Serving Southwest Florida Music Students since 1991

The Music Foundation of Southwest Florida, Inc.

The Music Foundation of SW Florida aims to enrich and transform the lives of young people by igniting and nurturing the life long joy of making music.

The Music Foundation of Southwest Florida is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization dedicated to encouraging and supporting interest in the musical arts among young people through summer camps, a traveling instrument program that brings instruments to all Lee County elementary schools, and through grants and scholarship programs.  Tax ID:  650264107

The Music Foundation of Southwest Florida Board of Directors -  2017

Ruth Christman, Executive Director - Ruth is very active as both a performer and teacher throughout South Florida.

She has performed with The Florida Philharmonic, the New World Symphony, the Palm Beach Opera Orchestra,

The Charlotte Symphony, Opera Naples and the Southwest Florida Symphony. She has also performed with Johnny Mathis,

Bebe Newirth, Bernadette Peters, Indina Menzel, James Taylor, Olivia Newton John, Clay Aiken and Michael Bolton.

As a teacher, she maintains a private studio of students and is an adjunct faculty member of Florida Southwestern State College.

She is also very active with The Music Foundation of Southwest Florida, of which she is the Executive Director. In 2010 she

was awarded the Angel of the Arts - Arts Organization Leader of the Year.


Ruth earned her Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Concordia University and her Master’s degree in Oboe Performance

from Northwestern
University. She also has a Professional Studies degree in Oboe Performance from The Harid Conservatory in Boca Raton, Florida,

now currently Lynn University.  Prior to moving to Florida, Ruth was also active as a teacher and performer in the Chicago area -

where she was born and raised. She has performed all throughout the United States as well as in Germany, Austria, Taiwan, and Japan.




William Dawson, President​ - William Dawson, is an alumnus of the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia where

he studied piano under world famed concert pianist, Rudolf Serkin. Bill  completed his graduate studies at Yale University.

He has appeared as soloist with the Boston Pops and various other orchestras and has concertized as a soloist throughout the U.S.,

Europe, Asia and Latin America. He is Professor Emeritus at Miami Dade College and is a founder of the New World School of the

Arts in Miami. Dawson has been a Visiting Professor at universities in Central America and Mexico. He was commissioned

by the Southwest Florida Symphony to compose choral works and was named  Composer of the Year (2007) by the

Florida State Music Teachers Association. 




Barbara Fischer - Southwest Florida harpist Barbara Fischer has never known a home without a harp. Her primary teachers

have included Mary Johnson, Laura Elder, and Elizabeth Lilly. Barbara's style of playing is largely inspired by her mother,

Bambi Fischer (thank you mom!) and gospel harpist Linda Rice. She has earned superior ratings in competitions, even before

beginning formal study. Through her collegiate studies, Barbara has had the opportunity to play under renowned composer,

conductor and clinician Dr. David R. Holsinger. In addition, she frequently adds musical ambiance to events in the community

such as weddings, dinners, and church services. Still, her main love is arranging music for the harp: especially gospel and pop

(check out her YouTube channel). She loves the feeling of playing an “unharpistic” piece on an electric harp, and hopes to

bring the harp off of the pedestal and into the real world. Barbara was awarded best musical performance in Ghostbird Theatre

Company's 2017 24 Hour Festival. Barbara has been published in a premier harp periodical,  The American Harp Journal,

and enjoys teaching private music lessons, as well as blogging.  She also holds a BA in Communication and an MA in English.



Stacey Gossmann ​-  Stacey Gossmann lives in Fort Myers, and plays the bassoon in three orchestras (Florida Southwestern State College, Gulf Coast Symphony and Naples Symphony), Florida Southwestern State College band and numerous ensembles.  She received her Masters of Music from Cleveland Institute of Music before embarking in the world of business.  She worked for Xerox for 15 years, during which time she got an MBA from Rochester Institute of Technology before coming to Florida.  She never played the bassoon while working for Xerox, and in 2002 she started playing again, and has not stopped.  She also makes bassoon reeds for sale, teaches the bassoon, walks dogs and plays tennis.



Sabrina Gruber - Pianist Sabrina Gruber is a graduate of Florida State University, where she received her Bachelor of Music degree

specializing in Music Therapy.  Her principal piano teachers include Leonard Mastrogiacomo and Heidi Louise Williams. 

She completed her clinical music therapy internship at Hope Hospice, where she worked with children and adults with

life threatening illnesses.  Sabrina enjoys teaching introductory through early-advanced level pianists.  Her passion for

instructing piano students with special needs has led to experience with Autism, vision impairments, and down syndrome. 

In addition, she recently received a grant to work with VSA (Very Special Arts) to visit low-income schools and provide

music classes for grades K-12 students with special needs.  A current board member of the Southwest Florida Music Foundation,

she is also a member of the Florida Music Teachers and National Music Teachers Associations.  Sabrina enjoys collaborations

with school choirs and student instrumentalists in local and regional festivals.



Katherine Light, Secretary/Treasurer​ -  Katherine Light has a Bachelor of Music in Music Education from

Iowa State University and a Master of Music in Trombone Performance from the University of Michigan.  She taught

general and instrumental music in several school districts in central Iowa and was an adjunct professor of low brass

instruments at Drake University in Des Moines. She played trombone professionally in a variety of venues, including

playing 2nd trombone in the Des Moines Symphony for 25 years.  Since moving to the Fort Myers area in 2002,

Katherine taught general music in the Lee County Schools for 6 years.  She has continued to play the trombone

professionally in Southwest Florida.





Patrick Neuman- Patrick Neuman earned a Bachelors Degree in music from the University of Wisconsin, a Masters Degree in music from

Northwestern University, and a Masters Degree in Educational Leadership from Western Michigan University.

                                       

 His accomplishments include:

  •  Middle and High School instrumental music teacher / director of bands for 14 years in Elgin, Illinois and Delavan, Wisconsin.
  •  Principal trumpet, Milwaukee Civic Orchestra and Elgin, IL and Beloit, WI Symphony Orchestras and free-lance performer

           in Wisconsin, Illinois,  Michigan and Florida.

  •  Led / administered music and fine arts programs in the Benton Harbor and Kalamazoo Michigan schools for 22 years.
  •  Principal of the Benton Harbor, MI Creative Arts Academy Magnet School, a US Dept. of Education Exemplary School.
  •  Music Education Consultant for Kalamazoo and South Haven Michigan Schools and for the Kalamazoo County Education

           For The Arts Program and arts  education grant writer.

  •  Regional chairperson for education programs sponsored by the Gilmore International Keyboard Festival and the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. 

Currently Patrick is a member of the Southwest Florida Symphony Education Committee, on the Board of Directors of the Southwest Florida Music Foundation, and President of the Island Towers Association Board of Directors. In addition he works for Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, a summer fine arts camp in Michigan.




Dorothy RodwellDorothy earned her BA from SUNY at Fredonia in Voice and has enjoyed singing in ensembles

and solo concerts in Miami (Miami Grand Opera) and Fort Myers.  Music has played a key role in her life and that’s

why she is glad to contribute to the Music Foundation of SW Florida as a board member.  She is a licensed psychotherapist.




Jason Thomashefsky -

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