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UNT College of Music Advancement Board
UNT College of Music Advancement Board

The purpose of the Advancement Board is to support UNT College of Music in achieving its mission to serve our diverse musical culture with excellence, integrity, and imagination. Members advance the mission by identifying enhancement opportunities and connecting UNT College of Music with resources that will ensure its future success.

The Board meets three times each year to partner with the COM Dean and Development team, working to accomplish strategic priorities: philanthropy, partnership, and advocacy. Members increase public and private financial support for the college by making annual contributions, and by taking leadership roles in the solicitation of major gifts. The Board leverages professional networks to establish new applied learning experiences for students, including internships, music industry projects, and corporate partnerships. Advancement Board members serve as ambassadors for the college within communities of influence, increasing UNT College of Music’s visibility as America’s largest public university music program and educator of internationally-celebrated musicians.

You can make a direct impact and join the Advancement Board’s philanthropic efforts to support College of Music programs, students, and faculty by making a donation online here, or by contacting Sr. Director of Development Cherese Bassett-Sowell at cherese.bassett@unt.edu.

 

John L. Strauss
John L. Strauss
Board Chair
President, The John and Bonnie Strauss Foundation

John was born in Buffalo, New York and earned his MBA from the Leonard N. Stern School of Business at New York University. Mr. Strauss also graduated from Canisius College, where he received an honorary doctoral degree in 1991. For over 50 years, as co-founder of Barrow, Hanley, Mewhinney & Strauss, LLC, John provided financial advisory services for asset portfolios, mutual funds, equities, fixed incomes, and investments.


Following his retirement, John and his wife, Bonnie, established the John and Bonnie Strauss Foundation to support a variety of organizations based primarily in North Texas. One of the principal missions of the John and Bonnie Strauss Foundation is to help students reach their educational goals. John’s passion for jazz music, jazz education, and the continuing legacy of the jazz genre inspired the foundation to establish two UNT College of Music endowment funds. Both funds provide substantial scholarship awards to jazz students whose financial positions would otherwise hinder their higher education pursuits.

In addition to serving as chairman of the UNT College of Music Advancement Board, John has served his community through board commitments with the University of Dallas Foundation, Dallas Salvation Army, St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store of Dallas, Dallas Boys & Girls Club, National Center For Policy Analysis, and Sammons Center For The Arts Endowment Corporation.

Believed to be a direct descendant of Austrian composer Johann Strauss II, John was raised in a family of musicians. His mother taught piano and dance, his father played organ and saxophone, and his brother is co-founder of the American jazz fusion band Spyro Gyra. John is a passionate baritone sax player and once managed a 20-piece jazz band that regularly performed on college campuses. John and Bonnie currently reside in Plano, TX, where they enjoy golfing and spending time with their grandchildren.

 

Anthony E. Adkins
Anthony E. Adkins
Audit Senior Manager, Grant Thornton LLP

Anthony is a UNT College of Music and UNT College of Business alumnus with a Bachelor of Music Performance in cello and a Master of Science in Accounting. As Audit Senior Manager, he is responsible for overseeing the efforts of multiple client engagements at Grant Thornton LLP. For over 11 years, Anthony has been a valuable thought leader in identifying new business opportunities, managing financial risk, and ensuring client satisfaction by providing personalized service.

Anthony received his early cello training at UNT, where where he served as principal cellist of the university orchestras, three times featured as concerto soloist. After doing graduate work at the Cleveland Institute of Music, Anthony held the positions of principal cellist with the Knoxville Symphony and assistant principal cellist with the Dallas Opera Orchestra.

Anthony and six of his siblings performed chamber music together for a number of years as the Adkins String Ensemble; they all received musical training from UNT and have performed professionally with orchestras throughout the United States, several in positions of national prominence. Anthony’s mother, Dr. Alis Dickinson Adkins, taught music history and appreciation for many years at UNT; his father, Dr. Cecil Adkins, founded the university’s early music program.

