Katen Reynolds, Executive Director
Katen is a native of Lexington, VA and moved to Charlottesville in 2006. Before joining The Front Porch she worked as a gardener, dance teacher, and most recently, an elementary school teacher. Though music has always been an important part of her life, she didn’t start learning an instrument until a few years ago when she picked up a guitar for the first time. Working at The Front Porch has been the perfect way for Katen to combine her love of learning, music, and community.
Jess Knicely, Music School Director
A native of Charlottesville, Jess has always had a passion for traditional roots music and the arts. Jess’s love was deeply inspired by many years volunteering for music festivals, workshops, and concerts through the Virginia Folklife Program at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. Jess has experience in small and high-volume operations, team management, business development, marketing, design, merchandising, and art installation as a Senior Visual Manager and Acting District Visual Manager for the retailer Anthropologie.
Melissa Mossinghoff, Director of Community Outreach
Originally from northern Virginia, Melissa moved to Charlottesville to attend UVa and has happily called it her home ever since. Beginning with piano and ballet/tap lessons as a child, her affinity for dance and music has persisted throughout her life. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Foreign Affairs and French from UVa and a Masters in Education from Marymount University. Professionally, she taught in local elementary schools and worked as communications coordinator at Building Goodness Foundation. Connecting people to each other and the world around them remains her overarching desire in life.
Erynn McLeod, Director of Children’s Programming
Erynn Legna McLeod is a Charlottesville-based singer-songwriter at the crossroads of folk and musical theater. She grew up in a theatrical household as the child of Broadway actors and acting teachers. Erynn earned a BA in Music from Stony Brook University. After graduating in 2017, she trained in musical theater at the Stella Adler Studio of Acting. In 2019, she graduated from Berklee College of Music in Valencia, Spain with a Masters of Music in Contemporary Performance. She won first place at the International Writers Camp in Haarlem, Netherlands and was blessed to have one of her original songs, Queen, produced by Patrice Rushen. She is currently recording her debut project locally and can’t wait to share it.
Eli Ratzlaff, Director of Advancement
A Charlottesville native, Eli has maintained a lifelong love of music, playing guitar casually and regularly attending live music around town. Eli graduated from UVA with a degree in Political Philosophy, Policy, and Law. Prior to joining The Front Porch, he worked on the Economic Empowerment team at the International Rescue Committee in Charlottesville. Eli is passionate about fostering strong and inclusive communities, and is excited to connect the Charlottesville community through music.
Clare Conheady, Office and Venue Manager
Clare’s love for music and dance started in her hometown of Rochester, NY and led her down to Asheville, North Carolina, where she taught and performed many different styles of Dance. She has previously worked as an Infant Nanny and Doula, in addition to running back stages at Music Festivals all along the East Coast. If there’s old time music to be heard, you can be sure Clare will be ready to step-a-tune on her dance board, and hopes to share her love of clogging and flatfooting with the Front Porch Community here in Charlottesville.
Kaitlyn Brown, Enrollment Manager
Originally from a small town in Virginia called Colonial Heights, Kaitlyn began her musical journey when she started taking piano lessons at the age of 6. She continued these lessons, and eventually picked up french horn in middle school band. She quickly fell in love with everything about the instrument, and decided to pursue a degree in music industry with a concentration in Horn at James Madison University. During her time at JMU, she participated in many ensembles, including the JMU Brass Band, Symphony and Opera Orchestras, and the Wind Symphony. These groups gave her the opportunity to perform and travel in places across the country and the world, including participation in the North American Brass Bands Association competition every year, and the Royal Northern College of Music’s Brass Band Festival in Manchester, England. She has worked in recording studios, on staff for the JMU marching band, and as a quality control inspector for vinyl records. In her free time, Kaitlyn enjoys gardening and tending to her houseplants, and spending time bird-watching with her cat, Poe.
Board of Directors
Marc Lipson, President
Marc Lipson received his Ph.D. in finance from the University of Michigan and two degrees from the University of Virginia – a BA in Anthropology and an MS in Accounting. He current teaches at the Darden Business School of the University of Virginia, principally teaching corporate finance, but also innovation. He is an avid musician, playing bass and guitar, and has played with a variety of Charlottesville bands, including Jeebus and The Gladstones, 502 Fossils, The Holly Allen Trio and Oh Wow Boy! Along with his wife Ellen Climo, Marc is an avid collector and supporter of the arts.
