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Crane School of Music Alumni Board 

2022-2023 Officers:

  • President: Carol Dumka (1975)
  • Vice-President: Brianne Sterling (2010)
  • Secretary: Jamie LaBarge (2007)
  • Treasurer: Timothy Savage (1984)
  • Crane School of Music Dean: William Gibbons
  • Alumni Director: Mona Vroman (1985)

Meet the Crane Alumni Board Members

Jane Beck: Originally from Sherburne, NY, Jane Beck taught K – 12 vocal and instrumental music at Whitesboro Central School for 36 years and retired in 2016. She graduated from the Crane of Music in 1980 with a Bachelor’s degree in music education (concentration in piano) and in 1985 with a Master’s degree in music education. Jane has been a member of the Crane Alumni Board since 2018 and serves on the Alumni Network Committee, Crane History Committee, and the Saratoga-Potsdam Choral Institute 50th Anniversary Committee.

Erin Bonner: Originally from Buffalo, NY, Erin Bonner is a middle school choral/general music educator in lower Westchester county. She graduated from the Crane School of Music in 2014 with her Bachelor’s degree in music education (with concentrations in piano and special education) and in 2017 with her Master’s degree in music education. She serves the Crane Alumni Board in the roles of Diversity Chairperson and the Social Media Chairperson. Erin has been a member of the board since 2019.

Brianne Borden: Dr. Brianne Borden graduated from the Crane School of Music in 2013 with a degree in Trumpet Performance. She then went on to receive her Master of Music from the University of Colorado Boulder and Doctorate of Musical Arts from Arizona State University. She is overjoyed to have returned to Crane as Visiting Assistant Professor of Trumpet since Fall of 2020. Additionally, Brianne serves as Co-Owner and CEO of Yoga for All Musicians, Principal Trumpet of the Orchestra of Northern New York, Principal Cornet of Northern Symphonic Winds, and member of the Potsdam Brass Quintet. Brianne joined the Crane Alumni Board in Fall of 2021 and serves on the Awards Committee and the Diversity Committee.

Madeleine Calhoun: Madeleine Calhoun has been teaching general music at Putnam Valley Elementary School for the last 14 years. She has also worked at Arlington Central Schools, North Salem Central Schools and Katonah-Lewisboro Schools. She graduated from the Crane School of Music in 1983 and studied saxophone with Dr. James Stoltie. She earned an M.B.A. in Arts Management from SUNY Binghamton and worked at SUNY Purchase and for the New Orchestra of Westchester for several years before returning to the classroom. Madeleine is on the Nominating Committee and has been on the board since 2017.

Robin DeSantis: Robin DeSantis received her undergraduate and graduate degrees from the Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam. She is currently a retired music teacher of 34 years. The start of her teaching career was at the Henderson Central School District, where she taught K-12 vocal and instrumental music from 1976-1980. From 1980-2010, Robin taught at the Windsor Central School District, where she taught elementary band for 18 years and high school band for 12 years. Mrs. DeSantis has been very active outside of her teaching career, conducting several county festivals at all levels and area all-state groups. She was one of the conductors on the American Music Abroad Red Tour (1992) and AMA Empire Tour (2000, 2003 & 2004) where she has conducted in Austria, France and Germany. Along with her conducting, Robin is a member of several organizations and has served in many capacities, including: Broome County Music Educators Association; Windsor Rep., Secretary, 2nd Vice President, President and Retiree Rep. New York School of Music Association; Zone 3 Rep., All State Band Chair, Awards and Recognition Committee, COMEA Chair, 3 rd Vice President, New York State Band Directors Association, Middle School Honor Band Chair, Zone 3 Rep., Secretary, 3rd Vice President, 1st Vice President, President and Past President, National Band Association; NY Rep. Southern Tier Concert Band President, First Ward Senior Citizen’s Center Chorus Music Coordinator. She currently performs with the Southern Tier Concert Band and the Vestal Community Band. Robin has been the recipient of two awards: The Broome County Music Educators Distinguished Service Award and the New York State Band Directors Associations Distinguished Service Award, both of which give her great pride. She has been a member of the Crane Alumni Board since 2020 and serves on the Awards Committee, Saratoga-Potsdam Choral Institute 50th Anniversary Committee, NYSSMA Committee, and is the Chairperson of the Reunion Committee.

