William Pemberton, Chair
William Pemberton resides in Tecumseh, MI and is founder and executive director of the River Raisin Ragtime Revue. Mr. Pemberton is a scholar and collector of ragtime music and history and maintains an extensive collection of vintage orchestrations, piano sheet music and original source materials. Mr. Pemberton has overseen the recreation of music for The Henry Ford Museum’s Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition 100th anniversary celebration and developed programming for schools, community audiences and prestigious cultural venues. Mr. Pemberton has also served as President of the Tecumseh Area Historical Society (TAHS), where he oversaw that organization’s growth in membership, endowment and community arts and humanities programming. He was responsible for the development of numerous exhibitions and outreach programs that greatly enhanced TAHS’s visibility and reputation among the community. In 2001, he served as project director for the traveling Smithsonian Institution exhibition, Yesterday’s Tomorrows: Past Visions of the American Future. Under Mr. Pemberton’s leadership, TAHS was awarded an Institutional Achievement Award from the Michigan Museums Association.
William Hayes, Vice Chair
William Hayes is a retired music educator residing in Ypsilanti, Michigan. He received his Bachelor of Music Education from Southern Illinois University and his Master of Music from Western Illinois University. He has taught music at all levels from kindergarten through college, and is a retired music teacher and lecturer from the Ypsilanti (MI) public school district. Mr. Hayes is an active promoter of the arts in his community, where he has served on the Board of Directors of the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra and the River Raisin Ragtime Revue. He created the Music Masters program for the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra, which partners retired string players and teachers with students for one-on-one mentoring. This program was noted for its excellence by the Governor of Michigan. Mr. Hayes also helped form the Ypsilanti Youth Orchestra and became its first music director, a position he still holds. This organization earned the Ypsilanti Chamber of Commerce Excellence in Educational Endeavors Award. Mr. Hayes has served as music director for the Cadillac Area Symphony Orchestra, where he often re-orchestrated works to fit the demands of his players’ varying skill levels. Encouraging beginning young players, retirees, educators and professionals to work together, this orchestra grew in numbers from seventeen to sixty-five, and in 1992 Mr. Hayes was presented with an award from the City of Cadillac for his outstanding commitment to community service. Mr. Hayes is a noted and published composer and arranger. He has written both for educational instruction and personal artistic expression. His Exodus, Suite Exodus for jazz trio and orchestra was performed by the Chicago Chamber Orchestra in 2002. Mr. Hayes has composed two original works for the River Raisin Ragtime Revue and has restored or created over eighty orchestrations for the ensemble. He resides in Ypsilanti.
Dan Velikan, Treasurer
Dan Velikan lives in Ypsilanti, MI and is a retired CPA with 45 years of experience working in public accounting. he has served as Chief Financial Officer of manufacturing firms and most recently as Comptroller General for the Tribal Council of the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians tribal government. Mr. Velikan volunteers as a tax preparer through AARP and volunteers at the Ypsilanti Senior Center. He has provided financial services for the Northwest Michigan Jazz Experience. Mr. Velikan is also a member of the Mout Brighton ski patrol, an instructor for the National Ski Patrol Outdoor Emergency Care program, and a CPR instructor for the American Heart Association.
Shelley Ferguson has spent time in business (human resource management), teaching (college, then middle school), filmmaking, and non-profit arts management. She raised a family, and kept music on the side intermittently — playing, starting a chamber orchestra, saving a community orchestra. The community orchestra continues on, with a new name instituted during her leadership: The Chicago Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, formerly the Chicago Businessmen’s Orchestra. Ms. Ferguson has found ways to support her community via a Books to Prisons program and serving on the boards of Project Grow and the River Raisin Ragtime Revue. She resides in Ann Arbor, MI.
Michael Riley resides in Tecumseh, MI and has had a long and rewarding career as chemist, educator, mental health clinician and administrator. Mr. RIley has a history of diverse volunteerism, ranging from providing mental health services for a prison in Nigeria to assisting in art galleries in Indiana. Mr. Riley worked as an administrator for the American Red Cross, helping to provide disaster series to military families. He became an instructor in Red Cross Disaster Services and taught 35 courses to volunteers for hurricane Katrina relief efforts.
George Thompson, member of IBEW Local 252, is a licensed electrician with an undergraduate degree in music from Youngstown State University and a graduate degree in music from Kent State University. Mr. Thompson has served as treasurer on the board of the Michigan Chamber Brass before joining the board of R4. He resides in Chelsea, MI.
Andre Dowell is a strategic arts administrator and thought leader who drives national programming and conversations around diversity in classical music. He serves as Chief Programming Officer for the Sphinx Organization, the nation’s leading arts organization transforming live through the power of diversity in the arts. He has been invited to address audiences at numerous universities and performing arts centers across the country. Currently, Mr. Dowell serves on the board of Third Coast Percussion, River Raisin Ragtime Revue, University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre, and Dance Alumni Society Board of Governors, and Board Chair of the Association of Performing Arts Classical Connection Committee. Amid service to the field, he remains an active musician with the River Raisin Ragtime Revue and University of Michigan Men’s Glee Club. Though a native of Trenton, Tennessee, Andre completed both his Bachelor and Master of Music degrees in Percussion Performance at the University of Michigan. He resides in Ypsilanti, MI.
Stephanee Strasburg is Director of Foundation and Government Partnerships for the Sphinx Organization, where she is responsible for all foundation and government partnerships and grants. Ms. Strasburg is passionate about issues of social justice and their connection to arts and education. Her previous work in non-profit development included grant writing, capacity-building, and grants management for Migrant Health Promotion, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing health education and advocacy for migrant farmworkers. Ms. Strasburg graduated Summa Cum Laude from Eastern Michigan University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and Psychology. She resides in Canton, MI.
John Remmers is an educator who taught mathematics and computer science at Eastern Michigan University for thirty-six years prior to his retirement in 2004. Since then, he has devoted himself intensively to another of his lifelong interests, piano performance, specializing in classic ragtime. He appears regularly at the Ragtime Street Fair in Greenfield Village and the Sutter Creek Ragtime Festival in California. In addition, he has performed at several other ragtime festivals, including the Scott Joplin Festival in Sedalia, Missouri, the West Coast Ragtime Festival in Sacramento, California, and the Blind Boone Ragtime and Early Jazz Festival in Columbia, Missouri. He has competed several times in the World Championship Old-Time Piano Playing in Oxford, Mississippi, winning the Senior Division in 2018. He has recorded a CD, “Hand Played Rags”.