Music Will Benefit Logo, Powered by Hot Topic Foundation, Presented By Gregory and Carolyn Hall


Music Will runs the largest nonprofit music program in the U.S. public school system. Its teachers currently serve over 500,000 students in more than 600 cities and towns across the country. We believe that music education is a right, not a privilege, and it should reflect the cultures of the students it serves. That’s why, for two decades now, our programs have taught students such popular American genres as rock, pop, R&B, Latin, rap and country—alongside styles already taught in schools, such as classical and jazz. Today, a national network of K-12 districts has adopted the Music Will program as their own. Additionally, more than 70 colleges and universities now use our approach to music education majors. Several state departments of education have partnered with Music Will to grow music education in the schools they serve. Its mission of transforming lives by transforming music education has grown into a movement.

Music Will began as an informal effort by former Palo Alto schoolteacher, Dave Wish, who was frustrated by the lack of music programming in his school. Borrowing from friends and scouring area flea markets for instruments, he began offering free guitar classes after school using the popular music the students wanted to play. Many school teachers in Dave’s area were inspired by his program’s incredible impact, so he began offering training to help them start their own music classes. He coined the term “modern band” to describe his unique curriculum, later publishing Modern Band Method textbooks with Hal Leonard. Dave left the classroom in 2002 to found “Little Kids Rock,” the nonprofit that became Music Will in 2022.

Food Served During the Reception

Crispy Shrimp and Lobster Spring Rolls

Slider Sized Cheeseburger

Short Rib Grilled Cheese
Provolone, Caramelized Onion, Horseradish

Chinois Chicken Salad
Candied Cashews

Crispy Vegetable Spring Roll
Apricot Mustard (Vegetarian)

Crispy Mac and Cheese

Vegetable Empanadas
Spicy Tomato Sauce (Vegetarian)

Assorted Signature Pizzas
Four Cheese | Seasonal Grilled Vegetable | BBQ Chicken

Szechuan Green Bean Salad with Marinated Tofu

Vegetable Fried Rice

Sesame Chicken
Sautéed Broccoli

Miso Glazed Salmon
Carrot Ginger Puree

Black Sesame Macaron

Welcome to our Music Will Benefit 2023!

Thank you, new and old friends, for joining us tonight at The Novo! This is such a special evening as it is our first benefit in Los Angeles and our first as Music Will. We are thrilled to showcase the musical artistry of our honorees, our special guests and our student performers tonight. You are in for a treat as we welcome performances from Idina Menzel, Babyface, Tom Morello, Michael Bearden and the talented House Band, along with our students from Los Angeles and Detroit.

We are deeply grateful to our Title Sponsor, the Hot Topic Foundation, and our Presenting Sponsor, Gregory and Carolyn Hall, as well as all of our benefit sponsors and individual donors who have contributed tonight. Your support enables us to bring the transformative power of music to hundreds of thousands of students in the coming school year.

The memory of the day I met our founder, Dave Wish, in bustling New York City in 2011, is still vivid in my mind. He was preparing for a major event featuring Lady Gaga, but amidst the chaos, he graciously made time to meet with me and introduce me to what was then known as Little Kids Rock. As a funder at that time searching for a national music education nonprofit to support, I was instantly captivated by his fervor, the organization’s mission, and the incredible work it was doing to provide the life-changing gift of music to schools across the nation. From that moment on, I became a devoted admirer of both Dave and the organization, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Throughout the years, Dave has played multiple roles in my life – as a partner, a collaborator, a boss and a friend. Together, we have shared many experiences – both personal and professional – and through it all, his character remained unwaveringly marked by traits such as loyalty, compassion, perseverance, tenacity, creativity and generosity. For all of this and more, I will forever be thankful for his friendship and for being the catalyst that helped pivot my career path toward the inspiring world of Music Will.

To this day, I am still awestruck by the initial foundation that Dave created with Little Kids Rock and by the amazing transformation that has led us to become Music Will. I am proud of what we have achieved, and every day I am amazed by the passion and dedication that my Music Will bandmates bring to our mission.

There is still so much for us to do, and together as a community – staff, board, educators, students, alumni, partners, artists and donors – we will continue to build upon Dave’s vision as Founder & Chief Visionary Officer. As we grow and evolve the mission and the movement together, one day all kids will have the opportunity to be lifelong music makers.

