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College of Music Advisory Council

Ruth Akers

Ruth Ruggles Akers has taught music at Florida State University, Florida Atlantic University, and Palm Beach Community College. Her educational pedigree includes a Ph.D. in Historical Musicology from FSU, where she was inducted into Phi Kappa Phi, and a Master of Music degree in Piano Performance from Indiana University, where she was an associate instructor and was inducted into Pi Kappa Lambda, national music honor society.

Dr. Akers has performed as a pianist in many venues and has been a presenter as well as an adjudicator at numerous state conventions. She served seven years on the FSU Alumni Association national board, and ten years on the boards of Opening Nights at FSU and the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra, for whom she has written the program notes since 2006.  Other board service includes the Community Foundation of North Florida, Live the Life, and The Artist Series. Ruth is a member of Women4FSU and FSU’s University Musical Associates and is currently on the FSU Foundation Board of Trustees.

Married for almost forty-eight years, she and husband Les have established a Fund for Entrepreneurial Activity in Music.  They have three children, five grandchildren, and one crazy beagle and enjoy Wildwood Church, FSU sports, and the abundance of Tallahassee’s artistic offerings.

Les Akers

A graduate of FSU’s College of Business, Robert L. “Les” Akers has had a lifelong career in the franchised automobile business. Among his many ventures, he is formerly the President of Wayne Akers Ford in Lake Worth, FL, and of Legacy Toyota (now Peter Boulware Toyota) in Tallahassee. Les has served on many boards including TMH Foundation, Seminole Boosters, FSU Alumni Association, College of Business Advisory Board, Phi Kappa Tau Board of Governors, University Musical Associates, and University Center Club Founding Board of Directors

In addition to the TMH Foundation, some of the organizations that have benefitted from Les’s philanthropy are Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Big Bend Hospice, Big Bend Habitat for Humanity, A Woman’s Pregnancy Center, Red Cross, Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra, Opening Nights (formerly Seven Days), FSU College of Music, FSU College of Business, Seminole Boosters, and FSU Alumni Association.

Les is an avid golfer, enjoys traveling abroad, and is a dedicated supporter of Seminole Athletics. He and his wife, Ruth, members of Wildwood PCA Church, have been married for almost 48 years and have three children and five grandchildren.

Paula Smith traveled from her home in Richmond, Va. to attend Florida State University in 1972. She graduated from the College of Health and Human Sciences in 1976, majoring in fashion merchandising. Following graduation, Smith worked for Burdines in Miami as an assistant buyer, then department manager.

Returning to Tallahassee in 1978, Smith followed her passion and began working as a volunteer. She created and chaired an eight-year project to advocate, fund and build a permanent home for the Leon County Public Library. Before her work, Tallahassee was the only state capital without a permanent library home. Following the completion of the downtown library facility, she chaired the project to renovate Tallahassee’s five central downtown parks. From 1992-94, Smith served as volunteer president of Myers Park Little Major League, fundraising, renovating the park and designing new scorekeeper/concession stands for all the Tallahassee Little League parks. She chaired the 2001 United Way Fundraising Campaign, and in 2002, successfully solicited a $1 million gift from Anheuser Busch Foundation to install the dolphin sculpture on the west plaza of the Florida Capitol. As a member of Leadership Florida Class IX, Smith served on their Board of Regents.

Smith is an FSU Alumni Association Circle of Gold honoree and has served on the organization’s National Board of Directors. She co-chaired the 50th Anniversary of FSCW becoming Florida State University. Smith chaired the Board of Governors of the College of Health and Human Sciences, served on the college’s Development Board, and was recognized with The Visionaries award in 2018. Paula was awarded the Mores Award from the FSU Faculty Senate in 2020

Smith is an active member of Trinity United Methodist Church and Bible Study Fellowship and is married to Bill Smith, chairman and CEO of Capital City Bank Group.

Craig S. Evans, EdD

Originally from Syracuse, New York, Dr. Craig Evans started his career as a public-school music teacher and freelance musician in Orlando, FL. He became a school administrator and served as an assistant principal and principal in Orlando and Ithaca, NY public school districts. Dr. Evans also served as an assistant superintendent in Ithaca, overseeing several areas of the school district, including mentoring school principals and supervising the district’s arts programs, among other responsibilities. He is a freelance musician and conductor.

Dr. Evans holds a Bachelor’s of Music Education from Ithaca College, a Master’s Degree in Performance (Violin) from the Florida State University, a Masters of Music Education from Florida State, and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership, with a specialization in education law from the University of Central Florida.

Since 2004, Dr. Evans has served as a philanthropy leader in higher education, holding positions at Ithaca College, Syracuse University, and Wells College. He is currently the associate dean for development and external affairs at the Johns Hopkins University School of Education. He also served as the executive director of the Foundation for Orange County Public Schools (Florida), an organization that engages the local business community with the public schools. His philanthropic expertise includes planned giving, major giving, and working with complex gifts. Before arriving at Johns Hopkins University, he was the vice president for development at the Rochester Regional Health Foundations, where he oversaw fundraising activities in support of the five-hospital system.

