PIANOS FOR PEOPLE
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Jeanne Knowles Townsend is a St. Louis attorney. She is also in her eighth year as Board Chair of the Oliverian School, a small alternative boarding school in Pike, New Hampshire. She served on the Board of the St. Louis Black Repertory Company for several years as well, and continues to be an active supporter of the Black Rep.
As an attorney, Ms. Townsend practiced maritime law, and was the first female partner of Goldstein and Price in St. Louis. She is licensed to practice in both Missouri and Illinois.
Her passion continues to be education, particularly for creative kids struggling and often overlooked by traditional education.
Patricia Weeks Eastman is on the piano faculties of St. Louis University and Webster University where she is founder and co-director of the Webster Piano Ensemble Festival and Classical Piano Camps. In 2000, Pat formed a professional piano duo with colleague Donna Vince. They perform regularly in and around the St. Louis area. She has performed at the Sheldon, on From the Garden - Live! and with the Winston–Salem Symphony, the Brevard Festival Orchestra, the Webster Symphony and as pianist for the Concurso Nacional de Violin de Mexico. She has been a collaborative staff pianist at the North Carolina School of the Arts, the Southeast French Horn workshop, the vocal studios of Betty Allen and Charles Bressler and the Long Island Symphonic Choral Association under the direction of Gregg Smith.
She holds the BM in Piano Performance and MM in Performance and Pedagogy. Pat maintains a successful private teaching studio, is former Vice-President of the St. Louis Area Music Teachers Association, and an in-demand judge for piano festivals and competitions.
Jim Messina is a St. Louis-based business executive and longtime amateur musician, having set the unofficial record for amassing the most points in a high school district music competition (reminder: lower scores are better. Jim’s full orchestra received a “1” rating, his brass quintet received a “2” rating, his trumpet solo received a “3” and his performance of Chopin’s Polonaise Militaire received a “4” and a memorable comment by the judge: “out of control.”). Soon after, Jim switched to jazz piano, learning the genre through a charitable program in his hometown of Kansas City, MO called “Jobs of Note” in which high school students were provided summer jobs learning jazz at the UMKC Conservatory and playing in jazz combos throughout the KC area. Today, Jim enjoys playing for charity events throughout St. Louis with his jazz quintet, the NFPJQ (Not-for-Profit Jazz Quintet).
In his professional life, Jim is a Partner and Chief Sales Officer with LIBRIX, a technology-forward training and development agency that works with the world’s largest companies to help their employees and partners achieve their full potential. Jim has also held senior leadership positions at Clearent, Maritz, and Computer Sales International, Inc. and regularly speaks to undergraduate and graduate level business classes at universities around the country on the topics of Sales, Customer Experience and Leadership learning strategies.
As a proud member of the Pianos for People Board and chair of the Board’s Fundraising committee, Jim is intensely focused on securing Pianos for People’s financial future to help us fulfill our mission of providing free access to the transformative power of music to those who need it most – children and families with limited resources, and the organizations that serve them. Please contact Jim at [email protected] if you would like to discuss how you or your organization can help.
Hope has served in numerous leadership roles in the business world, culminating in Senior Vice President roles with The May Company department stores, and Caleres after moving to St. Louis in 1999. Since 2015, she has been lecturing at the University of Missouri, Columbia, teaching several courses in the Textile and Apparel Management Department as well as the Crosby MBA program in the Trulaske College of Business. She has served in leadership roles in many non-profit and educational organizations: Chairperson of the Textile and Apparel Advisory Board at the University of Missouri, founder and president of Women in the Footwear Industry, St. Louis chapter, and is currently a business mentor for the St. Louis Fashion Fund incubator.
Hope started piano lessons at a young age and her early remembrances are infused with music, with accomplished pianists on her father’s side of the family. After graduating from Brown University with a BA in Music, she continued her lifelong study of the instrument.
A graduate of Princeton University and Columbia University Law School, James’ love affair with the Arts began with his collegiate studies of Greek literature and its playwrights. His legal career started in Philadelphia and then to Atlantic City where James served as Vice President & General Counsel for Harrah's Atlantic City and later Harrah's Nevada in Las Vegas. After serving as corporate counsel for Argosy Gaming Company, James retired from the active practice of law and taught Western Civilization, World History and American History at Lewis & Clark Community College in Godfrey, Illinois.
James’ studied in South America as an AFS exchange student when he was 16 and has traveled extensively. Decades later, he is actively engaged in helping international high school students come to America and encouraging American students to study abroad through the various AFS programs. A lifelong lover of the Arts, James is the Board President of The St. Louis Black Repertory Company (“The Black Rep”) which is one of the most prestigious African American theater companies in the nation and the only one that has provided 39 seasons of continuous performances.