Paddy Bowman, Vice President
Paddy Bowman is Founding Director of Local Learning: The National Network for Folk Arts in Education and co-editor of the Journal of Folklore and Education. She has developed many folk arts education resources and training opportunities for teachers and artists. Before earning her masters in folklore at the University of North Carolina, she worked as a journalist and volunteered as assistant director for the DC nonprofit, The Travelin’ Blues Workshop, promoting regional musicians such as Elizabeth Cotten, John Jackson, and John Cephas, among others. Recently she was awarded the American Folklore Society’s Benjamin A. Botkin Prize for Lifetime Achievement in Public
Folklore and was named a Fellow of the Society.
Susan Weiner, Treasurer
Susan received her MBA in Finance from The Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, and a BA in Economics from Wesleyan University. She has had multiple careers, including working on Wall Street and as an entrepreneur. Susan grew up in Opelika, Alabama playing the piano and singing gospel in multiple choirs in her church. Now retired, she has found a spiritual home at the Front Porch where she can be seen taking multiple classes each week. Her husband often jokes, “My wife has left me for the double bass!!!”
Olivia Branch has worked in fundraising and marketing in the Charlottesville community for over 30 years. Olivia has worked in media relations for 25+ years, assisting organizations and companies with branding and creating public awareness. She serves(ed) on the Board of Directors with Albemarle County Police Foundation Board, Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce, Paramount Theater of Charlottesville, Music Resource Center, Piedmont Virginia Community College Foundation Board, Light House Studio, Albemarle County Rotary Club, Farmville Chamber of Commerce, various nonprofit committees and civic task-forces, Pantops Community Advisory Council, UVA Health Systems Patient Advisory Forum, Albemarle County 2044 Strategic Plan Committee. Appointed by Governor Ralph Northam to the State of Virginia Board of Directors for Recreational Facilities.
Atlanta native Steven Harris came to UVA (CLAS ‘82) where he was a DJ, and later a music director at WTJU. He was active on the concert committee at UVA, and later with WTJU. In 1990 he had the opportunity to take over the Variety Playhouse, a 1940’s neighborhood movie theater in Atlanta’s colorful Little 5 Points area. The Variety hosted over 100 shows a year with a roster ranging from Doc Watson and Leo Kottke to Phish and Adele. While at the Variety he also booked a performing arts series at GA State University, and later booked and produced the Concerts in the Gardens series for the Atlanta Botanical Garden. Harris sold the Variety in 2016. As an audiophile, Harris has also run a high end audio consulting business, Playhouse Audio, for over 20 years. He and his wife Wendy bought land outside of Charlottesville in 2018 and have just completed their new home.
Dhara Goradia has over 20 years of experience as a musician and over 10 as a licensed architect working in the Central Virginia area. Much of her success in these fields is credited to the support of the local community, and her deep interest in staying engaged with local bands and local businesses. She runs an architecture practice in Charlottesville focused on designing public and shared spaces, and teaches at the UVA School of Architecture. She continues to seek and understand the powerful relationships between music, architecture, and nature and integrate it into practice. Dhara holds a B.S. from the University of Virginia and an Master of Architecture from the University of Washington. She is currently licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia. She returns for her second tenure on the board, looking forward to supporting the organization as it expands its reach.
Chris Perot was raised in the Charlottesville area. She is passionate about creating a healthy, fun community that allows for freedom of expression and joyful consideration of our land, our families, our friends and neighbors and those who are just not yet met. Chris studied cooking and fine art at Studio Arts Center International and Lorenzo De Medici in Florence, Italy after graduating from Albemarle High School. She is currently working as steward of a farm, overseeing the restoration of the land and natural habitat, and the enrichment of the local community through engagement and practice and by joining together with community groups to create meaningful change with a focus on betterment for all inhabitants.
