Emilio Colón, president
Emilio Colón is a distinguished soloist, chamber musician, conductor, pedagogue, composer, arranger and editor. He maintains an extensive career performing, conducting and teaching throughout the world. He is a faculty member at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.
His performances have been described in prose as “lively, exciting, expressive and absolutely beautiful.” (American Record Guide) Most recent engagements include soloist with the National Symphony of the Ukraine, Reno Chamber Orchestra, Casals Festival, Guayaquil Symphony Orchestra, the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra, the Texas Festival Orchestra, Bozeman Symphony and San Angelo Symphony; recitalist for Tons Voisin Festival in Albi, France, La Musica International Chamber Festival in Sarasota, Flordia, Mill Valley Chamber Music Society and recital tours throughout Europe and Asia. He recently appeared performing on screen for the movie Un Poema a L’Exili "EL PESSEBRE" de Pau Casals y Joan Alavedra which received the Best Picture Award at the 2014 REUS International Festival in Spain. His recordings are featured on the Enharmonic, Centaur, Zephyr, Klavier and Lyras labels.
Cara Elise Colón, vice president
Cara Elise Colón has performed in chamber music collaborations throughout the world with concerts in Europe, Asia and North and South America. Most recently she was invited to perform with the PSPA International Chamber Ensemble on tour in Malaysia, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Chamber Series, the Ware Center Concert Series in Pennsylvania, the Mammoth Lakes Music Festival, the Killington Music Festival and the Fundación Musical Chamber Series in Puerto Rico. Cara is in high demand as a pedagogue and has held positions on the faculty of the Indiana University String Academy and the Indianapolis Academy of Music. She has been invited to guest lecture on the topic of cello pedagogy and technique and has been a guest clinician for the London Suzuki Group, Killington Music Festival, Cello|Fresno Festival, ‘Low Strings Attached Festival’ and for pedagogy, string education courses and ASTA organizations at Indiana University. As an arts administrator, she held the position of the Assistant Director of the Indianapolis Academy of Music and is currently the director of Cello|Bloomington and the Vice President of the American Cello Institute and the International Chamber Orchestra of Puerto Rico.
José E. Fernández, director
José E. Fernández is Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Omega Overseas Investments Corp, a privately held international banking entity (I.B.E) since 2004. For 40 years, Mr. Fernández has been at the center of Puerto Rico’s economic development as an innovator of financial planning strategies and a principal force in the island’s investment banking industry, where he spearheaded the creation of new investment products. Mr. Fernández was president of various investment banking companies in Puerto Rico including, Prudential Bache, Warburg Paribas Becker, and Drexel Burnham Lambert from 1964 to 1988. From 1989 to 2006, Mr. Fernandez was President, CEO, and Chairman of the Board of Oriental Financial Group, a banking institution listed in the NY stock exchange. Through his visionary leadership, Oriental grew from a small regional bank in the northeastern corner of Puerto Rico into a diversified financial services organization with 23 branches throughout the island and more than $7 billion in Bank, Brokerage, and Trust assets.
Mr. Fernández has been a member of the University of Notre Dame’s Board of Trustees since 1994 and a member of the Advisory Council for the Mendoza College of Business from 1984-94. In 1984, in order to provide ND Students with teaching experience and support a local community in developing employable skills, Mr. Fernandez founded the Puerto Rico Center for Social Concerns. To bring more native-born Puerto Rican students to study in Notre Dame he established the José E. Fernández Bjerg Undergraduate Endowment Scholarship in 1984 and the José E. Fernández, Sr. Endowed Graduate Fellowship in 1998. He also established the Fernández Endowment, at the University’s Hesburgh Libraries.
A patron of the arts, José is also a trustee of the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts and member of the Latin American and Caribbean Fund Committee of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Together with his family, he launched the Kinesis Foundation in 2004. The Foundation currently provides scholarships to more than 100 undergraduate and graduate students to attend universities around the world.
Josen Rossi, director
Aireko: Managing Partner & Chairman
BSCE, Cornell University, MBA, University of Virginia
Mr. Rossi is Chairman and majority owner of Aireko Companies and Chairman of Aireko Foundation. In Aireko Josen has managed or led fast-track CM/GC and Design-Build Construction of innovative institutional and industrial work that contributes to the modernization and sustainability of Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, Florida and the Mid Atlantic US Industrial and economic development.
