Board of Trustees & Staff

  • Paul Robertson, President, Fundraising & Grant Committee
  • Debbie Kline, Vice President, Volunteer Committee
  • Patti Stanley, Treasurer & Bookkeeper
  • John Enz, Artistic Director
  • Phillip Pugh, Assistant Artistic Director
  • Larisa Epps, Executive Director
  • Mary Armstrong, Volunteer Committee
  • Annette Briffa, Marketing & Publicity Committee
  • Dr. Anita Franzione, Alumni Relations Committee
  • Catherine Isnardi, Social & Hospitality Committee
  • Dr. Mahesh Krishan, Finance Committee
  • Yen Lu, Social & Hospitality Committee
  • Jason Method, Marketing & Publicity Committee
  • Shilpi Mukherjee, Alumni Relations Committee
  • Dr. Trineice Robinson-Martin, Marketing & Publicity Committee
  • Barbara Witmer, Alumni Relations Committee
  • Amy Woodward, Fundraising & Grant Committee

    Advisory Board

  • Melanie Clarke
  • Dr. Richard Hodges
  • Michael Meduski

    Biographies

    Mary Armstrong is a resident of Yardville, NJ.  She currently serves on the Executive Board of both the Steinert Marching Unit Parents Association and the Friends Of Steinert Jazz organization.  Mary has thoroughly enjoyed watching her son participate in the various groups of the Youth Orchestra of Central Jersey over the past four years and is looking forward to working with other dedicated parents to create another successful year for this amazing program.

    Annette Briffa is a Business Development Associate with a New York based IT Consulting firm. She has been an active volunteer in the West Windsor-Plainsboro school district for many years as well as a former Homefront Cherry Tree Club volunteer. She has served on the Youth Orchestra of Central Jersey Board of Trustees for 3 years, including Vice President from 2016-2017 and the role of President from May 2017 to June 2018. She is an avid supporter of music education as well as charitable outreach, including most recently working to arrange a fundraiser with the Youth Orchestra of Central Jersey to support the Houston Youth Symphony and surrounding Houston school music programs in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Proceeds donated will be used to help replace lost and damaged instruments.

    Melanie Clarke, YOCJ Advisory Board, has a long and distinguished career in non-profit and arts management. A conservatory-trained violinist, she worked for the Princeton Symphony Orchestra for 25 years, serving as its Executive Director for nine seasons before retiring in 2015.  In her many roles at the Princeton Symphony, she led its transformation and raised the funds for it to become a diverse and successful orchestra enterprise which won national recognition for artistic excellence, significant community engagement, collaborations with a wide range of civic and cultural partners, commitment to new music, and extensive and innovative music education programs. Melanie recently stepped down as chairman of the board of the Highland Center for the Arts (HCA) a new performing arts center serving rural northeastern Vermont. At HCA she led the startup of operations and oversaw a much-admired inaugural season of theatrical, musical and educational performances.  She is a trustee of the League of American Orchestras and chairs its development committee. She holds degrees from Harvard University and Wellesley College. Melanie and her husband, John Clarke, reside in Princeton, New Jersey, and Greensboro, Vermont.

    Larisa Epps, Executive Director for the Youth Orchestra of Central Jersey, graduated Summa Cum Laude from Montclair State University with a degree in Music Education. She was a string specialist in the public schools for 6 years, working in Summit, NJ as well as the Manalapan-Englishtown District. Additionally, Ms. Epps runs a private violin studio in Hamilton Square since 2000 and manages a special event music ensemble, Tutti Dolce, The Violin Trio since 2007. She was the site coordinator for the NJ American String Teacher Association (ASTA) Certificate Advancement Program Exams held at Rider University from 2008 to 2016. Ms. Epps is currently honored to be sharing her life long passion for music and her love of organizing events, with this unique youth orchestra, that has made such a noteworthy impact on generations of young musicians!

    Anita Franzione, MPA, DrPH, is an assistant professor at Rutgers University, Bloustein School for Planning and Public Policy and program chair for Health Administrion.  Dr. Franzione served on a number of health-related nonprofit boards in New York City.  She is currently a member of the Junior League of Greater Princeton where she was the Strategic Planning Chair.  Dr. Franzione brings 30 years of operations and administrative management to the Youth Orchestra of Central Jersey, as well as a passion and minor degree in musicology.

    Richard Hodges, saxophonist and YOCJ Advisory Board member, has appeared as a soloist in Europe, Canada, and throughout the United States including his debut recital in Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in New York City.  While specializing in the music of contemporary French composers, he has also premiered works by composers from the United States and Japan. A graduate of Wichita State University, Dr. Hodges received his doctorate in education from the College of William & Mary.  Dr. Hodges holds master’s degrees from Louisiana State University and the University of Mississippi. He has served on the faculties of Indiana University, Columbia University, and the University of Mississippi. Former teachers include Eugene Rousseau and Lawrence Teal. Dr. Hodges currently teaches saxophone and clarinet at Thomas Nelson Community College in Hampton, Virginia where he serves as the Director of Learning Resources. Dr. Hodges served as assistant conductor at the Youth Orchestra of Central Jersey from 1996 to 2010.

    Catherine Isnardi is the mother of four musical children. She lives in Plainsboro. She has a deep and fond love of music. Catherine is a pediatric nurse and at this moment  works as a school nurse for the West Windsor- Plainsboro School District. Catherine enjoys being with the children and assisting the students and conductors with the Youth Orchestra of Central Jersey.

    Debbie Kline presently serves as Vice President of the Youth Orchestra of Central Jersey Executive Board after serving one year as the Board Secretary.  Mrs. Kline has worked as an 8th Grade World History teacher at Community Middle School in the West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional School District for the past 13 years.   Prior to that, Mrs. Kline worked for 14 years in the private sector as a Project Manager for a leading, national industrial supply distributor.

