Brian Owens | Executive Director & Founder
A resident of Ferguson, Missouri, Owens works tirelessly to uplift the community and provide hope through the gift and beauty of music. Owens has an extensive performance history that includes national television appearances, including Entertainment Tonight, FOX & Friends, The Ellen DeGeneres Show and more. He has also performed at the White House and the 2011 NLCS and World Series. In 2017, a YouTube video of him performing “A Change is Gonna Come” went viral and to date has more than 28 million views since October 2017. In addition to serving as the community music artist in residence with the E. Desmond Lee Fine Arts Collaborative at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, Owens is the Executive Director of LIFE Arts Inc. in Ferguson, MO.
Darius Williams, M.Ed. | Director of Operations
Darius’s passions for storytelling and advocacy began in Hampton Roads, Virginia, as a service-oriented high school student, city leader, and poet. Those passions were refined at Wake Forest University as a Communication Rhetoric major, where he went on to consult the mayor of Winston Salem regarding poverty policy, conduct research and advocate for educational inequity in places like North Carolina and Venice, Italy, as well as travel the Atlantic coast as a speaker, writer, and spoken word artist. As a middle school English and Literature teacher in Mobile, AL, as well as through his graduate studies at the University of Notre Dame, Darius was able to apply those passions in more practical and hands-on ways by working directly with under-resourced, inner-city African-American students. As the Director of Operations, while much of work is around organizational development, he still lives his passions through advocating for as well as mentoring and tutoring LIFE Students, speaking and writing for various organizations and online publications, and investing into Ferguson, MO, as a resident and volunteer.
DeRon Wilson | Director of Growth and Development
DeRon’s career showcases his passion for bringing people together for the love and appreciation of classical music. DeRon became the first Campus Coordinator between the Saint Louis Symphony and Southeast Missouri State University. Creating a partnership between the symphony and the university, he made symphony performances readily accessible for university students while teaching violin at Southeast Music Academy. As a student at Southeast Missouri State University, he was the assistant concertmaster for the university’s orchestra and helped to conduct sectionals for the orchestra’s violinists. After completing his contract DeRon returned home to study at the University of Missouri-Saint Louis with their quartet-in-residence, The Arianna String Quartet, to further his violin studies. Here, he continued to perform with various chamber ensembles in the St. Louis area. Under the tutelage of Brian Owens, DeRon secured the roles of Campus Marketing Fellow and Interim Education Coordinator with the Saint Louis Symphony. When an opportunity arose for him to work with the Detroit Symphony, he went for it and served there for nearly two seasons. Currently, DeRon resides near Seattle, Washington and continues to remain committed to awakening the masses to the joys of classical music.
Stephanie Holly, MMT, MT-BC | Director of Programs
Stephanie Holly is a board-certified music therapist with a master’s in music therapy from Maryville University. She has a bachelor’s in music performance-voice from UNC School of Arts. Stephanie completed her internship at Ranken Jordan Pediatric Bridge Hospital, an inpatient rehab facility, providing acute medical care for children with intensive medical needs to assist in their transition from hospital to home. She is currently music therapy coordinator for Compositions for LIFE and provides music therapy service at Pearce Hall alternative school.
Board of Directors
Executive Director and Chairman of the Board
Treasurer and Director of Growth and Development
Stephanie Poteet, Marketing & Community Outreach, M1 Bank Executive Director, M1 Ministries
Dan Lester, Diversity, Equality, Inclusion & Culture, Clayco
Vice President, Edward Jones
Senior Vice President, Clayco
Patient Advocacy Coordinator, St. Louis Children's Hospital at BJC Health Care
Managing Partner, Bailey & Company
Dr. Richard Shaw, Retired Surgeon, Philanthropist
Dr. Edgar Everett,
Partner, Proficient Chiropractic
Tamika Clay, Internal Audit Immersion Manager, CENTENE Corporation
Jasmine Turnage, Assistant Manager, Martin & Mattz Tax Service
Harlan Hodge, Performance and Professional Development Coach, Imagine Services
Shane Moskop, Partner, Freeark, Harvey and Mendillo, P.C.