Anthony and his wife Erica support the Texas Chamber Music Project, a Dallas-Fort Worth community-driven nonprofit, in its efforts to bring the experience of chamber music to broad and diverse audiences. Erica is the organization’s current president, and Anthony is the former principal cellist. As a member of the UNT College of Music Advancement Board, Anthony has regularly contributed to the Adkins-Dickinson String Scholarship, which supports the UNT orchestras and the early music program founded by his father.

Visit Mr. Adkins’s professional profile.

 

Michael M. Archer
Managing Partner, Manhattan Innovation Lab

Michael is a UNT College of Business alumnus with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing; additionally, Mr. Archer holds an MBA from Oklahoma City University. As Managing Partner of Manhattan Innovation Lab, Michael refines, reshapes, and reengineers his clients’ entrepreneurial ventures. He applies multi-national and cross industry experience to build successful, high potential early-stage companies and the business accelerators helping them to grow.  His company pairs investment capital with best-in-class operating practices to turn bright ideas into successful businesses.

In addition to his membership on the UNT College of Music Advancement Board, Michael serves on the Board of Directors for The Resource Foundation. TRF, a New York City-based nonprofit organization cultivating relationships between sustainable development organizations in Latin America and donors worldwide.  For more than 17 years Michael has utilized his professional expertise to help TRF grow their philanthropic activities and empower disadvantaged communities.

As a skilled and spirited drummer, Michael considered himself a “wannabe music major” during his studies at UNT and joined the rhythm section of the university’s Basketball Band. As a proud alumnus and jazz enthusiast, Michael has provided financial support for UNT’s Grammy-nominated premiere ensemble, the One O’Clock Lab Band.  Additionally, he has offered professional consultation and guidance to UNT Music Entrepreneurship students as a guest judge for the program’s annual competition. Michael supports UNT College of Music because he sincerely values the power and impact music has on the listener, the educator, and the performer, and he welcomes opportunities to share with others about the college’s breadth and depth of world class musical talent.

Michael and wife of 20 years, Elizabeth Nieto, currently reside in Manhattan. Together, they appreciate the boundless culture and entertainment the City affords them and are particularly fond of the New York Jazz scene. In his leisure time, Michael is an avid skydiver, enjoys cycling, skiing, and every minute he gets to spend with his daughter and son.

Beatrice R. Bender
B Bender
(Retired) Interior Designer, Album Interiors

B is an alumna of Mount Ida College (Newton, MA) and Rockland Community College (Suffern, NY). As an interior designer at Album Interiors, she was responsible for developing design concepts and producing and executing contracts based on client needs. For 30 years, B used her unique sense of style and artistic abilities to visualize and actualize exceptional interior aesthetics in homes and businesses across North Texas.

Prior to joining the UNT College of Music Advancement Board, B served for 6 years as board Fundraising Chair for the Dallas Chamber Music Society. During her tenure, B hosted both public and private concerts—one featuring the winner of the International Tchaikovky Competition at the Center for the Performing Arts Theater in Dallas, and another featuring former United States Secretary of State and accomplished pianist Condoleezza Rice. B has served her local synagogue and championed the United Mitochondrial Foundation. Proceeds from a fund Turtle Creek Chorale fundraiser, co-chaired by B, helped helped chair a grant in perpetuity for mitochondrial disease research at Southwestern Medical School.

B is an earnest advocate of the arts. As a native New Yorker, the quality she appreciates most about UNT College of Music is the remarkable performance quality of its many student ensembles. B supports the college because she finds the talent of its young musicians inspiring, and she welcomes opportunities to share with others about UNT College of Music’s wide array of academic fields, research programs, and performance seasons.

B and husband, Norm Bender, have lived in the D/FW metroplex for over 40 years. They currently reside in the Robson Ranch community of Denton, TX, where they regularly visit and dote upon their three adult sons and four grandchildren.

