Our team consists of dedicated, passionate individuals working together to fulfill the mission of the Southwest Florida Music Education Center.
Founder & Board ChairCEO/President of Conservancy of Southwest Florida
Vice Chair of the Board
Board MemberPresident of TalentForce Solutions
Board MemberCIO at RFMS, Inc.
Associate Director/Executive Recruiter - EY's Americas Talent Attraction & Acquisition Team
Behavioral Consultant & Speech Therapist
Managing Director of the The Berklee Institute for Accessible Arts Education
Founding Member ofGrant, Fridkin, Pearson
Founding Director of James Levine & Associates
President of Parker, Mudgett, Smith
District Coordinator of Fine Artsfor Collier County Public Schools
Executive Director of Berkshire Hills Music Academy (BHMA)
Fine & Performing Arts Coordinator for the School District of Lee County
Director of Music Education
Music Program Director ofThe Creative Group
Director of Mental Health
Interested in joining our team? Visit our Careers page to view current job opportunities.
The Southwest Florida Music Education Center brings community access to cutting edge music education programs developed in partnership with the Berklee Institute for Accessible Arts Education (BIAAE), including continuing education opportunities for music teachers with a focus on teaching students with disabilities. To learn more about BIAAE, visit college.berklee.edu/biaae.
Rob founded the Southwest Florida Music Education Center in 2019. His daughter’s desire to become a professional musician while overcoming multiple language and anxiety-related challenges inspired him to create the transitional musical program for young adults who are neurodiverse. In his leadership role as president and chair of the Board, Rob brings more than 30 years’ experience in nonprofit management, program design, fundraising, marketing and community engagement.
For the past six years, he has also served as the CEO and president of Conservancy of Southwest Florida, which represents only a portion of his 22-year tenure and commitment to that organization. During his time at The Conservancy, Rob led fundraising efforts exceeding $130 million for conservation and education programs. He is a past recipient of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (Everglades Chapter) Fundraising Executive of the Year award. He also serves as an Advisory Board Member for The Water School at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU).
A seasoned teacher, Sandra brings over 30 years of educational experience in a variety of private, public and clinical settings, including the Community School of Naples, Discovery School in the Bahamas and as a home school instructor. She is trained in The Wilson Reading System and Lindamood Bell Instruction for Reading and Comprehension. Sandra is experienced at teaching neurodiverse students. Sandra believes that every individual, when given the opportunity, can contribute to enriching our community.
Jerry Starkey has been a resident of Florida since 1988 and lives in Naples with his wife Adria, where they raised four children who are now adults. The Starkeys have been involved individually and as a couple in many charitable organizations in SW Florida over the past decades. Jerry currently serves as a board member of Healthcare Network of Southwest Florida, Southwest Florida Music Education Center, and the Florida Justice Reform Institute. He is a Lifetime Trustee of the Naples Children and Education Foundation, and is a mentor of students of the FGCU School of Entrepreneurship. Professionally Jerry has been a principal, board member and CEO of several private and public companies in the real estate, homebuilding, hospitality, energy, fintech, and healthcare industries. Currently he is focused on urban and mixed-use real estate development, including Metropolitan Naples in downtown Naples. Jerry earned his law degree from Texas Tech and is a member of the State Bar of Texas.
Originally from Belgium, Rose-Marie emigrated to the United States at the age of 22. She worked for Merrill Lynch for several years, but later relocated to Marblehead, MA to raise her family.
Rose-Marie was previously a Board Member at Shore Country Day School in Beverly, MA., the Holderness School in Plymouth, NH, McLean Hospital in Belmont, MA., the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA., Artis-Naples, the Guadalupe Center in Immokalee, and is an honorary Board Member at the Museum of Fine Arts. She also received an honorary doctoral of humane letters from Endicott College.
Rose-Marie was knighted by the King of the Netherlands after she and her husband Eijk donated their Collection of 17th Century Dutch and Flemish Art to the MFA, Boston.
