Thomas R. Carter, President
Tom Carter has a long and distinguished career in public service and government affairs. In 1986, he co-founded the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, which in 2019 became the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz. After an extraordinary launch of the Institute and to continue the global outreach and educational mission, the following year he co-founded the Institute’s International Jazz Competition, which features a different instrument each year. It has become recognized as the world’s most prestigious jazz competition, having launched the professional careers of countless young jazz musicians.
For more than three decades, Carter has produced major music events at some of the world’s most prominent performing arts centers and universities, organized jazz education programs in public schools across the United States and around the world, and produced diplomatic and cultural tours as well as U.S. Presidential Inaugural celebrations.
Carter served as the producer of several White House jazz concerts that were aired as network and PBS primetime television specials. He initiated and served as executive producer of “A Celebration of America’s Music,” a one-hour ABC television special that was broadcast in 1996. The following year, Carter served as executive producer for a second ABC television special, which was another landmark moment for jazz. In 2016, he served as executive producer of “Jazz at the White House” hosted by President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama to celebrate the fifth anniversary of International Jazz Day.
Carter was the driving force behind the creation of the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz Performance. This full-scholarship, master’s level college program is recognized as the model training ground for young, aspiring jazz artists. The program is located at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music in Los Angeles.
In 2011, Carter was instrumental in establishing International Jazz Day, a worldwide annual celebration of jazz designated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and presented in partnership with the United Nations and the Herbie Hancock Institute. Beginning in 2012, every April 30 people in more than 190 nations around the world participate in performances, educational programs, and community outreach initiatives that pay tribute to jazz and its diplomatic role in uniting people in all corners of the globe. Each year, the International Jazz Day Global Concert is streamed live and broadcast on public television stations to millions around the world.
A native of Fairburn, Georgia, Carter received his undergraduate and master’s degrees from Georgetown University. His public service experience began on Capitol Hill, where he served on the staffs of two United States Senators and a United States Congressman. Carter has served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Dockery Farms Foundation, which preserves the historic property and heritage of Mississippi’s Dockery Farms, widely recognized as the birthplace of the Delta blues. In 2012, Carter was appointed as a member of the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO.
Leonard E. Brown, Director of Special Projects
Leonard Brown serves as project director of the Washington, DC Jazz in the Classroom series. He also serves as producer of the Institute’s annual international jazz competition. A graduate of Howard University, Brown majored in music administration and minored in violin performance and business administration. In addition to playing classical violin, he plays jazz saxophone and jazz guitar. Brown has performed at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the U.S. Department of State, and in the orchestra of Broadway productions. He has provided strings for renowned artists including Denyce Graves, Isaac Hayes, Patti LaBelle, and Wynton Marsalis.
Michelle M. Day, Vice President, Operations
Michelle Day has provided production and logistical services for leading political figures, corporations, nonprofit organizations, and the entertainment industry for more than a decade. Since 1997, she has directed a variety of events for the Institute, including international jazz education tours sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, as well as the annual Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz International Competition. From 1993 to 1995, Day served as Director of Advance for former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Ronald Brown, managing the logistics for a number of international trade missions, including visits to Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. Through this work, she became well versed in the composition of the Washington, DC embassy community, as well as the U.S. State Department desk and worldwide embassy system. Day has also been involved in producing high-profile events held on The National Mall, including The March to Conquer Cancer, Earth Day, the Million Mom March, and the March for Women’s Lives. Through her work with Festival Productions and the Institute, Day has worked with celebrities including Herbie Hancock, Quincy Jones, Prince, Barbra Streisand, and Stevie Wonder.
Dr. JB Dyas, Vice President, Education and Curriculum Development
Bassist JB Dyas has been involved in jazz education for the past three decades. Formerly the director of jazz studies at New World School of the Arts and executive director of the Brubeck Institute, Dyas currently oversees the Institute’s education and outreach programs. He also serves as project director for the Institute’s Jazz in America initiative, one of the most significant and wide-reaching jazz education programs in the world. Throughout his career, Dyas has performed across the country, taught students at every level, directed large and small ensembles, developed and implemented new jazz curricula, and written for national music publications. He has presented numerous jazz clinics, teacher training seminars, and other jazz education events nationwide with such artists as Dave Brubeck and Herbie Hancock, and is a recipient of the DownBeat Achievement Award for Jazz Education. Dyas received his master’s degree in jazz pedagogy from the University of Miami and his PhD in music education from Indiana University.
Will Ramsey, Senior Manager, Strategic Partnerships
Will Ramsey manages the Institute’s diverse portfolio of partnerships in communities across the United States and abroad. A native of Durham, North Carolina, Ramsey is an experienced arts administrator who formerly held positions at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the American School in Switzerland, among others. Along with managing the Institute’s digital marketing efforts and multiple websites, Ramsey coordinates the worldwide outreach and engagement programs associated with International Jazz Day. He has produced music and arts education programs on four continents. Ramsey is a graduate of Harvard College and lives in Alexandria, Virginia with his wife and young son.
Daniel Seeff, West Coast Director
Daniel Seeff is the program director of the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz Performance at The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music. He also directs the Institute’s Los Angeles public school outreach programming, including Jazz in the Classroom and BeBop to Hip-Hop, and serves as an associate producer of the Institute’s annual International Jazz Competition. Seeff coordinated the Institute’s summer jazz colony for six years and has produced dozens of Institute educational concerts in Los Angeles. He is the host and producer of the hip-hop and jazz radio show ExcursionsRadio on KJazz in Los Angeles. Seeff is also a bassist and guitarist who has toured internationally and performed on many major label albums with artists such as Eminem, Jay-Z, Drake, Kendrick Lamar, and Cypress Hill. He co-wrote and played bass on the number 6 Billboard hit song “The Man” by Aloe Blacc and wrote music for and played on Grammy-nominated albums by Anderson .Paak, Ledisi, and the soundtrack to the Oscar-winning animated feature film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
Holly Wallace, Administrative Director
Holly Wallace is the administrative director of the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz Performance at The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music and previously was based at Loyola University New Orleans during the Institute’s four-year, post-Katrina initiative. She formerly was the marketing director at San Jose Jazz, producer of Summer Fest, one of the nation’s premier jazz events, and presenter of diverse music education and community outreach programs, including Super Bowl 50 activations and The Swings: An Exercise in Musical Cooperation installation. A veteran entertainment industry publicist, Wallace handled communications at UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance and UCLA Live for an array of global icons in music, dance and theater such as Joan Baez, Ornette Coleman, John McLaughlin, Brian Wilson, Pina Bausch Tanztheater Wuppertal, Royal Shakespeare Company and Théâtre de la Ville – Paris. She has also worked as executive director of creative advertising at Universal Studios and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment for DVD releases of top-grossing franchises Jurassic Park, The Fast and the Furious and Batman and Academy Award-winning films Almost Famous, Gladiator, Shrek, L.A. Confidential, Unforgiven and Woodstock: Director’s Cut.