Lester, also known as “Nathaniel Star,” is a Charlottesville native. In addition to serving on several boards within the University, and Charlottesville community, Lester is also an establish songwriter/musician in his own right. Under the musical moniker Nathaniel Star, he has performance and writing credits with some of the most respected names in the music industry. From Maxine Jones of legendary R&B group En Vogue, to members of the Dave Matthews Band, Wilton Felder Sr. of The Jazz Crusaders and other Grammy Award winning artist. Lester is currently creating music for a few Netflix series and Feature Films. Lester’s passion is anything involving the youth, “our future”. “My goal with any board I sit on is to be a conduit between the community that looks like me, and the one that doesn’t.”
Sophie Trawalter is a professor of public policy and psychology at the University of Virginia. She received her Ph.D. in psychological and brain sciences at Dartmouth College, and her B.A. in psychology and B.S. in mathematics at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. She’s also the mom of a Front Porch student. As a researcher, she studies social inequalities and how to redress them. As an educator, she teaches classes on how our values and biases shape our political views and policies. As a mom, she loves listening to her son’s ukelele playing. (And she sometimes wishes life were a musical!)
John Whitlow is a long time Charlottesville resident who has been an active member in the music scene here for decades. For the past 25 years he has played in the acoustic group Scuffletown, which has recorded 5 albums, toured throughout the eastern U.S., as well as internationally. Scuffletown continues to actively perform throughout their region of the country. John also served as Vice President of Plow & Hearth and he has run his own consulting business for the past 20 years. When not playing music or spending time with family, John can be found fly fishing on rivers throughout the mountains of VA.
Demian Jackson is an attorney, amateur farmer, and avid music lover from Charlotte, NC. He grew up around music and is a firm believer that everything is better with music. Demian received his undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina and is a graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law. He is currently a patent attorney at Jackson IPG PLLC, a Charlottesville intellectual property firm.
Terri Allard serves as a host, producer and Education and Engagement Manager for VPM PBS. She is also an award-winning singer-songwriter with five albums of original material under her belt and a strong connection to the Charlottesville community.
A novice when he first strummed a guitar, Charlie is now an integral part of two local bands – the Ragged Mountain String Band, where he handles the upright Bass, and The 45’s, where he plays rhythm guitar and lends his voice to their songs. His journey from a music enthusiast to a practicing musician has been enriched and guided by our very own school, a path he hopes his two teenagers will follow as they develop their own appreciation for music. In addition to his personal music journey, Charlie has been demonstrating his business acumen for over 15 years as the owner and operator of Piedmont Paint & Finish. His local paint contracting company has left its mark on both commercial and residential properties in Charlottesville, and also offers specialized shop work for cabinetry and furniture. In 2022, Charlie expanded his business interests, opening Pigment Paint Supply, a new local paint store that stocks premium Farrell-Calhoun and Mythic Paint products, providing high-quality supplies to both professionals and home DIYers.
As a board member, Charlie aims to inspire others to embark on their own music journeys, no matter their age or skill level. He is committed to making our school a welcoming place for adults to learn, grow, and appreciate the beauty of music. We are thrilled to welcome Charlie to our board and look forward to his contributions to our music-loving community.
Richard Will is Professor of Music at UVA, where he teaches courses on opera, 18th-century music, and bluegrass performance. He writes about folk music, orchestra music, opera, and religious music, and his new book is “Don Giovanni” Captured: Performance, Media, Myth (University of Chicago Press). A fiddler and singer, Richard performs frequently around Charlottesville and central Virginia with the Bluegrass Destroyers and other collectives.
Abhijai Mathur – Teacher Liaison
Abhijai Mathur, or ‘Abhi’ for short, is a materials scientist, environmental entrepreneur, and piano teacher from the Washington DC area. He holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in Chemistry, with a minor in jazz piano, and independently finds business opportunities to use science to sustainably improve the relationship that humans have with the natural world. Growing up in a household with a mixture of musical influences, from Indian classical music to hard rock, provided Abhi a diverse perspective and appreciation for many genres. Further exploration into jazz piano in college, working with at-risk youth communities in the US and abroad, and performing with multiple groups in upstate New York shaped Abhi’s musical pathway towards teaching piano lessons at the Front Porch. He is thrilled to become more involved in the Charlottesville music community, and help young people transition through life with musical exploration.