Joanne moved to Naples in the early 1990s after a successful career as an editor in book publishing in New York, as Director of Communications for McKinsey and Company in New York, London, and Zurich, and as founder and president of her own strategic communications consulting firm. She has served a wide variety of clients including AT&T, American Express, BASF, Borden Foods, Borden Chemicals, Ciba-Geigy (Novartis), Duracell, General Foods, Mercedes Benz North America, Mitsubishi, Owens-Corning Fiberglass and Xerox.
Joanne was a founder of Greater Naples Leadership (GNL), serving on the board, chairing the communications committee and serving as GNL’s first woman president. She founded Books for Collier Kids (formerly First Book-Collier County), a nonprofit that has given over 1 1/2 million books to disadvantaged young children.
Joanne has served on a number of other nonprofit boards including the Collier Community Foundation, The Immokalee Foundation, and David Lawrence Center.
She is a member of the Crescendos Piano Performance Group, a group of amateur pianists who meet monthly during season to play for each other. She and her late husband Karl had a passion for travel and visited over 75 countries together.
Jeanie is a highly trained and sought-after Behavioral Consultant and Speech Therapist. She brings more than 30 years of professional experience developing inclusion programming for students with special needs. Jeanie is especially passionate about autism, obsessive-compulsive disorders and PANS/PANDAS diagnoses.
As Managing Director of the The Berklee Institute for Accessible Arts Education, Rhoda’s work at the Berklee Institute for Arts Education and Special Needs has been honored with the Commonwealth Award from the Massachusetts Cultural Council. She has also received the Berklee Urban Service Award, the Boston Conservatory Community Service Award, the Outstanding Dissertation Award, and an Honorable Mention from the Arts and Learning Special Interest Group of the American Educational Research Association. In addition to giving regular keynote presentations throughout the world, she serves as the immediate past chair of the Arts Education Advisory Council of Americans for the Arts.
Rhoda Bernard holds a Bachelor of Arts cum laude in government from Harvard University and a Bachelor of Music with academic honors in jazz voice from New England Conservatory. She earned both her Master of Education and Doctor of Education degrees from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Bernard regularly presents keynote presentations and research at conferences throughout the United States and abroad, and she provides professional development workshops and courses for educators in local, national, and international forums, both in person and online. Her work has been published in several book chapters and in numerous journals. Bernard’s work at the The Berklee Institute for Accessible Arts Education has been honored with the Commonwealth Award from the Massachusetts Cultural Council. She has also received the Berklee Urban Service Award, the Boston Conservatory Community Service Award, the Boston Conservatory Faculty/Staff Spirit Award, and the Outstanding Dissertation Award, Honorable Mention (Second Place) from the Arts and Learning Special Interest Group of the American Educational Research Association. An active arts education advocate, she is the immediate past chair of the Arts Education Advisory Council of Americans for the Arts, and she serves on their speakers’ bureau. A vocalist and pianist who specializes in jazz music and Jewish music in Yiddish and Hebrew, she performs regularly with a number of klezmer bands and has recorded two CDs with the band Klezamir.
Richard has practiced law in Southwest Florida since 1979, as a founding member of the firm Grant, Fridkin & Pearson. Board-certified in real estate by the Florida Bar in 1987, Richard has an AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell. He has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America©, Florida Super Lawyers and Florida Trend’s Legal Elite. Richard received the Medal of Honor from Collier County Bar Association in 2012. In 2014, he was recognized as the Citizen of the Year in Collier County, Florida, followed by Lion of the Law from Collier County in 2018.
As the founding director of James Levine & Associates, James provides consultation, supervision, and training across New England, as well as nationally. Dr. Levine’s clinical interests focus on the intersection among trauma, mental health, learning and behavior. He works directly with clinical and teaching staff, families, public agency staff and administrative teams. Dr. Levine’s book, Learning from Behavior, was published in hardcover, paperback and international editions. His book, When Trauma Grips our Children, was published in January 2021 by ABC-Clio.