Norman H. Bender
Norman H. Bender
Retired Pharmacist, Tom Thumb

Norm is a graduate of Fordham University with a bachelor’s degree in pharmaceutical sciences. He was the owner and founder of a neighborhood pharmacy in Sloatsburg, NY, about 40 miles north of New York City. As a medication expert for over 50 years, Norm offered informative valuable and provided exceptional customer service throughout his career in community pharmacy.

Prior to joining the UNT College of Music Advancement Board, Norm served on the board for Arts Tower Condominiums in the cultural center of Dallas. As a native New Yorker who has lived in the D/FW metroplex for over 40 years, he appreciates institutions which connect communities with the performing and visual arts. Norm’s deep-seated admiration for music performance is the basis for his love of UNT.

The quality he admires most about the UNT College of Music is its ability to deliver the highest standard of music to the masses. Norm supports the college because he believes that what University of North Texas music faculty and students do “…is so important in making our society more human.” He welcomes opportunities to introduce his friends in the Dallas-arts community to the “…great good UNT College of Music accomplishes every day.”

Norm enjoys golfing regularly and spending time with his family. He resides in Denton, Texas with his wife B. They have three children and four grandchildren.

Deborah S. Brooks
Director, DFW Musicians Services LLC

Debbie is an alumna of UNT College of Music, where she earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Cello Performance with a focus in Musicology. Ms. Brooks is the founding director of DFW Musicians Services LLC, a full-service contracting company which has established a national reputation for excellence. For 20 years, Debbie has connected clients with first-rate musical talent for performances in numerous cities across Texas, Arizona, Florida, and Oklahoma, as well as in Nashville, Atlanta, Denver, Las Vegas, and New Orleans.

Debbie’s successful contracting enterprise has been significantly informed by her own career as a versatile performer. As a freelance cellist, she has performed across genres which have included classical, pops, and musical theater repertoire. For over 35 years, Debbie has performed with Casa Mañana Musicals and Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, where she served as Associate Principal Cellist for sixteen years. As a featured soloist for the FWSO, she has performed with Bobby McFerrin, Bernadette Peters, and Mark O’Connor—to name a few.

Her heart for the developing student has inspired her to maintain a private teaching studio for more than 45 years. Prior to joining the Advancement Board, Debbie taught as a UNT College of Music faculty member, offering instruction in Orchestral Cello Excerpt Performance and Music Career Development. She has offered professional consultation and guidance to UNT Music Entrepreneurship students as both a guest speaker and judge for the program’s annual competition. The quality she values most about UNT College of Music is its environment of preparation for professional success.

Debbie supports the college because she is passionate about helping students, and she welcomes opportunities to share with others about UNT College of Music’s premier programs and excellent faculty.

A. Baron Cass, III
Co-Founder & Partner, C3 Capital LLC

Baron is a native of Dallas, TX with a BBA in Finance from Southern Methodist University. Additionally, Mr. Cass holds an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Throughout Baron’s 45-year-long career in finance, he has worked as a CPA, an investment banker for Goldman Sachs, and has successfully managed investment portfolios with emphases on auto dealership, real estate, and oil & gas. Today, Baron manages personal investment portfolios on behalf of private equity companies C3 Holdings and C3 Capital LLC.

During his formative years, Baron attended St. Mark’s, the Dallas all-boys school. As a teenager at St. Mark’s, he started a band called The Marksmen Combo along with classmates Boz Scaggs and Steve Miller (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame). Baron’s years of music performance experiences sparked his strongly-held conviction that music and the performing arts are essential for building a well-rounded education.

For nearly 28 years, the Baron and Darlene Cass Family Foundation has offered philanthropic support to nonproft organizations sharing Mr. and Mrs. Cass’s core values. Their dedication to music in higher education has repeatedly inspired the Cass Family Foundation to invest in the programming, travel, and recording needs of UNT College of Music students. Additionally in 2013, Baron and Darlene created The A. Baron III and Darlene G. Cass Jazz Percussion Scholarship Fund to provide annual funding awards for full-time jazz percussion students at the University of North Texas.

Baron and wife of 42 years, Darlene, currently reside in Dallas. They enjoy golfing and visits with their three children and three grandchildren.

