As MYSO’s Philanthropy Coordinator, Joanna Beamon is responsible for database management, and assists the development department. Over the last 29 years she has dedicated herself to learning everything there is to know about the administrative/clerical industry, from entry level clerical to advanced administrative positions, while earning a bachelor’s degree in professional communications from Alverno College.
Previously, she worked for Extension Inc. as an Administrative Assistant with Children’s Wisconsin Foundation, and for Akorbi Workforce Solutions as an Administrative Assistant 3 in the Johnson Controls Public Affairs and Diversity Department.
During her down time, Joanna is a Certified Master Gardener for the SouthEastern Wisconsin Master Gardeners, volunteering at the MacCanon Brown Homeless Sanctuary Community Gardens and staffing booths at the Wisconsin State Fair Park in the Southeastern Wisconsin Master Gardner Area, Milwaukee County Zoo Ala Carte, and at the Milwaukee Realtors Home and Garden Show. She also loves pour painting, crocheting, sewing, and scrapbooking.
Marna Bestul holds a Bachelors degree in English and Creative Writing and a minor in Music from Carthage College, Kenosha, WI.
While at Carthage, she held a position as a student assistant in the administrative offices of the music department and served a music librarian for the choral ensembles and a student coordinator during audition times through the school year.
She was a member of the Carthage Choir for all four years of study, during which time she studied under conductors Weston Noble and Eduardo Garcia-Novelli and participated in several domestic and one international tour.
A past violist and pianist, Marna currently focuses her musical talents in vocal performance and is an active member of the Master Singers of Milwaukee.
Besides singing and music in general, Marna loves to spend time reading, traveling, and working on her writing portfolio. She also loves to travel to her hometown of Wausau, Wisconsin, to visit family and spend some time outside in the countryside.
She and her husband, Paul, currently reside in Cudahy.
MYSO alumna Sonora Brusubardis has been a coach for MYSO’s String Orchestra North for the last five years. In addition to her role as a MYSO coach, she is a violin instructor for MYSO’s Progressions Program and the organization’s Community Artists Coordinator. In 2018, Sonora became certified to teach Suzuki violin and viola, and in 2020, she graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a degree in violin and viola performance. She currently has a studio in the Summit area teaching violin, viola, and beginner piano to students of all ages.
Progressions Director Tiffany Chang was most recently an orchestra teacher in the Wauwatosa School District, and prior to that, taught orchestra in the school district of Beloit, Wisconsin. Ms. Chang received her Bachelor of Music in Music Education degree at the UW-Madison and is certified to teach instrumental music. She has played in a variety of groups, including the Beloit-Janesville Symphony, Manitowoc Symphony, Dubuque Symphony, the Wisconsin Intergenerational Orchestra, and was a founding member of the Turtle Creek Chamber Orchestra and has served as coordinator and violin coach for WSMA Honors Orchestra.
Daniel Duffy has enjoyed serving as Music Director of MYSO’s Philharmonia since 2014, and joined the MYSO administrative team as Artistic Administrator in 2020.
Mr. Duffy recently retired as director of instrumental music at Waukesha West High School. His public school teaching career spanned 35 years and included successful music programs in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Prior to his appointment at Waukesha West, he served as Associate Director of Bands at Kansas State University.
His educational background includes a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from The Ohio State University and a Master’s degree in Conducting from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, where he served as a Graduate Conducting Associate.
Passionate about the achievement of excellence through musical performance, Mr. Duffy served on the board of directors of the National Band Association Wisconsin Chapter, was the NBA Wisconsin All-State Band Coordinator, and served as percussion section coach of the Wisconsin School Music Association State Honors Band and Orchestra.
Mr. Duffy’s performance groups have received critical acclaim at regional and national events since 1985. Ensembles under his direction have performed at three WMEA State Music Conferences, eight National Band Association Wisconsin State Conventions, and four NFL half-time shows for the Green Bay Packers and the Minnesota Vikings. He also coordinated performance tours in Boston, Dallas, New Orleans, St. Louis, Orlando, Washington, D.C., and New York City.
