Preserving a Legacy, Charting a Course
Meet the Officers of the Vail Jazz Board
Filling Howard Stone’s shoes is a mighty undertaking, one that the newly
elected officers of Vail Jazz take seriously. In addition to being the longtime
Artistic Director for the Festival that he founded, Howard handled much of
the business of running the organization.
Howard began to pass the baton well before his passing last August. In
addition to carefully preparing his Amanda Blevins to assume the myriad
duties of Executive Director, Howard intentionally cultivated a Board of
Directors that has the skills and passion to move Vail Jazz forward, while
preserving his musical legacy.
This January was pivotal for the Vail Jazz Board: they passed updated
bylaws giving fresh structure to how the Foundation functions, relaunched
the Strategic Planning initiative, approved a task force to begin the search
for the new Artistic Director, and elected officers for a two-year term. Jokes
newly elected President Garret Davies, “It takes four of us to fill the top
Board roles that Howard handled solo.”
President: Garret Davies
Joined the Vail Jazz Board in 2017
“Vail Jazz is a welcoming environment. I appreciate that the Festival
showcases the range and depth of jazz music.”
Having served as Vice Chair of the Board under Howard Stone as well as
chairing the 2020-21 Strategic Plan for Vail Jazz, Garret brings considerable
experience and insight into the working of our Festival and education
programs. In addition to his role as President, Garret chairs the Vail Jazz
Garret has spent most of his business career in a variety of general
management positions in the energy and chemical industries, with a particular focus on global business, international joint ventures, and strategic planning.
In addition to his support of Vail Jazz, Garret is a member of Vail Health’s
Patient and Family Advisory Council. He and his wife Leslie (an active
member of the Vail Jazz Marketing Committee) have lived full time in the
Valley since 2013, after living for many years in Houston. Their two grown
daughters, Laura and Erica, live in Denver and Austin. His other interests
include travel, skiing, hiking, and biking.
Garret holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute
of Technology and an M.B.A. from the Wharton School of the University of
Although it would be difficult for Garret to select a favorite form of jazz, he
has particularly enjoyed the chance to hear newcomers, such as Matthew
Whittaker and Samara Joy.
Vice President: Sarah Valente
Joined the Vail Jazz Board in 2021
“I’ve made some of my closest friends through Vail Jazz. I love the warmth,
energy, and sense of community of our audiences, volunteers, and staff.”
Sarah is a commercial creative director, copywriter, and messaging
strategist specializing in education, small nonprofits, and the performing
arts. A native of Washington, DC, Sarah is the former owner of the award-
winning advertising agency, Valente Associates, Inc.
Active in the performing and visual arts communities, Sarah is the
immediate past chair of the Tony® Award-winning Signature Theater. She
has held officer positions on the boards of The Shakespeare Theater
Company, Liz Lehrman Dance Exchange, and St. Patrick’s Episcopal Day
School and is marketing advisor to numerous arts organizations in the DC
Sarah co-authored the three-volume travel series, The Amateur Historians
Guides to Medieval & Tudor England and is working on a book about the
women who helped shape those eras. Her other interests include travel,
yoga, horseback riding, boating, and spending time with her daughters and
The chair of Vail Jazz’s Marketing Committee and the Artistic Director Search
Task Force, she holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Boston
University and a Masters in Dramaturgy from Georgetown University.
She favors jazz she can dance to – anything from Bossa Nova to Wycliffe
Gordon’s Nu Funk Dance Party.
Treasurer: Mendel Melzer
Joined the Vail Jazz Board in 2021
“We spend summer and winter in the Vail Valley. High quality live jazz adds
a cultural dimension to our stays.”
The financial health of Vail Jazz is in excellent hands under the stewardship
of Mendel Melzer. Mendel is a seasoned business executive and investor. He
is the Managing Member of Melzer Consulting, LLC where he advises
institutional and ultra-high-net worth investors on investment strategy,
asset allocation, and implementation. Mendel is also the outsourced Chief
Investment Officer of CapAcuity, LLC, an institutional investment advisory
firm specializing in Executive Benefits, and an Investment Advisory
Committee member of Bluemonte, an advisory firm for the mass affluent.
Since 1984, Mendel has held senior positions with leading investment firms.
For 15 years, Mendel was President and Chief Investment Officer of Newport
Group Securities, an institutional broker-dealer and investment advisor with
over $25 billion in assets under advisement. Prior, he was Chief Investment
Officer at both Prudential Investments and Weiss, Peck and Greer, where he
led investment teams responsible for both public and private investments
totaling $180 billion and $18 billion, respectively.
An avid reader, Mendel is a student of the financial markets and has a global
perspective; he is a frequent commentator on his view of the markets. He
earned his BBA in Management from University of Wisconsin – Madison and
his MBA in Finance and International Business from New York University.
Mendel is a fan of straight-ahead jazz and the vocalists Samara Joy and Bria
Skonberg, both of whom made recent Vail Jazz appearances.
Secretary: Steve Pope
Joined the Vail Jazz Board in 2022
“I love the Festival and the people associated with it. It’s like a great family
including the musicians, the board, and the multitude of folks in the
audience that I count as friends.”
Chances are, you’ve seen Steve at most Vail Jazz events: he’s our long-time
photographer! In addition, he’s been a sponsor and the husband of a board
member (Carolyn) for over two decades.
Steve’s business background includes significant managerial, training, and
consulting experience. He is a veteran of the print and electronic media
industries and has done consulting and training on the internet and financial
Prior to his retirement in 2016, Steve managed the activities of Tucson Local
Media in the position of Publisher for the Explorer, Inside Tucson Business,
The Foothills News, the Marana News, Tucson Weekly and the Desert Times.
Earlier, he worked in senior management positions for Gannett, Knight
Ridder, the Tucson Star, Swift Communications, Media News Group and
Huckle Communications, where her served as COO. Steve has also operated
his own newspaper and internet consulting company.
Steve believes in community service and has served in leadership positions
on numerous boards. He has an affinity for the arts and has served on the
boards or advisory boards of the Paradise Center for the Arts, the Fine Arts
Center, Colorado Springs, the Bravo Vail Valley Music Festival, the Houston
Theatre Under the Stars, the Arizona Theatre Company, and the Southern
Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance. Not for profit governance, marketing, and
capacity building are among Steve’s strong suits.
He holds a Bachelor of Science in economics from California State University,
San Bernardino, California in economics and a Master of Business
Administration degree from California State University, Dominguez Hills with
a concentration in marketing and finance.
Django is Steve’s favorite form of jazz, but he points out, “I love all forms of
this truly American art form. I am proud that our Festival is recognized part
of keeping it alive.”