Meet our Team
From interns to board members to volunteers, the Joseph Avenue Arts and Culture Alliance has dozens of champions working hard to reinvigorate the neighborhood through the power of the arts. Here are some of the key people who make up our team.
Neil R. Scheier, M.D, President of JAACA, also serves as Vice President of the Joseph Avenue Business Association and has worked for years to improve the climate of life and work in Rochester. Neil has master’s degrees in finance and economics, Ph.D. studies in economics, and an M.D. from New York Medical College. He’s practiced medicine for 30 years and developed senior living centers in Upstate New York. Neil is a father of six and grandfather of 15.
William (Bill) J. Ferguson II, Vice President of JAACA, holds a B.A. in Dance from The Conservatory of Music at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Bill joined Garth Fagan Dance in 1989 and became a principal company member in 1996. Since retiring from the concert stage in 2008, he’s served as Executive Artistic Liaison for Garth Fagan Dance and as Personal Assistant to Garth Fagan. A U.S. Air Force veteran, Bill is married to Nicolette Ferguson and is father to William Donovan and Nicholas Lamond.
Alan Feldstein, JAACA treasurer, has practiced law in the area of commercial real estate for over 40 years and has been a partner with Boylan Code since 1999. He holds B.A. and J.D. degrees from SUNY Buffalo. Alan’s family attended Congregation B’nai Israel (now being renovated as our center for performing and visual arts) and he had his Bar Mitzvah there. Alan lives in Penfield with his wife, Bonnie.
Christine L. Ridarsky, JAACA secretary, is Rochester city historian and historical services consultant for the Rochester Public Library, where she manages the Local History & Genealogy Division. Among her fondest childhood memories: going to the theater to see plays with her grandparents, researching the Underground Railroad for a National History Day project, and playing in her high school band. Christine is passionate about creating access to educational and cultural experiences that can transform personal development, and she sees her participation in the JAACA as a way to do that.
Darrin Brentnall currently serves as Vice President, Commercial Services Officer at Canandaigua National Bank & Trust Company. A longtime resident of the Finger Lakes Region, Darrin graduated from Newark High School and holds an MBA from the University of Rochester. He is President of the Wayne County Business Association. He lives in Farmington with his family and their dog, Daisy.
Ned Corman holds degrees from UR’s Eastman School of Music and Penn State University. An accomplished musician, he’s performed and recorded with Chuck Mangione, Fred Waring & The Pennsylvanians, the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, and others. A music educator for more than three decades, Ned taught in the Penfield Central School District for more than 25 years, where he pioneered their jazz program and founded the Penfield Music Commission Project. He also founded The Commission Project, Swing ‘n Jazz, and Rochester Independent Music Festival. Ned is married to artist and philanthropist Linda Q. Corman.
Sherman Dickerson is a lifelong resident of Rochester, with a long history of devotion to families and community. The father of two sons, he currently works for General Motors. In addition to serving on the Board of the Joseph Avenue Arts and Culture Alliance, Sherman is President of the Joseph Avenue Business Association. He is the recipient of numerous entrepreneurship and community service awards.
Meredith Dragon has been CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester since April 2016. Prior, she had served as Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts since 2009 and Assistant Director at the Jewish Federation of Jacksonville, Florida, for 13 years. Meredith has brought donors, agencies, synagogues, and institutions together for the greater good of Rochester’s Jewish community. She is married to Ze’ev and has three sons, Matan, Ori and Etai.
Michael Rothman holds B.A. and M.A. degrees from the University of Rochester, and a Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Minnesota. He served on faculty at the Minneapolis Community and Technical College for more than 30 years. A 1961 graduate of Irondequoit High School, Michael has deep roots in Rochester, where he was born and raised. He had his Bar Mitzvah at B’nai Israel, and fondly remembers the vitality of the Joseph Ave neighborhood during his childhood.
Kathleen (Kate) Washington currently serves as the CEO of the Owner Worker Network in Rochester, NY. Previously she served the Rochester community as Deputy Commissioner of Neighborhood and Business Development. A Fulbright Scholar, Kate earned her MBA at the University of Rochester's Simon School of Business, subsequently served on their adjunct faculty, and has served as Co-Chair of the Simon School Alumni Board since 2012. Prior leadership roles include Vice President of the Regional Economic Development Corporation and Co-Chair of the Finger Lakes Economic Development Council. She is a founding member of the Women’s Coalition of St. Croix, the first rape crisis center and domestic violence center in the Caribbean. As president of the New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault, she helped craft the Sexual Assault Reform Act, which was signed into law by Governor Pataki in 2001 and secured funding for 76 rape crisis centers throughout New York State. Performance credits include theater director, violinist, jazz musician and writer. Kate lives in and loves Rochester, NY.
David J. Pacific, Executive Director
A classically trained pianist, vocalist, and conductor, David devoted a number of years to performing in music, theater, and dance while simultaneously cultivating his passion and commitment to enabling the artistic expression, exposure, and education of all people who wish to gain access to the arts. He has long believed in partnerships between community music schools, performing and visual arts organizations, private enterprises, and accredited colleges and universities. Previously David served as the Assistant, then Associate Director of the Southeastern Piano Festival; he also served The Friends of Chamber Music - Kansas City as Community Outreach and Marketing Director.
A New York native, David earned a Bachelor of Music and a Graduate Certificate in Piano Pedagogy from Nazareth College of Rochester, graduating cum laude with awards for Excellence in Piano Performance and Choral Conducting, and a Master of Music degree in Piano Performance from the University of South Carolina. He and his partner make their home in the Upper Monroe neighborhood with their Border Collie, Gatsby.
Our Interns and Urban Fellows
Kelsey Stewart, Teresa Shyr, and Matthew Nedvin, all from Eastman School of Music.