Serving as the Chief Executive Officer of Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra, Inc., Linda Edelstein takes the leadership role in strategic planning, donor cultivation and fundraising, financial and managerial controls, and serves as vice president of the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center (MYAC). Ms. Edelstein leads a team of more than fifty full- and part-time administrative and artistic staff and oversees more than 40 program offerings serving nearly 1,000 students from up to 14 counties, 60 cities and more than 200 schools in southeastern Wisconsin and northern Illinois. She manages a budget of approximately $3 million, with endowment and reserves of more than $7.5 million.
Together with the Managing Director of First Stage, she provides administrative leadership for MYAC, including but not limited to budget, fundraising, personnel, security, scheduling, and public relations, and serves on the MYAC Board of Directors.
Previously, Ms. Edelstein held numerous positions at the United Performing Arts Fund from 2005-2012, culminating in Chief Operating Officer. In that role, she oversaw an annual budget of more than $10 million, fund allocations of over $8.3 million, and worked with the UPAF President and community leaders to frame the annual campaign process and engage the community for the benefit of the arts. Prior to her work at UPAF, Ms. Edelstein was the Executive Director of the Waukesha Symphony Orchestra (now Wisconsin Philharmonic) for seven years, at which she created the organization’s “Success Through Music” program engaging children from diverse backgrounds to discover their potential through music education.
Ms. Edelstein holds an Executive MBA from Marquette University, a Master of Music from Yale University and a Bachelor of Music Performance from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She was an Irving S. Gilmore Fellow at Yale and regularly performed professionally throughout southeastern Wisconsin as an oboist and English hornist with Milwaukee’s finest organizations, including the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. Ms. Edelstein has also worked as a music faculty member at UW-Whitewater, UW-Oshkosh, Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, Hartland Music Center, Yale University, and in a private studio. She volunteers her time on the boards for the Elmbrook Rotary Club (President 2017-18), Youth Orchestra Division of the League of American Orchestras (Secretary), Frankly Music (Governance Chair), and the Association of Wisconsin Symphony Orchestras.
Music Librarian Nicole Gabriel (She/They) was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Music History & Literature from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee where she continues to pursue a coordinated Master of Music History and Library Sciences. Nicole began her musical studies at the age of 5, studying violin under the tutelage of Steven Rindt and Kathy Kolb, and also studying viola under the tutelage of Mary Pat Michels. Nicole continues their studies on viola at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee under the direction of Claudia Lasareff-Mironoff, where she has received a certification in viola performance.
As an active performer, Nicole prioritizes music by women composers as well as newly composed works by UW-Milwaukee composition students. They have been a featured performer on Reinaldo Moya’s Duende for Viola Quartet, as well as having performed actively with the UW-Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. When not performing, Nicole spends their time writing original music for video games and podcasts.
Nicole is also an alum of MYSO, having performed on both violin and viola in the String Orchestra, Sinfonia and Philharmonia. They are excited to return to MYSO as Music Librarian and hope to inspire a curiosity for music among MYSO’s musicians.
Michael Gauger is MYSO’s Philanthropy Officer – Foundations and Institutional Giving. Michael’s job is to tell MYSO’s story — a story of nurturing, challenging, and inspiring young musicians, a story of lifelong impact on students, audiences, and our community – to raise grant funding for our programs.
Michael has been honored to work in the public interest, first in daily journalism and then in philanthropy. He joined MYSO in October 2021 after 11 years as a grant writer for community health and hospital programs for Ascension Wisconsin Foundations. Earlier, he worked for 20 years as a copy editor at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and The Milwaukee Journal.
Outside philanthropy, Michael writes and edits for scholarly publications in American history and political science. He has a bachelor’s degree in mass communications-journalism and a master’s degree in history, both from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He also attended graduate school in history and political science at UW-Madison and the University of Michigan.
MYSO’s Communications Director, Michelle Hoffman, held the position of Program Coordinator for MYSO from 1991 to 2000, and returned to the organization in 2008.
