Board of Directors passionate leaders
Executive Director and Board President
Dennis Ramsden graduated from the University of Denver with a BSBA in Economics in 1966. In 1967, he joined a member firm of the New York Stock Exchange as a Registered Representative, which began a 35-year career in the securities industry. In 1976 he became a founding member of the Pacific Stock Exchange’s new options trading floor in San Francisco, and acted as a Floor Broker executing listed stock options trades until leaving to join the global investment-banking firm of Credit Suisse-First Boston. There he directed their equity floor trading operation until retiring as vice president in 1989. Dennis then formed his own company, Ramsden Securities, Inc. He used his seat to execute trades for approximately 60 N.Y. member firms on the PSE until 1997. In 1993, he and his wife, Mary Ann, moved to Jacksonville, Oregon, purchasing the prized Bed & Breakfast McCully House Inn, also known for its fine dining. He continued to operate his own trading firm for four years, commuting between Jacksonville and the Bay area. Upon the sale of the McCully House in 2005, Dennis rejoined the securities industry as a Registered Representative at Centaurus Financial, Inc., specializing in retirement investment accounts and is registered as a broker dealer in all fifty states. In 2012, he joined Cetera Advisor Networks, LLC., in the same capacity.
Since moving to the Rogue Valley, Dennis became active in community service and served on a number of boards: two terms at the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce as well as the Medford/Jackson County Chamber of Commerce, including seats on their Executive Committee, board member and past president of the Rogue Valley Foundation, and 16 years on the Medford Visitors and Convention Bureau Advisory Board (Travel Medford), for which he twice held the position of chairman. Owing to his love of jazz, Dennis initially became a corporate sponsor of the Festival (formerly the Medford Jazz Jubilee) and then gleefully join the board of directors in 2005. In 2015, Dennis graciously accepted the dual responsibility as both Executive Director of the Festival and board president.
Vice President & Grant Writer
Jim DeMont joined the Medford Jazz Jubilee board of directors in 1999 as a utility “infielder,” performing various jobs and assisting other directors where needed. Possessing a technical education from a land-grant university (Texas A&M), Jim bills himself as a left-brained Clydesdale, engaging operational issues while others deal with artistic elements. Employment included 32 years in production management and quality assurance with Harry and David. Cubmaster, Scoutmaster, Red Cross First Aid instructor and Moose Lodge officer are titles and tasks included in his community service resume. Jim’s father mined gold in the Yukon and wildcatted around Monahans, TX, but those wanderlust adventurous traits were not passed down. The maternal Germanic traits of his mother characterize Jim’s steady conservative nature and his dedication to serving others.
Vice President & Dance Community Director
Donn Knokey was born in Vancouver, Washington. Shortly thereafter, his family relocated to Oregon. Donn’s father toiled in the timber industry, allowing Donn to work in various mills during his formative years in the Medford area. After graduating high school, Donn briefly attended college before joining the U.S. Navy. Following an honorable discharge, Donn attended the University of Oregon where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Architecture. Donn and his lovely wife, Karen, have been married for 44 years. They enjoy learning and teaching dance in Southern Oregon, while maintaining a small business, e-shelf, an on-site and mobile document scanning service.
Donn is associated with Sparrow Club, and is active in their annual Dancing with the Rogue Valley Stars event. He joined the Southern Oregon Music Festival board in 2013, to help increase the educational opportunities for students in both music and dance, and was recently voted in as board Vice President effective in 2016.
Treasurer & School Programs Band Liaison
After almost 42 years at Harry & David, Kathy retired in 2013. As an Administrative Supervisor, she was responsible for overseeing payroll, budget, and other administrative duties for Harry & David’s three call centers. During that time, she was involved in the United Way campaign at the Harry & David Medford campus. Kathy became involved in the Festival (formerly the Medford Jazz Jubilee) as a band host in 1994. After several years, she became the host manager and voted onto the board in 1996. She’s been involved with band assemblies at local schools since the program began in 1989. The program has grown from visiting 15 schools since its inception, to more than 30 schools in a four-day period. Kathy enjoys bowling with community leagues for close to 40 years. She was president of the local association president for 9 years and now acts as the Association Manager. Her duties include certification of all league bowlers through national and state organizations, and promoting tournaments for all levels (totaling 1,500 participants, including youth) and delivering their awards. Since Kathy’s retirement, she’s taken on more responsibility with the festival from preparing sponsor packets, coordinating band travel, advising on a number of committees to recently taking on the role of Festival treasurer.
