American Voices Staff
John Ferguson, Founder and Executive Director
John Ferguson is the Founder and Executive Director of the American Voices. In 1993, John created American Voices to fulfill the need for quality, constructive American cultural programming in the newly independent nations of Central and Eastern Europe. John is a classically-trained pianist, and his performing activities have included thousands of concerts, broadcasts and masterclasses throughout Europe, North and South America, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. John completed his musical studies at the University of Texas at Austin, where he received his Master's degree. Additional musical studies took him to Paris, where he was a student of Nadia Boulanger, and to Geneva where he studied with Maroussia le Marc'hadour. His piano teachers have included Danielle Martin, Eugene List and Edith Lateiner-Grosz. In Europe, John has appeared in prestigious venues such as Amsterdam's Concertgebouw, Théatre de la Ville and Radio France in Paris, and Bonn's Kunst- und Austellungshalle. Meanwhile, his musical recordings include 'Rhapsody in Blue' with the Junge Philharmonie Thüringen and 'Saxofolies' for EPM.
Marc Thayer, Deputy Director
Marc Thayer is a violinist and the Deputy Director for American Voices with whom he has taught and performed in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Thailand and Burma. Currently he is a violinist with the Kingsbury Baroque Ensemble as well as Interim Director of Strings at Washington University in St. Louis. From 2002-2011 Marc served as the Vice President for Education and Community Partnerships with the St. Louis Symphony where he founded the Adopt-a School program and many other community education projects. At the same time he conducted the Saint Louis University String Orchestra and taught violin and viola from 2007-11. Marc was the Artistic Producer for the Landmarks Society at the Whim Estate in St. Croix, Virgin Islands, and he was on the faculty of the Guadalquivir Festival with the National Symphony Orchestra of Bolivia. Marc performed as a member of the New World Symphony in Miami Beach, FL, from 1995-1998 and founded their Education and Community Engagement Programs which he managed from 1999-2002. Marc has performed with the American Russian Young Artists Orchestra, the Opera Festival of Heidelberg, Germany, the Orquesta Superior of Cordoba, Spain, the Ancient Music Festival of St. Savin, France, and with the International Festival of Art in Aix-en-Provence, France. Marc received a Bachelors and Masters Degree from the Eastman School of Music where he studied with William Preucil and Zvi Zeitlin. Currently Marc serves on the Boards of the Community Music School of Webster University, American Century Music and the World Chess Hall of Fame.
Spencer Dunlap, Director of Operations
Spencer Dunlap joined the American Voices team in 2012 and was recently appointed Operations Manager. An accomplished trumpet player, Spencer began teaching trumpet in 2008 and currently maintains a private teaching studio in the Saint Louis metro area. He also teaches beginning through advanced students and chamber ensembles at the Community Music School of Webster University and as an adjunct Instructor of World Music at Southwestern Illinois College since 2012. Spencer performs with Downtime Productions, the Rosewood Ensemble, Quad Cities Symphony Orchestra, the Clarion Brass Quintet, and the Saint Louis Philharmonic. Previously, the Civic Orchestra of Chicago named Spencer an associate member for the 2011-2012 season. Spencer holds a Master of Music degree from Indiana University where he was awarded an Artistic Excellence Fellowship as a student of John Rommel. Spencer also received a Bachelors of Music degree from the University of Iowa where his teachers included David Greenhoe and Amy Schendel.
Donna Grizzle, Director of Finance
Donna attended Maryville University and has a vast background in all phases of accounting. Her prior titles included Controller, Internal Auditor, Credit Collections Manager, and a Consultant for Robert Half, Inc. Being employed by a wide variety of enterprises, such as non-for profits, manufacturing, the banking industry and a CPA firm, Donna brings to American Voices the highest level of accountability, maintaining GAAP standards for all accounting phases, including General Ledger, Financial Statements, budgets and payroll.
Jacob Volkmar, Director of Communications
Jacob Volkmar joined the American Voices team in 2015 as the Director of Communications. He has a Masters of Public Administration and Policy Analysis and a Bachelors of Science in International Business and Marketing with a minor in Spanish. Volkmar has previously worked in both the non-profit and government realm bringing those experiences to American Voices.