About Us - Board of Trustees

Herbie Hancock, Chairman

In addition to being recognized as a legendary pianist and composer, Herbie Hancock has been an integral part of every jazz movement since the 1960s. As a member of the Miles Davis Quintet, he became one of the pioneers of the avant garde sound. His recordings during the ’70s combined electric jazz with funk and rock sounds in an innovative style that influenced a whole decade of music. Rockit and Future Shock marked Hancock’s foray into electric dance music and included several chart-topping hits. During the same period he continued to work in an acoustic setting with V.S.O.P., which included ex-Miles Davis bandmates Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter, and Tony Williams. Hancock has received an Academy Award for his Round Midnight film score and numerous GRAMMY Awards. Many of his compositions, including “Canteloupe Island,” “Maiden Voyage,” “Watermelon Man,” and “Chameleon,” are modern standards that have had a profound effect on all styles of modern music.

Stuart Subotnick, Vice Chairman

Stuart Subotnick is President and Chief Executive Officer of Metromedia Company, a public media, entertainment, and communications company. Since 1981, Subotnick has negotiated all the major transactions entered into by Metromedia, including the sale of its television, radio, outdoor advertising, paging, cellular, and entertainment divisions. He has initiated and operated investments in such organizations as long distance telephone providers, motion picture companies, restaurant chains, hotels, diesel pump manufacturers, medical equipment and research groups, software developers, internet providers, DVD distributors, and marketers of energy supplies and services. Subotnick is a member of the Boards of Directors of several companies and nonprofit organizations including Carnival Cruise Lines, Inc., the New World Symphony, and the Central Park Conservancy. He also serves as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Brooklyn Law School.

James E. Farmer, Secretary-Treasurer

James E. Farmer is the President of James E. Farmer Consulting, Inc. In 2004, he retired as Vice President, General Motors Acceptance Corp. (GMAC), completing a 38-year career in the auto industry. Farmer is a member of numerous educational, automotive and professional organizations, including the Executive Leadership Council, Arthur W. Page Society, Public Relations Society of America, National Association of Black Journalists, and National Press Club in Washington, D.C. A founding member of the Washington Automotive Press Association, he serves as President of the Presidential Scholars Foundation in Washington, DC, and a trustee of Central State University Foundation. Farmer has received numerous awards and commendations, including appointment by President George W. Bush to the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, the Presidential Medallion from the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars for his outstanding support of the scholars programs, and the Lyndon Baines Johnson Award for his significant contributions to the White House Commission on Arts and Humanities. In 2005, Farmer was elected to the board of trustees of the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts.

Thomas R. Carter

Tom Carter co-founded the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz in 1986. After an extraordinary launch of the Institute, the following year he co-founded the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz International Competition, which has become recognized as the world’s most prestigious jazz competition. Carter was the driving force behind the creation of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance. For more than 20 years, this full-scholarship master’s level college program has been recognized as the model training ground for young, aspiring jazz artists. In 2011, Carter was instrumental in establishing International Jazz Day, a worldwide annual celebration of jazz designated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and presented in partnership with the United Nations. A native of Fairburn, Georgia, Carter received his undergraduate and master’s degrees from Georgetown University. His public service experience began on Capitol Hill, where he served on the staffs of United States Senators Herman Talmadge and Lloyd Bentsen and United States Congressman John J. Flynt, Jr.

Paxton K. Baker

Paxton K. Baker is the Executive Vice President and General Manager of Centric, a BET and MTV network. An entertainment industry veteran, he is also the President of BET Event Productions. Baker began his association with BET in 1992 when the company sponsored the first St. Lucia Jazz Festival. He began consulting with BET in 1993 and helped to launch the Jazz Channel in 1996. Prior to joining BET, Baker was president and founder of PKB, which he began in 1988. From 1990 to 1993, PKB produced and purchased talent for the Aruba Jazz and Latin Music Festival, the Amsterdam Drum Jazz Festival, and the Trinidad Pan Jazz Festival. During that time, PKB also toured such acts as Gloria Estefan, Herbie Hancock and Wynton Marsalis throughout the Caribbean and South America.

