Meet the Arts & Learning Conservatory Board.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Vernon K. Moses
Vice President of Business Banking at Chase Bank, has more than 28 years of progressively responsible personal and business financial experience. A cornerstone of financial planning is that every business owner’s economic situation is unique. It is the personalization of service to meet the needs of each individual that sets Vernon apart. Vernon has guided hundreds of business owners and helped them to reach their financial goals. In his current role, Vernon is responsible for acquiring, maintaining and growing relationships with small businesses in the Orange County region. Vernon has led many companies through start-up, survival, turnaround and growth modes as well as helped many attain personal financial goals like home ownership, retirement, etc.
Among his significant previous positions, Vernon was a business owner in the field of Financial Planning for ten years. He moved into a partnership role with Christensen Mortgage Company, a Mortgage Brokerage firm. He then served as Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for PMG, a Nashville, Tennessee based Sports Management agency. In each of these roles, Vernon was responsible for record business growth.
Vernon attended Rowan University and his diverse background in Finance and Business Development provides an opportunity for him to serve the small business community as a Banker in a way that is mutually beneficial for him and the clients he serves.
A very important aspect of Vernon’s life is his family. He has three adult children. His oldest daughter, Shaina, is also in Finance and currently in a Forensic Auditing position that takes her around the country with Realogy Inc. in Dallas, Texas. He has a son, Dezman, who was an Outside Linebacker in the NFL for six years and recently retired from the Kansas City Chiefs in 2019. Dezman is currently building a business in the real estate industry. Vernon’s youngest child, Lauren is a recent graduate from the University Of Virginia. She was a scholar athlete and four year starter for the woman’s basketball program. She is now pursuing her Master’s Degree at the University of Maryland in Sports Journalism while working as a Color Commentator for the Big Ten Network, ACC Network and ESPN.
Forouz Firoozi is a senior vice president and a leads a product management team at Wells Fargo Treasury Management group, responsible for partnership development with a focus on innovation. Forouz joined Wells Fargo Bank in 2013 from Bank of America where she was a Senior Vice President in treasury for 11 years. Before becoming a banker, Forouz worked in technology sector holding senior positions in product management, product development and business development for 15 years. She has her MBA from Duke Fuqua School of Business and Master of Science in Electrical Engineering from Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden.
Prof. Westbrook has been associated with Vanguard University since 1985, beginning as an adjunct professor of business law and outside legal counsel while still in private law practice. Since joining VU in a full time capacity in 1994, he has filled a variety of administrative and faculty positions, serving on the business faculty (1994 to present); chairman of the division of business for over 10 years; assistant to the president (1994-1998, and 2008); interim vice president for student affairs (2006 & 2007); and legal counsel (1994 to 2009). Ed brings with him a lifelong network of both former students and current friends of the University. He also enjoys personal relationships with a wide range of executive business, church, and corporate leaders.
Tracy Sackett Cooper