Bob C. Kimmel
Bob C. Kimmel
Bio Coming Soon
Frances L. Kimmel
Frances L. Kimmel
Bio Coming Soon
Stanley R. Levenson, APR
Stanley R. Levenson, APR
CEO, Levenson Strategic Communication Advisors, LLC

For over 50 years, Stan has been a widely-recognized, Accredited Public Relations and Strategic Communications professional. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Journalism from the University of Michigan and served in the United States Army for two years. While stationed at Ft. Belvoir, VA, Stan pursued a master's degree in journalism and marketing communications, attending night classes at the American University in Washington D.C. Following his military service, Stan worked as a Dallas regional sales and promotion manager for DOT Records of Hollywood, California.
During the pinnacle of American soul-pop music production in the mid-60s, Stan represented and promoted Motown Records and marketed record albums for Pickwick International.

Prior to joining the UNT College of Music Advancement Board, Stan dedicated several decades to community service, diversity, inclusion, cultural arts, and support for higher education and jazz music appreciation. As an enthusiast of modern jazz of the late 1940s and 1950s, Stan welcomes opportunities to share with others about how publicizing and promoting UNT's One O'Clock Lab Band over decades has enriched his professional life. The quality Stan values most about UNT College of Music is its commitment to provide inspiration and encouragement to its students, so that they may optimize their gifted talents and artistic desires.

Stan has served and volunteered with numerous non-profits and cause-related organizations: Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden, Arts and Humanities Division at the University of Texas at Dallas, Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum, the Dallas Council on World Affairs, and the President's Advisory Council of the AT&T Center for the Performing Arts. Stan has been the recipient of many recognition awards, including the A. Maceo Smith Community Service Award for his advocacy and leadership in the African-American community and the Jazz Benefactor of the Year Award from the Sammons Center for the Arts.

Stan and his wife Barbara have been successful business partners and colleagues for nearly five decades. In 2011, they were inducted into the American Advertising Federation’s Southwest Advertising Hall of Fame, one of their most valued achievements. Stan and Barbara take great pride in being blessed with two loving and successful daughters, a devoted son-in-law, a newly born great-grandson, and six “all-star” grandsons—three of whom are already college graduates.

 

Elizabeth Nieto
Elizabeth Nieto
VP, Equity and Impact, Spotify

Born and raised in Argentina, Elizabeth earned her master's degree in Educational Sciences from the University of Buenos Aires. Ms. Nieto spent almost 20 years with Citigroup in global talent management, diversity & inclusion roles, and as an HR business partner. As VP of Equity and Impact at Spotify, she is responsible for Diversity & Belonging, Campus & Diversity Talent, Sustainability and Social Impact. Prior to joining Spotify, Elizabeth was the Head of Global Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Amazon.

In 2014, she was named one of the Top Champions of Diversity by Diversity Global and recognized as one of the 2014 Hispanic Business 50 Influentials by Hispanic Business. Elizabeth was honored in 2016 by El Museo del Barrio in New York City for Excellence in Philanthropy. Elizabeth served as a board member for Girls Learn International and is currently a board member at A Fair Shake for Youth, bringing hands-on therapy dog programs to underserved middle school students. She also serves on the Board of Directors for The Opportunity Network and the All Stars Project, Inc., organizations which maximize education and career success for students of marginalized and low-income communities.


Elizabeth has an eclectic array of styles and genres she enjoys as a musical and cultural tourist.  As an enthusiast of music spanning the globe, Elizabeth values the diversity of backgrounds, geographies, and experiences represented in the UNT College of Music. Elizabeth supports the College because she values the opportunities presented to the musicians and composers studying at UNT.

Elizabeth and husband, Michael Archer (UNT ’81), reside in Manhattan, NY. They stay connected to their love of Jazz and other music genres through performances taking place throughout the city.

