Give a Note Board
Beth Rivar Slusher, President, Rivar’s
President and Board Chair, Give a Note Foundation
Passion for music and the arts started at a very early age for Beth Rivar Slusher, beginning at 4 years of age singing in the cherub choir at church and school years filled with performing in various music ensembles, including choir, show choir, band and theater. It was a natural transition to seek and earn her Bachelor of Arts degree in both vocal and instrumental music from Ball State University where Beth toured with the famed Ball State University Singers and played French Horn in the Wind Ensemble, Orchestra, and the French Horn Ensemble.
Beth’s passion for music education led her to co-found Rivar’s, Inc. nearly 30 years ago to assist music directors in outfitting their performance groups with quality, affordable group costuming. Rivar’s serves music educators and performance groups nationwide and abroad, and Beth currently serves as the company’s President/CEO.
Supporting and uplifting others who are dedicated to music and the arts is what drives Beth’s philanthropic involvement with key music organizations and foundations. Music educators played a key role in her personal development as a child and continue today in her professional role and passion for keeping music in our schools as a vital part of a student’s education.
Beth and her husband, Tim, are the proud parents of two sons, Joshua and Evan. Family and travel are her personal passions, and she and her family have a bucket list of destinations still yet to conquer together.
Bill Armour, Special Assistant to the President, Catawba College; Executive Director, Segue 61
Bill Armour currently serves as Special Assistant to the President at Catawba College, a small private school in Salisbury, North Carolina, with an aggressive popular & traditional music curriculum. He also serves as Executive Director for Segue 61, a unique preparatory program based in Nashville, Tennessee, that offers promising musicians, songwriters, producers/engineers, and music business hopefuls from all music genres an advantage in accelerating their careers through a mentor-driven eight-month curricular structure. The program launched in January 2017 in its studio/workshop complex in the Berry Hill area of Nashville.
After graduating from Wake Forest University, Armour spent three years as a columnist/writer for the Winston-Salem (NC) Journal before moving across town to R.J. Reynolds, Inc. as a National Marketing/Media Director in their expanding sports & entertainment events-marketing arm, SME. He extended his involvement with the company’s professional rodeo program at the end of his tenure at RJR to become Project Manager for Las Vegas Events in their efforts to acquire the National Finals Rodeo—the sport’s Super Bowl—for Las Vegas. The subsequent move to Nevada by the event results annually in an estimated $250 million for the city over the rodeo’s 10 days each December.
When he returned to the North Carolina, Armour formed his own consulting firm and served corporate clients Nestle Foods, Procter & Gamble, BP/Amoco, Siemens, and Kellogg’s before moving to Atlanta to become Manager of Event Marketing/Media Services & Sponsorship for Garner & Nevins, one of the full-service marketing, advertising & promotional agencies under the Kellogg’s corporate umbrella. While at G&N, Armour also supported other agency accounts involving Turner Entertainment, Coca-Cola, and M & M Mars in both entertainment and sports-related external programs. He returned to NC at the end of his tenure at G&N and resumed his consulting work in both sports and entertainment, including his introduction to Catawba College to aid in the planning for construction of the National Sports Media Hall of Fame in Salisbury, where the organization has been based since 1959.
He lives just outside Winston-Salem with wife, Dee (an artist) and their ten “kids,” five dogs and five cats . . . all among the 25 total rescued during their time together.
Renier Fee, Marketing Director, Music & Arts
Renier oversees marketing for Music & Arts, the largest music education company in the country, with more than 135 retail stores, over 350 retail affiliates, website operations, and a road rep force servicing students and music teachers nationwide. He relishes creating integrated marketing plans that not only successfully generate sales, but also encourage children to pursue their creative talents. This is a significant responsibility, because Music & Arts rents more than 200,000 instruments to beginner musicians and provides nearly 1.25 million music lessons per year. With three children of his own, Renier recognizes the importance of music education programs. Prior to Music & Arts, he honed his marketing skills at Mental Floss, Ecko Unltd, L’Oreal, Playboy, and National Journal. Renier is thrilled to use that experience and his previous education at University of Florida and Fordham University to ensure that every child has the opportunity to participate in music.
Ed James, Senior Vice President, High10 Media
Ed James is a highly skilled branding and communications professional with 20 years of experience across multiple disciplines including lifestyle, entertainment, luxury goods, business-to-business, technology, non-profit, and crisis management.
Prior to High10 Media, James created and served as president of Cornerstone Public Relations. In that capacity, he worked on projects for HBO, Pepsi, Microsoft, Diageo, Turner Broadcasting, Mountain Dew, Guitar Center, BitTorrent, TDK, Smirnoff, Johnnie Walker, Converse, Reader’s Digest, Red Stripe, Bushmills, Nike, Jose Cuervo, Crown Royal, The FADER, Kia, Threadless, 2K, Levi’s, Activision, and Adult Swim.
In 2011, James left Cornerstone for a year to head Global Public Relations for Gibson Guitar Corporation.
James is a regular editorial contributor to trade publications offering his perspective on best practices and the state of the industry. Named one of the industry’s “40 Most Influential” by Folio Magazine, James has also been profiled in PR Week and PRSA, nominated several times as Executive of the Year by PR News, and awarded Bulldog Reporter’s Silver Medal for PR Professional of the Year.