Thank you for being here tonight and believing in our mission. Thank you for joining us on this journey. Enjoy the show!

With gratitude,
Janice Polizzotto


Tonight, we celebrate a group of honorees who are as wonderfully diverse in their backgrounds, approaches, and music as the magical mosaic of young people in our country. These honorees’ artistic contributions have enriched the lives of millions of people around the world, crossing geographic and cultural borders, a vivid demonstration of the power and importance of music.

Tonight’s celebration in Los Angeles also marks our organization’s first national gala outside of New York! Why do we find ourselves so far from our home of two decades? It’s simple: we were Little Kids Rock, then we grew up. Like children who develop into young adults, we leave the comforts of home to widen our horizons, gain new experiences in the world, and expand the range of the possible. Also, like all young adults, Music Will forever retains its childhood DNA, forged in its origin story and formative years. To effect the systemic change we strive for, we will become more integrated with the system. We will also look to develop strategic partnerships that are mutually beneficial. As the saying goes, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

This future state is a marked change as compared to when we started, where we were clearly outside the established education systems. What won’t change is our original mindset, that is, a singular focus on commitment to transforming lives by transforming music education, an unconstrained willingness to experiment and innovate, a growth mindset, and a willingness to constructively challenge the status quo. In short, our DNA. When young adults move away from their childhood home, the role of their parents also evolves.

As Music Will charts its ambitious course into the future, we are excited to have our parent, David Wish, taking on a new role in the organization, that of Chief Visionary Officer. The only way we could have arrived at where we are today is because of the support of uncounted volunteers, tireless Music Will team members, friends we can always depend upon, partner music industry organizations, incredibly generous donors, and of course, THE TEACHERS! As the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child, and oh, what a village we have!

As a Board member, I’m privileged to work with Janice Polizzotto and the Music Will team and to witness their continuous progress, accomplishments, and impact. The Music Will staff – or bandmates as they refer to themselves – are truly remarkable.

I would like to give a heartfelt and sincere thanks to everyone who is supporting our work tonight, who has supported our work in the past, and who will be supporting our work in the future. As I’ve stated in the past, engines need fuel to run, and your support and encouragement are the fuel for the Music Will engine.

Thank you! What will enable us to create a world worthy of our children? Music will!

Jay Vyas

Welcome to the Music Will Benefit 2023! We’re thrilled to have you here tonight and hope that you’re having a great time. We encourage you to take photos and share them on social media using our official event hashtag #MusicWillBenefit2023. By sharing your experience, you can help spread the word about our mission and inspire others to get involved!

Whether you’re posting on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok or any other platform, we want to see your content! Don’t forget to tag us (see below) and use the #MusicWillBenefit2023 event hashtag so that we can share your posts!

Thank you so much for your support! We can’t wait to see all the amazing memories you capture tonight.

Instagram: @musicwill
Twitter: @musicwillorg
TikTok: @musicwillorg
LinkedIn: Music Will
Facebook: Please refer to us as Music Will (formerly known as @Little Kids Rock) as we wait for the Facebook team to update our page).

Feel free to include a link to our website for people to learn more about our mission:

Suggested Posts:

1. Rocking out at the #MusicWillBenefit2023 concert tonight! Proceeds go towards @MusicWill’s mission of providing access to music education to underserved communities. So grateful to be a part of such an amazing cause! #MusicWithAMission #MusicEducation

2. Watching these young students perform tonight at the #MusicWillBenefit2023 has been such a joy! Thank you to @MusicWill for providing them with the resources and support they need to pursue their passion for music. Learn more about their mission at #MusicWithAMission #MusicEducation

3. Tonight’s #MusicWillBenefit2023 is all about making a difference in the lives of young students and our future musicians. Let’s come together to support the mission of @MusicWill and ensure that every child has access to quality music education. #MusicWithAMission #MusicEducation

4. Music education is so important for the growth and development of our youth. Let’s continue to support organizations like @MusicWill that are working to make it accessible to everyone. Learn more at #MusicWillBenefit2023 #MusicWithAMission


