STAFF AND BOARD

Staff

Jack Kolb-Williams – Executive Director, Co-Founder

Jack Kolb-Williams is a music educator and performer who has spent the last 15 years composing, developing curricula, leading ensembles, and teaching students of all ages. Since co-founding Twin Cities Catalyst Music in 2015, he has devoted his time to providing opportunities for and advocating on behalf of young people across the metro region.

jack@catalystmusic.org

Rob Frost III – Audio Visual Coordinator

Robert Frost III is a Composer/Sound Designer, Entrepreneur, Pro Audio and Video Professional, Acoustics Consultant, and Educator. He built and manages The GARAGE Recording Studio, produces Live Streaming events, and teaches music production on behalf of Catalyst Music. He also co-founded and operates Space Mace, a video game studio, where he creates music and sound effects for various published video games.

rob@catalystmusic.org

ASHLEY SUKHU – COMMUNITY OUTREACH SPECIALIST

Ashley (Ash) Sukhu enjoys music, but really loves how music builds community. She works with the Youth Advisory Board and uses creative communications including social media and digital storytelling to develop relationships. In addition to her work as the Community Outreach Specialist, she loves making special effects videos and spending time with her cats.

ashley@catalystmusic.org

CHADWICK PHILLIPS – ARTIST IN RESIDENCE

Chadwick “Niles” Phillips is an artist, renaissance man, and founder of “The Avant Garde”, which is a music and entertainment company that produces Neo-Soul, R&B, spoken-word, and conscious hip-hop performance events with live instrumentalists and visual artists. He is also the founder of “Hip-Hop, History & The Arts” which is a youth artist development program that he has taught for the last 10 years. He enjoys cultivating empowerment and enlightenment within society through music and artistic expression.

chadwick@catalystmusic.org

Caitlyn Williams – General Manager

Caitlyn Williams has an immense passion for all things music. She started her music career as a percussionist in the sixth grade, obtained a B.A. degree in Music Business from Augsburg College, and has continued to follow her passion by learning the ropes at Catalyst to become the General Manager. While surrounding her daily life with different types of music and learning everything she can within the music industry she also devotes her time to her family and tuxedo cat, Oreo.

caitlyn@catalystmusic.org

 

Board of Directors

Officers

Shannon Robinson – President

Shannon L. Robinson is a seasoned non-profit arts professional with nearly fifteen years of experience working primarily in the field of fundraising. She was the Managing Director at the Jungle Theater where her ultimate career goals is to connect people to their artistic communities and inspire them to make thoughtful choices that enrich and diversify their lives and the lives of others. She spent seven years at the Guthrie Theater focusing on individual giving strategy and general operations of the development department. Shannon worked at The New York Pops, an 80-piece orchestra with one of the highest selling subscription series at Carnegie Hall, for nearly six years prior to moving home to Minnesota. Currently, she altered direction and now works at Jamf Software in customer success and serves on numerous committees within the employee resource groups focusing on equity, diversity and inclusion. She has a degree in music, and tries to see as much theater, dance and music as this town has to offer.

James Taylor – Vice President

James moved to Minneapolis in 2015 after spending 16 years in Austin, TX, where he attended the University of Texas and dedicated his life to a career in music after graduating. As a touring musician, James has performed in 35 states and 5 countries. Previous board positions include the Austin Music Foundation, focused on career development and mentoring for aspiring professional musicians, and Austin Music People, an advocacy group for “bands, brands, and fans” in the Live Music Capital. In 2012, James and business partners opened Holy Mountain, a 200-cap bar and live music venue in Austin’s Red River Cultural District. Most recently, James joined the booking team at First Avenue in 2017.

Amir Berenjian – Treasurer

Amir was first influenced by music at a very young age when his parents taught him how to read music on an upright piano (with a bit of help from the notes written on the keys).  After picking up percussion in middle school, Amir eventually learned to play the drums and was quickly hooked on making music with his friends. Regretfully, he never played a gig at a venue as cool as THE GARAGE. As a Minnesota native and University of Minnesota graduate, Amir spends his days as an investment banker at a Minneapolis-based boutique; however, he has not completely given up on the dream of becoming an internationally respected rock star. Amir currently resides in the Linden Hills neighborhood of Minneapolis with his wife Molly and pup Charlie.

Renita fisher – Secretary

Growing up in Guyana, South America a small, poor, multiracial developing country, Renita saw the consequences of poverty, the breakdown of race relations, and the lack of development of women and young people. A Burnsville resident for 20 years after living around the world in Zambia, London, Northern Ireland and China where she attended the Beijing Language & Culture University to complete Mandarin Studies. She is a Consultant and Vice President in corporate policy management in mortgage banking operations. Mom of a 16yr old son, Michael who attends Burnsville High School, has influenced Renita’s passion to advocate for transformational change by mentoring the next generation to promote civic participation for their empowered success. She currently serves as Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Advocacy Outcomes Chair for Wells Fargo’s Minnesota Chapter of the Black/African American Connection Team Member Network. She organizes local community conversations to address racism and inequity, moderates conversations that brings Red and Blue Americans together to heal divides, and advocates for legislative changes at the local and state level for racial and gender equity.

