Board Members

Meet the Arts & Learning Conservatory Board.

Ruth DeNault

Debora Wondercheck

Founder and CEO

Debora Wondercheck is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Arts & Learning Conservatory, a performing arts organization dedicated to making the arts accessible to all children, now celebrating 14 years of influential growth in Orange County.  Starting with four musical performances a year and growing to over 35 county-wide, Debora expanded the Arts & Learning Conservatory’s reach in just a decade, from 21 students to over 1,500, and its audiences now extend to 10,000 annually.

Debora’s background includes assignments as an accomplished Master teacher of string pedagogy, having taught at Vanguard University, and in both Irvine and Newport Mesa Unified School Districts. She serves as an Arts Consultant to many school districts, and an Adjunct Professor of music. As the Director of Music at the Waldorf School of Orange County, her performing string ensembles have received Unanimous Superior ratings at local and regional festivals yearly.

As for awards, in 2015, she was honored by Farmer & Merchants Bank for her commitment to youth and arts education. In 2014 she was the recipient of the Distinguished Woman of Substance Award of Orange County.   Debora was also recognized by Arts Orange County with their 2014 Achievement Award, “Outstanding Arts Organization” for the Arts & Learning Conservatory’s effectiveness in after school arts education programs. In 2012, Debora received the Links Incorporated Woman of Service Award, for exemplary community service to youth in her After School Arts Programs.

Debora continues to embrace her community with participation on various arts commissions like the Cultural Arts Committee for the City of Costa Mesa, the Arts Alliance of California, and the Orange County Department of Education Music and Arts Administrator Association.  Debora considers it a high privilege to serve children, their families, and our communities with inspiring programs that develop confidence and creativity …for life.

Neil Andersen

Susanne Reid

Dr. Susanne M. Reid, Chair of the Department of Music, Professor of Music. D.M.A., University of Oklahoma. M.M., California State University, Fullerton. M.A., California Graduate School of Theology.

Dr. Reid’s teaching areas include Voice, Intro. to Fine Arts, Music History, and Church Music Administration. Dr. Reid’s extensive teaching experience includes work at California State University, University of Oklahoma, Golden Gate Theological Seminary and, most recently, as the Associate Dean of the School of Music at California Baptist University in Riverside, California.

Dr. Reid’s numerous performances in Southern California and Oklahoma include: Musietta in La Bohème, Miss Pinkerton in Old Maid and the Thief, soloist for the Messiah and the Creation, soloist with Ballet Oklahoma and the Canterbury Choral Society of Oklahoma City, under the direction of Dr. Dennis Shrock.

Dr. Reid has served as vice president to the “Church Music Conference” of the California Southern Baptist Convention and received the Music Conference’s “Joseph Daniel Award for superior leadership for the cause of Christ in California”. She has served on the Advisory Council for the Dixon School of Music for Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary.

Neil Andersen

Neil Anderson

Neil Anderson is the Visual & Performing Arts Director of the Capistrano Unified School District and is an active board member of the Southern California School and Band Association. Anderson’s performing ensembles have received Unanimous Superior ratings at local and regional festivals in each of his previous years.  He has served as a clinician and adjudicator for marching band competitions and concert festivals for regional and state band organizations throughout the western United States.  His own groups have performed throughout California, Hawaii, and New York.  In the spring of 2005, Anderson’s ensembles were invited and participated in the opening of the World War II Memorial, and National Memorial Day Parade in Washington, DC.  In 2009, his groups were invited on a 10 day performance tour of England and Scotland.

Mr. Anderson received his Bachelor of Music degree from San Diego State University in 2001. Receiving a double Bachelor’s Degree (Music Education and Woodwind Performance), Anderson has taught at both the high school and community college levels. He holds a Master’s Degree from Azusa Pacific University in Educational Leadership and is currently a doctoral candidate for Leadership at Concordia University.

Ruth DeNault

Ruth DeNault


Ruth DeNault has lived in Orange County since 1953, and has been involved in many organizations serving children and young adults in her community, her church and in higher education.

She has served on the board of Arts & Learning Conservatory for many years, pleased to seeing it grow in outreach to new communities and schools. Also, she is on the Board of Trustees of Jamestown University in North Dakota and on the Foundation Board of Trustees at Concordia University Irvine, California.

When Casa Romantica Cultural Center & Gardens in San Clemente was founded in 2000, she was a founding trustee and is currently president. The organization serves children and families with a wide variety of programs.

With her husband they established De Nault’s Hardware in San Clemente, with five retail stores and a commercial division. With her four sons, she continues to be active in the business, now celebrating its 60 th anniversary. She earned her MBA degree from Concordia University in Irvine.

Andrew Horowitz

Andrew Horowitz

Board Advisor

Andrew Horowitz is a twenty-year telecommunications entrepreneur and founder of Office Telephone Management (OTM), a voice and date shared-service provider to tenants of multi-tenant office buildings in Southern California that he started in 1983 and sold in 1995. Mr. Horowitz has since pursued an assortment of domestic and international telecommunications consulting engagements, mentoring activities, and investment opportunities involving local telecom and other startup companies. He joined the Orange County chapter of the Tech Coast Angels in 2000 and is invested in more than 25 angel startups. From 2002 2007, Andy served as Chairman of the Advisory Board of the Venture Finance Institute of the Claremont Graduate University. He is a founding partner of the Los Angeles chapter of Social Venture Partners, and a former board member of the Social Enterprise Institute. He is currently Advisory Board Chairman of Chapman University’s Leatherby Center for Entrepreneurship and Business Ethics.

