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Meet the LCL Mentor Team: Guiding Your Success with Expertise, Compassion, and Dedication

We're the passionate minds behind Leaders Creating, and we're all about making your organization shine. Picture this: custom-designed presentations and activities that dive deep into your unique challenges. We bring the perfect blend of team-building antics, hands-on learning, lively group discussions, and keynote wisdom. But here's the secret sauce – every workshop is not just insightful but also an absolute blast. Get ready for a journey with us that's as rewarding as it is challenging!

Tyson Wooters

Tyson Wooters

LCL Mentor

Tyson has been called an entertainer, a comedian, and most importantly an educator. His life mission is to educate people through humor, shared experiences, and win-wins, about the phenomenal power of helping those around you by activating them to help each other.

Although Tyson spent his first career educating in public schools, colleges, and corporate events, these days he serves educators in the classroom, in personal development, and even in retirement.

Tyson lives in Salem, Oregon. He enjoys travel, scuba diving, and hugging strangers, which he has done in 45 U.S. states and 15 countries.

Gary Rupert

Gary Rupert

Lead LCL Mentor

Gary L. Rupert was a music educator for 40 years and was most recently the Band Director at Smithsburg High School in Smithsburg, Maryland where his bands consistently achieved Superior ratings at local, state and national levels. He is a sought-after conductor and adjudicator in the areas of symphonic bands and jazz ensembles. An avid blogger whose daily entries are followed by people in over 57 countries, Mr. Rupert is the author of a daily inspirational book for students and teachers, "Today, No Every Day." He is also a sought after speaker on leadership, motivation and creating a positive learning environment.

Mr. Rupert has been named an Outstanding Maryland Music Educator, a Teacher of Excellence in both the Frederick and Washington County public schools, and has been twice nominated as a Disney Teacher of Excellence.

John Franklin

John Franklin

LCL Mentor

John is an educator in music and leadership who also happens to be a band director, a role that he has served for 22 years in a variety of settings including middle school, high school, small college, large state university, and both private and public institutions. His diverse experiences in developing and growing band programs have provided opportunities for John to learn from his students how to help them become effective peer leaders in order to create positive, intentional, and goal-driven band cultures. John’s work as a leadership clinician ranges from self-development and improvement, effective communication and pedagogical skills, and the application of servant leadership in the music ensemble setting. His materials are adaptable for a variety of settings including large and small groups, one-on-one coaching, virtual and in-person clinics, and for both students and educators of all levels.

Dr. Nikki Gross

Dr. Nikki Gross

LCL Mentor

Dr. Nikki Gross serves as the Assistant Director of Athletic Bands at Auburn University. In addition to her work with the Auburn University Marching Band and Basketball Bands, Dr. Gross is an associate conductor for the Concert Band and an instructor of music appreciation.

Prior to her appointment at Auburn she served as Director of Athletic Bands at Indiana State University, marching and concert band director at the University of Dayton, and Assistant Director of Bands at West Virginia University. During her career she has taught courses within the music education curriculum, general music elective courses, and has served as a supervisor for student teachers.

Dr. Gross is active as a guest conductor, clinician, and drill writer and has written for high schools and colleges such as West Virginia University, the University of South Carolina, the University of Dayton, Indiana State University, and Elon University. She serves on the Board of Directors of the John Phillip Sousa Foundation and holds membership in the College Band Director’s National Association. Dr. Gross has also been a staff member with Mid-Atlantic Camps (Richmond, VA) since 1992 and has served as lead instructor for the drum major area since 1998.

Veronica Juarez

Veronica Juarez

LCL Mentor

Veronica is a communication guru who has taught thousands the art of effective communication in a FUN, high-energy learning environment. She presents research-based methods in ways that are engaging and practical. This award-winning university instructor, wife, and mom-of-four can crack up an audience with her funny stories about life & miscommunication. With over a decade of experience as a public speaker and working in higher education, Veronica has a proven record of helping people create better organizations, workplaces, & families.

James Keller

James Keller

LCL Mentor

James is a humble servant-leader with a decade of experience recruiting musicians for the military. He offers an extraordinary course on how to build a sustainable recruiting program for any collegiate band program.

