SOUNDS Academy Welcomes New Board Members

SOUNDS Academy Welcomes New Board Members

SOUNDS Academy Welcomes New Board Members and Officers

In July, SOUNDS Academy welcomed new leadership to its board of directors. Learn more about our Board Chair Ian Fischer and new members Elizabeth Matthews, Michael Peterson, and Camille Ridley.

Ian Fischer

Ian Fischer: Board Chair

Ian grew up in the suburbs of Chicago. He moved to Arizona to attend law school in 2005, and liked the area so much that he hasn’t left. He currently practices law in Phoenix at the law firm Husch Blackwell. He generally defends companies in civil litigation, including class actions and antitrust matters. He also represents individuals facing criminal charges or government investigations. He spends most of his free time with his wife and his elementary school-aged boys, who keep plenty busy with sports and their piano lessons.

Q: Why is music education important to you? Why is SOUNDS Academy important?

A: I have always loved music. I was lucky enough to grow up in a musical household, attend schools that valued music education, and my parents had the means to provide me access to music education. I got involved with SOUNDS Academy so I could help give the same opportunity to children who may not otherwise have it. I also see how learning to play an instrument impacts my own kids’ thought process, development, confidence, and appreciation for music in general. I believe every child should have that opportunity.

Q: What are you looking forward to while being chair of this board?

A: This year we are expanding our offering to a location in Central Phoenix. I am excited every time we expand the reach of music education to new students who otherwise would not have access.

Q: What is something unique about you that not many people know?

A: I met the Queen of England when I studied in London during my junior year in college. I happened to visit a church on a day the Queen was in attendance and after the service met her in a receiving line.

Elizabeth Matthews: New Board Member

Elizabeth Matthews is brand new to the Phoenix area, moving here in 2018 by way of Las Vegas. As a former musical theatre performer, she knows the value of music education. She has found a new love in fundraising and currently heads up the Student Series campaign at the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, teaching the next generation of philanthropists kindness and the art of giving back. She is excited to have the opportunity to combine her two loves of music and fundraising by working with SOUNDS Academy.

Q: Why is music education important to you? Why is SOUNDS Academy important?

A: I struggled to fit in and with coursework throughout my schooling. I found my home in the arts and because of it, I got better grades and found my community. Music education gave me options and a career path when I was lost. As a former musical theatre singer, I know the importance of finding identity and community in music. I also know that music helps with math and reading scores helping students who are struggling find a creative way to learn.

Q: What are you looking forward to while being on the board?

A: I am excited to combine my love of helping community, inspiring the next generation, and music into one beautiful package.

Q: Tell us something interest about you?

A: I love to travel! I’ve lived in 4 different countries and have traveled to at least 25 more (and counting)!

Elizabeth Matthews

Michael Peterson

Michael Peterson: New Board Member

Michael was born and raised in the State of Iowa, and grew up in the town of Mason City, a small town in North Iowa of 28,000 people with an active and thriving music program. His parents saw to it that he had piano lessons at an early age, and when he was in the fifth grade, he entered into the nationally known Mason City Public Schools music program. After all those years of lessons and wonderful performance opportunities, he entered Drake University as a freshman music education major in 1976, graduating with a BME in 1980. He went on to get a Masters in Music in Conducting at Northwestern University, and commenced a 20 year teaching career in schools in Illinois, Iowa, and mostly in Wisconsin. After 20 years in the classroom, he decided it was time for something else, and entered the business field in Phoenix, Arizona. He spent five years working for someone else in various capacities, and in 2005 he started his own financial services practice, and has been in business in North Phoenix ever since that time. He has still retained great interest in music and music education, and that is very much a part of his life to this day.

Q: Why is music education important to you?

A: A great music education program was the reason I went to school every single day. All of my lifetime friendships come from my background in music. I realize that I was very fortunate to grow up in a town that supported music, and in a household that encouraged my music participation and eventually the choice of music education as a profession. SOUNDS Academy fills a gap that many young people have, in that without a program like this, they would not know that same joy. Music is essential not only to learning and the growth of young people into well rounded and self-actualized adults, but it is essential to an entire life well-lived.

Q: What are you looking forward to while being on the board?

A: Serving on this board will put me in a position to help others to create and realize those same types of experiences that I had as a young person.

