Brett J. Hart

Brett J. Hart is the President of United Airlines, Inc., one of the world’s largest airlines. Since joining United in 2010, he has taken on a variety of significant strategic responsibilities, including serving as Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer. A widely respected corporate leader, Hart has decades of experience navigating regulatory and strategic issues for highly complex organizations and brands. Before joining United, Hart was Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary at Sara Lee Corporation. He also served as a partner at the international law firm Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal and was Special Assistant to the General Counsel at the U.S. Department of Treasury. An active contributor to numerous philanthropic causes, Hart serves on the boards of the Obama Foundation Inclusion Council, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the University of Chicago, among other organizations. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy and English from the University of Michigan and his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Chicago Law School. He is married and has three sons.

Marcus Miller

Marcus Miller is one of the most influential artists of our time, appearing on more than 500 albums during his decades on the scene as a performer, composer, producer, arranger and humanitarian. A virtuoso on multiple instruments including the bass clarinet, Miller is best known for his unmistakable style on the electric bass, and has brought his distinctive sound to collaborations with Herbie Hancock, Elton John, Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan, LL Cool J and Frank Sinatra, among many others. As a member of the Miles Davis group following the jazz legend’s return from retirement, Miller’s contributions as a bassist, composer and producer defined Davis’ style throughout the 1980s. Miller’s prodigious output as a film and television composer includes the scores for Boomerang, Above the Rim, This Christmas and About Last Night, to name a few. A two-time GRAMMY Award winner, he is the recipient of countless honors for his contributions to music and mankind. Miller currently serves as a UNESCO Artist for Peace, working tirelessly to raise awareness of the global impacts of the transatlantic slave trade.

Frank O. Gehry

Frank Gehry is one of the most inventive and influential architects of all time. During a career spanning more than half a century, his iconic buildings have revolutionized modern architecture. Following studies at the University of Southern California and Harvard University, in 1962 Gehry started his legendary firm, Frank O. Gehry & Associates, and quickly began developing his unmistakable structural vocabulary. By the 1970s, his use of bold shapes and unconventional materials had brought him national acclaim. Famed for his philosophy of regarding each commission as a “sculptural object,” Gehry has designed some of the world’s most celebrated structures, including the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao (Spain), Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, Biomuseo in Panama City and Fondation Louis Vuitton art museum and cultural center in Paris. His work has earned him countless honors, including the Pritzker Architecture Prize, National Medal of the Arts, American Institute of Architects Gold Medal, and American Academy of Arts and Letters’ Gold Medal for Architecture. In 2016, Gehry received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama, who called his work “awe-inspiring.” Gehry joined the Institute’s Board in 2020 after years of tireless advocacy for arts education in America’s schools.

Irina Bokova

Former Director General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Irina Bokova is a leading champion of the power of intercultural dialogue to address society’s pressing problems. The first woman to lead UNESCO, Bokova helmed the organization from 2009-2017 and was a key force behind the creation of International Jazz Day in 2011. Prior to her service at UNESCO, she served two terms in parliament as well as interim Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs in her native Bulgaria. She also served as Bulgaria’s Ambassador to France, Monaco and UNESCO and as Personal Representative of the President of the Republic of Bulgaria to the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie. She has been on the Forbes list of the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women several times. Fluent in five languages, she is a vocal advocate of European unity, gender parity and education. Bokova has successfully pushed forward a strong U.N. agenda for better preservation of humanity’s cultural heritage. In particular, she and UNESCO have proven successful in criminalizing the illegal trade in cultural artifacts and in prosecuting those who willfully destroy parts of cultural history. A longtime advocate for the Institute, Bokova joined the Board of Trustees in 2019.

James E. Farmer

James E. Farmer is the President of James E. Farmer Consulting, Inc. In 2004, he retired as Vice President, General Motors Acceptance Corp. (GMAC), completing a 38-year career in the auto industry. Farmer is a member of numerous educational, automotive and professional organizations, including the Executive Leadership Council, Arthur W. Page Society, Public Relations Society of America, National Association of Black Journalists, and National Press Club in Washington, D.C. A founding member of the Washington Automotive Press Association, he serves as President of the Presidential Scholars Foundation in Washington, DC, and a trustee of Central State University Foundation. Farmer has received numerous awards and commendations, including appointment by President George W. Bush to the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, the Presidential Medallion from the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars for his outstanding support of the scholars programs, and the Lyndon Baines Johnson Award for his significant contributions to the White House Commission on Arts and Humanities. In 2005, Farmer was elected to the board of trustees of the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts.

Herbie Hancock

Institute Chairman Herbie Hancock was named a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Goodwill Ambassador in July 2011. At a ceremony in Paris, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova said the designation recognizes Hancock’s “dedication to the promotion of peace through dialogue, culture and the arts.” She selected Hancock to contribute to UNESCO’s efforts to promote mutual understanding among cultures, with a particular emphasis on fostering the emergence of new, creative ideas among youth, finding solutions to global problems, and ensuring equal access to the diversity of artistic expressions.