Glenn E. Nierman, Immediate Past President, National Association for Music Education
Glenn E. Nierman (BM, Washburn; MM, Cincinnati; DME, Cincinnati), NAfME Immediate Past President for 2016-2018, is currently Glenn Korff Professor of Music Education at the Glenn Korff School of Music at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. His public school teaching experience includes work with middle school general music and choir, as well as high school band and orchestra. He recently completed a term on the International Society for Music Education (ISME) Executive Board and currently chairs NAfME’s Teacher Evaluation Task Force. His research interests are in the areas of assessment, teacher education, and instructional strategies. Honors and awards include recognition for Lowell Mason Fellow (2015), Washburn University Alumni Fellow (2012), Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching (1987), and receipt of the Steinhart Foundation Distinguished Endowed Professorship in Music Education (1998-2015).
Tom Osborn, Vice-President of Marketing, New West Records
Veteran marketing expert, Tom Osborn, is currently the VP of Marketing for New West Records and also has overseen the worldwide music marketing initiatives for the likes of Kobalt Music Services, Warner Bros Records, and Capitol Records.
Throughout Osborn’s career, he worked at both major and independent labels and has implemented innovative and successful marketing campaigns for some of the biggest names in music as well as emerging artists. He has worked with a broad spectrum of artists ranging from luminaries Tom Waits, Lenny Kravitz, Nick Cave, and Devo to modern heavyweights The Flaming Lips, Wilco, The Black Keys, and Mastodon to acclaimed songwriters Noel Gallagher, Ben Folds, and Glen Hansard to Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees Fleetwood Mac and Paul Simon. Additionally, Osborn’s impressive resume includes stints at Anti-/Epitaph, Vagrant Records, Mammoth Records, ARTISTdirect, and Atlas/Third Rail management.
Osborn is a graduate from the University of Southern California with a Master of Fine Arts degree as well as a degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Eliot Pfanstiehl, Founder and CEO, Strathmore Hall Foundation, Inc.
Eliot Pfanstiehl is the CEO of Strathmore Hall Foundation, Inc., which operates and presents programming at Strathmore, a multi-disciplinary arts center, including the Music Center and the Mansion at Strathmore, in Montgomery County, Maryland. Mr. Pfanstiehl has held this position since the founding of the enterprise in 1983.
Born in the District of Columbia and a graduate of George Washington University with a B.A. in Psychology, Mr. Pfanstiehl’s career is a mixture of arts management, education, leadership training and organizational development. He has led over 300 board and strategic planning retreats for a range of non-profit civic, arts and social service organizations, government agencies and businesses.
Mr. Pfanstiehl has been a founder and/or chair of the Montgomery County Arts Council, the Round House Theatre, the League of Washington Theatres, the Maryland State Arts Council, and Maryland Citizens for the Arts. He was founding President and current Chair of Maryland Leadership Workshops. He continues to serve as program facilitator for Leadership Maryland, Leadership Montgomery, Leadership Allegany, Leadership Washington County, Leadership Southern Maryland, and is a graduate of the inaugural class of Leadership Washington.
Mr. Pfanstiehl was named 2000 Washingtonian of the Year by Washingtonian Magazine, “People to Watch” in 2005 by the Washington Business Journal, and awarded Outstanding Leader of the Year by Leadership Maryland in 2007 and Leadership Montgomery in 2008.
With his wife Cynthia, a professor of Archeology/Anthropology at Montgomery College, they are proud parents of four talented children and live in Silver Spring, Maryland, where they are active in church and community affairs.
Sara Qazi, Director, Global Sports & Entertainment, Financial Advisor, Morgan Stanley
As a director in the GS&E division of Morgan Stanley, Sara Qazi’s practice centers around the unique needs of the clients in music and filmed entertainment industries. Sara focuses on Strategic Wealth Planning for entertainers, artists, entrepreneurs and studio executives, representing client net worth of over $500 million. Sara is also the founder and executive Director of The LAB, a close collective of powerhouse entrepreneurial women in the music, media, publishing and filmed entertainment industries. Our mission is to foster prosperity while nurturing authentic relationships and offering unparalleled support and resource to one another. Sara received her BSA in International Business at Loyola Marymount University.
Sean Smith, Director of Sales—Northeast region, Quaver Music
After graduating from University of North Texas, Sean Smith moved to Nashville and began touring with established Country Music Artists, including Big and Rich and Muzik Mafia. As a composer, Smith has received awards for film composition, including a Telly and an Emmy for the short film Running Back to Forward. He has developed a successful music program at the Ensworth School in Nashville and is continuing to develop a unique curriculum that is designed to inspire and engage both teachers and students alike.
Currently, Sean is Director of Sales for Quaver Music, in the Northeast region.
Chris Syllaba, President and CEO, JKM Music Group, LLC
Mr. Syllaba has a proven track record of leadership in the music industry. He has dedicated his life to music starting with piano studies at age 4½ and entering the keyboard industry in 1984 at the age of 18. In June of 2011 he completed the acquisition of Jordan Kitt’s Music, a century-old piano retail chain that he spent his entire career with.
Mr. Syllaba began his career with Jordan Kitt’s Music in 1984, serving in various sales and management capacities in the DC and Southern VA markets. In 1997 he joined the Executive Vice President in 2003. In 2008 he lead a partner buy-out and turn-around of Jordan Kitt’s’ Chicago operation, assuming the management of that market through 2010. In June 2011 he successfully completed the acquisition of Jordan Kitt’s in DC Metro and Steinway Piano Galleries in ATL through the formation of JKM Music Group. He lead a successful company turn-around effort as President and CEO and serves in that capacity currently.
Mr. Syllaba has served on the board of directors of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra in Norfolk, Virginia. He has attended numerous executive education courses, including at Harvard University, Wharton University, and with the American Management Association. He is a member of various industry trade groups and associations, including NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants), NAfME (National Association for Music Education) and KEG (Keyboard Excellence Group).