Christian O'Donnell
Christian O'Donnell
Private Studio Instructor, The Brass Ring Center for the Performing Arts

Chris holds a Bachelor of Music in Music Education from UNT College of Music, where he served as Drum Major for the Green Brigade. Dr. O’Donnell began graduate work at Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester before completing his Master of Music in Music Education and Conducting at the Beinen School of Music at Northwestern University, and earning his PhD from the Weitzenhoffer College of Fine Arts at the University of Oklahoma. Chris was a band director in Texas and Oklahoma for 20 years. Currently, Chris operates a private studio at The Brass Ring Center for the Performing Arts in his hometown of Ardmore, Oklahoma, where he teaches woodwinds, brass, percussion, guitar, bass, and music theory.

Prior to joining the UNT College of Music Advancement Board, Chris served on the Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Educational Foundation, Oklahoma School for the Deaf Foundation for Excellence in Education, the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence, the Ardmore Contemporary Dance Company, and the Southern Oklahoma Arts and Humanities Council. He is currently serving as President of the Beverly Westheimer Wellnitz Foundation, President of Carousel Productions, Inc., and on the Oklahoma City University School of Music Advisory Board. For 13 years, Dr. O’Donnell has been a trustee of the Westheimer Family Foundation, which awarded the UNT Green Brigade Marching Band a generous grant in 2018 for the purchase of its new uniforms.

Chris is a dedicated music educator. In 2015, Chris created the Valerie Dean Westheimer Scholarship in Music and Graduate Fellowship in Music, named for his aunt (UNT ‘70.) As a University of North Texas alumnus, the quality he values most about the College of Music is its standard of excellence, as exemplified by the teachers, programs, and performance opportunities.

Chris and Vicki Gelona, fellow faculty member at The Brass Ring Center for the Performing Arts, currently live in Ardmore, OK, where they enjoy cooking, traveling, and their animals.

 

Amanda S. Ryan
Amanda S. Ryan
President & CEO, ONE Ryan Global LLC

Amanda is a Southern Methodist University alumna with a BBA in Accounting. She began her career in finance in 1993 as a financial auditor with expertise in privately-held companies. In 1998, Amanda joined tax services and consulting firm Ryan LLC and rose in ranks from Controller to Chief Financial Officer. Today, Amanda is President & CEO of ONE Ryan Global LLC, which oversees diverse real estate and private equity investments.

Prior to joining the UNT College of Music Advancement Board, Amanda’s relationship to the University of North Texas developed as the result of her husband, UNT College of Business alumnus (’88, ’88 M.S.) G. Brint Ryan. In 2018, Ryan LLC served as the presenting sponsor of the UNT College of Music fundraising gala: Metamorphosis. Together in 2019, Brint and Amanda gave the largest gift in UNT history, resulting in the naming of the G. Brint Ryan College of Business at the Universtiy of North Texas.

One of Mrs. Ryan’s most noticeable passions is her love of musical arts. A Suzuki-trained violinist from the age of six, Amanda shared her enthusiasm for musical expression and creativity with her five daughters. Though, to her dismay, she did not manage to produce a family string ensemble, she is the proud mother of four singers and a classical guitarist. As a member of the Advancement Board, Amanda is a dedicated amabassador of the UNT College of Music. She seeks to increase awareness of the depth and breadth of UNT student ensembles and to make valuable introductions to further the philanthropic efforts and mission of the college.

Mrs. Ryan is a native of Shreveport, Louisiana and has a special talent for floral arranging which led to the recent establishment of her own floral design business. Amanda currently resides in Scottsdale, Arizona with her husband G. Brint Ryan and their school-aged daughters.

Visit Mrs. Ryan’s professional profile.

John A. Rydman
John A. Rydman
President & Owner, Spec's Wines, Spirits & Finer Foods

John is a UNT College of Music alumnus with a Bachelor of Music in Music Education. His wife, Lindy, is the daughter of Carroll (“Spec”) and Carolynn Jackson, founders of Spec’s Wines, Spirits, and Finer Foods. Today, John and Lindy, along with their daughter, Lisa, oversee the Houston-based superstore chain, which has locations scattered widely across the state of Texas.