Looking back, she considers some of her fondest memories to be related to MYSO, especially those involving the 1997 MYSO tour of Spain and Italy.
As a musician, Michelle performs with the Concord Chamber Orchestra on flute and piccolo. She is a previous member of the Milwaukee Concert Band and South Shore Chamber Orchestra and has performed at Milwaukee’s Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist.
Michelle holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from the University of Wisconsin (Madison) where she performed in several musical ensembles and studied flute with Robert Cole. From 1994 to 1999 she held the position of general manager of the Concord Chamber Orchestra.
Michelle has designed publications for several non-profit organizations since 2001, and has completed coursework in digital media at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design.
Connie Kling currently serves as MYSO’s HR Director in partnership with Lauber Business Partners.
She is a trusted Human Resources senior leader with over 15 years of broad-based HR experience, as well as several years of operational experience. Prior to working with the MYSO family, Connie worked in the financial services and health insurance industries. In 2019, she retired from Northwestern Mutual.
Connie is passionate about helping organizations make sure they have the right people in the right roles, at the right time, and at the right cost to effectively deliver business results. She attributes much of her success to the fact that she isn’t a traditional HR professional. Her success is based on the guiding principle to first understand the business strategy and goals; and then use this information to work with leaders to develop and implement a people strategy that will help ensure they have the talent needed to be successful.
Connie is thrilled to help MYSO realize its vision to nurture, challenge, and inspire young people through music.
Tara Kozik joined MYSO in September 2021 as Chief Financial Officer. Tara brings an in-depth background of finance, accounting, and process improvement expertise to MYSO. She has held many global finance leadership roles for GE and Honeywell and founded her own consulting business focusing on interim and project-based finance. Her career has focused on financial management, budgeting, analytics, and process streamlining for businesses and clients around the world. She has lived and worked overseas and has managed teams across many cultures.
Philanthropy Operations Manager Emma Kunz joined the MYSO team in January 2021. Originally from Minnesota, she moved to Wisconsin following her graduation from St. Olaf College. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in dance and participated heavily in the school’s two dance companies, Veselica and Companydance, as well as the Ballroom Performance and Competition Team. Most recently, she worked as the Front Office Receptionist and Administrative Assistant at a private school in Pewaukee for 3 years before finding her way to MYSO.
Throughout middle and high school, she played flute with her school band and continues to play regularly at her church. Being involved in choir, band, and dance her entire life, she has a passion for the arts and making them accessible to young people. She believes it was the performing arts that shaped her into the person she is today, and she can’t wait to share that with the staff and students at MYSO!
She currently lives in Oconomowoc with her husband and two beautiful rescue dogs, a greyhound and a Bernese mountain dog mix. In her free time, Emma enjoys dancing, reading, cooking, and crewing her husband’s sailboat in the summer.
Marketing Manager Erica Mendoza-Waldoch is a proud first-generation Latina raised in Framingham, Massachusetts. She graduated from the College of the Holy Cross in 2018 with a double major in Anthropology and Italian. Immediately following graduation, Erica served as a college counselor for two years under the Full-Time Volunteer Program at Cristo Rey New York High School (CRNYHS). CRNYHS is a Catholic, co-ed, college-prep school that serves underrepresented and marginalized students from all of the boroughs of New York City. After completing her two-years in full-time volunteer service, she worked in the Office of Alumni Relations at Holy Cross in Worcester, MA. As a first-generation student and child of immigrants, she values the importance of creating, fostering, and maintaining equitable spaces for people, particularly students, to not only succeed but excel. Erica is currently a part of the Trinity Fellows program at Marquette University pursuing a Master’s Degree in Public Service.
Patrick Morrow joined the MYSO staff in 2023 as Equipment Manager after over 20 years of experience in percussion repair and instrument maintenance. He plays drums and percussion in numerous regional theaters including Milwaukee Rep, Skylight Music Theater, Fireside Dinner Theater, First Stage and Chamber Theater. He has also toured the country with a couple first National tours of Broadway shows, and toured the world in various rock & roll bands.