In addition to the Festival, Kathy devotes her time as an active member of Soroptimist International of Medford, a business women’s organization committed to helping women and girls and serves in an advisory capacity to United Way board allocation teams, making recommendations of non-profits in the area needing financial assistance.
Secretary & School Program Coordinator
In 2014, Marcia joined the Medford Jazz Board of Directors. For 24 years at McLoughlin Middle School, Marcia served as secretary and office manager. This gave her the experience needed to successfully schedule the bands who perform in over 30 elementary and middle schools the week before the festival. These are all-school performances which include principals, teachers and students.
Marcia has served in numerous community service positions, Brownie leader, Girl Scout co-leader, OSEA union officer, Site Council member, Women of the Moose officer, Moose Camper Club officer. Marcia has been married to Jim DeMont for 35 years, has raised 5 children, and has 9 grandchildren.
Robin discovered the Southern Oregon Music Festival (SOMF) while working as a caller for Comnet Marketing, a long time sponsor of the Festival, located in Medford. Comnet generously donates callers to reach out to the community, and beyond, encouraging attendance and early ticket sales for the three-day Festival. Robin was drawn to SOMF’s commitment to providing local schools with music instruction and instruments through its Music Education and Instrument Donation programs.
As the Regional Business Manager for Voter Power Foundation, not only was Robin responsible for managing all business affairs for offices in Portland, Eugene and Medford, but also spearheaded fundraising of hundreds of thousands of dollars. She felt inspired to put her 23 years of fundraising experience in the non-profit and political arenas, to use to find business sponsors for the Festival and its Music Education Programs. Almost immediately, Robin engaged a two-year partnership with Providence Health & Services as an underwriter for the Southern Oregon Music Festival, as well as securing numerous business sponsors. She currently is a volunteer with several local social organizations and a member of the SOMF Board of Directors.
After graduating from the prestigious Art Center College of Design, in Pasadena, California, Gwenne immediately headed for New York City to begin her career in graphic design and advertising. Her first employer, Donovan and Green (2014 AIGA Medalists), assigned her to large clients such as American Express Platinum Card, Maharam, and Lee’s Carpets. She was the youngest member of the design team selected to design a permanent installation at Herman Miller’s Pavillion exhibition gallery, located at their corporate headquarters in Zeeland, Michigan. She also worked on the mobile “Hollywood” exhibit and the opening multi-media presentation of AIGA’s first conference. Other credits include De Beers Diamonds (in association with NW Ayer), Corry Jamestown furniture, Praxis Biologics (originator of the HIB vaccine) and JM Lynne fabrics. Her logo and shoe box design for Stuart Weitzman’s shoes not only helped launch a million dollar business for Weitzman, but also launched Gwenne’s own business, MDI Design, earning additional clients such as Newsweek Magazine and Gianni Versace, to name a few. From 1989 to 1991 she worked for Hal Riney and Partners (now Publicis Riney) in San Francisco and was assigned to the Alamo account. Her map illustrations for Goodby Silverstein & Partners won national recognition in award publications. In 1993, she helped launch WongDoody Advertising with then-husband Tracy Wong.
In 2004, Gwenne accepted an offer from Harry & David and relocated to Medford with her two children. During her seven years as Creative Director for Harry & David, she was responsible for customer-interfacing visual communications, including point of sale and direct mail for 140 retail stores, and all customer-interfacing print and digital communication, including email marketing, for the business-to-business division, wholesale and corporate communications–a combined revenue totaling more than 160 million.
In 2011, Gwenne started an independent branding and marketing consulting business, serving a growing number of local clients such as People’s Bank, Ashland Independent Film Festival, Britt Festivals, Allen and Gibson Real Estate, Comnet Marketing, FriskMeals and Salinity Salts, as well as national clients. Throughout her career, Gwenne’s work has earned national and international recognition from Print, Art Directors Club of New York, Art Directors Club of Los Angeles, AIGA, and Communication Arts, including an invitation to join a panel of judges of the notable Clio Awards.