John and Lindy were both music majors when they met at the University of North Texas; John was a saxophonist and conductor, and Lindy was a singer. Inspired by their shared passion for music, and as a tribute to the founders of Spec’s, the Rydmans created the Spec’s Charitable Foundation with the purpose of supporting educational programs. Through Spec’s Charitable Foundation, John and Lindy established an endowed fund at UNT for the One O'Clock Lab Band®, which has provided scholarship support and recording & travel opportunities for the Grammy-nominated ensemble. In 2019, a donation from Spec's Charitable Foundation funded the Spec’s Charitable Foundation Courtyard—an outdoor social & performance space, central to the entrance of UNT College of Music.

In addition to serving on the Advancement Board at UNT College of Music, John is Board Chair and President of the Houston Symphony Society. A conductor himself, one of John’s greatest honors was the opportunity to conduct the Houston Symphony for an Independence Day Patriotic Concert. He has received multiple awards for Outstanding Support of the Arts from the Texas Association of Symphony Orchestra, North Texas Business Council for the Arts, and the National Business Council for the Arts.
In his final year at UNT College of Music, John was inducted as a member of the honorary music society, Pi Kappa Lamda; additionally, he was a patron of Mu Phi Epsilon. November 7th, 2020 marks the 50-year anniversary of John and Lindy’s first date—a UNT Football game, where Phi Mu Alpha was selling copies of “Glory to the Green.” Today, John and Lindy reside in Houston, TX, enjoy extensive travel to exotic scuba-diving destinations, and orchestrate the success of their ever-growing business by using “the skills [they] learned at UNT.”

 

Richard H. Schulze
Richard H. Schulze
Director, Athena Group, Inc.

Richard is an alumnus of Princeton University with a BSE in Mechanical Engineering. Following his service as an officer in the US Navy Atlantic fleet, Mr. Schulze earned an MBA in Marketing from Northwestern University. In 1974, Richard founded Trinity Consultants, Inc. which grew from a one-person operation to become the nation's leading air quality consulting and compliance firm. As Director of Athena Group, Inc., Richard manages a broad array of personal investments, as well as the assets of The Richard & Enika Schulze Foundation.

Richard’s passion for music performance was sparked by his own clarinet studies in high school and college, his singing participation in the chapel choir at Princeton, and by a brief experience with Verdi’s “La Traviata” at the old Metropolitan Opera House on Broadway. Currently, he serves on the Board of Directors for the Dallas Opera, the Dallas Symphony Foundation, and on the Executive Advisory Board of SMU’s Lyle School of Engineering. Additionally through the Richard and Enika Schulze Foundation, the Schulzes offer annual support to the Dallas-based Orchestra of New Spain and the LacMus Festival, an annual international summer music festival in Tremezzina, on Lake Como, Italy.

As a member of the UNT College of Music Advancement Board, Richard has served as an energetic ambassador for the University of North Texas. By staging private salon concerts in their new home, Richard and Enika have hosted presentations by UNT musicians, vocal and instrumental, to Dallas audiences. The UNT Opera program has since been added to the couple’s list of must-see performance seasons.

Soundtracked by a string quartet from Mozart’s “Marriage of Figaro,” Richard married Enika in 1987. Ever since, Mr. and Mrs. Schulze have been season subscribers to the Dallas Opera, the Dallas Symphony, and the Dallas Chamber Music Society. The couple still reside in Dallas, where Richard enjoys singing baritone in the 150 voice Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church Choir.

Visit Mr. Schulze’s professional profile.

William Smialek
William Smialek
Consultant, Nonprofit Management

Bill is a UNT College of Music alumnus with a master’s degree and Ph.D. in Musicology; he completed his doctoral research in Poland as a Fulbright Scholar. Additionally, Dr. Smialek holds a bachelor’s degree in Music Education from University of Rhode Island. Bill is a retired college professor and administrator whose 35 years in higher education have included executive positions in academic affairs, institutional advancement and development, and institutional effectiveness.