Idina Menzel, Tom Morello, & Babyface

Musical Director

Michael Bearden headshot

Michael Bearden

Special Remarks By

Gary Gulman

Featuring Special Guests

Jesse Tyler Ferguson
Chuck D
Jimmy Jam

Performances By

DJ Skee

Allison Russell

The Big Time All Stars

Brian Satz
Michael Bearden
Musical Director
Bashiri Johnson
Derrick Wright
Emil McGloin
Tariq Akoni
Xavier Gordon
Sharlotte Gibson
Dani Moz
Alex Al


Students of Miramonte Elementary School

Jose Vergara, Teacher
Sergio Moreno
Angel Ruiz 
Emma Sanchez
Destiny Gomez
Ezequiel Ramos
Aldo Hernandez
Scarlett Ajcip
Claire Thum
Robin Tabarez


Los Riot
Harman-Sponsored Alumni Band

Bre Vendittelli
Hadley Rasnick
Izzy Savides
Rubi Chavez
Nadia Knight


Students of Verdugo High School

Joel Alonso
Avery King
Dayanara Pernudi
Bianca Carrillo
Kohanna Porter
Daniel Lopez

Bid in the Auction

Metallica Signed Guitar + Concert Tickets

The Ultimate Steve Vai Experience

Dream Getaway for 2 in St. Pete’s Beach + Airfare

Bid Now

Richard Foos
Event Chair
Executive Chairman & Founder, Shout! Factory

Ann Canela
Director, Niagara Cares

Bob Flaum
Partner, ret. PwC

Cheryl Zimlich
Executive Director, Bohemian Foundation

Chris Donohoe
Independent Singer/Songwriter

Craig Kallman
CEO, Atlantic Records

Doug Camplejohn
Founder & CEO, Airspeed, Inc.

Farid Naib
CEO, Lightspeed Financial Services Group

Greg Hall
Managing Director and Head of U.S. Global Wealth Management, Pimco

Jay Vyas
Former Managing Director and Head of Research and Innovation, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board

Joi Brown
Head of Strategic Partnerships, ICM Partners

Jose Vergara
Music Teacher, Miramonte Elementary (LAUSD)

Joseph Laska
Partner, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP

Josh Warrum
Co-Founder and COO/CLO, Project X

Jules Follett
Executive Director & Founder of the Sessions

Ken Umezaki
CEO, Verifi Media

Nate Riggs
Senior Vice President, Aergo Capital

Nicole Crystal
The Crystal Family Foundation

Priscilla Shaw Rahn
Public School Master Teacher, Colorado

Rob Heller
Entertainment Consultant

Stefani Scamardo
Founder of Hard Head Management and Evil Teen Records

Jay Vyas
Former Managing Director and Head of Research and Innovation, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board

Cheryl Zimlich
Vice Chair
Executive Director, Bohemian Foundation

Bob Flaum
Partner, ret. PwC

Farid Naib
Executive Committee Member-At-Large
CEO, Lightspeed Financial Services Group

Nicole Crystal
The Crystal Family Foundation

Ann Canela
Director, Niagara Cares

Chris Donohoe
Independent Singer/Songwriter

Craig Kallman
CEO, Atlantic Records

Doug Camplejohn
Founder & CEO, Airspeed, Inc.

Greg Hall
Managing Director and Head of U.S. Global Wealth Management, Pimco

Joi Brown
Head of Strategic Partnerships, ICM Partners

Jose Vergara
Music Teacher, Miramonte Elementary (LAUSD)

Joseph Laska
Partner, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP

Jules Follett
Executive Director & Founder of the Sessions

Ken Umezaki
CEO, Verifi Media

Priscilla Shaw Rahn
Public School Master Teacher, Colorado

Stefani Scamardo
Founder of Hard Head Management and Evil Teen Records

Alex Mitchell
Founder and CEO, Boomy Corporation

Betty Murphy
President and Managing Member, ReGenesis LLC

David Bendes
Director of Product for Next Gen Platform, National Basketball Association

David Rownd
Shareholder at Vedder Price

Elani Myers
Marketing & Events Manager, Steve Madden

Frank Kotsen
Head of Credit at Silver Spike Capital

Gary C. Huff
Managing Director, Industry Business Development, Teradata

Graham Travaglini
Associate at Milbank, LLP

Jenny Peters
Music Industry Marketing & Promotions Executive and Professional Recording Artist

Jim Dattoli
Sales Consultant, RE/MAX

Joe Armao
Fintech Sector Head at Senator

Josh Warrum
Co-Founder and COO/CLO, Project X

Kevin Cassidy
Healthcare Consultant, Zia Physics, Inc.