Jimmy Heath

In his more than 60 years on the jazz scene, saxophonist Jimmy Heath has done it all. Having appeared on more than 125 records both as a soloist and a composer, Heath embodies the history of jazz, known for always making his musical statements with style. Heath grew up in Philadelphia alongside brothers Percy and Tootie, both renowned jazz musicians in their own right. His saxophone style, so reminiscent of Charlie Parker that it earned him the nickname “Little Bird,” landed him gigs with Dizzy Gillespie, Cannonball Adderley, James Moody and others. Heath’s compositions such as “CTA” and “Gingerbread Boy” have become jazz standards and have been recorded by Miles Davis, Lee Morgan, and Chick Corea. As a member of the Heath Brothers, he was nominated for a GRAMMY Award in 1980. His teaching experience includes a 10-year association with Queens College, where he was a professor in the music department and director of jazz studies. In 1994, Heath was the recipient of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Maria Fisher Founder’s Award.

Sonya Y. Jackson

Sonya Y. Jackson is a leader in corporate social responsibility and reputation management. Most recently, she was Managing Director of Corporate and Community Affairs for United Airlines and President of the United Airlines Foundation, where she was responsible for guiding the mission, vision and strategy for social investments that drive the company’s image and reputation in corporate responsibility. Jackson previously held the post of President, BP Foundation and Senior Global Business Adviser for BP’s Global Social Investment Business Unit. She has also served as Executive Director of The Sears-Roebuck Foundation and Assistant Director of the Sara Lee Foundation.

Carolyn Powers

Carolyn Powers combines her lifelong passions for the visual and performing arts by guiding and supporting leading institutions across the United States and internationally. Her love of music and music education was instilled at birth: her ancestral home, Dockery Farms in the Mississippi Delta, is recognized by the National Register of Historic Places for its role in the creation of blues music. Powers helped establish the Dockery Farms Foundation and serves as the Co-Chair of its Board of Directors. Alongside preserving this indelible piece of American history, she works with the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz and initiated the music education program “The Blues and Jazz: Two American Classics.” This innovative program provides assembly programs, master classes, instruments and daily music instruction for students in Chicago, Los Angeles, Memphis, New Orleans, Washington, D.C. and across the Mississippi Delta. Powers is the past Chair of the National Committee for the Performing Arts at the Kennedy Center, a Trustee of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, a Board member of the Grammy Museum, and a supporter of Americans for the Arts.

Wayne Shorter

Saxophonist Wayne Shorter is the most significant jazz composer since the ’60s. Dozens of his more than 200 compositions are considered modern standards and are performed by young artists around the world. In 1964, the same year Shorter recorded <em>Speak No Evil</em>, his first record as a leader for Blue Note, Miles Davis invited him to join a quartet that included Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, and Tony Williams. Shorter was the composer who provided much of the material for the group’s musical explorations, which would become an inspiration for many jazz artists that followed. He recorded 12 albums with Miles Davis, including Bitches Brew, which sparked the fusion movement of the next decade. In 1970, Shorter joined keyboardist Joe Zawinul to form Weather Report, which combined jazz harmonies with rock and funk rhythms. The group became one of the most influential musical forces of the post-jazz era. Shorter has continued to be a leading figure in the evolution of the music. In 2003, he won two GRAMMY Awards, taking his total to eight over the past 25 years. Today, his quartet with Brian Blade, John Patitucci, and Danilo Perez is recognized as the most groundbreaking jazz group of the 21st century.

Lynda Thomas

Lynda Thomas is a private investor and philanthropist living in Laguna Beach, California and New York City. She is on the Boards of the National Democratic Institute (NDI) in Washington, DC; the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, California, where she is Vice-Chair; the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz; Backhausdance, a Southern California contemporary dance company; and TorchStone Global, a private company specializing in security for high net worth individuals and companies. Thomas has traveled extensively with the Pacific Council on International Policy and with NDI for promotion of international dialogue over the past several years to countries including North Korea, South Sudan, Myanmar, Cuba, Argentina, Poland, Germany and the Balkans. She also served as an international election and presidential election monitor in Tunisia. Born and raised in New Orleans, Thomas received her BA from Washington University in St. Louis and her MBA from Tulane University. She worked at LSU Medical School doing research on the Cajun population of Louisiana and was a Senior Manager/CPA/consultant at Deloitte Haskins and Sells in London, where she lived for almost a decade with her three children.