Board of Directors

Jason Callahan (Vice Board Chair) has been an Information Technology leader with experience in a diverse set of industries such as defense, biotech, high-tech and finance, spanning his career of over 25 years.  He has a long held, strong zeal for technology and a profound dedication to educating on how it can be used to transform business operations at all levels.  Jason is currently responsible for Global Information Security, Networking, Data Centers and Collaboration as a Director at Illumina Inc., a publicly traded San Diego based corporation known as the “smartest company in the world!” Jason holds an MBA from the Foster Business School at the University of Washington, in addition to his BS in Information Technology.  Since 2001, he has maintained the utmost currency within his field, holding the coveted Certified Information Security Professional (CISSP) designation.  In his personal life, Jason is an avid cyclist, outdoors enthusiast, car/racing fanatic, and an all-around jubilant husband and father of two extraordinary kids.


William Gilmer, a music educator, bassoonist, and conductor, recently moved to San Diego. He retired in June 2014 from a career as a music educator in Illinois for 33 years, the last 28 spent as the Director of Bands at Willowbrook High School in Villa Park, IL. At Willowbrook he was responsible for the direction of three levels of concert band, a jazz band, the Marching Warrior Band, and the pep band. Further, he guided all of his students as they prepared chamber music and solo performances. The band program at Willowbrook was recognized as one of the outstanding programs in the state and was selected to perform at the conferences of the ASBDA, the NBA, the CBDNA as well as the ILMEA. The band also performed at the Bowling Green State New Music Clinic, the Western Illinois University Band Showcase, and the University of Illinois Superstate Band Festival. The band at Willowbrook was also active in commissioning several works for band including music by Augusta Read Thomas, Jonathan Newman, William Himes, and Robert Bradshaw. Bill was presented the Mary Hoffman Award for Outstanding Contribution to Music Education by the ILMEA in January 2014. Following retirement he served as an adjunct professor at Concordia University in River Forest, IL and as the music director for the Des Plaines Community Band, Des Plaines, IL.

As a bassoonist, Bill played bassoon and contra bassoon with the Tulsa Philharmonic, the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, the West Suburban Community Band, and the Salt Creek Chamber Orchestra. In San Diego he has been playing with the Tifereth Israel Community Orchestra and the New City Sinfonia. He is actively working toward “getting his chops back into shape!” and finding other performance opportunities.

Bill holds both a Bachelor of Music Education degree and Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Tulsa where he was named the Presser Scholar in music education. He earned his Master of Music degree from Northwestern University and has done post-graduate work at the University of Illinois, Vandercook College of Music, and Northwestern.

He recently moved to San Diego where his wife Martha was appointed the CEO of the San Diego Symphony Orchestra. They have three grown sons.


Olivier Harismendy is an engineer, scientist, and member of the faculty at UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center. He is an expert in human genomics applied to cancer research. In particular, his research is focused on the development of laboratory assays and bioinformatics analysis to discover new therapeutic targets and new genetic biomarkers for cancer. He works at the interface of clinical and genetic data in collaboration with physicians to develop and implement precision medicine. In his spare time, Olivier enjoys cooking, traveling, hiking, sailing on the San Diego bay, scuba diving in the summer and skiing in the winter. From a navy family, Olivier grew up in Toulon, on the French Riviera, and later studied in Paris. During this time, he was a member of choral ensembles such as boy scouts or church choirs, Grandes-Ecoles Symphony and Chorus and other community chorus. He is now a loyal member of the tenor section at the Villa Musica community chorus.


Steve Hoey is Senior Director of CONNECT Springboard and Innovation Research. His responsibilities include managing the Springboard entrepreneur mentoring program for tech and life sciences companies, as well as heading up CONNECT’s research on the innovation economy in San Diego and California. The main report released by Steve’s research group is the CONNECT Innovation Report, which tracks the health of the San Diego innovation economy by providing a comparison across technology and life sciences industry clusters to selected regions and monitoring availability of various types of capital. Steve also conducts regional innovation ecosystem assessments as an external consulting service for CONNECT. Steve has created regional innovation economy assessments for San Diego, Riverside County and the State of Hawaii.


Steve joined CONNECT in 2007 as Program Manager of CONNECT’s Springboard program. During his tenure at CONNECT Steve conceived and developed the CONNECT Innovation Report and the CONNECT Springboard Impact Report, which tracks the milestones achieved by companies that have completed the Springboard mentoring program since 2005.


Prior to joining CONNECT, Steve served as a senior engagement manager for Oliver Wyman in the company’s New York and European offices until 1994. While at Oliver Wyman, he specialized in the financial services industry strategy practice working with global investment, commercial private banking and insurance and asset management institutions.