Ron joined the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra as Marketing Director, a newly created position.
Prior to coming to MSYO, he spent over 20 years in consumer marketing in retail banking, at both large and small institutions. In pivoting from retail banking to MSYO, he finds the marketing issues are not that dissimilar. In both, you need a message, something you really want to say that tells why you exist, what you do and how you do it differently. And in both, you need to make it easy for the customer to do business with you – whether it’s in communications, website navigation, customer service, etc. Then you have to create processes for saying and doing these things.
He enjoys being part of an organization that uses music as a bridge to inspire confident, creative and collaborative young people. He finds it moving and powerful to hear many voices come together as one, and create beautiful sounds together.
Ron worked in consumer marketing and product management at: Guaranty Bank, M&I Bank/BMO Harris, Nationwide Bank, National City (now PNC), Bank One (now Chase), Bank of America and Chiquita Brands. He received his MBA from the University of Chicago, and his bachelor’s degree from Whitman College. He also serves on the board of directors of Jewish Family Services Housing.
His wife, Kari Gunderson, is currently teaching Suzuki violin. She has taught violin and viola performance at Ohio State University and Florida State University while performing and organizing various groups. She is his muse in the uplifting world of music.
Chief Philanthropy Officer Joe Phillips is a dedicated professional with a specialization in philanthropy and community development. Joe is responsible for overseeing all of MYSO’s fundraising efforts, ensuring they align with the organization’s mission and vision.
Joe has garnered recognition throughout his career for his thoughtful approach to philanthropic advising and his unwavering commitment to aligning donors’ goals with organizational needs. His congenial nature and insightful perspectives have been pivotal in enhancing his team’s approach to fundraising. Joe is deeply passionate about creating an inclusive and empowering environment, with a focus on the professional growth and development of his colleagues. He values the synergy of mutual respect and shared aspirations, aiming to make a meaningful impact in the philanthropic sector. He has developed numerous training programs, integrating elements of philanthropy, philosophy, data science, and theology.
Serving as an Alderman in Wauwatosa, Joe is dedicated to championing community development and the transformative power of collective action to cultivate vibrant and resilient communities. Joe is motivated to nurture environments where people love to live and work, believing in the importance of creating spaces that foster community, well-being, and a sense of belonging.
Joe holds a Masters in Theology from Trinity International University and a BA in Sociology from the University of Minnesota. He is married with children. When not immersed in his professional and civic duties, Joe indulges in his interests, which include playing the bass, enjoying baseball, reading, and cooking.
In every aspect of his life, Joe strives to embody Mother Teresa’s idea of doing small things with great love, believing in the profound impact of compassionate actions.
Levi joined MYSO in November of 2023. Originally from Portland, Oregon, Levi has a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from Portland State University. Growing up, they spent years working in the performing arts, mostly in the design, business operations, and construction side of things, and they are thrilled to be returning to the world of performing arts once more.
Levi brings experience around process improvement, office administration, community development, and team support systems. Most recently, Levi worked as a corporate compliance specialist before joining MYSO.
Levi currently lives in Bay View with their wife Delphina, Great Pyrenees rescue Winnie, and their two cats Doug and Zelda. When not working, Levi loves to play games, cook meals, and explore their new home. They are incredibly excited to be working with MYSO.
Community Program Manager and Chamber Flute Ensemble and Flute Chorale Music Director Sabrina Raber is a performer, educator, composer, and entrepreneur based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In addition to her conducting role, she serves as the flute instructor for MYSO’s Prelude Wind Ensemble program, is a faculty member at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, and instructs a small private flute studio.
In 2019, Sabrina was a fellow for the Global Leaders Program, where she earned an Executive Graduate Certificate in Social Entrepreneurship, Teaching Artistry, and Organizational Management. Sabrina was the first to receive the Master of Music and Community Partnership degree at the University of South Carolina. She did her undergraduate work at The Ohio State University. Sabrina’s teachers include Jennifer Parker-Harley and Katherine Borst-Jones.
