The vision for SpreadMusicNow’s future is based in no small part on the overall trajectory of its new leader’s life path. Taking the reins in the nonprofit’s sixth year— coincidentally on the very day it attained its 501(c)(3) status— Tom was moved by both a personal connection to the mission and the impact of the Music Empowers brand. Over his twenty-five years in the music industry, discovering and developing talent, Tom gained a unique perspective on the music business and a deep understanding of sustainable, brand-centric artistic careers. However, it was his university and young adult years on the path to a career in academia— in which he avidly pursued his interests as a writer, performer, educator and activist— that truly inspired the move from the music industry to the world of philanthropy. Now, with the experience and relationships of a long music business career at his back, he brings his passion and support for youth culture, education and the community at large to the SpreadMusicNow mission.
Tom lives in Colchester, VT— a lakeside suburb of Burlington— with his wife and partner of nearly 25 years and their two teenage daughters, two cats and a rescue dog. He loves playing music, coaching softball, gardening, renovating, building and working in his wood shop.
Greg Young is a devoted father and husband, philanthropist, and Connecticut business owner. A lifelong Connecticut resident, Greg dedicates his life to his family and making Connecticut a better place for all children. Greg’s philanthropic focus is on improving the educational outcomes of children in Connecticut through BeFoundation, his family foundation. BeFoundation is devoted to the dramatic improvement in the education and community vitality of underserved children in Connecticut. With an abiding passion for music and an awareness of the importance and far reaching impact of music education, Greg felt the need to address gaps in access to high quality music education. In 2014, Greg co-founded SpreadMusicNow with Richard Wenning, the Executive Director of BeFoundation. Together, they extended the reach of the family foundation beyond Connecticut and built SpreadMusicNow into a national organization supporting music education, music educators and underserved youth.
Richard Wenning serves as Executive Director of BeFoundation, a family foundation devoted to dramatic improvement in the education of underserved students in his home state of Connecticut. He co-founded SpreadMusicNow in 2014 with BeFoundation founder Greg Young. During a career focused on the improvement of public education, Richard has worked with federal, state, and local agencies and nonprofits as an executive leader and strategy consultant. He has served as the Associate Commissioner of the Colorado Department of Education, Vice President of the Colorado League of Charter Schools, Executive on Loan to Denver Public Schools, Senior VP of New American Schools, Senior Policy Advisor to the CEO of D.C. Public Schools, and staff for the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee and Government Accountability Office. Richard holds a Master of Public Administration degree from The American University and was awarded a Presidential Management Fellowship. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Ithaca College.
A professional musician, educator and passionate advocate for young students, Marvin McNeill is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT. His research interests include New Orleans Brass Band Music and Culture, African American / Black Music and Culture, Youth Music and Culture, Afro-Caribbean Music and Culture, Music and Urban Geography Studies, Affect Theory and Popular Music Studies. He holds an MA in Ethnomusicology (Wesleyan University), an MM in Trombone Performance (University of Connecticut), a BA in Music Education (Virginia Polytechnic and State University), and is a member of many professional and academic societies and associations. Before returning to academic study, Marvin served 20 years as a college band director at Sacred Heart University (Fairfield, CT) and University of Connecticut (Storrs, CT), and is the founding member of The Funky Dawgz Brass Band, a New Orleans-style Brass Band whose mission includes giving back to the community and connecting with and inspiring inner-city youth to engage in music learning and performance. Marvin and The Funky Dawgz run an after school and summer program through the Charter Oak Cultural Center, a Hartford, CT-based nonprofit. Marvin performs widely throughout the Northeast, and has served as a guest conductor, adjudicator and clinician for concert bands and marching bands on both the middle and high school levels.
The importance of education was always clear to this son of a high school principal and an elementary school teacher, but it was a high school theater instructor who first spotted Everett’s theatrical spark and encouraged him to follow his dream, in spite of his parents' fears of pursuing the arts. His quest landed him on Broadway in Swing, After Midnight and in the off-Broadway hit Stomp. Theater, however, was never Everett’s sole focus, as can be seen by his extraordinary career as a first-call touring sideman or recording artist with a remarkably diverse cast of music luminaries, including Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, David Bowie, Quincy Jones, Hall & Oates and Bon Jovi. Beyond the stage, this Grammy-nominated force of nature is a regular sketch booth singer for NBC’s Saturday Night Live, and was the music director / bandleader for NBC’s Meredith Vieira Show, for which he also wrote the show’s theme song and all the other music included in the program. Everett recently provided music and arrangement for the revamped 42nd Street, and wrote and stars in the holiday funktacular, Holidelic. He is currently working on his own one-man theater show, and dedicates a lot of his time as a Board Member and the Musical Director for the nonprofit say.org.
Jana Fisher is an artist manager and digital marketing expert whose passion for music education began with childhood piano lessons, and continued through high school choir, marching band, and a voice minor in college. Expression through music and a fascination with the intersections of art and activism segued seamlessly into an interest in story telling, and Jana— a Moth StorySLAM winner— has incorporated this concept into her work as an artist manager. With the combined powers of art, narrative and activism, Jana seeks to transform lives just as hers was transformed by music education. Her knowledge of— and insight into— the entertainment industry encompasses talent management, creative marketing, branding, copywriting, digital and print design and fan engagement. In this capacity, she consulted on the launch of Ani DiFranco’s marquee music and activism festival Babefest, and created a marketing campaign around DiFranco’s highest-reaching post ever, which had 11.5 million engagements on Facebook alone. Jana’s broad range of skills have led to overseeing the simultaneous album and memoir releases for Grammy nominee Jennifer Knapp, on the one hand, and leading artist crowdfunding campaigns that generated over $500,000 in revenue, on the other. In 2017, Jana left New York to open Invasion Group’s Los Angeles office.
Jonathan Scales is one of the most innovative steel pannists on the planet, and is redefining and challenging traditional expectations of his signature instrument. His mesmerizing compositions have captivated listeners and elevated him to the status of a true composer, forging new territory in the medium of instrumental music, accompanied at times by a wide array of guests, including the likes of Béla Fleck and the rest of the Flecktones, Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, Oteil Burbridge, MonoNeon, Shaun Martin and many others. Scales represented the United States through the Department of State as a musical ambassador in concert tours of China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Mauritania and Kazakhstan, and delivered a TED talk about the importance of perseverance and persistence.
Jonathan studied composition at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC, and has a lifelong commitment to music education, regularly conducting master classes in both steel pans and composition, arrangement and improvisation— often with his band mates— at high schools and colleges throughout North America.
Music industry veteran Howie Schnee is a promoter, curator and influential advocate for live music. As an independent promoter based in New York City, Howie— through the company he presides over, Creative Entertainment Group (CEG)— has been instrumental in developing the careers of countless artists over the last 25 years. Since becoming inspired by Grateful Dead concerts in his teens, then getting into the business working for David Graham (son of the late concert impresario Bill Graham) at Music Unlimited, Howie has promoted concerts, tours, festivals, events and benefit concerts throughout the continental United States. Howie's entrepreneurial interests are not limited to the music industry, however. He is also a principal in Dream Art Partners, an art investment group, a partner in both The Tippler (a popular bar in the Chelsea neighborhood of NYC) and American Cut (a Midtown Manhattan steakhouse), as well as various real estate and hospitality ventures in the U.S. and abroad. Howie is a proud resident of the Lower East Side of Manhattan, where he lives with his wife and two young sons.