Mary Lyons

Mary Lyons

Board Advisor

As committed, generous and enthusiastic Orange County art supporters, Phil and Mary Lyons have provided significant financial support, extraordinary leadership and countless volunteer hours to many OC arts programs. They are major donors to public broadcasting and particularly to KOCE-TV. In 2002 when public broadcasting was struggling politically, Mary Lyons flew to Washington D.C. and presented the value of KOCE public television to the Orange County congressional delegation. The Lyons are responsible for the ArtSmart segment of KOCE programming. As a board member of the Pacific Symphony, Phil Lyons championed the construction of the Symphony’s home, the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. The League of American Orchestras designated Pacific Symphony as one of the five most innovative orchestras in the nation and the Lyons played an enormous role in shaping the institutional identity. Phil continues to serve on the Symphony’s Executive and Investments Committees. Phil and Mary have been among the Symphony’s top donors for decades, contributing to both the annual and endowment funds. Deeply involved in the Pacific Chorale where Mary is a singer, the Lyons have helped ensure that professional choral music is performed and recorded at the highest standards. Mary chaired the Chorale board in the 1980s and presently serves as its VP of Education and Programs. The Lyons give annual gifts, support commissions of new work, and contribute to the Chorale’s endowment fund. Mary Lyons, a founding Board member of Arts Orange County, Orange County’s arts council, has served as that organization’s president and worked to bring the Imagination Celebration of Orange County under its aegis and expand its programming. Phil and Mary Lyons were awarded a Cultural Legacy Award by Arts Orange County in 2008 and continue to be generously involved.

James Melton

James Melton

Board Advisor

Dean of the School of Communication and the Arts at Vanguard University, Professor of Music, and Director of Choral Activities, D.M.A., Arizona State University. M.M., Arizona State University.

In addition to teaching in the areas of music education and conducting, Dr. Melton directs the 90-voice University Concert Choir and the Vanguard Singers & Band, a select ensemble of 22 vocalists and instrumentalists. Each of these ensembles present major concerts throughout southern California and the western United States and tour each year, both nationally and internationally, most recently in the People’s Republic of China and South Korea, as well as Portugal, Spain, and Belgium. As a guest conductor for Carnegie Hall in New York City, he has recently conducted Vivaldi’s Gloria, and G.F. Händel’s Coronation Anthems for Carnegie Hall and Mid-America productions. His University Concert Choir has also presented command solo performances at Carnegie Hall and is frequently featured on the Crystal Cathedral’s Hour of Power. He recently conducted the Mädchenkantorei ensemble of southern Germany. His various ensembles have ten recording projects to their credit.

Dr. Melton earned the Doctor of Musical Arts degree (DMA) in Choral Music from Arizona State University (1987), as well as the Master of Music degree (MM) in Conducting and received his Bachelor of Music Education degree (emphasis in piano and voice, BME) from Oklahoma Baptist University. While at OBU he won several artist scholarships and awards in addition to performing with the Oklahoma City Symphony. Dr. Melton has teaching experience in schools from high school through the college/seminary level, as well as over 25 years of experience leading music in churches of various denominations and sizes. He has composed and arranged music for several publishing companies including Brentwood, Tempo Music, and the John W. Peterson Music Company. Dr. Melton also produces sacred choral recordings for Hal Leonard Publications, Fred Bock Music and Pavane Music Companies. He recently served as a contributing editor for Barry Liesch’s (Biola University) new edition of The New Worship: Straight Talk on Music and the Church published by Baker Books.

Dr. Melton has a passion for cross-cultural teaching, teaching at East China Jiaotong University in Nanchang, China, and in several schools in Hong Kong where he has served as a guest lecturer and clinician. Summer, 2004, he was the keynote speaker for the International Worship Symposium held in Lisbon, Portugal. Dr. Melton is a frequent choral clinician and has served as guest conductor for California regional and district festivals as well as directing all-state choirs in Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Texas.

James Melton

Chris Baiocchi

Board Advisor

Chris Baiocchi, CFRE is the Vice President of Fund Development for Habitat for Humanity of Orange County where he is responsible for fundraising programs including individual giving, corporate giving, major giving, and donor stewardship and cultivation. His team at Habitat OC is also responsible for media relations, communication vehicles, and volunteer recruitment and retention. Chris has worked in the non-profit sector for nearly 20 years in direct fundraising and communication roles, alongside organizations such as St. Joseph Hospital, Chapman University and MIND Research Institute. Chris earned a bachelor’s in English from Chapman University, and a master’s in Organizational Leadership from Brandman University. He and his family live in Rancho Santa Margarita, California.  

Bob Martinez

Bob Martinez


Bob Martinez is Vice President and Branch Manager for Farmers & Merchants Bank Newport Beach Office. Bob has served most recently on the board for the Pacific Palisades/Malibu YMCA, Torrance Memorial Hospital Foundation and the Pacific Palisades Chamber of Commerce He has over 30 years of volunteer board experience. Besides Bob’s 30 years of banking experience, he is also a writer has worked as the national sales manager for a publishing company, and a basketball coach for over twenty-years. Bob is a graduate of the Western States School of Banking at the University of New Mexico. Bob gained a greater appreciation for the arts when his youngest son, Brett, attended Rolling Hills Preparatory School and who is now attending PACE University in New York City.

Advisory Board

Rachael Cianfrani
Brent Collins
Paul Connely
Doug Freeman
Andrew Horowitz
Chris Jones
John Kurth
Tracy Sackett Cooper

Chris Lynch
Megan Lynch
Mary Lyons
Bob Martinez
Jim Mortensen
Ram Rao
Sandyia Rao
Irma Ruiz

Our Address

Arts & Learning Conservatory

151 Kalmus Drive, Suite G-3
Costa Mesa, CA. 92626

Mon.-Thurs. 9am-6pm 
Friday  9am-5pm
Sat. & Sun. CLOSED


(714) 728-7100

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