Kids’ Orchestra Staff



As the executive director since 2013, Jody has overseen the growth of Kids’ Orchestra from 65 to 800 K-5 grade students in the Greater Baton Rouge Area, developing the program into the largest afterschool music and academic enrichment opportunity of its kind in the United States.

Music has been a constant drum beat in Jody’s life. She first explored her musical talents at the age of 4, playing the piano during Sunday school at her church. Jody graduated from LSU in vocal music education. She became a certified Kodaly specialist from the Kodaly Musical Training Institute in Hartford, Connecticut, and then earned her Master’s degree in Education Leadership from Bank Street College in New York City.

“From my earliest memories, I wanted to be a music teacher.” Turning dreams into reality, Jody has spent more than 25 years working as a music educator and grassroots music programming instigator in New Jersey, Arizona and Louisiana. She has been a public and private school teacher, and children’s choir conductor including the Phoenix Boys Choir and the East Baton Rouge Parish Junior Choir, among others.

Jody was first introduced to Kids’ Orchestra in early 2013. The board believed Jody to be the catalyst necessary to successfully bring music education, mentorship, academic enrichment, and performance opportunities to the elementary students in Baton Rouge. Jody accepted the Executive Director position and continues to make a musical difference in children’s lives.

In addition to her work with Kids’ Orchestra, Jody serves on the Boards of Directors for the Baton Rouge Area Chamber of Commerce and A. C. Lewis YMCA in Baton Rouge. Jody recently was selected to serve on the arts, culture, and leisure committee of the Mayor’s transition team.

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Dr. Louie Eckhardt is a freelance trumpet player in the Baton Rouge and New Orleans areas, specializing in orchestral music, chamber music, and early music. He currently serves as a member of the Monroe Symphony Orchestra, the Acadiana Symphony Orchestra, and the Chimes Street Brass Quintet. He also appears regularly with the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra, Rapides Symphony Orchestra and the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra. He has also appeared with the Louisiana Philharmonic Brass Quintet. Dr. Eckhardt has held principal trumpet positions in the Kearney Symphony Orchestra, Hastings Symphony Orchestra, and was a member of the Nebraska Trumpet Ensemble. He was first trumpet and manager of the Cathedral Brass Quintet, greater Nebraska’s premier brass ensemble. He has also performed with the Nittany Valley Symphony Orchestra, Altoona Symphony Orchestra, and La Follia Austin Baroque.

Dr. Eckhardt is an active recitalist and is in frequent demand as a performer and clinician throughout Nebraska, Texas, Louisiana, and beyond. In July 2013, Dr. Eckhardt and fellow trumpeter Derek McDonald opened the 2013 Vail International Dance Festival with a performance of Igor Stravinsky’s “Fanfare for a New Theatre.” In April of 2013, Dr. Eckhardt was a guest of the Fundación Sinfonía Concertante de Panamá, presenting masterclasses at the Universidad de Panamá, the Instituto Nacional de Música de Panamá, and the Casa de Cultura de Panamá.

From 2007 to 2012, Dr. Eckhardt taught instrumental music in Nebraska, serving as the Associate Director of Bands at Hastings High and Middle Schools, and the Director of Bands at Grand Island Senior High.

Dr. Eckhardt holds a B.M. in Music Education and Trumpet Performance from Hastings College, an M.M. in Trumpet Performance from The Pennsylvania State University, and recently completed a D.M.A. in Trumpet Performance at Louisiana State University. He has studied trumpet with Daniel Schmidt, Langston J. Fitzgerald, III, and Brian Shaw. He has also studied with Denny Schneider, Keith Benjamin, Terry Sawchuk, Charles Lirette, and Vance Woolf.

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Sam Trevathan is a freelance percussionist in the Baton Rouge and New Orleans areas, specializing in contemporary percussion, drum set, and chamber music. He actively performs and teaches privately in the area.

Sam hails from Kentucky where he was active with the Kentucky Center for the Arts and the Governor’s School for the Arts as the Western Kentucky recruiter and as a teaching assistant.

He has performed at numerous events including Percussive Arts Society Conventions, PAS Kentucky Day of Percussion, PAS Louisiana Day of Percussion, Electric La-Tex Electro-Acoustic Music Festival, and the Music of Dinos Constantinides at Carnegie Hall with the Hamiruge Percussion Ensemble. He has performed with Louisiana Sinfonietta, Opera Louisiane, Paducah Symphony Orchestra, Jackson Symphony Orchestra, Lake Charles Symphony Orchestra, and the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra.

He holds a B. M. in Music Education from Murray State University and an M.M. in Percussion from Louisiana State University. He has studied percussion with Tom Vanarsdel, John Hill, and Jim Corcoran. Sam is currently studying with Brett Dietz while finishing his D.M.A. in Percussion Performance at Louisiana State University.

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Jowava “Jo” Thompson joined Kids’ Orchestra in November 2014. Raised in East and West Baton Rouge, She is a strong and dedicated worker and believes in child development and giving back to the community where she grew up in.

Jowava received her Bachelors of Science Degree in Speech Pathology and Audiology from Southern University and A&M College. She also worked in the School and Home Settings around the San Antonio and Houston areas in the last 14 years assisting in child development. She is a member of the Promised Land Baptist Church were she is a member of the Combined Choir and works with the youth department of her church.

Her professional experience include working with economically disadvantaged families, autistic children, mentally challenged, students and children with speech-language delays while facilitating conversations between doctors and parents.

Jowava is a dedicated member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., she has been a member since 2000.