Bill currently works as a part-time consultant for non-profit and higher education institutions with a special interest in assisting HBCUs. Prior to joining the UNT College of Music Advancement Board, he assumed the role of Director of Development for the East Texas Youth Orchestra. As a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE), Bill employees his expertise in building relationships, data management, and grant writing to seek community support for the music education and performance experiences of young musicians in the East Texas region.

A dedicated music scholar, Bill has published books and papers on Polish and East European music of the 19th and 20th centuries. Inspired by his own research experiences in Europe, Bill established the History, Theory and Ethnomusicology Endowed Travel Fund to provide support for research-related travel expenses incurred by doctoral students at UNT. A resource of UNT that he greatly values is the music library, and he welcomes opportunities to share with others about the College of Music’s enriching learning environment.

Bill has proficiencies in 6 languages, including Czech, Polish, Russian, German, French, and English. He and wife of 42 years, Molly McCoy, met in an opera literature class at UNT College of Music. They have two accomplished children, one of whom is a graduate of the UNT Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science.

 

Judith A. Donachie Watson
Judith A. Donachie Watson
Treasurer & Administrator, Donachie Foundation

Judy is a UNT College of Business alumna with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting; additionally, Ms. Watson holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Austin College. Professionally, she has been responsible for monitoring financial portfolios and accounting services within the private and nonprofit sectors. As a philanthropist, for over 20 years, Judy has reviewed hundreds of grant proposals on behalf of the Donachie Foundation and offered pro bono business consulting as a Partner with Dallas Social Venture Partners.

Judy has championed the performing arts in North Texas as a board member of both Anita N. Martinez Ballet Folklorico and the Dallas Jazz Piano Society. As a member of Dallas Jazz Piano Society’s leadership team, Judy supported the development of Fredrick Sanders’s award-winning piano techniques and the establishment of a leadership program for underserved West Dallas students. In 2019, Ms. Watson was awarded Volunteer of the Year by Sammons Center of the Arts, where she humbly shared her enthusiasm for the arts with devoted friends.

Ms. Watson enjoys all cultures of imagination and appreciates their capacity for human connection. Whether jazz, dance, symphony, or opera, she needs music in her daily diet and regularly supports a rich array of creative organizations, as both audience member and patron. As a member of the College of Music Advancement Board, Judy is indebted to the University of North Texas for its world-class music education standards, exceptionally talented student musicians, and myriad of outstanding performances. Judy welcomes opportunities to network and advocate for the accomplished graduates of UNT College of Music.

Though Judy has primarily enjoyed Dallas, her life has been culturally enriched by extensive travel and former residence in South America with husband and, then school-aged, children. Judy’s ongoing passion for the creative arts is shared by her growing family, which now includes three treasured grand-children.

 

Joseph E. Williams
Joseph E. Williams
Founder & Lead Consultant, Beacon Street Financial Group

Joe was born in New York City and earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Finance from the Questrom School of Business at Boston University and his MBA in Finance and Multinational Enterprise from The Wharton School.

He is a proven leader with over 30 years of experience in Investment Banking and Finance. Williams is the former President & CEO of Hibernia Southcoast Capital, a New Orleans-based investment Bank. Following Southcoast’s acquisition by Capital One, Williams accepted a position as Executive Director of the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority at the request of the Mayor of New Orleans, thereby playing a major role in New Orleans recovery after Hurricane Katrina.

Joe has held numerous leadership positions on Not-for-Profit and Public Sector boards including The Greater New Orleans Foundation, The New Orleans City Planning Commission, The Louisiana Land Trust and the Finance Committee of Catholic Health Initiatives, Inc. In 2019, he was appointed by Governor Greg Abbott to serve on the board of the Texas Public Finance Authority.

Joe has had an appreciation of music from a very young age. However, his interest in jazz was particularly piqued during a high school summer job working for the City of New York when one of his colleagues introduced him to the music of Thelonious Monk and Charlie Parker. As a jazz enthusiast the qualities he appreciates most about UNT College of Music are the depth of its offerings and the unquestioned quality of its programs. Joe supports the college because he recognizes the important role that the Arts play in providing young people with a well-rounded education. Joe welcomes opportunities to share UNT College of Music’s story and to help further its goal to make a quality education in the arts financially accessible to high-caliber student musicians of all backgrounds.