Gwenne has served on both the Britt Festival Branding Committee (2012-2013) and the Ashland Independent Film Festival’s Advisory Committee (2011-2013). In 2013, she became involved with the Medford Jazz Festival and was responsible for all marketing communications and re-branding efforts during the Festival’s name change transition to the “Southern Oregon Music Festival.” In 2014, she was elected to the Board of Directors. Gwenne hails from Detroit, Michigan (also known as “the Motor City”), where she attended the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and saw top artists perform at numerous concert venues.
Music Education Program Director
Working musician since 1948. Air Force Band member 1952. Britt Festival board member 1987-1989. Played at first Jazz Jubilee 1989, and another 10! Superintendent of Schools, Talent OR School District. Northern Arizona University instructor 1997. Member Jacksonville Lions Club. Resident of the Rogue Valley since 1985. Doctorate from University of Southern California, Education Administration.
Instrument Donation Committee Chair
Steve Thatcher’s performing career as a musician began in 1966 and continued on through the 90s. To supplement his gigs, Steve gained vast sales experience working at several Music wholesale and manufacturing startups such as Kustom Electronics, Acoutsic Control Corporation, and Roland Corporation. Near the end of 1981, Steve joined Yamaha Corporation first as a District Sales Manager, then National Sales Manager, General Manager, Corporate Planning Manager, and finally, as General Manager of Customer Support, managing an $8 million dollar budget and a staff of 85. After 21 years at Yamaha, Steve left the music business to join the family real estate business. In 2006, Steve entered the commercial printing business and was employed by RR Donnelly until his retiring in 2013. Steve now works part time for Comnet Marketing, a longtime sponsor of the Festival, utilizing his vast sales expertise to help raise money for Comnet’s non-profit customers. Steve joined the Festival Board in December 2015.
Hotel, Business & Vendor Liaison
From 1959 to 1966, Mary Ann worked in the engineering department of North American Rockwell Aviation in Downey, California, which was developing the Apollo command and Service Module. Later she gained additional experience in San Francisco as a broker assistant at Kidder Peabody, a head cashier at Thompson MacKinnon and an assistant building manager for Equitable Real Estate. In 1993, Mary Ann and her husband, Dennis Ramsden, purchased the McCully House Inn, Restaurant, B&B and Catering Company in Jacksonville, Oregon, and operated the establishment until 2005.
Mary Ann is active in the community serving as President of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce (1994 – 1996), and was successful in bringing the Oregon Mayors convention to Jacksonville. She was awarded “Person of the year” in Jacksonville, Oregon in 1996, and in 2003 she and Dennis were named “Business of the Year” by the Medford Chamber of Commerce. She served as Medford Chamber of Commerce Ambassador (1994-2005), as Board Member of the Peter Britt Music Festival (1995-2005), and Mobility Unlimited (2003-2005). After the sale of the McCully House, Mary Ann has continued her service to the Jacksonville community, acting as Vice President for the Jacksonville Booster’s (2006-2012), an active member of the Jacksonville Garden Club and Jacksonville Seniors. Mary Ann also devotes time to Jacksonville’s Victorian Christmas and the Southern Oregon Historical Society.
Her volunteerism has no bounds; since joining Soroptimist International of Medford in 1999, she has served as President (2004-2005), and was voted “Soroptimist of the Year” in 2005. As District Director (2008-2010) she was responsible for a total of 39 Soroptimist Clubs covering western and southern Oregon and Washington state, and more recently, Co-President (2015-2016). Through affiliate partnerships with Soroptimist she has been able to volunteer for many worthwhile organizations such as, the Salvation Army and Habitat for Humanity, among others. She has been a member of the Southern Oregon Music Festival Board of Directors since 2005.
The Southern Oregon Music Festival (SOMF) is a 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to cultivating, fostering, sponsoring, and developing the understanding, taste and love of traditional jazz and period contemporary music through youth education programs and an annual Festival.
Robin E. Brown
Mary Ann Ramsden
Gwenne Wilcox | Director