Members

Andrea Graham

Andrea is a Minneapolis based independent event planner and brand marketer who’s been tied to the music industry both personally and professionally her entire life. Most recently ou may have encountered some of her work over the last few years at Surly Brewing Company where she worked with the First Avenue team to establish and run the Festival Field outdoor venue. She’s currently working with the St. Paul Downtown Alliance, Rock What You Got Live, and the 2022 NCAA Women’s Final Four on their upcoming event plans as live events become a part of our reality again. When she’s not putting together killer parties you can find her at her home in south Minneapolis hanging out with her partner Scott and their puppy Hank while trying to master Taylor Swift’s Folklore album on piano.

Craig Freeman

A Twin Cities native, Craig spent his teenage years driving in from the suburbs to every all-ages show he could find. Now a married father and non-profit fundraiser living in Roseville, Craig is in his 6th year on the Board working to provide teens the access he didn’t have in the 90s. When he’s not busy watching his son play soccer, Craig can be found either at a local club listening to punk or hip hop (the angrier the better) or at Allianz Field cheering on Minnesota United.

Lisa holyfield

Lisa has more than 20 years of collective experience supporting Human Resources, Leadership Development, and Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice equity and inclusion strategies for individuals, nonprofit and corporate organizations across the U.S. She currently serves as Founder and Lead Consultant of Holyfield Consulting, LLC. Lisa is a Community partner and works collaboratively with many leaders and organizations throughout the Twin Cities. She is passionately and purposefully committed to eradicating disparities and barriers for Youth and Community. In her spare time, she enjoys all things Music! Lisa comes from a musical family and in her youth played Alto and Tenor sax in school. She enjoys Live Music, Rockumentaries, Music History and listening to all genres of Music.

Carrie Schaffer

Carrie grew up in Green Bay, WI where she spent most weekends hanging out at record stores and punk shows. Her love of music (especially of the live variety) grew fast and furious and drove her to Minneapolis to attend the University of MN where she studied Communications. She fell in love with the city and has been here ever since. She’s held a variety of professional roles all centered around relationship management, but her true love remains live music. She has instilled that passion in her two teenage daughters who both attend an arts school in Eden Prairie. You can find all of them in their south Minneapolis neighborhood frequenting their favorite spots as well as traveling to shows all around the country.

Jennifer Sorenson

Jennifer Sorenson is the Campus Director of Brightmont Academy – Mendota Heights and Brightmont Academy – Plymouth.  Most recently, she served as the President of The Art Institutes International Minnesota and The Art Institute of Wisconsin, private creative arts colleges, where she oversaw all operations including development of and execution on the vision and strategic direction of the college, student success initiatives, graduate outcomes, faculty and staff development, and effective internal and external relationships. In 2015, she was named a 40 under 40 honoree by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal.  Jennifer served as the Chair for the Minnesota Career College Association in 2015 and 2016.  Currently, Jennifer serves as a board member for the University of Minnesota School of Journalism Alumni Society and The Garage.  She also volunteers her time as a professional speaker for LifeSource and a mentor for the University of Minnesota School of Journalism mentoring program. Jennifer holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and a Master of Science degree in Management from Argosy University-Twin Cities.

Kai Thietje

Kai moved to the twin cities in 2011 from Orlando where he taught for several years in the Music and Entertainment Business programs at Full Sail University. Kai attended the University of South Dakota where he founded the Student Musicians Council as a platform for bringing regional and national touring bands to campus, as well as helping student musicians to book performances and release records.  Kai has been involved in several aspects of the music industry including publicity, booking and artist management.  Kai currently teaches high school social studies and business courses.  

Joel Walters

After attending Gustavus Adolphus College, The University of Minnesota Law School and Georgetown University Law Center Joel pursued a career in finance that spanned forty years. He lives in Eden Prairie since retiring from the professional pursuits that kept him and his family moving around the United States and the world for many years. Joel has a passion for bringing the skills he has developed to organizations that are making a difference in their communities. In addition to being an avid music fan, Joel saw the importance that access to the music world has upon young people as his two kids grew up while they were living in London, with his son ultimately becoming a professional musician. He would like to see all young people have those opportunities to experience what music can bring to their lives.

David Washington

David is an Engineering Director at Microsoft, where he’s worked for the past 17 years. In 2013, he and his wife, and two children moved to Saint Paul from Seattle to be closer to extended family. David has a passion for using his skills in technology to help creative people realize their vision in new ways.

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