Lance Neuhauser
Strategic Advisor, Mediaocean

Mike McCready
Founder and CEO, Music X-Ray

Nathan Riggs
Senior Vice President, Aergo Capital

Peter Chalif
Co-Head Global Spread Products Beta, Electronic and Algorithmic Trading at Citi

Ravi Jani
Vice President of Investor Relations at BLADE

Scott Burton
Managing Director, Angelo, Gordon & Co.

Steven Ioannou
Head of Americas: Enterprise Relationship Management Buy Side, Bloomberg LP

Sunil Aggarwal
Former Executive Director of Distressed Investing, Blackrock

Susan Mazo
Senior Vice President of Global Communications, Universal Music Group

Bob Azud
Vice-President, Elizabeth Azud Insurance LLC

Carol Shattuck
CEO, Food Rescue US

Carter Gowrie
CEO, Gowrie Group

Deb Salomon
Founder/Director and Rabbi, Hebrew Wizards School

Ken Jacobson
Partner, Jacobsen & Company PC

Lee Dannay
Head of A&R, Thirty Tigers

Mike Viola
Principal Technologist, Nasdaq

Nick Carter
Many Hats Music, LLC Manager/Owner

Amy Hunter

Christine Mueller
Teacher, Oklahoma City Public Schools

Lani Garner
Assistant Professor, University of Central Oklahoma

Mandy Washa
Food & Beverage Director, Lucky Star Casino

Ryan Meeks
Lecturer in Instrumental Music Education, University of Central Oklahoma

Scott Boyd

Sunshine Gadbury
Founder, Perch’d Modern

Blake Croson
Vice President, Assurance Agency

Zenep Husenaj
Artist Brand Manager

Dan Ulbricht
Vice President, Skender

Leah Cain Thenstedt
Account Executive, NewsNation Network

Mark Weisbard
Attorney, Dykema Gossett PLLC

Michael Hoffman
Chemicals Coverage, BNP Paribas

Norm Winer
Co-Founder/Chief Content Curator, Noteworthy

Paul Thenstedt

Perry Bump (Emeritus)
Former Principal, Assurance Agency

Dick Hoffman
Chairman, Atomatic Mechanical Services, Inc.

Rob Tovar
Co-Founder, ‘The Hangar’ Film Stage

Ron Onesti
President, Onesti Entertainment Corporation

Steve Stachorek
President & CEO, Atomatic Mechanical Services, Inc.

Rhianna Chahine

Kawarjeet Yadav

Hilary Alcala

Diana Orellana

Kelsey-Anne Gutierrez

Mariela Cruz Carabez

Brittany Grace Bauerle

Executive Leadership

Dave Wish
Chief Visionary Officer

Janice Polizzotto
Interim Chief Executive Officer

Tiffany Small-McKelvin
Chief People & Culture Officer

Will Robalino
Chief Financial & Administrative Officer


Erin Musarra
Senior Manager, Institutional Giving

Jeremiah Steen
Senior Coordinator, Institutional Giving

Keith Hejna
Director, Philanthropy

Lizzie Hoffman
Senior Coordinator, Philanthropy

Maddy Posner
Manager, Philanthropy


Tiffy Wright
Senior Coordinator, Events

Finance, Technology, & Administration

Abasi Aniton
Director, Technology

Bridget Toolan
Manager, Web & Visual Identity

Diane Jiggetts
Director, Finance & Administration

Sean Forde
Manager, Salesforce Administration

Marketing & Communications

Clayton McIntyre
Senior Coordinator, Content Production

Danielle Ghandour
Senior Manager, Artist & Industry Relations

Jessica Savage
Director, Marketing & Communications


Alexis Aguilar
Program Operations Intern

Bryan Powell
Interim Senior Director, Program

Katy Brodhead Cullen
Senior Manager, Program Expansion

Lucy Lennemann
Program Operations Intern

Mary Claxton
Associate Director, Teaching & Learning

Scott Burstein
Director, Teaching & Learning

Spencer Hale
Senior Manager, Teaching & Learning

Tony Sauza
Associate Director, Teaching & Learning