Dra./Dr. Frances Colón
Frances Colón, a renowned musician and educator, made history in 2007 as the first Puerto Rican selected as the principal oboist for the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra. She holds the distinction of being the first oboist on the island to earn a doctorate in Musical Arts in oboe performance and the first to commission works from Puerto Rican composers.
Dr. Colón’s career includes being selected as a Presidential Leadership Scholar, serving as a judge for the Fernand Gillet International Oboe Competition, being a former professor at the Puerto Rico Conservatory of Music, and serving as a member of the National Endowment for the Arts music panel.
She is the founder of the nonprofit organization, Oboe Mobile Foundation, which provides instruments to young musicians with limited resources, promotes oboe education through innovative programs, and presents educational concerts featuring Puerto Rican music. Her philanthropic work earned her the Sor Isolina Ferré Award for Excellence in Service to Others in 2020.
Dr. Frances Colón’s dedication to music and transformative vision has positioned Oboe Mobile Foundation as a unique force in Puerto Rico and abroad. Guided by her leadership, the foundation spreads the value of music, making a lasting impact on individuals and communities.
Danielle A. Drakes
Danielle A. Drakes is a multi-faceted theatre professional with extensive experience in performance, directing and arts administration. Drakes has dedicated her career to using theatre as a tool for envisioning a more empathetic and equitable society. As an actor, she blends living history with social impact. As an artistic doula she has supported artists on their creative journeys from idea to execution with care. She developed and directed Paige Hernandez’s solo shows Paige in Full and Havana Hop and both continuing to tour nationally and internationally.
Most recently, she directed two world premiere productions: The Wilting Point at Keegan Theatre and Ghost/Writer at Rep Stage. Professionally, her work has earned her a Helen Hayes Awards nod for outstanding direction. Additional professional credits include The Kennedy Center and Ford’s Theatre, where she originated the role of Elizabeth Keckley in History on Foot (recipient of the Helen Hayes, The Washington Post Award).
She is a member of DC’s Taffety Punk Theatre Company, Actors’ Equity Association and the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society. She received her BA in Theatre from Goucher College and MFA in Acting from The Catholic University of America.
Currently, Ms. Drakes is splitting her time between the stage and the classroom as an assistant professor of theatre arts at Towson University.
Julia Keefe (Nez Perce)
Julia Keefe (Nez Perce) is an internationally acclaimed Native American jazz vocalist, bandleader, actor, and educator currently based in New York City. Her professional career has spanned nearly two decades, and she has headlined marquee events at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C., NMAI-NY, as well as opened for the likes of 20-time GRAMMY Award winner Tony Bennett and 4-time GRAMMY Award winner Esperanza Spalding. Her life’s work is the revival and honoring of the legendary Coeur d’Alene jazz musician Mildred Bailey and is leading the campaign for Bailey’s induction into the Jazz Hall of Fame at Lincoln Center. In addition to rehearsing for an upcoming album, she is currently directing the Julia Keefe Indigenous Big Band, a new project highlighting the history and future of Indigenous people in jazz, and the Mildred Bailey Project will be releasing its first studio recording fall 2023.
As Director of the Center for the Arts Ms. Peck is responsible for facilitating over 160 annual arts events for Monmouth University that include music, dance, theatre, visual, literary and cinematic arts, many accompanied by educational outreach programs. She has 35 years of experience in arts administration, 30 devoted to developing and directing a comprehensive presenting program for Monmouth University. Previous to her tenure at the university she worked in the visual art field as an independent art consultant for private and corporate collectors. She also co-owned a full service arts consultancy where she assisted collectors with acquisitions and provided appraisal and framing services. She draws upon that experience curating exhibitions for the university’s Pollak Gallery, many of which complement the Performing Arts Series and other programs on campus. Over the decades she has served as a Trustee for the Monmouth County and Long Branch Arts Councils, and on many committees devoted to advancing the arts. A painter, sculptor, photographer, and muralist, she holds a BA in Fine Arts & Advertising Design ’87 and a Masters in Liberal Arts ‘10 from Monmouth University, where she was also honored with a one-woman retrospective titled “Natural Tendencies.” Vaune is the recipient of several awards and recognitions including a Spinnaker Award from the Eastern Area Chamber of Commerce, a Community Champion of the Arts for Outstanding Achievement in the Arts, Excellence in the Arts, and Art’s Educator Award from Monmouth Arts and recognized as a “Women of Influence” by Venues Today.