In his role as Aireko Companies managing partner Josen oversees international growth, the allocation of capital to new markets and products, and the growth of third generation partners and managers. Josen has led various Puerto Rico business and non-profit boards and has helped found some such as the Puerto Rico Institute for a Competitive and Sustainable Economy (PR-ICSE). As Aireko Foundation president Josen directs its yearly philanthropic investments in Puerto Rico and US education for the needy, including the arts and sciences of entrepreneurship and sustainable development. As chairman of the PR-ICSE he oversees growth in funding, education and alliances of Puerto Rico business leaders for the capacity building of democratic institutions fundamental to sustainable economic reform and development such as key public infrastructure planning and regulation.
Rafael Luís Rovira Passalacqua, director
Chairman of the board of the Rovira Biscuit Corporation, Mr. Rovira hails from Ponce, Puerto Rico. A classical music aficionado, he has long been a supporter of the arts with fond childhood memories of the Casals Festival. He has served on numerous boards including the Governmental Bank of Puerto Rico (Fomento), the University of Puerto Rico, Las Amerícas Port Authority, and Fundación Luís Muñoz Marín. He has also won numerous awards in the field of business including the "Premio Ceiba" in both Manufacturing and Industry, "Elaborador del Año" and "Small Business Person of the Year of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands."
Sajo Ruíz, director/marketing
Sajo was born as Manuel Ruiz in Brooklyn, NY in 1963 to Puerto Rican immigrants. During his youth he spent much time in artistic activities related to drawing and painting. He began studies in Industrial Design at the University of Cincinnati in 1981. In 1989 he founded Sajo Design which later in 1995 became Sajo & Garcia Creative Marketing Design and today is the prestigious Sajo//McCann Puerto Rico Agency. Today the firm has grown into a renowned enterprise under a new name SGA (Sajo, Garcia, Alcázar) with the addition of Fernando Alcázar as partner in 1999. As President of SGA, he is helping bring agencies into the digital world working with top clients in different markets such as Mercedes Benz, Glidden, Plaza Las Américas, Plaza del Caribe, Chrysler/Fiat, Vaquería Tres Monjitas and many more. In 2015 he was one of three founding partners of Horoma3, the largest Advertising Media conglomerate in Puerto Rico.
Today, at the helm of Sajo//McCann, he spends time as guest speaker to Universities sharing his experience with students interested in the ever changing digital world of advertising. Sajo//McCann continues to be an important player amongst the top ten agencies in Puerto Rico and only Independent Creative Shop on that list.
Kate Freedman, director
A native of Southern California, Kate Freedman grew up in a musical family. She first studied piano and composition with her father, the well-known studio musician Larry Muhoberac. As a child performer, Ms. Freedman sang in commercials and films, primarily for Disney projects.
Later, Ms. Freedman studied piano, harpsichord and composition at the California University of the Arts and UCLA. Throughout her career, Ms. Freedman has worked as a private piano instructor as well as accompanist and musical director for various colleges and magnet arts schools, and as music director and performer at a Southern California Civic Center. Over the years Ms. Freedman has volunteered her time and expertise at a multitude of schools, elementary through high school, where funding was inadequate to offer the students an advanced level of music education; a testament to her lifelong commitment to and belief in the value and power of music and the arts.
Wanda Rodríguez Soldevila, director
Wanda is a native Puerto Rican attorney with private and consulting practice aimed to support nonprofit organizations in achieving their strategic and operational goals. Wanda received her B.A. from the University of Puerto Rico, and a J.D. from the Interamerican University School of Law in Puerto Rico. She also holds a LL.M from Georgetown University, and completed a Nonprofit Management Executive Certificate from the Georgetown Center for Public & Nonprofit Leadership Program. Wanda has served on several Boards of Directors including: Commonwealth–Parkville School, Hogar Niñito Jesus Foundation and Opera de Puerto Rico. She is an active supporter of the arts and an advocate in promoting opportunities for young Puerto Rican artists.
Emeterio Castro, director
Emeterio Castro is a distinguished CPA and owner of Castro Accountancy Corporation. A long time supporter of the arts, Emmett's enthusiasm for many cultural functions throughout the year in his home town of Fresno, California has helped to create a cultural mecca in Fresno. In addition to supporting his local arts scene, Emeterio is enhancing cultural collaborations throughout the world through ACI's project: the International Chamber Orchestra of Puerto Rico.
Melanie Yohe, grant writer
Melanie Yohe is a native Western New Yorker with three children and five grandchildren.
In addition to her affiliation with the American Cello Institute's international arts program, the ICOPR, she is an American Grant Writers Association certified grant writer and a paralegal currently working as assistant to the managing partner of a prestigious law firm in Buffalo, New York.
She is a supporter of the Arts, education and an active member of her church. She has served on the Board of Christian Education for a local private school, her Church Council, as Chairman of her church's Missions Committee, as Treasurer for a Lutheran Church and School, as well as serving as Director of a volunteer hot lunch program for a small, private school.