Dr. Zachary E. Shirley

Dr. Zachary E. Shirley

LCL Mentor

Dr. Zachary E. Shirley serves as the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Leader for Cambium Assessment, Inc. (CAI). In his role, Dr. Shirley oversees the DEI efforts and strategic plans for the company, while also providing training and education around DEI initiatives to members of the organization along with direction and support to the Diversity & Inclusion Council and employee resource groups. Prior to his role at CAI, he served as a Partner Success Manager at Mainstay, where he worked with a portfolio of 28 institutions of higher education.

Prior to making the pivot into the EdTech industry, Dr. Shirley spent 16 years as an administrator within the field of higher education, with roles focused on student engagement, leadership development, diversity and inclusion initiatives, mentorship initiatives for marginalized populations, and programming.

A native and current resident of Dallas, Texas, Dr. Shirley earned a Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education/English from Paul Quinn College (2005), a Master of Science in Higher Education/Counseling from Texas A&M University-Commerce (2006), and a Doctor of Education in Higher Education from the University of North Texas (2014).

Paul Richardson

Paul Richardson

LCL Mentor

AREAS OF EXPERTISE: Program finances / strategic planning / effective rehearsal and communication systems / building a highly effective band staff (including volunteers).

Paul has a strong leadership background in both the marching and business worlds. For 15 years, he held a corporate level director position for one of the nation's fast growing and most successful audio-visual companies while founding and running a world class WGI percussion ensemble, Gateway Percussion.

This unique pedigree has allowed Paul to take lessons from top business leadership concepts and apply them to the marching world. Whether it's budgeting, planning a marching season, or developing systems for a flawlessly run rehearsal with your band staff, Paul brings positive energy and experience to find actionable steps to move your program forward. Paul has developed a DCI endorsed program to help DCI / WGI marchers plan for financial success paying for dues in those activities which you can find here: https://marchingartseducation.com/paying-for-drum-corps/. He has performed with the Blue Stars (1999, 2000), Blue Knights (2001), and taught Magic of Orlando (2004). Paul is a proud Innovative Percussion educator.

Betsy McCann

Betsy McCann

LCL Mentor

Betsy McCann is the Assistant Director of Bands and Director of Marching and Athletic Bands at the University of Minnesota. In this position, she directs the “Pride of Minnesota” Marching Band, conducts the University Band, instructs undergraduate conducting, and manages the comprehensive Athletic Bands program. McCann is the first woman to head a Big Ten Marching Band and Athletic Bands program. She has guided the program to great success on and off the field, including internationally renowned performances in the Super Bowl LII Halftime Show and World Expo 2020 in Dubai, UAE.

McCann is active nationally as a guest conductor, clinician, adjudicator, and speaker. She has presented on leadership, culture, and other topics at a variety of public and private events for students, teachers, and corporate leaders.

Prior to McCann’s appointment at the University of Minnesota, she served as a high school band director in Minnesota and Illinois, teaching in both suburban and rural schools. When not doing something band-related, McCann can be found triathlon training, cooking, or parenting her two children.

Jim DeCaro

Jim DeCaro

LCL Mentor

Jim DeCaro was born in San Diego, California and he went to high school in Berwyn, Pennsylvania where he graduated from Conestoga High School. He received his BME in 1979 and his MM in clarinet performance in 1981 from Indiana University. His career includes two years of teaching band in the MCCSC in Bloomington, Indiana, twenty years teaching band and jazz band at Edgewood Junior High School in Ellettsville, Indiana and ten years in the Lawrence Township Schools of Indianapolis teaching band and jazz band at Belzer Middle School and serving as the Curriculum Director for a township wide summer performing arts program.

Highlights from his career include directing his eighth grade concert band from Edgewood Junior High School at the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic in Chicago, multiple concert band and jazz band performances at the annual state IMEA convention, unanimous first division and gold ratings at the annual ISSMA Organization and Jazz Band contests, multiple performances and 1st place awards in various band contests in Missouri, Tennessee, Illinois and Ohio and Honor Band awards at the Purdue University, Eastern Illinois and Mattoon Jazz Festivals.

After retiring from public school teaching in 2013, DeCaro has worked with several local high school and middle school band programs, served as a frequent adjudicator at numerous concert and jazz band contests and festivals, directed several honors concert and jazz bands, served as a presenter at several IMEA conferences, and served on ISSMA state list music revision committees. He has also had articles published in several publications.

For the past seven years, DeCaro has served as a University Supervisor of the music education student teachers and now as an Adjunct Lecturer in the music education department at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University.