Q: Tell us something interest about you

As much as I love music, I’m also a football fanatic. The months of August through early February are the best months of the year for me. My teams are the Iowa Hawkeyes, the Northwestern Wildcats, the Green Bay Packers (when they’re not playing the Cardinals) and the Arizona Cardinals. Not necessarily in that order! RISE UP RED SEA!

Camille Ridley: New Board Member

Camille has over a decade of experience in both corporate and nonprofit unique event production and fundraising expertise. She has a proven commitment to the nonprofit sector and the community at large. Camille is equipped with strong communications skills and has an excellent track record for growth with fundraising outcomes through special events, individual, corporate, and private foundation giving. Her detailed, solutions-based, and strategic approach to fundraising plan development and execution, along with her passion for managing donor relationships, have led to attaining excellent outcomes throughout her career. She has helped nonprofits build short and long-term plans by providing small to mid-size organizations with development management, grant writing, campaign counsel, annual giving program strategy and support, website design and maintenance guidance, digital marketing, and communications support, special event planning, and other industry-savvy development and fundraising solutions. Camille has helped to raise over $5M for the nonprofit sector.

Q: Why is SOUNDS Academy important?

A: SOUNDS Academy is important to me because of their mentorship model with music education and the access and experiences they provide to underserved youth. They break down the barriers that families may have with enrolling youth in their music programs and performances.

Q: What are you looking forward to while being on the board?

A: I’m looking forward to connecting individuals who have a passion for music education to SOUNDS ACADEMY, in support of the organizational mission.

Q: What is your connection to music?

A: I grew up in a household with a string instrument musician who played the banjo, ukulele, guitar, and mandolin and grew an appreciation of music. In my early years, I played the clarinet and trumpet and having access to music programming was meaningful.

Q: Tell us something unique about you.

A: Namaste – in 2012 I became a certified yoga instructor and have written yoga programs for teens and adults. Stay tuned for Journeying Within – Discovering Self Love my latest publication coming in 2020.

Camille Ridley

Tony Bell

Tony Bell: Past President

Last but certainly not least, we would like to give a HUGE #ClapClap to Tony Bell. Tony has served on the board as Chair for the past 4.5 years! He is an electronics engineer with extensive leadership and business operational experience. Tony came to Arizona in 1995 to attend the then DeVry Institute of Technology. It was here that he formed a partnership with two classmates and founded his first business. He would eventually sell that business, and ultimately joined Salt River Project where he has continued his career. He is currently a Business Relationship Manger within the Information Technology department.
A husband and father of three, Tony spends his time outside of work doing anything that does not require computers. His favorite hobbies include cooking, woodworking, and family hikes in the mountains. We would not be where we are today if it wasn’t for Tony’s perseverance, leadership, and focus!

Q: Why did you join the SOUNDS Academy board?

A: Music has been a big part of my life since I can remember. As a boy, I played instruments in our church, and my siblings always either played keyboards or a horn of some sort. While I lost interest in playing music, I saw the impact music education had on my siblings and friends. Some went on to pursue music performance or teaching full time. I eventually married a choir teacher, which allowed me to see the impact music education was having on her students. I joined SOUNDS Academy because I saw an opportunity to bring my personal business acumen to underpin an organization that would have a greater impact on the local community.
SOUNDS Academy was a perfect fit for me. I was looking for a way to give back to the community in which I live, and SOUNDS Academy was introduced to me through the Black Board of Directors Project. This organization helps individuals like myself identify opportunities to serve on Boards and commissions. The introduction to SOUNDS was kismet.

Q: What are you best memories of being the chair of the board?

A: My best moment as board chair came every year at the Benefit Concert. This concert provided that tangible product of the board and staff’s hard work. Seeing the students perform is very fulfilling. Knowing that you played a small part in enabling that performance is very motivating to keep going and do more. Also, the concert provides board members with a chance to interact with the students, hear their stories, and see how they have grown as young people.

Q: How have you changed while being on the board? 

A: I have changed both personally and professionally since being on the board. We were fortunate to have some strong board members throughout my tenure as board chair. I feel that I have become a better listener and communicator. I have seen some great improvements in my personal relationships. As board chair, I often found myself talking to large and small groups about the organization. This has helped me grow in the area of public speaking.

Q: Tell us something interest about you

A: I am a closet introvert. Throughout my career, I have been in leadership roles that have pushed me to be more social, but given the chance, I will find a way to be a part of the proverbial fly on the wall.