Dr. Evans has over 30 years of experience leading and developing teams and new leaders. In 2021, he completed an International Coaching Federation-approved leadership coaching training series. He has been actively coaching new and seasoned leaders for the past 18 months to help them grow their performance and build their teams.

Doug Kreuzkamp

Doug Kreuzkamp is the Founder and CEO of Springshot, a cloud software company based in San Francisco, California. Since Doug launched Springshot from his dining room table in 2011, the company has expanded to include 50+ team members over four continents, raised over $25 Million in venture capital, and been recognized as a leader in the mobile workforce technology market. Today, global brands, like Delta Air Lines, Spirit, Avianca (Colombia), All Nippon (Japan) and Swissport (Switzerland), rely on Springshot’s applications to help their teams collaborate and safely execute time-critical tasks that keep the world on schedule.

Doug graduated from Florida State University with a degree in Music Education in 1997. During his time in Tallahassee, Doug was a brother at the Phi Sigma chapter of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity and five-year member of the Marching Chiefs. After leaving FSU, Doug attended law school at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Upon graduation, Doug practiced law at Atlanta-based King & Spalding LLP, where his clients included the Atlanta Falcons, the Coca-Cola Company, Home Depot and Arthur Blank.

Doug currently lives in Burlingame, California with his wife Karen and son Colton.

Carolyn Minear

Carolyn Minear maintains a lifelong commitment to a quality music education for all students. She is a native of Knoxville, Tennessee, where she began her own musical journey accompanying choirs and playing low brass in church and schools. These experiences allowed her to enroll as an honors student at Florida State University. At FSU she found unwavering support and encouragement from faculty members and colleagues as well as the knowledge, skills, and firm philosophical grounding for the career ahead. This was enhanced by leadership opportunities in Sigma Alpha Iota, Marching Chiefs, Tau Beta Sigma, and Pi Kappa Lambda.

After graduation from the Florida State University (BME piano principal and MM in music history), she began her Orange County Public Schools career in Title I elementary music classrooms, specializing in Kodaly and Orff curriculum and beginning band. She is a co-founder of the Central Florida Orff Chapter. After teaching elementary and secondary music for almost two decades, Carolyn Minear then served as the Fine Arts Coordinator for the rapidly expanding Orange County Public Schools. As Fine Arts Coordinator, she recruited and supported new teachers, offered monthly professional development for the OCPS music faculty, facilitated community arts collaborations, and developed district and state curriculum and assessments. She is an author of the Music Expressions K-8 textbook series.

Following her retirement from OCPS in 2008, she accepted a graduate fellowship at Michigan State University to focus on music education research with a choral cognate. Prior to her second retirement in 2014, she taught music education at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. As a teacher of teachers, she has experience teaching elementary music methods, choral methods, research methods, introduction to music education, class voice, music assessment, and graduate music education, as well as supervising student and beginning teachers. A member of the American Choral Directors Association, she is an active conductor and adjudicator for district, state, and national choral festivals. In addition, she has presented music training and research sessions for state, national, and international professional development conferences.

In her state Minear served as the past president of both the Florida Music Supervision Association and Florida Music Education Association. She is a FMEA Leadership Award and FMEA Hall of Fame recipient. In support of continued lifelong learning opportunities for all music educators, Minear established the FSU Judy Bowers Scholarship for summer graduate studies of practicing teachers as they enhance their own musical and pedagogical artistry.

“Music remains a lifelong source of challenge, transformation, and beauty in my life. I am grateful for the lifelong FSU family that constantly inspires me, encourages me, and supports my journey to ‘make better’ through music and the arts.”

Gus Corbella

Agustin G. Corbella, Senior Director of the Government Law & Policy Practice of Greenberg Traurig’s Tallahassee office, focuses his practice on legislative and executive branch lobbying and public policy advocacy. With nearly 30 years of experience working in and with state and federal government, as well as state and national campaigns, he is widely recognized as one of the 100 most influential people in Florida politics. Prior to joining Greenberg Traurig in 2004, Gus previously served as Chief of Staff to the Florida Senate President, staff director for the Majority Offices of both the Florida Senate and the Florida House of Representatives, and worked for a Member of the United States Congress. His role as an advocate and chief advisor to government’s most prominent leaders has provided Gus with a broad knowledge of the process and issues before the Florida Legislature, and state and federal government.

He is an active leading member of numerous national and state political, professional and charitable organizations, including serving as a Member of The Recording Academy (GRAMMYS), Chair Emeritus of Opening Nights at Florida State University and Chairman of the UF Health Shands Hospital Tallahassee Leadership Council.