An accomplished amateur musician, Steven left consulting to pursue his passion for music and pursued studies in music composition. He completed his Masters of Fine Arts degree in Music Composition at the California Institute of the Arts in 1988 as a Betty Freeman Scholar where he studied with Pulitzer Prize winning faculty member Mel Powell and Stephen Mosko. He served as a faculty member there for two years before relocating to San Diego to pursue his doctoral studies in 2001. Steven received his PhD in Music Composition at the University of California at San Diego studying with Chinary Ung in 2007. Steven won the Dutilleux Prize for International Composition for his solo piano work, Artifact I, in 1999 and was awarded the Charles Ives Scholarship from The American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2006. Steven received the 2006 Thomas Nee Commission from the La Jolla Symphony Orchestra, and his work Five Rivers was premiered by the orchestra in May 2007. His dissertation research was supported by a UCSD Humanities Graduate Student Grant, which Steve was awarded in 2007, and by a grant from The American Music Center Composer Assistance Program.


Steve holds the following degrees: A.B. magna cum laude from Harvard University, M.Phil from Oxford University, MFA from California Institute of the Arts and Ph.D. from University of California at San Diego.


Sharon Popp (Board chair) and husband Dean are retired; he from the Economics Department and campus administration at SDSU; and she from special education and special education administrative roles throughout the county. They travel, garden, follow Aztec, Duck, Charger and most recently San Antonio Spurs sports teams. They each volunteer in numerous capacities, the favorite being in a kindergarten classroom, 4-5 mornings per week, in which their daughter, Amy, is the teacher.

Neighbor, Mike Mazaika, introduced Sharon to the Villa Musica Chorus in January of 2011. It was love at first chord. She continues with the chorus as well as weekly voice lessons.

Sharon’s reason for wanting to participate on the Villa Musica Board is to support Villa Musica’s mission to provide access to music to children in communities where those opportunities aren’t available or are very limited.


Grace Ramos is a Human Resources Professional with over 25 years of experience working for Kaiser Permanente and Hyatt Hotels Corporation. With her diverse background in the hospitality and healthcare industries, Grace has provided expertise in serving as a strategic human resources business partner in aligning and establishing human resources initiatives with organizational business strategies. Areas of human resources focus includes employee and labor relations, compliance, compensation planning, and training and development. Grace holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from the University of California, San Diego.

Grace takes pride in her passion for serving the community. She has served as a volunteer at Rady’s Children’s Hospital, and currently is a dedicated parent volunteer at Grant Elementary School.

Grace’s joyful spirit and compassionate nature is fueled by her loving family which includes her husband and three young children.

Michele Richardson has worked in early childhood education for over 20 years, with a key focus on music.  Ms. Richardson has a Bachelor of Arts from San Diego State University; a Diploma in Montessori teaching from St. Nicholas in Dublin, Ireland; a Musikgarten certification from Toronto, Canada; and a Diploma in Fashion from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Melbourne, Australia.


Ms. Richardson brings her passion for education and music to the board of directors at Villa Musica with a special interest in working to develop new fundraising opportunities. In her spare time Ms. Richardson nurtures her love for music, travel, and cooking for family and friends.


irina telyukova (treasurer) Ph.D., is an economist, a yoga teacher and a lifelong classical pianist and choral singer. Since 2014, Irina has been working as an economist for Intensity Corporation, a small economic consulting firm in San Diego. Prior to this, Irina was a professor of Economics at UCSD for 8 years. She concurrently held positions as a visiting scholar at the International Monetary Fund, a number of Federal Reserve Banks, and the Institute for Fiscal Studies in London. Irina’s research focused on household debt and saving; her teaching focused on Macroeconomics, on undergraduate and Ph.D. levels. Irina is also a pianist: she started playing at age 5, and graduated from music school in her native Moscow at age 13. While her “major” was piano, the curriculum also included music theory (solfeggio), music history, art history, choir, and conducting, among other subjects. After graduating from music school, Irina continued her musical activities. After moving to the U.S., she remained an active concert pianist in high school and college, performing in recitals regularly as a soloist and chamber musician. In her sophomore, junior and senior years in college, Irina performed a full recital with a faculty member who was a trumpet player, another full recital with a faculty member cellist, and a solo senior recital. After college, Irina lived in New York, where she was part of the semi-professional and prominent Russian Chamber Chorus of New York. With this group, Irina was fortunate enough to record a CD of Tchaikovsky’s Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, and she performed on the stages of Avery Fisher Hall and Carnegie Hall, among other venues. Upon moving to San Diego, Irina became part of a chamber music trio of piano, violin and clarinet, which, by association with the organization, became known as the Villa Musica Piano Trio. The trio performed a full-length recital, in 2009, in addition to regularly performing in quarterly recitals. Irina is also an advanced yoga teacher, certified with the Yoga Alliance. She has been teaching in a variety of yoga styles for the past 11 years, and is most recently the founder of Be Well Yoga San Diego, devoted to teaching healing yoga and meditation, and specifically Yoga for Cancer Recovery, to groups and individuals of all ages. Irina is very excited to have the opportunity to serve on the Board of Villa Musica, whose progress and mission she’s been fortunate enough to follow almost since the organization’s inception.

