Southwest Florida Music Education Center (SWFLMEC) has added four Naples community leaders to its board to help guide development of the music and educational program in Naples for neurodivergent young adults. Joining the board are Rose-Marie van Otterloo, Barbara Lounsbury, Jerry Starkey and Joanne Wyss.
Van Otterloo, originally from Belgium, emigrated to the United States at 22 and worked for Merrill Lynch for several years. In addition to board positions in Massachusetts, where she raised her family, she has served on the board of Guadalupe Center in Immokalee, Artis-Naples and is an honorary board member at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts (MFA). She received an honorary doctoral degree from Endicott College and was knighted by the King of the Netherlands after she and her husband donated their collection of 17th Century Dutch and Flemish Art to the MFA.
Lounsbury relocated from California to New York City to pursue a professional career as a violist. Lounsbury was principal violist Radio City Music Hall for 30 years, working with many artists including Tony Bennett, Elton John, Diana Ross, Liberace, Johnny Mathis and George Benson as well as playing for a number of Broadway shows, operas and orchestras. In Naples, she has performed with the Naples Players, Theatre Zone, Camerata of Naples and Naples Community Orchestra, where she was also president for four years.
Starkey has been a resident of Florida since 1988. He is a board member of Healthcare Network and the Florida Justice Reform Institute, a Lifetime Trustee of the Naples Children and Education Foundation, and a mentor to students in the FGCU School of Entrepreneurship. Starkey has been a principal, board member and CEO of several private and public companies in real estate, homebuilding, hospitality, energy, fintech and healthcare industries. He has a law degree from Texas Tech.
Wyss moved to Naples in the early 1990s after a successful career in book publishing and communications consulting in New York, London and Zurich. She 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 gives books to disadvantaged young children, and has served on other nonprofit boards including the Collier Community Foundation and the David Lawrence Center. Wyss plays classical and jazz piano and is a member of the Crescendos Piano Performance Group.
This fall, SWFLMEC will begin offering two-year and four-year post-secondary music certificates at Artis-Naples’ Toni Stabile Education Building, focusing on core areas of musical skill development for students who learn differently than their typical peers. The program is a partnership initiative with the The Berklee Institute for Accessible Arts Education of the Berklee College of Music in Boston.
The center will also begin preparing a permanent campus in a building and on property it purchased from Hodges University in Naples with the goal of accommodating up to 50 full-time students in fall 2024. Plans for the campus include adding a student dormitory, performance site and additional program space.