Board & Staff


Program Coordinator – Katia Cardenas

Katia Cardenas (she/her/hers) has been working with Minnesota Jazz Education since 2015, leading programming, marketing, communications, development and community outreach. Katia is passionate about inspiring youth leadership, community building and social justice. She is a core member with numerous local arts networks and organizations, including Pangea World Theater, Minnesota Jewish Theater and St. Paul Public Schools’ Community Education program. Katia also volunteers with Twin Cities Cabaret Artists Network (TCCAN), and Jazz Central Studios, also working with

Katia is a local performing artist hailing from the Pacific Northwest, and California’s Central Valley. A jazz and r&b vocalist, as well as an actor, dancer, director and teaching artist, Katia came to the Twin Cities in 2006 to attend Macalester College, (Psychology Major, Theater minor). After graduating in 2010, she worked as a freelance theater arts educator, leading theater classes for youth at local youth theater companies, City of St. Paul camps, and area rehabilitation centers. She also worked for 3 years in after school programs in St. Paul Public Schools, specializing in program evaluation. To learn more, visit

Board of Directors

Justin Christy – Chair. Strategy and Learning Manager, Bush Foundation; jazz advocate

Diane Snodgrass – Chair, Programs Committee. Advisor of Experience Jazz. Retired Music Director, Ramsey Middle School, Saint Paul; Director and Founder of Twin Cities Youth Bands.

Tony Simmons – Executive Director of High School for Recording Arts, expert of deeper learning in education, entertainment lawyer, co-founder of Another Level Records.

Clarence White – Associate Director of East Side Freedom Library; former blogger, writer, editor and publicist for St. Paul Almanac; former writer for the National Farmers Union (Washington, D.C.), Nonviolent Peaceforce, Blues Vision: African American Writing from Minnesota 


Richard Erickson – Director Emeritus. Co-owner of Dakota Jazz Club and Restaurant; former CEO Holiday Stores and Stations.

Lowell Pickett – Director Emeritus and Co-Founder of MJE. Co-owner and originator of Dakota Jazz Club and Restaurant

Tom Trow – Co-founder and Board Member Emeritus of MJE.  Consultant to nonprofits; former Executive Producer at Twin Cities Public Television; Adjunct Professor, University of Minnesota