Cynthia Donaldson: Cindy Donaldson graduated from the Crane School of Music in 1982 with her Bachelor of Music, with an education focus. She received her MM in Opera Performance from Indiana University, Bloomington in 1985. She is currently the Middle School Choir director at Oneonta City Schools. Cindy has previously worked as General Manager for the Catskill Symphony Orchestra and toured nationally with several musical theatre productions. She has been on the Crane Alumni Board for 4 years and serves on the Awards Committee and the Alumni Network Committee.

Carol Dumka: Carol Dumka, class of 1975, graduated from the Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam, with a degree in music education and from Northwestern University with a Master’s degree in applied saxophone performance. She was an instrumental music teacher at Sauquoit Valley and West Genesee Central Schools. She then served as an elementary principal in the Frankfort-Schuyler, Jamesville-DeWitt, and Mount Markham Central School Districts, retiring in 2010. Currently, she is the part-time Arts in Education Coordinator for Herkimer BOCES. Along with this, she performs in several area bands and teaches private saxophone lessons. She serves on the Executive Board of Local 78, American Federation of Musicians; Immediate Past President of the CNY Arts Board; and Past President of the New Hartford Citizens’ Band. She has been a member of the Crane Alumni Board since 2012, and serves as the President of the Board, the Chairperson of the Nominating Committee, Chairperson of the Goals and Planning Committee, Chairperson of the Alumni Network, and a member of the Reunion Committee.

Ralph Hastings: Ralph Hastings, class of 1970, has served on the Crane Alumni Board for the past 18 years. He has been a past President of the board, and is currently serving on the Crane History Committee, Reunion Committee, and is the Chairperson of the Awards Committee. He is a graduate of Onondaga Community College (A.A.S., Syracuse) and SUNY Potsdam, Crane School of Music, B.S., M.S, (music education) and M.M., (music history & literature), and Piano Certificate from National Conservatory of Music, Montreal. Ralph is a member of ASCAP with published organ works with Alfred Music, Abingdon Press, and Wayne Leupold Editions. He has been named to Who's Who in American Junior Colleges, Who's Who in American Education, Leading Professionals of the World, Academy of Distinguished Graduate Students, Phi Mu Lambda, and the St. Lawrence River Chapter, American Guild of Organists, where he served as Past-Dean. Ralph is retired from 34 years of service on the music faculty of Malone Central School District and has completed 62 years of service as a church organist. Ralph is married to wife Donna, with two children and three  grandchildren.

Jamie LaBarge: Jamie LaBarge is the Middle School Principal at Brasher Falls Central School District. Prior, she was the assistant Principal at Hermon-DeKalb Central School for two years, and the band director in Brasher Falls for eleven years. She received both her Bachelor’s (2007) and Master’s degrees (2010) in music education (concentration in clarinet) from the Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam, and received a Post-Master's Advanced Graduate Certificate in educational leadership from Stony Brook University. Jamie has served on the Crane Alumni Board since 2012, and is the board Secretary, and a member of the Nominating Committee.

Allison O’Reilly: Allison Bourquin O’Reilly (‘10) holds a Bachelor of Music degree with a double major in flute performance and music business from The Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam where she studied with Kenneth B. Andrews. At Crane, she performed with the Crane Symphony Orchestra, Crane Wind Ensemble, Crane Opera Orchestra, Northern Symphonic Winds and The Orchestra of Northern New York. Passionate about her alma mater, she has been an active member of the Crane Alumni Board since 2018, serving on the Alumni Network Committee. Allison performs and teaches on Long Island’s East End and has been heard with groups including Sound Symphony Orchestra, New Inlet Chamber Orchestra, Adelphi Symphony Orchestra and Atlantic Wind Symphony, among others. She performs regularly at Christ Episcopal Church in Sag Harbor, NY, where she has also given two solo recitals, premiering flute sonatas written by composer Daniel Koontz. Allison can also be heard on the Southampton Press podcast, 27speaks, for which she wrote, performed and recorded interlude music. In addition to her work as a musician, Allison maintains a career in brand marketing with the Lufthansa Group, Europe’s largest airline group, managing consumer-facing marketing initiatives in the Americas for premium brands Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines and Swiss International Air Lines. For more information, visit allisonoreilly.com.