As a student at the University of South Carolina, Sabrina developed a program entitled Find Your Beat, a recycled instrumental music education program for under-resourced children.
Sabrina has performed with ensembles including the Racine Symphony, Kenosha Symphony, Festival City Symphony, Aiken Symphony, Columbia Choral Society, the Spark Collective Chamber Ensemble, and the University of South Carolina Symphony Orchestra where she performed as soloist. Additionally, she was a top finalist for the National Flute Association’s C.R.E.A.T.E. Entrepreneurship competition, a two-time Masterclass winner of the South Carolina Flute Society Competition, and a winner of the University of South Carolina Concerto Competition. She has led masterclasses in both the United States and in Chile, where she was a guest artist for the international Peñalolén Flute Festival.
Sabrina’s compositions have been performed by ensembles such as the Pivot Duo, Spark Collective, and the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra. She has also presented research on the impact of music education on under-resourced children through alternative music education techniques.
Outside of the music world, Sabrina is an avid photographer, a self-identified foodie, sports fan, and dog mom.
Artistic and Music Director Carter Simmons has provided leadership for the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra (MYSO) for more than 30 years. He conducts the organization’s Senior Symphony and Chamber Orchestra and leads MYSO’s impressive artist management team and faculty who serve thousands of students each season.
As a conductor he has collaborated on projects leading the Milwaukee Ballet Orchestra, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, and the Wisconsin Philharmonic among others. In 2017, Simmons was appointed Music Director of Milwaukee’s Festival City Symphony, a professional orchestra which provides free concerts for its audiences. Simmons has led performances throughout the United States, in China, and across Europe most recently in the legendary Royal Concertgebouw. A former President of Milwaukee’s Civic Music Association, Simmons currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Youth Orchestra Division of the League of American Orchestras.
Born outside Washington, D.C., his training included participation at the Interlochen Center for the Arts and the Eastern Music Festival, and lessons at the Tanglewood Music Center. Simmons is grateful to his teachers Dr. John R. Locke, Robert Gutter, Larry Rachleff, and Professor Thomas L. Dvorak, and he feels honored to have the opportunity to lead these wonderful MYSO musicians.
Bailey Strasser joined the MYSO staff as an equipment manager in 2023.
Bailey is a jazz musician who has been playing the trombone for the past 15 years. He is a MYSO alumnus who took part in the Jazz Program throughout his middle and high school years. He still plays his trombone today and does anything to get opportunities to still play in the community primarily through local jam sessions and gigs.
Bailey graduated at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire with a degree in Inter Strategic Communications emphasizing in Public Relations and Multimedia Communications, a minor in music, and received a certificate in recording. He has taken part in many music activities such as jazz ensembles and combos, wind ensembles, stage crew, marching band, and pep bands. He also has experience with being a sound engineer and has produced an EP.
Bailey loves to write his own music, traveling, spending time with family, and is an avid Wisconsin sports fan.
Operations Manager McKinley Uelmen joined the MYSO team in June 2023. He expresses great passion for the arts, exemplifies determination and perseverance, and always brings a smiling face into any room.
McKinley graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 2023 with a Bachelor of Science in Music and Arts Administration. During his time at UW-Eau Claire, he was an integral member and leader in many student organizations including Impromptu A Cappella as their President, Music Director, and lead music arranger, UW-Eau Claire’s Concert Choir as their President, and the UWEC student chapter of American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) as their Vice President and Treasurer. McKinley also worked as the Choral Area Assistant for the UW-Eau Claire Voice & Choral Area where he administered ensemble auditions and enrollment, annual promotional tours, social media and printed promotions, and festival planning. During his undergrad years, McKinley volunteered as a Production Assistant for Varsity Vocal’s annual International Championship of High School A Cappella (ICHSA) competition for the Great Lakes region. He has also interned with the Eau Claire Chamber Orchestra and South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center.
In everything he accomplishes, McKinley strives to put his best foot forward and exceeds expectations. He hopes to continue inspiring students and audience members through the power that music and fine arts hold. Cheers to bright futures impacted by the arts!