Emeritus Board

Peter Gourevitch, Founding Dean and Professor, Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies and Professor Political Science, University of California, San Diego, has been a professor at UCSD since 1979. He is an extraordinary educator and his academic writings have been published all over the world. Recently Mr. Gourevitch was awarded the Russell Sage Foundation Scholar award and a Guggenheim Fellowship, which enabled him to spend the 2005-06 academic year living and researching in New York City. Mr. Gourevitch is also a passionate amateur singer and sings with the La Jolla Symphony Chorus, San Diego Master Chorale and (when in New York) the Carnegie Hall Chorus.


John Santuccio, the noted orchestra manager, also spent time as president of the music publishing company, G. Schirmer. John’s deep passion for classical music was a key factor in his success with the New York Philharmonic as well as the Rochester Symphony. His long association with the Eastman School of Music furthered not only his reputation as a leader in music education, but established him as instructor. Following Ed Murphy’s departure from G. Schirmer, John became president of the noted publishing company and oversaw many projects, including the arduous task of computerizing the entire inventory in the early 1980s.


Advisory Board

Valerie Chereskin is a PR consultant specializing in representing emerging high tech companies. With more than 25 years of experience in marketing and public relations, Valerie’s forte is in creating compelling and clear messages that resonate with a specific targeted audience. She focuses on helping her clients communicate directly with influencers and establish credibility. In 2013 she received the PR Professional of the Year award from the San Diego chapter of PRSA. Valerie is also a flutist and performs in a number of community and chamber ensembles throughout San Diego. She has a Bachelor of Music from Eastern Illinois University, an M.B.A from San Diego State University and has received accreditation in public relations (APR) from PRSA.


Charles Curtis is an internationally renowned performer and composer of a wide variety of music, with particular emphasis on the avant-garde. Curtis is most strongly associated with minimalism, modern classical, and so-called “downtown music.”

A graduate of the prestigious Julliard School, Curtis has since been involved with the music department at Princeton University and at the University of California, San Diego, where he has served as Professor of Contemporary Music Performance since the year 2000.

Curtis has studied under such masters as vocalist Pandit Pran Nath and composer La Monte Young and still regularly records and performs.


Martha Gilmer – CEO of the San Diego Symphony Orchestra (bio coming soon)


Carolyn McClain has over 30 years of experience in marketing, strategic planning, executive communications and software engineering. Several years ago she retired from Sun Microsystems to pursue her passions for travel, learning, and music. As a Sun Microsystems executive, she held roles in systems marketing, strategic business planning, and software engineering. She was integral to the success of the multibillion dollar high end server business at Sun. Prior to Sun, she held product marketing positions at Cray Research Business Systems, Floating Point Systems, and TeleSoft. She was a also member of San Diego’s pioneering graphics software company, ISSCO and did a stint as a marketing consultant. She thrives on new challenges – many of her positions were “intrapreneur” projects, starting new business lines, such as taking Sun into the difficult mainframe marketplace, or guiding Cray Research into the smaller systems markets. Carolyn earned her B.A. in Economics from UCSD, and attended the Graduate School of Business at SDSU.


Kay-Marie Johns Moreno has spent her whole life in music – from church choirs, playing and recording in her own local band to performing in professional choirs. Over the years Kay-Marie has been affiliated with the San Diego Master Chorale as well as the San Diego Symphony.  She is also a section leader at Kensington Community Church. Professionally, Kay-Marie has worked as and administrative professional for UC San Diego for over 13 years and currently at ResMed Corporation. She has extensive experience in Project Management, Executive Administrative Assistance, International Relations, External Relations, and Executive Board management. Kay-Marie is married and has two daughters who share her passion and love for music and the arts.


Jorge Riquelme – Bio coming soon


Stephen R. Shapiro has led the Community Music Center as Executive Director since 1978. He received his MA and PhD in History from the University of Wisconsin and his BA from Oberlin College. Chosen as a Gerbode Fellow in 2003 for outstanding non-profit leadership, he is currently on the Board of Directors of the Zellerbach Family Foundation and is a member of the Education Committee of the San Francisco Symphony. He was also a member of the Board of Directors of the Stern Grove Festival Association from 1996-2002, the Advisory Board of the Paul Robeson and Diego Rivera Academy from 2000-2003, and on the Board of Directors (1981-1990) and Vice President (1983-1986) of the National Guild of Community Schools of the Arts.