Mindy Poupore: Melinde Mospaw Poupore is originally from Clarence, NY and is a retired band director who taught in the Malone Central School district for thirty-four years. She has served both NYSSMA and NYSBDA in many capacities through her career as well as being a guest conductor and clinician throughout the state. She graduated from the Crane School of Music in 1979 with her Bachelor’s degree in music education and then again in 1983 with a Master’s degree in music performance with a concentration in clarinet. She has served on the Crane Alumni Board since 2013 and currently serves on the Nominating Committee and Awards Committee.

John Samonte ('15)

Tim Savage: Tim Savage is a native of Malone, NY. He holds a Bachelor of Science (1984) and Masters in Music Education from the Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam. Tim is Director of Bands for Grades 7-12 at Canton Central School (since 1998) and adjunct at St. Lawrence University (since 2005) where he currently directs the Improv Lab. He has been on the Crane Youth Music (CYM) summer jazz faculty for the past 21 years, and is serving as director of the Crane Jazz Ensemble for the 2019-20 school year. Active as a professional musician, he plays baritone sax in the Wally Siebel All Star Big Band, keyboards and horns with a variety of other small jazz and rock groups, and performs in pit orchestras for area school musicals. His experience as a pit orchestra conductor includes the CPS productions of Annie in 2010 and Beauty and the Beast in 2012 and the St. Lawrence University productions of Legally Blonde in Fall 2016 and Spring Awakening in Fall 2018. Over the past 34 years, Tim has conducted a number of All-District, All-County, and Area All-State Bands and Orchestras. As a clinician, Tim has presented at NYSSMA and NYSBDA statewide conferences. Most recently, session titles have included Twenty Top Titles for Jazz Ensemble and Jamming with Your Students and On-The-Spot Arranging. Tim is currently president of the board of directors of the Orchestra of Northern New York, treasurer of the Crane School of Music Alumni Association, and chairperson for the New York State Band Directors Association Honor Jazz Ensemble.

Jerome Socolof: Originally from Ilion, NY, Jerome Socolof is an Associate Professor of Arts Management at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams, MA. He is a 2007 graduate of the Crane School of Music with a Bachelor's degree in music business and serves the Crane Alumni Board as Chairperson of the Governance and By-Laws Committee. Jerome has been a member of the
board since 2015.

Brianne Sterling: Brianne (Wicks) Sterling is a native of Gouverneur, NY. She received her Bachelor’s degree in music education from the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam, graduating Summa Cum Laude. She received her Master’s degree in music education with distinction from Crane. She was the recipient of the Julia E. Crane Award, the Distinguished Service Award, and a 2-time Departmental Scholar in her time at Crane. She teaches vocal and choral music at Madrid-Waddington High School. Brianne serves as the Vice President of the Crane Alumni Board, as a member of the Goals and Planning Committee and a member of the Diversity Committee.

Michael Struzik: Michael Struzik is originally from Blackstone, Massachusetts. He is a retired band director in the Brighton School District outside of Rochester. He graduated from the Crane School of Music in 1988 with a Bachelor’s degree in music education, and from Iona College in 1994 with a degree in multicultural education. He is currently the student teaching supervisor for the Rochester/Buffalo region for Crane. He has served on the Crane Alumni Board since 2016, and serves as the Alumni Audition Volunteer Chairperson, and as a member of the NYSSMA Committee.

