Meet the Board of Directors
Jani Springer, President
My name is Jani Springer and I’m the President for PAISOC! I am a certified athletic trainer and currently pursuing my master’s in education at Bethany College in West Virginia. My ethnicity is West Indian, and I grew up in southeastern Connecticut. My performing arts career started with tap and ballet when I was three years-old. After playing the flute and clarinet from elementary school to high school and with a background in gymnastics I found my performing arts niche was color guard. I have performed with the 7th Regiment, and the Boston Crusaders. I am still actively involved with the activity by incorporating my athletic training profession by providing medical services for drum corps’ like the Madison Scouts, the Santa Clara Vanguard and most recently the Colts.
The performing arts have played a significant role in my life from my closest friends to the person I have become today. I am a part of PAISOC because I believe that any person no matter what their background or financial state should have the opportunity to pursue their passion in the performing arts.
Jonathan Miller, Treasurer
Hello! My name is Jonathan Miller, the treasurer for PAISOC. I am a PhD student in microbiology at UMass Amherst and received my BS in biology at UConn Storrs. I marched 7th Regiment DBC for four seasons: two on G bugle, one as drum major, and my last one on baritone. At university, I performed with the Pride of Connecticut and participated in concert band.
I believe that a complete education of our children must extend beyond traditional classroom learning. My own experiences through the performing arts helped me to improve innumerable and invaluable character traits ranging from technical skills like leadership and time management, to more difficult to define, but just as important traits, like compassion and a sense of personal responsibility. I hope to share these positive experiences by promoting a more inclusive and diverse membership in the performing arts (drum corps in particular) at time where skyrocketing membership fees are leaving young adults, especially from marginalized communities, with fewer opportunities to participate.
Melissa Xie, Secretary
Hi! My name is Melissa Xie and I am a Software Engineer at GitHub. I grew up in Rhode Island, where my first recollection of performing is singing into a microphone at the age of 4 while my grandmother played on the keyboard. Since then, I picked up a few instruments and performed in concert bands, jazz bands, orchestras, and percussion ensembles. In between some of that, I also spent some time in musical theater, choirs, and a cappella groups.
I spend much of my time these days working with various groups in Boston and all over the country to put on events and workshops for women and other underrepresented groups in tech. Diversity, equity, and inclusion is a huge passion of mine both in- and outside of work. It only seemed natural for me to be a part of PAISOC.
My experience in performing arts has shaped so much of my life, despite it not being a career of mine. I firmly believe that when we provide more resources to and increase the representation of marginalized communities, we can help pave the path to their success no matter where they end up in life.
My name is Jamil Jorge and I am an ethnomusicology doctoral student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where I earned my MA researching Black drum corps from 1950s and 1960s. I am of Nicaraguan, Palestinian, Filipino, and Italian descent. Aside from performing in 7th Regiment for three years, I played percussion for modern, contemporary, West African and Caribbean dance classes, trombone in Dixie bands and Afro-pop bands, and many other ensembles.
I am part of PAISOC because it’s clear to see that some performing opportunities are becoming more expensive, which can oftentimes economically marginalize students of color, especially in the marching arts. By creating a community that promotes diversity, I hope we can provide financial assistance to as many students as possible so they can have life changing experiences in the performing arts.
My name is Rachel Jorge, and I am a member at large for PAISOC. I am a Doctor of Audiology at University Otolaryngology in Rhode Island. I am of African American and West Indian descent, and grew up in Connecticut.
I have been involved in performing arts for as long as I can remember. I was fortunate enough to have parents who were able to support my passions as they put me through dance, piano lessons, orchestra, choir, and drum corps. I believe that these activities shaped me into the person I am today, and I am grateful that I was able to experience and learn from them. I also know that not everyone is that lucky. This is why I decided to become involved in PAISOC. In most of the activities that I was a part of, I was one of the few minorities involved. It wasn’t until I started marching in drum corps that I was surrounded by other people of color. Unfortunately, however, as the activity became more expensive, the amount of diversity seemed to disappear, and I was again in the minority. By being involved in an organization such as PAISOC, I hope to not only allow students of color to follow their passions; I also hope to spread awareness that there is a lack of diversity in the arts, and to hopefully start to change that.
Jessica T. Pearson is an Associate Professor of Dance at Rhode Island College. Ms. Pearson is a dancer, educator and choreographer who danced with the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble, Gesel Mason and Concepts In Motion (Bermuda). An educator of the modern dance traditions has been invited to teach at Ballet West Summer Intensive, Brown University, Providence College, Urbanity Summer Intensive, University of Kentucky Lexington and has taught overseas.
Her choreography has been selected to perform at Boston Contemporary Dance Festival, Southern Vermont Dance Festival and Collective Thread (NY). Her choreography has been commissioned by Urbanity Next, Utah Regional Ballet, Rhode Island College, Salve Regina University, University of Kentucky Lexington, University of Utah and Providence College.
Prior to Rhode Island College, she was a Post MFA Fellow at the University of Utah. She received her MFA in Dance from the University of Colorado Boulder where she studied dance pedagogy and choreography and BFA in Dance from Towson University in Towson, Maryland.
My name yon Tande Whitney V. Hunter. I am a nationally and internationally traveled artist/culture worker and BLACK SEED Native committed to “culture as catalyst.” My artistic work centers around cultivating the individual and communal spirit through performance, education and curation. I currently work as Program Director of Southside Cultural Center of Rhode Island and previously as Dance Program Manager at AS220. I have worked with world renowned companies and artists: Martha Graham Dance Company, Rod Rodgers Dance Company, Reggie Wilson/Fist and Heel Performance Group, Ralph Lemon, Martha Clarke, Fiona Templeton, Kankouran West African Dance Company and others. My artistic work has been presented at chashama, Defibrillator, Kumble Theater, La Mama, Grace Exhibition Space, Panoply Performance Laboratory, in the streets of NYC, Chicago and Detroit, and as a Movement Research Artist in Residence (2013-15). I am presently a Ph.D. Driskell Fellow at Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts.
I believe in the mission and work of PAISOC because access to the performing arts should be available to any person no matter what their background or financial state. I am particularly involved because I want to have an active role in providing access for students of color who seek a life in the performing arts.