Guillermo Baena is MYSO’s Philanthropy Officer – Individuals. Legally blind since birth, Guillermo holds a degree in economics and a graduate certification as a life coach. He has found himself challenged to continuously adapt to the ever-changing environments and circumstances to fully achieve goals that would otherwise be thought of as nearly impossible for a visually impaired person. Guillermo loves to share his story, acting as a keynote and motivational speaker on different occasions.
He has lived his life with devotion to learning, music, and adventures. He is continually searching for new challenges to overcome. Guillermo lives an active lifestyle that has led him to engage in rock-climbing, downhill ski, martial arts, and cycling. He has even acquired his scuba diving license and completed a certification to become a professional skydiver, having jumped solo at 10,000 feet.
Repeatedly re-defining what it means to be handicapped, he loves when he can empower others and make them realize that “the only thing that could stop you, no matter your situation, is when you don’t believe in yourself.”
With a unique blend of professional experience mainly focused on business consulting and strategic planning in the corporate arena, and with a thirst for helping others, he successfully transitioned into the nonprofit world, where he found his passion and career back on track in fundraising.
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.
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.
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.
Office Manager Sydney Goodman joined the MYSO team in October 2021. Originally from Texas, she received her Bachelor of Arts degree in international studies with a focus on women and gender. After college, she moved to the Bay Area, and worked for a few non-profits, working primarily with homeless women and children. From there, she has spent the last eight years working with the metal sculpture community, ranging from restorative bronze sculpture work, to learning the ins and outs of chemical patina application.
From the age of 9 to 20, Sydney played the clarinet with her school’s wind ensemble, both in grade school and university. Being a part of a creative community is a very integral part of her life and is the community she hopes to cultivate at MYSO.
In her spare time, Sydney spends time with her rescue Cattle Dog, Foley. Hiking, biking, swimming, running and eating, are all things they both enjoy.
Prior to moving to Milwaukee, Equipment Manager/Community Artists Coordinator Ben Haimann recently completed his Master’s degree in music performance at the University of South Carolina. He received degrees in music education and music performance from The Ohio State University in 2016 and 2017, respectively. A native of Lombard, Illinois, Ben began his musical studies at age nine playing drum set and taking private percussion lessons. During the summers of 2014 and 2015, he served as the teaching assistant and counselor for the instrumental music program at The North Carolina Governor’s School East where he coached the percussion ensemble and spent time conducting the wind ensemble. In 2016 and 2017, Ben was the front ensemble instructor with the Grove City High School Marching Band, which included a trip to the Rose Parade in Pasadena, California. While studying at Ohio State, he was awarded the prestigious Presser Foundation Scholarship. Ben served as a graduate assistant for the University of South Carolina percussion studio and was the percussionist for the Spark Collective, a graduate quintet focusing on community engagement through music. Ben was fortunate enough to win the concerto competition at the University of South Carolina in 2018 and performed Kevin Puts’ Marimba Concerto No. 1 with the University of South Carolina Symphony Orchestra in 2019. In his free time, Ben enjoys practicing marimba, making coffee, and hanging out with his dog, Lila.
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.
Tara obtained her MBA in Finance and Management & Strategy from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management in Chicago and graduated from University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire with a B.S. in Accounting. She is a CPA (inactive) and a Six Sigma certified black belt of process improvement.
Tara lives in the greater Milwaukee area with her family and enjoys an active lifestyle of running, biking, skiing, kayaking, hiking and other outdoor sports. She is an avid world traveler and enjoys exploring new cultures, food, and experiences. She has volunteered extensively for her local school, her children’s sports teams, and for the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum here in Milwaukee. She brings with her a love of music and a passion for children.
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.
Cait Manning joined MYSO in August 2019. Originally from New Orleans, she was a theatre major at Loyola University, specializing in theatre management, in addition to lighting design. After college, she moved to Chicago where she worked in the local storefront theatre community, most notably serving as production/company manager for the inaugural season of the Chicago Theatre Marathon. Most recently, she spent almost three years as a patron services supervisor with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
While she is not a musician, the performing arts have always been an integral part of her life and growing up she studied ballet, traditional Irish dance, and theatre. She firmly believes in the power of arts education to shape young people into better and more compassionate human beings, and she is thrilled to be a part of an organization committed to bringing these opportunities to children of all communities.
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.
Community Liaison Sabrina Raber is a performer, educator, and entrepreneur based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
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 Masters in Music and Community Partnership degree at the University of South Carolina. She did her undergraduate work at the Ohio State University. Her 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 underserved children. She has performed with the Long Bay Symphony, Aiken Symphony, Columbia Choral Society, the Spark Chamber Ensemble, and the University of South Carolina Symphony Orchestra where she performed as soloist. Additionally, Sabrina 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. Sabrina has led masterclasses in both the United States and in Chile, where she was a guest artist for the international Peñalolén Flute Festival. She has also presented research on the impact of music education on under-resourced children through the use of alternative music education techniques.
Outside of the music world, Sabrina is an avid photographer, a self-identified foodie, sports fan, and lover of all things wonderful.
While in high school, Sabrina was a flute player in the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra. She was part of a Senior Symphony Tour to Vienna and Prague, composed for several ensembles as part of the John Downey Creation Project, played in an interdisciplinary performance of Peter and the Wolf with First Stage and the Milwaukee Ballet, and performed with the Chamber Orchestra for the National Governors Association Annual Convention. She is thrilled to be returning to MYSO!
Paul Sekulski graduated in 2017 from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, where he studied with Dr. Bernard Zinck, with a BFA in violin performance. In addition to being the music librarian at MYSO, Paul also works at Hal Leonard as an assistant classical music editor.
Paul performs in various groups around the Milwaukee area. He is currently the concertmaster of both the Milwaukee Philharmonic, and the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee Community Orchestra. He also plays with Camerata Milwaukee, and with the Sheboygan Symphony Orchestra as principal second violin.
In 2015, Paul took first place in the UW-Milwaukee Concerto Competition, playing Tzigane by Ravel.
Artistic Director and Music Director Carter Simmons has worked with the musicians and families of the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra (MYSO) since 1992. In addition to leading the artistic and program staff, he is Music Director of MYSO’s Senior Symphony and Chamber Orchestra. During his tenure, the organization has grown to serve 7,000 students and received the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award. Mr. Simmons is Music Director of Milwaukee’s Festival City Symphony and has been invited to conduct for the Milwaukee Ballet, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, the Starry Nights Orchestra featuring artists of the Florentine Opera, and the Wisconsin Philharmonic. He has conducted MYSO in Beijing’s Forbidden City Concert Hall and in Chicago’s Orchestra Hall, and has accompanied the orchestra for its performances in: New York’s Carnegie Hall, Valencia’s Palau de la Música, Prague’s Dvořák Hall, Budapest’s Béla Bartók National Concert Hall, Argentina and Uruguay, Ireland, and the Musikverein, home of the Vienna Philharmonic. Mr. Simmons had been appointed Music Director of MYSO’s Senior Symphony starting in the 2020-2021 season.