    Mahesh Krishnan, Ph.D,  is a Director at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, and works as a senior strategist in global markets.  In the past, Dr. Krishnan has worked in various firms- large and small, launched many startups, and has been part of a successful IPO. He brings years of finance, strategy and operational experience to the Youth Orchestra of Central Jersey Board, as well as his appreciation and passion for music. He is a proud parent of two talented kids, who have been learning western classical piano, as well as South Asian classical music. His son plays the cello for the Youth Orchestra of Central Jersey.

    Yen Lu is the mother of three musicians, one of them a cellist, who is currently enrolled in the Youth Orchestra of Central Jersey. Music constantly is played in her house and she has grown a great love for it. She enjoys volunteering for the Youth Orchestra of Central Jersey when she can and attends all the events and concerts.

    Michael Meduski, YOCJ Advisory Board, is a retired Lt. Colonel, US Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps, active and reserve.  He is a graduate of College of the Holy Cross, Suffolk University Law School, The US Army Judge Advocate General’s School at University of Virginia, is a member of the Massachusetts Bar, and has worked in defense contracting for RCA, GE and American Overseas Marine Corporation, a General Dynamics subsidiary. Since moving to West Windsor twenty years ago Mike has been active in West Windsor Little League and WW-P Babe Ruth Baseball as a coach, manager and League Coordinator,  with WW-P Pop Warner Wildcats Youth Football Club in many capacities including Football Commissioner and Conference representative, and was an officer in the WWP North High School Football Booster Club.  Mike gigged locally and in the greater Philadelphia area for many years as a bassist and drummer for the Princeton School of Rock band Random Clarity.  At First Presbyterian Church of Hamilton Square he has been ordained an Elder, serves on session, is a commissioner to Presbytery, is bassist for the 98:4 Praise Band, and occasionally sings in choir.  Mike continues his music education in bass guitar, drum set, keys and vocals with local professionals Bob Gilmartin, Chris Richardson, Dragana Cotra Reljin, and Sarah Riddle.  Mike values the opportunity to be a community member able to volunteer in support of the Youth Orchestra of Central Jersey, and appreciates the ability to reconnect with the many members of YOCJ staff who are also teachers in the WWP school district where his now adult children played in Orchestra and Band.

    Once upon a time, Jason Method worked as an investigative journalist for the Asbury Park Press, which is part of what were known as “newspapers,” a relic of pre-Internet and pre iPhone days. Now he writes for Vanguard, the Malvern, Pennsylvania-based investment company. Jason is the father of four daughters, who all play instruments. Alicia, his third daughter, plays cello for the Youth Orchestra of Central Jersey. Jason can’t even read music, but he’s working to expand his knowledge of classical music and its history. He thinks he can maybe recognize a fugue when he hears one.
    Shilpi Mukherjee is an Investment professional and brings with her over 15 years of financial management experience in institutions like Lord Abbett & Co, Nomura Securities, Princeton Capital Management and Citigroup. She has an Engineering degree from Birla Institute of Technology in India, a masters in finance from XLRI, and an MBA from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.  Both her kids play the double basses and have enjoyed playing with the Youth Orchestra of Central Jersey for several years. She loves hiking and mountain climbing.

    Paul Robertson, President of the Youth Orchestra of Central Jersey, is a Senior Portfolio Manager at Bernstein Global Wealth Management where he is involved in both money management and providing financial advice to high net worth clients. He has degrees in Economics, Law and Business Administration, has worked as an management consultant for McKinsey & Co, and began his career as an economist for the Australian Government. Paul played the violin as a child, classical guitar as a college student, and now attempts to inspire his two sons to practice their instruments by taking piano lessons and practicing every night.

    Dr. Trineice Robinson-Martin serves as part of the jazz faculty Princeton University; is the executive director of the African American Jazz Caucus, Inc. 501(c)3 Organization; is the Creative Arts Director at Turning Point United Methodist Church in Trenton, NJ, where she founded the Christian Education and Arts Division (CEAD);  serves on the national faculty of the Gospel Music Workshop of America, Inc.; is a founding and executive board member of the Donald Meade Legacy Jazz Griot Award; the founder of Soul Ingredients® Voice Studio; and is an active member of both the Jazz Education Network (JEN) and National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS). Dr. Robinson-Martin is an internationally recognized voice pedagogue and scholar in the area of contemporary music and the creator of Soul Ingredients®: the methodology. For the Youth Orchestra of Central Jersey, she serves on the Publicity and Marketing Committee.

    Patti Stanley is a self-employed accountant with over 30 years experience working with non-profit organizations. In addition, she provides bookkeeping and tax services to small through medium size businesses in the Mercer County area. Patti is also the treasurer for the Kidsbridge Tolerance Museum in Ewing, NJ. Patti currently serves on the Youth Orchestra of Central Jersey Board of Trustees as the Treasurer and the Bookkeeper.

    Barbara Witmer is a 5th grade band teacher at Millstone River School in the West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional School District.  Barbara plays oboe in the Capital Philharmonic Orchestra and performs as a free lance musician in the area.  In addition, she also teaches private oboe students from her home in Pennington. Ms. Witmer serves the Youth Orchestra of Central Jersey on the Alumni Committee.

    Amy Woodward has a Masters Degree in Special Education, and is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst.  She has worked in the field of special education since 1995, and is currently a case manager and behavior analyst at a school for students with special needs.  She is participating on the Fundraising Committee for the Youth Orchestra of Central Jersey, and is looking forward to working with the Board to support this wonderful group of young musicians and talented conductors.