Associate Board

Whether you’re a musician, concert-goer, or avid music listener, Merit’s Associate Board welcomes young professionals who believe in the transformative power of music education. 

The Merit Associate Board (Merit AB) is committed to furthering the Merit School of Music’s mission to remove barriers to high-quality music education. We are a group of Chicago-area young professionals who volunteer our time, expertise, and resources to support Merit and its students. Associate Board members strive to develop themselves as model philanthropic leaders and next-generation advocates for the musical arts.

Members support the school by: 

  • Collaborating with students to enhance their personal growth and help prepare them for the future 
  • Growing our Associate Board by bringing diverse perspectives and skills to Merit 
  • Working to develop new sources of support to meet Merit’s mission and provide financial aid to students 
  • Increasing public awareness of Merit by serving as ambassadors for its mission and impact

Get excited about supporting music education BY:


Help host the Associate Board’s annual fundraising event that helps keep the cost of programming affordable for all Chicago families. Check out the photo gallery from last year’s Play On benefit concert at City Winery.

Peter CottonTale


Volunteer with Merit students to support music learning, enhance personal growth, and prepare students for the future.

associate board leadership institute


Work with a diverse group of Associate Board members at regular meetings, participating in a committee, and building your network through board social events throughout the city.

associate board networking

Meet Merit’s Associate Board

Executive Committee

Andy Scroggins


Andy Scroggins, Seyfarth Shaw

What I love about the Merit: What I love about Merit is the sense of community – passionate students, supportive parents, engaged alumni, talented and committed instructors, inspirational leaders, dedicated staff, and active boards – and its deep roots in our city.

John Kalil Amazon

Vice Chair

John Kalil, Amazon

What I love about Merit: The incredible talent that exists in each student and the happiness music education brings to them. It is palpable in the students’ energy in and around the school.

I would love to have dinner with: Elvis

McKay Harline Mayer Brown

By-Laws Chair

McKay Harline, Mayer Brown LLP

I would love to have dinner with: My favorite violinist, Hilary Hahn

What I love about Merit: Merit provides opportunity for Chicago students – and it’s an opportunity to learn and grow and engage in a powerful medium that can enrich a young person’s life.

Richard Riedl Headshot

Finance Chair

Richard Riedl, Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association

What I love about Merit: I love that Merit works to remove the economic barrier that keeps many kids out of classical music. I firmly believe finances should never keep a child from engaging with classical music, and Merit’s mission supports this fully.

Tom Severson

Fundraising Chair

Tom Severson, Morgan Lewis

My favorite Associate Board Event: Play On! I am so excited to bring back this event in person this year at my favorite music venue, City Winery!

Jamal Elam Headshot

Membership Chair

Jamal Elam, Encore Event Technologies

My favorite Merit experience: Interviewing prospective Conservatory families during their audition process. I got to see both the parents and the students’ viewpoints while welcoming new students into Merit.

My favorite thing about Merit: Merit has always felt like a home away from home every time I walk in the building. I love the fact that there is an open arms feeling with both the students and staff. It’s very warm and welcoming.

Angie Chiesa

School Relations Co-Chair

Angie Chiesa, American Red Cross

My favorite Merit experience: Seeing the kids play at movies in the park and local festivals. This helped to connect me to Merit’s mission and I was impressed on how the students handled themselves and their musicianship.

Eduardo Lopez

School Relations Co-Chair

Eduardo Lopez, Razorfish Health

Adam Birnbaum
ClearPath Group

Lori Bravi
Shirley Ryan Ability Lab

Fred Carmean

Angelina Chiesa
American Red Cross

Alexandra Demers

Conrad Devin

Jamal Elam
Encore Event Technologies

Jerald Gary
Community Capital Investment Partners LLC

Tyler Groharing
JPMorgan Chase

Jacob Henry-Camille

Sabrina Junger Mikuta
Winston & Strawn

Debbie Liner
Bank of America

Pamela Meadows
University of Illinois at Chicago

Annie Mercado
CBE International

Michelle Michelini
University of Chicago

Maureen Miller
Doyenne Wealth Advisors

Kamila Muhammad
Chicago Sinfonietta

LeRoy Ousley, Jr.
Moody’s Investor Service

Richard Riedl
Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association

Katie Schmelzer
KIPP Chicago Schools

Jacob Schnur
Fifth Third

Joshua Sultan
Barker, Castro, Kuban & Steinback, LLC

David Ubriaco
Johnson Controls

Darren Williams
L.E.K. Consulting

Catie Wloch
Davis Bancorp

Matt Wloch
JPMorgan Chase – Private Banking


Tammy Adams

Matthew Hanna
CIT Bank

Sara Kobaissi
Deloitte & Touche LLP – Chicago

Mary Pat Kohberger
Deloitte & Touche LLP – Chicago

Terrance McKinney
Toast – New York

Cathleen Marine

María Luisa Paúl

Rachel Pawlisz
Kaplan Higher Education

James Walter
Northwestern Memorial Hospital

Merit Alum

Frequently asked questions

Fill out the below form to get started. We’ll be in touch with more information and to get to know you better!

All Merit AB members are required to attend monthly board meetings, serve on a committee, act as an ambassador for Meritvolunteer with Merit studentsattend Merit fundraising eventsgo to social events and Merit concerts as available, and fulfill the annual $500 board member give/get commitment. 

Fill out the Merit AB interest form to learn more. Someone from the Associate Board will reach out to you to talk with you about your interest in joining, answer your questions, and connect you with a current Associate Board member who can tell you more about their experience on the Merit AB. 

No, you do not need to be a musician or a classical music expert to join! The Merit AB is open to young professionals who love music and have a desire to meet like-minded individualsare interested in giving back to the community, and are eager to spread awareness about the importance of making music education accessible to all. 

No, there is no deadline to join the Merit Associate Board. Our membership is rolling, so you can join the Merit AB at any point during the year.

Start by filling out this short form. We’ll follow up with more information on joining the Associate Board and to get to know you better. The final step will be to complete the full member application and make your new member donation of $100 upon approval to join the board (which counts towards your annual $500 give/get commitment).