time to small business. An indie artist and business owner, Frank operates at the forefront of branding and entrepreneurship in the digital era. He holds an MBA from Lipscomb University and has experience within hospitality, brand development, and sales. With high achievement in education and business at a young age, he readily shares his insight and innovative thinking with the Jazz Empowers Board.
Social Media Director
Chet zenor - chicago
Born in Austin, TX and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, Chet currently attends DePaul University where he studies performing arts management and jazz guitar in the School of Music. An active musician in the city, he performs in acts that play rock, jazz, folk, and hip-hop music and has served as marketing intern at venues including The Whistler and Sleeping Village. As an intern at Jazz Empowers, Chet assists in marketing and media for the organization. He believes in Jazz Empowers mission and the transformative power of music education.