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Manages Site Coordinators, student artist enrollment, student artist behavior, correspondence with parents, and instruments and site supplies for traditional sites; coordinates snack and nutrition for all sites; records Honors concerts.

Phil Shapiro earned his Master of Music degree from LSU and a Bachelor of Music degree from Tennessee Tech University. Outside of Kids’ Orchestra, Phil is a freelance trumpeter and a private instructor in the Baton Rouge area, including Parkview Baptist Fine Arts Academy, Denham Springs High School, and Juban Parc Junior High School.

Phil has performed with the Acadiana Symphony Orchestra, the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra, the Bryan Symphony Orchestra, the Brass Arts Quintet, the Chimes Street Quintet, and the Swing Street Big Band.  Phil has also freelanced as a sound designer and sound engineer on productions of Stephen Soundheim’s “Into the Woods” and “Sweeney Todd,” Heather Hach’s “Legally Blonde,” Ken Ludgwig’s “Lend Me a Tenor,” and David Mamet’s “Oleanna.”  Phil has recorded every Kids’ Orchestra Honors performance since May 2015.

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Responsible for organizing and directing Kids’ Orchestra sites and camps which are funded by the 21st Century Community Learning Center Grant.

Dr. Brian Gallion holds the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in tuba performance from Louisiana State University, the Master of Music Degree in tuba performance from LSU, as well as the Bachelor of Music degree in music education from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

Prior to joining Kids’ Orchestra, Gallion held various teaching positions in secondary and higher education throughout Georgia and Louisiana.  In addition to working with Kids’ Orchestra, Dr. Gallion currently holds the position of principal tuba with the Rapides Symphony Orchestra (Alexandria, LA), the Lake Charles (LA) Symphony Orchestra, and the Gulf Coast (MS) Symphony Orchestra.  He is also an active chamber musician with the Chimes Street Brass Quintet and the Lautes Tuba Quartet.

He currently resides in Zachary, LA with his wife and their two children, Renée and Liam.

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Elizabeth was born in Houston, Texas to a deeply rooted Louisiana family. After living in Houston for five years, she moved to Norway for 4 years. Elizabeth’s family made their way back home to Louisiana in 1985. During her time overseas as a child, Elizabeth developed a love of culture, music, and learning.

Elizabeth received her B.A. in Political Science from LSU, and a Bachelor of Criminal Justice from Loyola University New Orleans. She Completed the Alternative Teaching Certification Program, from LRCE. Elizabeth taught 3rd and 5th grade in East Baton Rouge, Parish.

Elizabeth worked with the LANDers after-school program in Denham Springs, serving at-risk kids. She also is a member of the Young Artists’ Academy in Denham Springs, teaching piano lessons to children who lack financial resources to take private lessons.

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Bringing people together is what Kristy Mayes has done for many years.  After graduating from Loyola University in Public Relations, she lead many professional fundraising campaigns for organizations such as Greater New Orleans Area United Way, Capital Area United Way, Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center and The Runnels School.  In the sales and training arena, Kristy has worked for Bristol Myers Squibb Company and Dale Carnegie Training.  As an avid volunteer, she is skilled at bringing resources to help meet the needs of many organizations throughout the Baton Rouge area. She is a member of the Association of Professional Fundraisers.  Kristy enjoys her work of sharing the mission of Kids’ Orchestra to the community.

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Handles public relations, media inquiries, organization branding, social media, and community partnerships.

Jessica Ottaviano is a graduate of the LSU School of Music, earning a bachelor’s degree in music education. Prior to her role with Kids’ Orchestra, she has held development and programming positions at both the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra and the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge. She is a graduate of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation Development Fellowship program and of the Emergent Method Next Wave Non-Profit Leadership course.

In addition to her work as an arts administrator, Jessica is an active freelance trombonist in the Baton Rouge community. She manages and performs in the local chamber-folk ensemble, Minos the Saint.

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Handles scholarships and tuition, maintains office services.

Puja Thapa was born and raised in Nepal and moved to the United States in 2012 to further her education. She received her bachelor’s degree in Health Education and Promotion from Southeastern Louisiana University. During her last semester at Southeastern, she interned at Lexlee’s Kids, a non-profit organization dedicated to serving the community through safety education.

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Nicole Naquin Jackson joined Kids’ Orchestra in August 2014 as the development and communication director. In November 2016, she transitioned into a part-time marketing role in order to focus more at home with her children.  Raised on the Louisiana bayou, Nicole is a strong advocate for the Arts, elementary education and her Cajun heritage.

Nicole received her Bachelors of Arts in Communication from LSU Manship School of Communication through the honors program. She also completed the Baton Rouge Area Foundation Development Fellowship program and the John W. Barton Sr. Community Leadership Program..

Her professional experience includes marketing and communication positions at Renewable Biofuels in Houston, TX, and Academic Distinction Fund in Baton Rouge. She joins Kids Orchestra after holding the Director of Development and Communications position at Baton Rouge Ballet Theatre.

Nicole is currently an active member of her church, serves on the Public Education Project Committee for Forum 35, and is a member of Public Relations Association of Louisiana and the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

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Marsha Grant
Betty Wilkerson

Debra Coleman
Anthony Ficklin
Velma Johnson
Myron Theriot

Erika Magee
Angel Morgan
Sharon Nixon
Chantell Terell

Marsha Grant
Betty Wilkerson

Kerra Augustine
Betty Cade 

Veronica Jordan
Tramaine Moten

Erica LaJeune
Veronica Jordan

Gail Arline
Juliana Compton
Anthony Ficklin
Cherlyn Jackson
LaCole Wolfe

Matt Breuer
Jerrilyn Young

Kerra Augustine