André J. Thomas

ANDRÉ J. THOMAS is an associated artist with the London Symphony Orchestra. Thomas is an Emeritus Professor of Music at Florida State University. He was visiting Professor of Choral Conducting at Yale University from 2020-2022. He previously served as a faculty member at the University of Texas, Austin.

Dr. Thomas received his degrees from Friends University (B.A.), Northwestern University (M. M.), and The University of Illinois (D.M.A). He is in demand as a choral adjudicator, clinician, and director of Honor/All-State Choirs throughout North America, Europe, Asia, New Zealand, Australia, and Africa.

Dr. Thomas has conducted choirs at the state, division, and national conventions of the Music Educators National Conference (NAfME) and the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA). His international conducting credits are extensive. They include conductor/clinician for the International Federation of Choral Musicians’ summer residency of the World Youth Choir in the The Republic of China and the Philippines. He was also the conductor of the World Youth Choir’s winter residency in Europe and a premier performance by an American choir (Florida State University Singers) in Vietnam.

He has been the guest conductor of such distinguished orchestras and choirs as the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in England, guest Conductor for the Berlin Radio Choir and the North German Radio Choir in Germany, the Netherlands Radio Choir, The Bulgarian Radio Choir and Orchestra, the Charlotte Symphony, Tallahassee Symphony, China’s People’s Liberation Orchestra and the Czech National Symphony Orchestra and London Symphony. For the thirty-one season, he served as Artistic Director of the Tallahassee Community Chorus.

Thomas has also distinguished himself as a composer/arranger. Hinshaw Music Company, Mark Foster Music Company, Fitzsimons Music Company, Lawson Gould, Earthsongs, Choristers Guild, and Heritage Music Company publishes his compositions and arrangements.

Dr. Thomas has produced two instructional videos, “What They See Is What You Get” on choral conducting, with Rodney Eichenberger, and “Body, Mind, Spirit, Voice” on adolescent voices, with Anton Armstrong. His recent book “Way Over in Beulah Lan’. Understanding and Performing the Negro Spiritual” has quickly become a significant source in this area of study.

Various musical organizations have recognized Thomas. The African Diaspora Sacred Music honored Dr. Thomas as a Living Legend. In 2011, Thomas’ dedication to and accomplishments in the choral arts was recognized by his peers in Chorus America when the organization presented Dr. Thomas with its Distinguished Service Award. In March 2017, ACDA presented Thomas with its highest honor the  Robert Shaw Award, and in November of 2017, NCCO (National Collegiate Choral Organization presented Thomas with its Lifetime Achievement Award. In January 2019, he was inducted into the Florida Music Educator’s Hall of Fame. In 2022 he was presented with the Award of Excellence from the Southern Region of ACDA. Yale University School of Music presented Thomas with the Samuel Simons Sanford Medal. It is the most prestigious honor conferred by the Yale School of Music.

He is a past president of the Florida ACDA and the past president of the Southern Division of ACDA and the current President of National ACDA.

Michael Lindsay

Michael Lindsay (Atlanta, GA) was lucky enough to grow up in the Florida panhandle within a musical family. His family and Okaloosa County Schools gave him a firm musical and academic foundation, preparing him to obtain 4 degrees from Florida State University (Music, Modern Languages, Education, Arts Administration). Upon completion of his graduate work, Lindsay moved to Atlanta to continue his career in university advancement and to explore opportunities in classical voice. Since arriving in the Peach State, he has performed with Capitol City Opera Company, the Atlanta Opera, Small Opera, ATLVocalite, and has held staff and music supervisory positions with First Presbyterian Church and Peachtree Road United Methodist Church in Atlanta. Throughout his career he has had opportunities to perform in regionally, nationally, and internationally acclaimed venues such as the Cobb Energy Center (Atlanta), Westminster Abbey, Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral (Dublin), and the Kennedy Center. When away from the stage Lindsay works to raise funds for universities, serves as chair of Capitol City Opera Company’s board, and enjoys traveling and spending time with his family: Sami, Ella, and Max.

He is excited to join the Advisory Council and looks forward to working in partnership with the council members, dean, staff, and constituent groups to ensure the brightest, most inclusive, community-focused future for Florida State’s College of Music.

Russell Hilliard

Dr. Russell Hilliard serves as the Chief Growth Officer at BoldAge PACE, the Founding Directors at the Center for Music Therapy in End of Life Care and Apricity Consulting, and as private practice psychotherapist. As an expert in the post-acute care space, he has a long history of serving in key leadership roles in hospice, home health, and PACE, providing strategic guidance, operational oversight, and clinical care. He is a licensed clinical social worker and music therapist-board certified with specialty certifications in healthcare compliance and clinical trauma. His research has been published in a variety of scholarly journals, and he is the author of the texts, Hospice & Palliative Care Music Therapy and Heartsongs in Pediatric Palliative Care. He is a frequent presenter at healthcare conferences internationally and has served on various committees and leadership roles in the field.