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team

Steve Pope

Interim Executive Director

Steve Pope comes to Vail Jazz with extensive experience in management, training and consulting. Pope is a veteran of the print and electronic media industries and has done consulting and training in the internet and financial arenas. He is also a photographer and can be seen taking photos at Vail Jazz performances.

Pope has a special affinity for the arts and in addition to his position on the Vail Jazz Board of Directors, has served on the boards or advisory boards of the Paradise Center for the Arts, (MN), the Fine Arts Center, Colorado Springs, (CO), the Bravo Vail Valley Music Festival, Vail, (CO), the Houston (TX) Theatre Under the Stars, the Arizona Theatre Company, and the Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance. Steve currently serves on the board of the Tucson Jazz Festival and the Tucson Fox Theatre.

Pope holds a Bachelor of Science degree 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.

John Clayton

Artistic Consultant

John Clayton joins the Vail Jazz team to bring quality musical entertainment to the 29th Annual Vail Jazz Festival and Vail Jazz Party, while continuing to lead the Vail Jazz Workshop. All planned programming will continue under John’s direction, while he helps guide Vail Jazz in securing a long-term permanent solution to this role.

John has directed the Workshop since its inception in 1996 and has been a major creative and educational force for the over 300 graduates. The Grammy winner and eight-time Grammy nominee is a devoted educator, and currently serves as president of the International Bassists Society, Artistic Director of the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival, Sarasota Jazz Festival and Centrum Jazz Workshop, and teaches at USC’s Thornton School of Music.

Donna Arnold

Director of Education and Operations

Donna grew up in a small farm town in Illinois. When she visited her sister in Eagle, Colorado as a young adult, she decided that the “mountains were calling” and stayed after graduating college. Donna feels so fortunate to have met her husband Mark and raised their two children, Ethan and Addison, in Eagle. Donna is excited and honored to be part of the Vail Jazz community, and is thrilled to be part of an organization giving back to the local community through the Vail Jazz Workshop and Vail Jazz Goes to School programs. Donna gained the skills that brought her to her current position through her previous role as Executive Assistant at Roundup River Ranch, another area non-profit. Donna is inspired by people who are passionate about creating good in the world. She enjoys climbing the fourteeners (only three left!) and riding both her road and mountain bikes. She loves traveling, spending time with family and friends, and meeting new people. She is eager to learn more about the Jazz community and music.

RJ Powers

Operations and Finance Manager

RJ Powers grew up in Arvada, CO before moving to Vail Valley in 2019. As a lifelong musician who participated in school band and played in local rock groups around Denver, RJ is excited to join the Vail Jazz team and combine his passion for music with professional experience in project and program management.

Howard Stone, In Memoriam

Founder, Artistic Director

Howard Stone was the President and Artistic Director of Vail Jazz from its inception in 1994 until his passing in 2022.

A life-long jazz fan, Howard loved the music as much as he loved the Colorado lifestyle – the Vail Jazz Foundation sprung to life when he merged his two passions

Howard’s initial foray into what would become Vail Jazz began with the first Vail Jazz Party. His idea was to carry on a Colorado tradition of presenting great jazz in a unique ‘party’ format over Labor Day weekend. Following the success of the first Vail Jazz Party, Howard dreamed bigger and created the Vail Jazz Foundation, an organization dedicated to the perpetuation of jazz music with an emphasis on young musicians and young audiences. 

Today, jazz lovers in Vail and beyond are the beneficiaries of Howard’s vision, which manifests itself in an annual summer-long festival, which spans nine weeks and entertains over 50,000 people; the Vail Jazz Workshop, which has contributed to the musicianship of over 300 outstanding young jazz musicians; a school program that has educated over 20,000 students in Eagle County elementary schools; as well as soirées, a winter series, and free community concerts.

Interested in joining the Vail Jazz team?

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Our Board of Directors

Advisory Board

The Vail Jazz Advisory Board is a committee charged with advising and supporting the Board of Directors on all areas pertinent to the organization’s mission. This group provides non-binding strategic advice to the Board of Directors and acts as advocates for the organization. The Advisory Board is comprised of professionals and community members interested in furthering the mission of Vail Jazz.