As a highly respected local architect, Jeff serves as President of Parker, Mudgett & Smith Architects based in Fort Myers, Florida. He specializes in commercial and education design, with a focus in green and healthy building design. Jeff has previously completed master planning work for Lee County, the City of Bonita Springs, the Research Center at Pineland and the City of Long Beach, California. He also completed design work in Italy for the Museum of Contemporary Art in Florence and for the Museum of Textiles and Modern Art in Prato.
Mr. Harry (“Skip”) Pardee, M.M., serves as the District Coordinator of Fine Arts for the Collier County Public Schools in Collier County, FL (Naples, Marco Island, Everglades City and Immokalee), overseeing all aspects of Curriculum & Instruction for Music, Visual Arts and Dance, grades K-12. Specifically, Mr. Pardee provides direction on the Florida Standards, professional development for teachers, facilities and equipment standards and performance standards for all fine and performing arts programs county-wide. He also serves as the community liaison for all arts organizations and their involvement with the public schools. Mr. Pardee is a founding member of the FL (Naples) 2016 Kennedy Center for Performing Arts National Partnership Team alongside Artis—Naples, Inc, where the focus has been providing impactful professional development on authentic arts integration strategies for content area teachers.
As the Executive Director of Berkshire Hills Music Academy, Michelle offers leadership in the areas of nonprofit organizations, budgeting, operation management, team building and public speaking. She holds a master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Springfield College in Massachusetts, along with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Assumption College in Massachusetts. Michelle is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and also holds s a certificate in fundraising from Boston University.
Jason Thomashefsky, Ed.D., is currently the Fine and Performing Arts Coordinator for the School District of Lee County Florida (Ft. Myers, Cape Coral, Estero, Bonita Springs, and Lehigh Acres). Dr. Thomashefsky is the taskeds with ensuring all students in the School District of Lee County receive an equitable and high quality arts education through overseeing professional development, program growth projects, and curriculum design.Dr. Thomashefsky also serves on various other art education professional and community boards including but not limited to the Florida Elementary Music Educators Association and the Music Foundation of Southwest Florida. Previously, Dr. Thomashefsky was an elementary music educator at Rayma C. Page Elementary School for 11 years. While at Rayma Page, Dr. Thomashefsky was the Lee County Schools 2014 Teacher of the Year and the a 2016 Foundation for Lee County Public Schools Golden Apple recipent.
In her role as Executive Director at the Southwest Florida Music Education Center, Jen is responsible for the organization’s daily operations, marketing, development and strategic initiatives. Dedicated to supporting nonprofit organizations and making a positive difference, Jen brings extensive experience in nonprofit leadership from organizations such as the Mendez Foundation in Tampa, Florida, Drug Free Collier, Moorings Presbyterian Church, the Conservancy of Southwest Florida and Valerie’s House. Jen is a graduate of the University of Florida, a member of the Collier-Lee Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and a graduate of Leadership Collier class of 2021.
Currently the musical program director for the affiliated Creative Group, Jeff brings a doctorate in composition from the City University of New York, two master’s degrees in music from the University of Akron in Ohio, and a bachelor’s in music from Indiana University. He also serves as a fellow at both Tanglewood and the Aspen Music Festival. Jeff has also played with the Naples Philharmonic for the past 10 years. For Jeff, composition and improvisation are important tools in his musical belt as he seeks to train young minds to excel in music.
In her role as director of mental health, Dr. Teresa Herrero Taylor will provide behavioral and program support to student musicians and staff. Born and raised in Boca Raton, FL, Taylor has practiced as a licensed psychologist and doctoral-level board certified behavior analyst for over 15 years, conducting evaluations and providing individual, group and/or family intervention and therapy working with both children and adults with anxiety, depression, ADHD, executive functioning weaknesses, autism spectrum disorder, social skills weaknesses, behavioral difficulties at home or school, and/or other life adjustment needs. An experienced, independent, motivational leader, she is passionate about mission-driven work and is excited about empowering neurodivergent young adults to be at the center of change through music and the arts. She has been an adjunct assistant professor in the Graduate Psychology Department at Rider University for the past nine years and has worked in New Jersey public education for more than 20 years, overseeing behavioral, social skills, and mental health assessment, intervention, and programming across multiple school districts as a director of special services.