Mark and two business partners built Forward Research, Inc., a custom marketing research firm focused on providing strategic marketing insights to support new product concept development, market positioning, branding and messaging. Fortune 500 clients include Pfizer, Eli Lilly, Bayer and Monsanto. In 2008, the firm of 25 employees was sold to Ipsos, 3rd largest global marketing research firm worldwide, and Mark continued as a Sr. Vice President. In a prior life, Mark obtained an education degree and taught in a public elementary school setting.
Although not one musically talented bone in his body, Mark loves all types of music and attends the Chautauqua Institution music festival annually, enjoying classical, voice, and master classes on the grounds of Chautauqua. Mark is currently involved in St. Louis community policing and predatory lending task forces to address recommendations that came out of the Ferguson Commission.
Mark graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from The Colorado College and has an MBA, with a concentration in marketing, from Washington University in St. Louis.
Michael is the former President, MasterCard Payment Transaction Services for Global Products and Solutions. In this role, he was responsible for leading the powerful debit and prepaid processing platforms that extend MasterCard’s value proposition beyond its traditional role as a network processor. Over his 30 years at MasterCard, he held the positions of group executive, Global Processing Business; Chief Technology Officer; Group executive, Strategic Account Management; and Senior Vice President within Computer and Network Services.
An accountant by profession, he has more than 34 years of experience, over 30 of them with MasterCard, in areas including corporate finance, U.S. regional finance, and operations.
He has previously served on the board of directors and executive committee of the local Better Business Bureau as well as the St. Louis University Institute of International Business advisory board. He currently serves on the finance committee of Family Forward and the Sheldon Arts Foundation Board of Directors
Michael, an accomplished guitarist, plays in the Pianos for People house band at the highly popular Piano Slams.
Kelly Sledge-Martin is a health and wellness professional and certified yoga instructor. She also has over 20 years of experience in nonprofit management and corporate sales. This includes work for Johnson and Johnson, Merck & Co, Planned Parenthood of Louisiana and St. Louis. Kelly has also volunteered with many organizations, such as Girls on the Run and Ready Readers. She is also an active volunteer at her children's school John Burroughs School here in St. Louis.
Kelly graduated with honors from Stephens College. She earned an MBA degree from Fontbonne University. In addition, she completed doctoral work in public health at Saint Louis University as well as studied immunology at Princeton University. Kelly has a deep love of the arts and is the proud mom of two violinists and the wife of a jazz pianist.
Along with Tom Townsend, Tim was a co-founder and CEO of Rodgers Townsend advertising agency based in St. Louis. Tim retired from RT at the end of August 2017. Begun in 1996 as a two-person agency in the small conference room of a two-person law firm in Lafayette Square, “RT” grew in size and stature and was acquired by Omnicom in 2006. In addition to winning every major international creative award, the agency is cited for its egalitarian culture and commitment to pro bono causes, being the only advertising agency recognized with the Mayor’s “Spirit of St. Louis Award,” as well as a Forest Park Forever “Keeper of the Park.” RT is regularly ranked among St. Louis' “Best Places to Work,” and is one of only ten St. Louis Companies of any size to make the list every year. In addition, for six years running, the agency achieved the #1 ranking for agency culture among 97 DDB/Omnicom network offices around the globe.
Tim and Tom were elected to the St. Louis Media and Advertising Hall of Fame in 2014, were recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Advertising Club of Greater St. Louis in 2018. In 2001 they were named Ernst & Young “Entrepreneurs of the Year.”
Tim is an insatiable student of history, a travel aficionado (who lived to tell of a physical encounter with a 700-pound gorilla), and still performs with March Hare, the rock group he fronted for five years in the 70’s. In retirement, Tim is two years into a lifelong quest to learn to play the piano, has begun writing his own music, and remains active with pro bono work for the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, St. Louis U. High, Variety the Children’s Charity and Missouri Cures.
Pops was born and raised in East St. Louis and has a Bachelors and Masters of Music from SIU-Edwardsville. He is a well-known local educator, jazz pianist and clinician who has performed and toured nationally and internationally. He currently serves as Assistant Teaching Professor and Director of the David and Thelma Steward Institute of Jazz Studies at UMSL, where he conducts the University Jazz Orchestra and teaches Jazz Improvisation. He has also served as an adjunct music faculty member at Washington University, Lindenwood University and Southwestern Illinois College and as a Teaching Artist for Jazz St. Louis.