Merit School of Music

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:

associate board event


Help host the Associate Board’s annual fundraising event that helps keep the cost of programming affordable for all Chicago families. 

associate board leadership institute meeting


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

associate board networking event


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.

Meet the 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

John Kalil

Vice chair

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: 

McKay Harline

By-Laws Chair
Mayer Brown LLP

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.

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

richard riedl

Richard Riedl

Finance Chair
Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association

What I love about the 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

Tom Severson

Fundraising chair
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

Jamal Elam

Membership Chair
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

Angie Chiesa

School Relations Co-Chair
American Red Cross

What I love about the 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.

Eduardo Lopez

School Relations Co-Chair
Razorfish Health

Associate Board Members

Adam Birnbaum

ClearPath Group

Lori Bravi

Shirley Ryan Ability Lab

Fred Carmean


Alexandra Demers


Conrad Devin


Jerald Garyᴬ

Community Capital Investment Partners LLC

Tyler Groharing

JPMorgan Chase

Jacob Henry-Camille


Sabrina Junger Mikuta

Winston & Strawn

Debbie Liner


Pamela Meadowsᴬ

University of Illinois at Chicago

Annie Mercadoᴬ

CBE International

Michelle Michelini

University of Chicago

Maureen Miller

Doyenne Wealth Advisors

Kamila Muhammadᴬ

Alphawood Foundation

LeRoy Ousley, Jr.ᴬ

Moody’s Investor Service

Katie Schmelzerᴬ

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

Sustaining Members

Tammy Adams


Matthew Hanna

CIT Bank

Sara Kobaissi

Deloitte & Touche LLP – Chicago

Mary Pat Kohberger

Deloitte & Touche LLP – Chicago

Terrance McKinneyᴬ

Toast – New York

Cathleen Marine


María Luisa Paúl

Rachel Pawlisz

Kaplan Higher Education

James Walterᴬ

Northwestern Memorial Hospital

 Merit Alum

Frequently Asked Questions

What's the committment for being on the Merit Associate Board?

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

How can I find out if the Merit Associate Board is a good fit for me?

Fill out the Merit Associate Board 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 Associate Board. 

Do I have to be a musician in order to join?

No, you do not need to be a musician or a classical music expert to join! The Merit Associate Board 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. 

Is there a deadline for applying?

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

The Merit Associate Board sounds awesome! How do I join?

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).

Join Our Board!