June 22, 2021

35 Chosen for Future of Music Faculty Fellowship, which Addresses Underrepresentation in Music School Faculty

Grid of 35 Black and Latinx educators selected as fellows

Cohort of fellows includes teaching artists, musicologists, conductors and pedagogues specializing in classical music, jazz, ethnomusicology, music theory, composition, musicology and more

Powered by the Sphinx Venture Fund, this groundbreaking initiative is designed to elevate Black and Latinx educators within the music academy

CLEVELAND (June 21, 2021) – Today, the Cleveland Institute of Music announced the fellows for the 2021 Future of Music Faculty Fellowship Program, a critical step forward in creating a culture of diversity within the music academy and beyond. Powered by a grant awarded in the inaugural cycle of the Sphinx Venture Fund, this first-of-its-kind career development initiative will engage 35 Black and Latinx music professionals who are pursuing or considering academic careers, preparing them with the skills, insights and networks to flourish professionally and influence generations of musicians.

“The Future of Music Faculty Fellowship set out with bold ambitions to catalyze change within the ranks of academia now and for years to come,” said CIM President & CEO Paul W. Hogle. “The quality of applications alone was remarkable, and the 35 fellows who will engage with the program over the coming year have impressive credentials and career objectives. Our program faculty – ­led by esteemed colleagues including Dr. José Bowen, Dr. Ronald Crutcher, Dr. Aaron Flagg, Dr. Eileen Hayes, Dr. Eduardo Herrera, Dr. Alisha Lola Jones and Dr. Tammy L. Kernodle – have traversed this pathway already, and are eager to share what they’ve learned with the next generation of Black and Latinx music scholars and teaching artists. I look forward to seeing the impact these fellows will have on tomorrow’s music students.”

Fellowship faculty member Dr. José Bowen described his goals for the program: “In every academic position I held, I was ‘the first.’ Other people could help and guide me, but there was never anyone who looked like me to get real with. This is an opportunity to be surrounded by people who ‘get it’ and to help each other be our best authentic selves as we break barriers.”

“I am looking forward to connecting with and learning from brilliant and inspiring mentors and participants who not only bring their expertise to our field but also their diverse backgrounds and experiences,” added new fellow Dr. Maria Romero Ramos, who is a faculty member at Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music. “I am also excited to have mentors who look like me and who have chosen to devote their time and efforts to supporting the next generation of artists from underrepresented backgrounds.”

Through a competitive process with more than 160 applicants from 30 states and seven countries, a panel of esteemed college and university faculty members selected 35 fellows based on the strength of their music background, education and application materials, as well as their dedication, skill and drive to succeed within the complex world of academia.

Within the class, 19 hold a terminal degree, with an additional eight in doctoral programs currently; their areas of study include instrumental, jazz and vocal performance; music education; composition; conducting; and ethnomusicology, musicology and music theory. They hail from 20 states across the country and range in age from 24 to 47.  


Following are the 2021 Future of Music Faculty Fellows:

  • Nicolas Lell Benavides, lecturer in music theory and doctoral candidate, University of Southern California; composer
  • Mark Bonner, Jr, graduate assistant and doctoral candidate, University of Missouri – Kansas City Conservatory; clinician and arranger
  • Angelica Brooks, doctoral candidate, University of Southern California; K-12 public school music educator
  • Kabelo Chirwa, doctoral candidate, University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music
  • Teresa Díaz de Cossío, doctoral candidate, University of California, San Diego; faculty, Universidad Autonóma de Baja California
  • Raul Dominguez, doctoral candidate, University of Colorado Boulder; curator, Choral Conductors Colloquium, Vol. 1; assistant artistic director, Denver Gay Men’s Chorus
  • Henry Dorn, doctoral candidate, Michigan State University; composition fellow, 2021 Next Festival of Emerging Artists; conductor
  • Mary E. Garza, doctoral candidate, University of Michigan; teaching artist, U-M Michigan Artist Citizens program; 2021 Sphinx MPower Artist Grant recipient
  • Alex Gonzalez, violinist, The Knights and Sphinx Virtuosi; faculty, Carnegie Hall’s National Youth Orchestra Program, Sphinx Performance Academy
  • Dr. Kelly Guerra, teacher of voice, UC Santa Barbara and private studio; Opera Santa Barbara Chrisman Studio Artist
  • Dr. Lily Guerrero, director of vocal studies, Texas Lutheran University
  • Dr. Jackson Guillen, professor of violin, viola and orchestra, Lone Star College-Tomball; director, CODA Music Program, and conductor, Debut String Orchestra, Houston Youth Symphony
  • Jasmine A. Henry, doctoral candidate, Rutgers University; artistic director and coordinator, Newark School of the Arts Media Lab; audio engineer and musicologist
  • Dr. Kevin C. Holt, assistant professor of musicology, Stony Brook University; Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship, Wesleyan University
  • Josue Jimenez, doctoral candidate, Indiana University Jacobs School of Music; associate member, Civic Orchestra of Chicago
  • Stephanie Jones, research assistant, coordinator for student teaching (music education) and doctoral candidate, University of Miami, Frost School of Music
  • Dr. Amy Lewis, assistant professor of music education, James Madison University; clinician and lecturer
  • Dr. Teresita Lozano, assistant professor of musicology and ethnomusicology, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley; performer and Borderland music specialist, Motus Theater’s UndocuAmerica Project
  • Dr. Patricio Molina, conservatory director, Newark School of the Arts; president and co-founder, Notes for Growth Foundation
  • Devan Moore, doctoral candidate, Florida State University College of Music; ensemble clinician and conference presenter
  • Melissa Muñoz, adjunct instructor of brass, Cheshire Academy;  co-founder of Brass Out Loud; studio teacher and lecturer
  • Dr. Aaron Paige, assistant professor of music (voice), Ball State University; former member of the Singing Sergeants, United States Air Force Band
  • Dr. Elizabeth Palmer, instrumental music teacher, Prince George’s County, Maryland; founder, Modern Maestro, Inc.
  • Quinton Parker, assistant professor of music education and doctoral candidate, University of North Carolina at Greensboro
  • Gabriel Piqué, assistant professor of saxophone and jazz studies, Baldwin Wallace Conservatory of Music; doctoral candidate, University of Illinois
  • Dr. Sebastian Quesada-Ruiz, composer and pedagogue
  • Dr. Maria Romero Ramos, faculty, Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music; concertmaster, Music City Baroque
  • Karlos Rodriguez, director of artistic affairs, Sphinx Performance Academy; founding member, Catalyst Quartet
  • Dr. Brice Smith, adjunct professor of flute, Adams State University; assistant artistic director, Indiana University Jacobs School of Music’s Flute Academy
  • Marianne Solivan, assistant professor of Jazz and commercial voice, Syracuse University; creator and director, MS Jazz Vocal Workshop and Jazz Vocal Repertoire Hang 
  • Dr. Tamika Sterrs-Howard, adjunct professor in music appreciation and music theory; Lanier Technical College and University of North Georgia; composer
  • Dr. Carline Waugh, assistant professor of voice, Marshall University; clinician and lecturer
  • Kendra Wheeler, doctoral candidate, Michigan State University; Légère Reeds Endorsing Artist
  • Lisa Williamson, voice teacher, Southern Connecticut State University; doctoral candidate, University of Connecticut
  • Khyle Wooten, doctoral candidate, Florida State University; conductor and composer

For more information about the fellows, visit cim.edu/fellowship/fellows.


The Future of Music Faculty Fellowship brings together a cohort of up to 35 Black and Latinx music professionals who aspire to academic careers. The program is offered at no cost to participants, and Black and Latinx musicians and scholars from across disciplines and genres – from classical to jazz, from performance to pedagogy – were eligible to apply.

Keynotes by internationally acclaimed musician, composer and educator Wynton Marsalis, resilience researcher Dr. Angela Duckworth, national leader in higher education Dr. Ronald Crutcher and leadership expert Simon Sinek will inspire.

Program faculty, including university presidents, music school deans and teaching artists from institutions ranging from The Juilliard School to the University of Richmond to the Heifetz Institute, will blend practical advice, skill building and creativity. Find the full list of faculty at cim.edu/fellowship/agenda.

Beginning June 25 and taking place over several months, the Fellowship is structured as a series of virtual convenings. The program concludes in January 2022 with an in-person convening coinciding with SphinxConnect 2022.

Program curriculum will cover practical skills, such as navigating the tenure process, as well as soft skills, such as thriving in a highly competitive work environment. As important as skill development, fellows will receive a powerful platform for showcasing their skills to potential employers, as well as a career mentor, who will offer personalized coaching and career advice during and between modules.


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The Future of Music Faculty Fellowship is powered by a grant from the Sphinx Venture Fund.