Joe is a proud member of the Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity. He and wife of 42 years, Gail, are the proud parents of daughter Danielle and grandparents of Briana, Ashlee and Evan.

 

Arjun Chandy
Arjun Chandy
Alumni Representative
Film Music Singer/Arranger/Vocal Coach, A. R. Rahman Studios

Arjun is a proud UNT College of Music alumnus. Mr. Chandy earned his Bachelor of Music degree in 2013 with a focus in Choral Music and Jazz Studies. He is a Dallas-based singer, studio vocalist, and conductor/vocal arranger for ensembles of all styles with over 20 years’ experience studying and performing Indian Classical (Carnatic and Hindustani) music. While in high school, Arjun joined 12-time gold medal international champion men’s choir, The Vocal Majority. He won an international gold medal with The Vocal Majority in 2006 and was also a bronze-medalist at the 2007 International Collegiate Quartet Contest.

In January 2014, Arjun was commissioned by Oscar-winning score composer A.R. Rahman to conduct and write arrangements for India’s professional vocal group, NAFS—The Band. Currently, Mr. Chandy works at Rahman’s studio as a singer, arranger, and vocal supervisor for music featured in major motion pictures in India and Hollywood. Additionally, Arjun performs in world music concerts and has collaborated with diverse and notable musicians, including multiple GRAMMY Award-winner Carlos Santana and the late jazz legend Dave Brubeck.

Prior to his position as an Alumni Representative on the UNT College of Music Advancement Board, Arjun supported higher education arts communities as a guest lecturer and vocal coach at American and international music institutions. The quality he values most about UNT College of Music is its commitment to provide leadership, artistry, and expertise to every facet of the music profession. As an alumnus, Arjun recognizes that he is part of a rich legacy of UNT graduates with successful, fulfilling careers in music education, performance, composition, and beyond. He welcomes opportunities to share with others about his own experiences during his time as a UNT undergraduate.

Arjun is a Dallas native whose family has lived in the D/FW area for over 30 years. Currently, he resides in Chennai, India, where he enjoys working in the studio and regularly meeting new artists from around India.

Lisa K. Despain
Lisa K. Despain
Alumni Representative
Professor of Music & Theatre, LaGuardia Community College
Brian Levels
Brian Levels
Alumni Representative
Adjunct Music Professor, Delaware State University
Landon Chang
Landon Chang
Student Representative
Saxophone
Jessica Napoles
Jessica Nápoles
Faculty Representative
Interim Chair—Music Education, UNT College of Music

Board Members

UNT Logo
UNT College of Music Advancement Board
John L. Strauss
John L. Strauss
Board Chair
Anthony E. Adkins
Anthony E. Adkins
Michael M. Archer
Beatrice R. Bender
B Bender
Norman H. Bender
Norman H. Bender
Deborah S. Brooks
A. Baron Cass, III
Bob C. Kimmel
Bob C. Kimmel
Frances L. Kimmel
Frances L. Kimmel
Stanley R. Levenson, APR
Stanley R. Levenson, APR
Elizabeth Nieto
Elizabeth Nieto
Christian O'Donnell
Christian O'Donnell
Amanda S. Ryan
Amanda S. Ryan
John A. Rydman
John A. Rydman
Richard H. Schulze
Richard H. Schulze
William Smialek
William Smialek
Judith A. Donachie Watson
Judith A. Donachie Watson
Joseph E. Williams
Joseph E. Williams

2020-2021 Alumni Representatives to the Board

Arjun Chandy
Alumni Representative
Lisa K. Despain
Alumni Representative
Brian Levels
Alumni Representative

2020-2021 College of Music Representatives to the Board

Landon Chang
Student Representative
Jessica Napoles
Faculty Representative