It Takes a Village …

Team MJW

Meet Our Village




Stephen M. Lee

Jazz is Stephen Lee’s calling, whether he’s playing it or teaching theory and performance to his students. He can attest to the transformative power of music — the arts were his siren song and the guiding light by which he moved through his own education process.


Michael Scott

Michael has been with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra since 1976. Recently, he retired as an Associate Professor at Southwest Community College where he designed the online and hybrid music appreciation courses that are still in use today by the college. When not working with the Memphis Jazz Workshop or performing with the symphony, Michael can be found playing most of the woodwind instruments in many different chamber ensembles, jazz groups and many of the Broadway touring shows at the Orpheum Theater.


Lea VanMerkestyn

Lea has professional experience in organizational management and day to day operations of large music programs and music non-profit organizations. Lea is a 30-year music educator, musician, and the owner and director of Musical Memories, consulting with memory care facilities and providing musical activities for individuals struggling with Alzheimers and dementia. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois with a BS in Music Education and did masters work at the University of Memphis in Orff-Schulwerk.

Board of Directors


Terence Branch, Chair

Terence is a principal of Strategic VIsion Corporation, a multi-faceted development company that does projects primarily in third world countries. He is a graduate of University of Tennessee Knoxville and is a professional pianist. His concern is always “….did I make it better for someone?”

John Keith Perry, Esq., Vice Chair

Keith is Senior Partner at Perry Griffin Law Firm, specializing in family law, estate law, civil rights litigation, personal injury, and criminal defense. He is a member of the Federal Criminal Justice Act Panel, American Bar Association, the Mississippi Bar Association and has been appointed as Municipal Court Judge in Coldwater, Miss. He received a BA in Political Science with a concentration in Public Administration from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, and a Juries Doctor from the University of Mississippi.

Derrick Sanders, Treasurer

Derrick Sanders is Grant Planning and Budgeting Director in Federal Programs at Shelby County Schools. He is a graduate of Christian Brothers University and has served in various accounting positions for over 20 years.

Candace Walsh, MPA, CNP

Candace is an instructor in the Department of Public and Nonprofit Administration at the University of Memphis, and the campus executive director of the university’s Certified Nonprofit Professional (CNP) program. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Communications from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. She has more than 30 years of experience in the fields of journalism, municipal government administration and nonprofit management, and serves on a number of local nonprofit boards.

Deidre Thomas

Deidre is the principal and Chief Information Strategist at Entvion. After over 25 years managing database services, data governance and business analytics for Fortune 500 companies, Thomas now focuses on helping companies monetize their information assets via database management, content and data source management, product strategy, information integration, analytics and visualization. Thomas is a graduate of the Fogelman College of Business at the University of Memphis, and the Executive Leadership Intensive program at the Leadership Academy.

Charles Elliott, MBA

Mr. Elliott has established a solid 25-plus year record of success in defining, implementing, and driving the adoption of innovative technology to deliver sustainable business value and growth. He is a results-driven professional with extensive experience selling technology solutions, leading people and project teams, implementing and overseeing full life cycle of technology programs, and administering multi-million-dollar budgets. He graduated from Morehouse College with a B.S. in Applied Physics and an MBA from Clark Atlanta University.

Eric Clauson

Eric is the CEO and founder of Lexington Asset Management, a Memphis-based real estate investment and management company. Eric was previously the head of the equity derivative and hedge fund sales groups at Credit Suisse First Boston, Goldman Sachs and Salomon Brothers. Eric lived in Japan from 1988-2013 and is proficient in Japanese. He graduated from Washington University in St. Louis, Mo. with an MBA in 1987 and a BSBA in 1986. He is also currently a board member of Ballet Memphis and the Memphis Chamber Music Society.


  • Visible Music College
  • American Federation of Musicians
  • Sunset Jazz at Court Square
  • Memphis Music Initiative (MMI)
  • Southwest Community College
  • City of Memphis Youth Services MPLOY program
  • Crosstown High School
  • Crosstown Arts

Support Our Mission

Memphis Jazz Workshop is a non-profit organization committed to cultivating young musicians by providing learning and performance opportunities with professional artists while embracing jazz as our regional art form. Your gift of any size helps cultivate the future of jazz.