The members of the volunteer Board of Directors who manage the Blue Jay Jazz Foundation
Chris Levister | president
Chris Levister co-founded the Blue Jay Jazz Foundation in 2006. She has served as Foundation President since 2007. Chris oversees the core functions of the organization to enable it to achieve its mission and long-term vision. Areas of focus include: strategy, finance, board management, fundraising, and program delivery. She developed a passion for music and jazz in particular during college where she worked as an on air radio personality. Chris is a former national news correspondent and on air anchor. She is a freelance journalist for various national and international news agencies. Chris holds a doctorate in law and dual masters in English and Philosophy. She practices administrative law in southern California.
Dr. Hugh Bialecki | vice president/treasurer
Dr. Hugh Bialecki has practiced preventive, cosmetic, restorative and implant dentistry in Lake Arrowhead since 1989. He is a member of the American Dental Association, California Dental Association, Academy of General Dentistry, Tri-County Dental Society, International Academy of Sports Dentistry, and an alumnus of the Pride Institute. Dr. Bialecki currently lives in Lake Arrowhead with his wife Lori, and son Drake. His sons Gavin and Nick attend college in Southern California.
Lori Semeniuk | secretary
Lori Semeniuk has lived in Lake Arrowhead for more than 25 years, raising three sons in the public schools here and assisting her husband in his dental business. An Environmental Activist on Board of Directors of Save Our Forest Association, a group founded to protest the US Forest Services divesting itself of three properties in area. The Eagle Ridge property was sold three times, Strawberry Peak was retained as was a property in Valley of Enchantment by Forest Service.
Lori has been active in the Arrowhead Arts Auxiliary for 12 years, having first worked as a volunteer coordinator of The Blue Jay Jazz Festival. She began working more than 22 years ago at Mountain Thrift Shoppe in Blue Jay, including working to benefit The Arrowhead Arts Association for the past dozen years, and worked for the San Bernardino Land Trust for more than 12 years.
With a bachelor's degree in Studio Art Lithography and Printmaking from UC Santa Barbara and a Masters in Medical Illustration from UC San Francisco, Lori has been a member of the Board of the Rim Education Foundation since 2010. "I strongly believe in art education being available to students in our public schools," she says.
She is just as dedicated to the Blue Jay Jazz Foundation's mission.
"I have always appreciated live music in many forms and have been astonished by the range of musical styles that have been performed at Blue Jay Festival events," she says. "Chris Botti and band were here in 1998. Cultural happenings are crucial for our mountain residents and guests."
Dave Bennett | Events Director
Dave Bennett has been a part of the Lake Arrowhead community since 1971. Dave was raised in a musical environment, his sister Pamela was a member of The New Christy Minstrels folk group in the 1960s. Dave began playing guitar and piano at the age of 9. After graduating from Rim High in 1972, he left to study music at the community college and university level in Denver, where he was introduced to jazz by his music instructors and while playing in local R&B bands in downtown Denver clubs. Although his first touring opportunity came after joining a local country/rock band, jazz was always at the top of the listening list. At the 2012 Blue Jay Jazz Festival, he had the distinct pleasure of joining Michael Paulo and the Smooth Jazz All stars on stage.
After studying instrument building at the Roberto-Venn school of luthiery in Phoenix, Dave returned to the mountain communities and continued to play music locally and in the LA area as he started his construction company, Dave Bennett Construction Inc., and raised his family.
Always a champion of local charities, Dave has been with Christmas in April/Rebuilding Together for 20 years, 10 as a board member, and is proud to lend his hand to the Blue Jay Jazz Foundation's work promoting jazz and providing assistance in furthering opportunities to local music programs.
Sheldon Strickland | Events Co-Director
Bass Player (Studio Musician) with many albums and album credits under his belt. Sheldon was the Music Director/Band Leader for the House Of Blues Foundation (Los Angeles). Starting the chapter with the opening of the club - Sheldon, with help, started many of the programs and set the tempo for the highly successful Foundation in each club across the country. He was able to use his first love, music creation and performance with many of the big artist touring the club, enlisting them to give back and perform for the Foundation. From his years with the House Of Blues, he appeared on CNN, MSNBC, and local SoCal programs on behalf of the House Of Blues Foundation, and created shows tailored for their markets in other states.
From there, Sheldon went on to Musical Director/Composer and on air Band Leader for Comedy Central’s television show “Don’t forget Your Toothbrush”, starring Mark Curry. After two widely fun seasons, Sheldon went on to write/record and tour with Supreme Beings Of Leisure on the Palm Pictures label. Two albums later, Sheldon decided to move to Lake Arrowhead with his wife and enjoy the good life - which now includes web design and working with students and music as a board member for the Blue Jay Jazz Foundation.
Dr. Ernest Levister
Ernest Levister is a practicing physician and chemical engineer. He is a product of Harlem, New York. His love for jazz took root at New York’s famous Apollo Theater. He brings to the BJJF leadership and board experience in the military, the US Diplomatic Corps, state and national organizations and foundations. He serves as a mentor to aspiring engineering and pre medical students.