About Us

Kansas City is, perhaps, best known throughout the world for its unique contribution to music — jazz, which now has become respectable, adopted by symphonies, and taught in conservatories of music. It has taken many forms, but basically it remains the old robust music that reflects the Kansas City spirit.

The Kansas City Jazz Ambassadors, Inc., Incorporated as a 501(c)3 in 1984, was created as part of the Kansas City Jazz Commission by then mayor Richard L. Berkley, and is the city’s oldest nonprofit governed by an operating board of volunteers.

A majority of the proceeds from our fundraising efforts go directly to our Musician’s Assistance Fund (MAF) and the Tommy Ruskin Memorial Scholarship Fund, with a small portion going to help operate the all volunteer non-profit organization.

The MAF is maintained by KCJA to assist all musicians. It is a confidential resource for financial assistance in paying medical bills, housing/living expenses and funerals.

Executive Board Officers

Suzanne Spencer: Treasurer

Suzanne is a life-long native of Kansas City, and has had a love for music all of her life.  As a child, her dad played drums for the Shriners Drum and Bugle Corp. Her mom encouraged her love of music  and singing with vocal and instrument lessons. She played  piano, keyboards, carinet, saxophone, and guitar and sang professionally in her youth. As a mother of three, she too exposed her children to a large variety of music and playing a variety of instruments to find their musical passions.

Music is obviously a passion and sharing that love of jazz and the history of KC Jazz is only a part of that passion.  She is passionate about the musicians of KC. With her strengths in management she works to help promote and support of the musicians as she works with JAM Magazine, attending performances throughout the community, and visiting with business leaders to ensure the preservation and promotion for the love of jazz throughout KC. 

 

Suzanne has been in the healthcare field all of her working career.  She holds an MBA in Finance and Accounting.  She is in network development as a contract negotiator  in healthcare. 

 

As executive board treasurer, her goal is to ensure fiscal and financial  longevity of the organization.  She looks forward to helping the KC Jazz Ambassadors and the KC Jazz Community grow as a viable and integral part of our nations jazz history.

Email Suzanne at: treasurer@kcjazzambassadors.org

Stephan Mann: Parliamentarian
 

Stephan T Mann, retired Deputy Regional Director, U.S. Census Bureau in 2005 after 35 years of federal service. He trained, managed, coordinated, and supervised staff in Washington DC, the continental US plus Alaska and Hawaii in data collection procedures and operations.

A graduate from the University of Minnesota with BS in Business/Accounting. While attending the University of Minnesota , he served on the Student Board of Governors after becoming an export on Roberts Rule of Order and received a student leadership scholarship award.

While living in Kirkland Washington, he helped develop the by-laws for the Kingsgate Condo Association after the developer turned the voting rights over to the owners and served on its first Board of Directors. His carrier with the Census Bureau resulted in six relocations. A transfer to Upper Marlboro, MD (outside of DC) again resulted in a move to a new housing area that was establishing a Homeowner’s Association. Once again Stephan, was elected to serve on the new board of directors.

The Federal Government relocations helped strengthened his parliamentarian skills. His current residence in Shawnee, KS, Hillcrest Farms development, only had 25 completed homes when he moved in.  The salesperson found out he had experience with new Homeowners association. So shortly after moving in he was elected as treasurer for the new HOA. The development now has 335 homes and Stephan served on the HOA board for six years.

Stephan currently serves as a Trustee for the Episcopal Diocese of Kansas. He was re-elected for a second three-year term last October. In addition, he is the treasurer for St Luke’s Episcopal Church Endowment Fund. He helped develop policy guidelines and by-laws in 2011 working with the National Episcopal Church, New York.

Stephan is a member of the Jazz Friends, founded in 2000 to encourage the creative artistry and talent of UMKC Conservatory students and faculty, heighten the eminence of the Conservatory’s Jazz Studies Program and celebrate the legacy of Kansas City jazz. He has been a Jazz Ambassadors member in good standing for more than six years. In addition, he has been a Folly Jazz theater season ticket holder and supporter for more than eight years.

He married Terrell Ellene Nash 44 years ago and has one son and two granddaughters. Stephan enjoys golf and serves as a volunteer at Shawnee Community Center one Saturday a month.

Email Stephan at: stephan@kcjazzambassadors.org

Cheryl Anderson: Director at Large, Board of Directors

Email Cheryl at: Cheryl@kcjazzambassadors.org

Staff Members

Herschel McWilliams: Director of Digital & Social Media Strategy

 

Not only serving KCJA as Director of Digital and Social Media, as well as founder and creator or www.LiveJazzKC.com a, a local website showcasing daily live jazz in Kansas City. Herschel is also a working saxophonist in the Kansas City area, leading his own groups at several local venues and events while also managing his own jazz organizaiton at www.livejazzkc.com , Herschel is a life-long resident of the Kansas City area, born in Kansas City, KS. and eventually settling in Johnson County as a child. He currently resides in Shawnee with his wife Rebecca and their 4 children (Harrison, Benjamin, Vivian, and Christian). Herschel works as business consultant for a local software company with many years experience in automotive retail management and marketing. 

His earliest influence in jazz music was listening to albums of his parents, whom are both musicians (Weather Report, Return to Forever, and some big bands etc..) before joining his middle school jazz band. He credits his love for jazz to the incredible educators he encountered along the way such as Doug Talley, Kerry Strayer, Marlin Cooper, Chuck Jarrett and most of all Penny Snead (at Shawnee Mission North High School). Herschel looks forward to being involved with the growth of KCJA and progressing their agenda through increased awareness and building strategic relationships in the community.

Email Herschel at: hmcwilliams@kcjazzambassadors.org

(c) Copyright Kansas City Jazz Ambassadors 2019