DeCaro is an active clarinetist and performs as the principal clarinetist with the Indiana Wind Symphony and also as a clarinetist with the Indianapolis Symphonic Band, St. Luke’s Orchestra and the Southern Indiana Wind Ensemble.

Jim and his wife Cheryl have two children and four grandchildren. They reside in New Palestine, Indiana.

Frank Petrik

Frank Petrik

LCL Mentor

Frank Petrik is a highly accomplished music educator, celebrated for his exceptional teaching and leadership. With over 24 years of experience in instrumental music, he has made a significant impact on music education in various roles and has earned a reputation as a dynamic and influential Educator.

Frank has led performing ensembles, inspiring students to achieve their full potential. His commitment to fostering an inclusive, safe, and welcoming environment has inspired countless young musicians. Frank's instruction, strategic planning and leadership has led to state, national and international recognition for his students and ensembles, cementing his position as a driving force in the field.

Beyond the classroom, Frank's leadership extends to advocacy and community initiatives. As President Elect of the Oregon Band Directors Association, he spearheads efforts to promote inclusivity, diversity, equity, and access in music education. He has also volunteered as the Chair of the Oregon Music Education Association Advocacy Committee. Moreover, his efforts with the Silverton Harmony Project provides free instruments and individual instruction to underprivileged students, leaving a lasting impact on their lives and aspirations.

Frank Petrik's leadership, coupled with his commitment to music education and the community, continues to inspire and elevate the field of music education.

John Phillips

John Phillips

LCL Mentor

In demand as a conductor, adjudicator and clinician, John Phillips shares his unique brand of music education through workshops with State and Provincial Music Educators’ Associations, the National Association for Music Education, and at the Midwest Band Clinic. He is an Adjunct Professor at Florida Gulf Coast University. Prior to moving to Florida, he taught at the University of Western Ontario, the University of Toronto, and York University.

Phillips has been a clinician for music festivals and events globally, including South America, Europe, Asia, and Indonesia. He regularly guest conducts honour bands across North America. For twenty years he conducted the Wind Ensemble at the National Music Camp of Canada. Most recently he conducted the 2023 Association of Concert Bands convention band.

Phillips has extensive background in Arts Leadership and management. He served as facilitator and course director at the Ontario Educational Leadership Centre for over 20 years. He led a team of arts educators in the review, revision, and implementation of the Ontario Arts Curriculum. He served as Principal for the Arts Teacher in-service programs at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. Most recently he served as Artistic Coordinator and General Manager for the Southwest Florida Symphony.

Known for his expertise in the marching arts, Phillips serves as Chief Judge for Bands of America. He has also been Judge Administrator for Drum Corps International since 2000, and was inducted into the DCI Hall of Fame, Class of 2015.

Throughout his career, Phillips has contributed to numerous initiatives with Music for All including the National Concert Festival, the annual Summer Symposium, and the Bands of America Grand Nationals. He is a Conn-Selmer Educational Clinician and on faculty at the Conn-Selmer Institute.

Tremon Kizer

Tremon Kizer

LCL Mentor

Tremon Kizer is the Associate Director of Bands, Director of Athletic Bands, and Associate Professor of Music at the University of Central Florida (UCF).

In addition to serving as the lead administrator for the UCF athletic band program, he conducts the Symphonic Band, teaches courses in music education and conducting, observes music education student interns, and is the Associate Director for the UCF School of Performing Arts.

Under his direction, the UCF Marching Knights have achieved the largest membership in university history with over 400 students. They have performed at the American Athletic Conference Championship, the Military Bowl, PlayStation Fiesta Bowl, Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl, Gasparilla Bowl, Auto Nation Cure Bowl, Bands of America Regional Competitions, Florida Marching Band Championships, Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, and were featured and recognized at the College Band Directors National Association (CBDNA) Southern Division Conference.

In addition to his work at UCF, Dr. Kizer serves on the National Band Association (NBA) Revelli Composition Contest Selection Committee, the NBA IDEA Committee, the NBA Research Review Board, the Board of Directors for the Florida Youth Symphony Orchestra, and a CBDNA Task Force that researches current trends in recruitment. He serves as the Florida Bandmasters Association Commissioning Committee Chair, is an active guest conductor, adjudicator, and leadership consultant for well over 200 clinics, and has been a featured and guest conductor for numerous district, regional, and state honor bands, as well as professional ensembles including the United States Army Band.

Dr. Kizer has been on staff for numerous music camps, drum major clinics, and collegiate and high school concert and marching band camps.

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