Dr. Jessica Thoman ('97), Professor of Music (Horn and Music History) at the University of Tennessee at Martin, earned her degrees at the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam (BM), The Ohio State University (MM, MA) and Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music (DM). Along with winning principal and section positions in professional orchestras, freelancing, and performing with artists like Jeff Nelsen, Andre Watts, Leonard Slatkin, Michel Camilo, Sylvia McNair, Eric Ruske, Maureen McGovern and Byron Stripling, Dr. Thoman is also the founder of the Mirari Brass Quintet (www.miraribrass.com).  The quintet maintains a busy performing and touring schedule presenting masterclasses and recitals in public schools, colleges, universities, and performance halls all over the United States and internationally. Mirari receives much praise for their high level of performance, creative programming, and exuberant rapport with each other and their audiences.  The group produces a podcast called Mirari: UNMUTED that discusses all aspects of teaching, performing, and the challenges and rewards of being a musician.  They have also recorded two albums; their debut Spires, and their most recent Renewed, Reused, Recycled released on Summit Records. Jessie’s teaching career includes coaching individuals and chamber groups as well as public school and university teaching. She is sought after as a lecturer, speaking on topics like mindfulness, and the art of being a professional musician. Jessie is passionate about sharing Jeff Nelsen's Fearless Performance concepts in lectures and masterclasses at public schools, colleges, and universities all over the country. Every year she assists Nelsen at his Fearless Performance for Musicians seminars, empowering performers of all ages and disciplines to replace fear with trust and the belief that their best is possible at every opportunity. Known for her unabashed laugh and high energy, Jessie connects with audiences and students of all ages encouraging growth, improvement, and selflove that allows them to reach and fulfill their own dreams.

Melinda Varga ('97). With 20 plus years in the music publishing industry, Mendy Varga is currently the Director of Royalties and Distribution for Alfred Music/MakeMusic. She holds a bachelor degree in Music Education from the Crane School of Music (SUNY Potsdam) and a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from the University at Albany (NY). She is a frequent speaker on copyright and music business and was presented an Alumni of Distinction award from the Crane Institute for Music Business in 2011. Mendy has served on the board of directors for the Music Publishers Association of the United States since 2015, and currently serves as Vice President. 

Amie Vrendenburg: Amie Vrendenburg has been teaching violin and performing since 1999. Amie completed a Bachelor of music education in violin and voice at the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam where she was a Presidential Scholar and the recipient of the Harry Kobialka String Player Award as well as the Kenneth Cottrell Memorial Scholarship. She began her career teaching strings in Ballston Spa, NY. Amie then took an Assistantship at the University of Maryland at College Park where she earned a Master of Music specializing in String Pedagogy, Violin Performance, and Research in Music Education. She also was fortunate to work with John Kendall and Ronda Cole on completing a Suzuki Certification. Amie then moved back to her home town of Amherst, NY where she is often concert master and soloist on violin and viola throughout Western New York. She performs with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Shea’s Performing Arts Center, Artpark, Clarence Summer Orchestra, she is Concert Master of Cheektowaga Symphony, and a member of the Oakgrove String Quartet. Amie has been on stage with various great artists such as Stevie Wonder, Rod Stewart, Idina Menzel, and Johnny Mathis. She maintains a small studio of violinists who consistently perform in the All-County and All-State Ensembles. She has the honor of being an orchestra director at Bristol Hills Music Camp since 2013, along with guest conducting honors orchestras around the state. Amie has four children who each play instruments and sports! She currently teaches 7th and 8th grade orchestra, chamber orchestra, rock orchestra, and lessons at Mill Middle School in the Williamsville Central School District in WNY, and directs the district 5-8 Summer Orchestra. Additionally, Amie has been a member of the Crane Alumni Board since 2018, and currently serves as Chairperson of the NYSSMA Committee. She enjoys serving her alma mater and supporting the Crane community.

Emeriti Members

  • Kickie Britt (1969)
  • Bob Gibbs (1954)
  • Robyn Hosley (1977)
  • Scott LaVine (1971)
  • Michael Sitton (2020 Hon)
  • Laura Toland (1970)
  • Jane Subramanian (1972)

Are you interested in serving on the Crane Alumni Board? Please complete this form and email it to cdumka@gmail.com. Before filling out the form, save it to your device.