Herbie Hancock serves as Chairman of the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz, supporting all aspects of the organization’s work. He has led dozens of national and international Institute tours that have introduced millions of people around the world to jazz and its rich cultural heritage. Hancock has served numerous times on the judging panel for the Institute’s International Jazz Piano Competition and co-hosts this event each year. Additionally, Hancock serves on the audition committee that selects the world’s most promising young jazz artists for participation in the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz Performance, the Institute’s full-scholarship college program. As an Artist-in-Residence at the college program, Hancock has passed along his knowledge to a younger generation of jazz musicians that will carry the music forward. Hancock helped develop Jazz in America: The National Jazz Curriculum, the Institute’s free, online jazz history curricula for students in 5th, 8th and 11th grades, and narrates the 5th grade animated lesson plans.

Fourteen-time GRAMMY Award winner Herbie Hancock is a jazz icon who has been an integral part of every jazz movement since his arrival on the scene in the ’60s. The internationally renowned pianist and composer was born in Chicago and began playing piano at age 7.  At age 11, he performed a Mozart piano concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. He later attended Grinnell College, where he double majored in music and engineering. When he was 20 years old, Hancock was invited by Donald Byrd to join his band and encouraged by Byrd to move to New York.  Byrd later helped him secure a recording contract with Blue Note Records. Hancock’s debut album, Takin’ Off, included “Watermelon Man,” the first of many top ten hits.  As a member of the Miles Davis Quintet, Hancock became one of the pioneers of modern jazz improvisation.  His musical innovations during this period are studied by jazz musicians the world over. Hancock’s recordings during the ’70s combined electric jazz with funk and rock sounds in an innovative style that influenced a whole decade of music.  In 1983, “Rockit,” from the platinum-selling Future Shock album, won Hancock a GRAMMY for Best R&B Instrumental and became an anthem in the world of break dancing and early hip-hop culture.  The “Rockit” video and Hancock’s performance at the GRAMMY Awards have been cited by many major hip-hop deejays as their original inspiration for pursuing their art.  Hancock’s music has been sampled and reused on dozens of hip-hop and dance classics including US3’s “Canteloop Island” and Dee-Lite’s “Groove Is in The Heart.”  His compositions including “Watermelon Man”, “Chameleon,” and “Maiden Voyage” are considered classics in the world of jazz and beyond.  Hancock received the 1987 Oscar Award for Best Score, honoring his work on Round Midnight. In 2007, Hancock’s CD River: The Joni Letters won the GRAMMY Award for Album of the Year, making Hancock the first jazz musician to receive this honor in 44 years.  His latest release is The Imagine Project, which was recorded all around the world with a variety of artists including India.Arie, Los Lobos, and Seal. Herbie Hancock continues to be a major creative force in jazz and a trailblazer in the world of music.

Dee Dee Bridgewater

A member of the Institute’s Advisory Board, Dee Dee Bridgewater has furthered the Institute’s mission by serving as a vocals judge for several Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocals Competitions, performing at the Institute’s All-Star Benefit Concerts, and co-leading the Institute’s international tours to China, France and India, which were sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and UNESCO. Bridgewater has featured many winners of the Institute’s Competition on JazzSet, the NPR radio show she hosts.

Dee Dee Bridgewater’s unbounded creativity, contagious exuberance, undeniable confidence, and joyous spirit have earned her a place as one of the premier vocalists in jazz.  With two GRAMMY Award wins and seven nominations to her credit, the veteran vocalist continues to forge her own unique creative path. In 1969, she hit the road with the University of Illinois big band, touring the Soviet Union.  The following year she leapt into the world of jazz, moving to New York and becoming lead vocalist for the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra. She also began performing and recording with major jazz artists like Sonny Rollins, Dizzy Gillespie, and Dexter Gordon. In 1974, Bridgewater joined the Broadway production of “The Wiz” as Glinda the Good Witch and received a Tony Award for her performance.  Her subsequent portrayal of Billie Holiday in Lady Day won her overwhelming critical acclaim and a Laurence Olivier Award Nomination for Best Actress.  In 1984, she made a dream come true when she received Horace Silver’s blessing to record an album of his music with vocals.  The resulting Peace and Love on the Verve label received a GRAMMY nomination and brought her long overdue worldwide attention.  Her Dear Ella recording with Verve is a loving tribute to Ella Fitzgerald for which she received a GRAMMY Award in the “Best Jazz Vocal Album” category in 1998.  She also received a “Best Arrangement for Vocal” GRAMMY for “Cottontail” from Dear Ella.  Bridgewater was named Ambassador to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization in 1999, joining the battle against world hunger and using her status as a performer to encourage others to become involved. In 2001, she became the host of JazzSet, NPR’s award-winning radio program. In 2007, Bridgewater received her seventh GRAMMY nomination for her CD Red Earth. Her latest release, Eleanora Faga (1917-1959): To Billie With Love From Dee Dee brings Bridgewater back to familiar territory with new interpretations of songs associated with Billie Holiday. The album features what she describes as her “dream band” including Christian McBride, Lewis Nash, Edsel Gomez, and James Carter.