SOUNDS Academy Board Announcements

SOUNDS Academy recently announced additions to its leadership. Forest Melton is the new vice chair of the board of directors and Robert Donat, Eddie Gonzalez, Selma Babic, Wendy Manley and Steven Mountjoy have joined the existing board of directors and committees to help the nonprofit succeed. Here are some fun facts about each of them.

Forest Melton — New Vice Chair

Forest Melton is a Phoenix native and research specialist at the University of Arizona Cancer Center. He is currently completing a Ph.D. in Public Health & Health Equity at U of A. He joined the SOUNDS Academy board of directors as a volunteer coordinator in 2016 and has served on the board for more than five years.

What makes you passionate about access to music education for all youth?
The promise of youth having the opportunity to walk through doors previously closed to them is both inspiring and captivating.

What was the last concert you went to?
The last concert I went to was the Phoenix Symphony. Before that, my last concert was Common.

Robert Donat — Board Member

Robert Donat has been interested in music all his life and played trombone through high school. He recently sold GPS Insight, a commercial and government vehicle tracking software company, and now spends hours weekly practicing guitar, piano and Spanish, as well as other passions like SOUNDS Academy.

What drew you to SOUNDS Academy?
I love the idea of introducing kids to learning and playing music and particularly the idea of making it available to those for whom it isn’t currently.

Why are you passionate about being part of the board?
Music is incredibly important for society and is a gateway to learning and understanding the world, as well as math, logic and discipline. I’m excited to be a member of this team.

Eddie Gonzalez — Board Member

Eddie Gonzalez’s passion for service is key to his success in commercial real estate. In his free time, he enjoys spending time in nature.

What drew you to SOUNDS Academy?
SOUNDS Academy CEO Kirk Johnson was my Toastmasters mentor. The moment I met him, I knew I wanted to be part of the change he was creating.

Who is your favorite artist?
My favorite musician is Garth Brooks. I grew up listening to him, and he has a special place in my heart.

Selma Babic — Committee Member

Selma Babic has a bachelor’s degree in supply chain management from Arizona State University and an MBA from the University of Arizona. Growing up, she was involved in her school’s concert band, marching band and symphony orchestra and performed in the regional and all-state bands.

Why are you passionate about music education?
I started playing the flute in elementary school and continued through high school. The SOUNDS Academy mission is near and dear to my heart. Everyone should have equal access to music education, regardless of what ZIP code they live in.

Do you enjoy listening to live music?
My current favorite artist is Blake Shelton. I’m a big fan of country music.

Wendy Manley — Committee Member

Wendy has spent the majority of her 30-year career in marketing. 

What makes you passionate about access to music education for all youth?
It helps to level the playing field and offer more opportunities for those who come from less fortunate circumstances.

What drew you to SOUNDS Academy?
Music has the power to lift me up like nothing else. I have diverse music tastes, which has also helped me open my mind. Every child should have the opportunity to learn how to play an instrument and bless the world with their talents.

Steven Mountjoy — Committee Member

Steven Mounthoy’s career over the last 15 years has been in commercial banking. Outside work, he enjoys volunteering, hiking, camping, fishing, backpacking, traveling, snowboarding, live music and spending time with family.

What makes you passionate about access to music education?
Playing and listening to music has been a type of therapy for me throughout my life. All kids deserve to have the opportunity to experience this. Not only can music be a creative outlet or escape, but it also teaches discipline, perseverance and a strong work ethic.

What drew you to SOUNDS Academy?
I have always loved listening to, playing and watching live music and I want to help kids find that same passion.

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About Karen Werner

Karen Werner is the editor of Frontdoors Media. She is a writer, editor and media consultant. She has interned at The New Yorker, worked at Parents Magazine, edited five books and founded several local magazines. Her work has appeared in Sunset, Mental Floss and the Saturday Evening Post.

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