Our Mission

 The Music Foundation of SW Florida aims to enrich and transform the lives of young people by igniting and nurturing the life long joy of making music. 


Our vision of what is possible from studying music and other forms of art includes:

improved self-discipline -persistence to reach a goal - learning to work with others- learning more about history and literature (life enrichment) - improve cognitive thinking

  The Music Foundation of Southwest Florida is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization dedicated to encouraging and supporting interest in the musical arts among young people through summer camps, a traveling instrument program that brings instruments to all Lee County elementary schools, and through grants and scholarship programs. 

Tax ID:  650264107  

Meet the Board


Ruth Christman

Dorothy Rodwell

Dorothy Rodwell


(Executive Director) Ruth is very active as both a performer and teacher throughout South Florida.
She has performed with The Florida Philharmonic, the New World Symphony, the Palm Beach Opera Orchestra,

The Charlotte Symphony, Opera Naples and the Southwest Florida Symphony. She has also performed with Johnny Mathis,

Bebe Newirth, Bernadette Peters, Indina Menzel, James Taylor, Olivia Newton John, Clay Aiken and Michael Bolton.

As a teacher, she maintains a private studio of students and is an adjunct faculty member of Florida Southwestern State College.

She is also very active with The Music Foundation of Southwest Florida, of which she is the Executive Director. In 2010 she

was awarded the Angel of the Arts - Arts Organization Leader of the Year.

Ruth earned her Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Concordia University and her Master’s degree in Oboe Performance

from Northwestern University. She also has a Professional Studies degree in Oboe Performance from The Harid Conservatory in

Boca Raton, Florida,  new currently Lynn University.  Prior to moving to Florida, Ruth was also active as a teacher and performer in

the Chicago area -  where she was born and raised. She has performed all throughout the United States as well as in Germany,
Austria, Taiwan, and Japan.


Dorothy Rodwell

Dorothy Rodwell

Dorothy Rodwell


(President) Dorothy earned her BA from SUNY at Fredonia in Voice and has enjoyed singing in ensembles

and solo concerts in Miami (Miami Grand Opera) and Fort Myers.  Music has played a key role in her life and that’s

why she is glad to contribute to the Music Foundation of SW Florida as a board member.  She is a licensed psychotherapist. 

drodwell@embarqmail.com  239-851-7166


Katherine Light

Dorothy Rodwell

Katherine Light


(Secretary/Treasurer) Katherine Light has a Bachelor of Music in Music Education from 

Iowa State University and a Master of Music in Trombone Performance from the University of Michigan.  She taught general and instrumental music in several school districts in central Iowa and was an adjunct professor of low brass
instruments at Drake University in Des Moines. 

She played trombone professionally in a variety of venues, including playing 2nd trombone in the Des Moines Symphony for 25 years.  

Since moving to the Fort Myers area in 2002,

Katherine taught general music in the Lee County Schools for 6 years.  She has continued to play the trombone professionally in Southwest Florida.


Patrick Neuman

Jason Thomashefsky

Katherine Light


(Past President) Patrick Neuman earned a Bachelors Degree in music from the University of Wisconsin, a Masters Degree in music from Northwestern University, and a Masters Degree in Educational Leadership from Western Michigan University.

 His accomplishments include:
*Middle and High School instrumental music teacher / director of bands for 14 years in Elgin, Illinois and Delavan, Wisconsin.

*Principal trumpet, Milwaukee Civic Orchestra and Elgin, IL and Beloit, WI Symphony Orchestras and free-lance performer
in Wisconsin, Illinois,  Michigan and Florida.

*Led / administered music and fine arts programs in the Benton Harbor and Kalamazoo Michigan schools for 22 years.

*Principal of the Benton Harbor, MI Creative Arts Academy Magnet School, a US Dept. of Education Exemplary School.

*Music Education Consultant for Kalamazoo and South Haven Michigan Schools and for the Kalamazoo County Education

*Regional chairperson for education programs sponsored by the Gilmore International Keyboard Festival and the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. 

Currently Patrick is a member of the Southwest Florida Symphony Education Committee, on the Board of Directors of the Southwest Florida Music Foundation, and President of the Island Towers Association Board of Directors. In addition he works for Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, a summer fine arts camp in Michigan.


Stacey Gossman

Jason Thomashefsky

Jason Thomashefsky


 Stacey Gossmann lives in Fort Myers, and plays the bassoon in three orchestras (Florida Southwestern State College, Gulf Coast Symphony and Naples Symphony), Florida Southwestern State College band and numerous ensembles.  

She received her Masters of Music from Cleveland Institute of Music before embarking in the world of business.  She worked for Xerox for 15 years, during which time she got an MBA from Rochester Institute of Technology before coming to Florida.  

She never played the bassoon while working for Xerox, and in 2002 she started playing again, and has not stopped.  She also makes bassoon reeds for sale, teaches the bassoon, walks dogs and plays tennis.


Jason Thomashefsky

Jason Thomashefsky

Jason Thomashefsky


 Jason Thomashefsky is currently in his 7th year of teaching band, choir, and general music at Rayma C. Page Elementary School.  He received his Bachelors of Arts in Jazz Studies and a Bachelor of Arts in Education:

Subject Matter K-12 from Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey in 2011.  He majored in saxophone in his tenure at Rowan and also received credits in studying classical guitar.  

Mr. Thomashefsky earned his
Masters of Science in Applied Psychology and Neuroscience from Nova Southeastern University and he is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Nova Southeastern University.

Servicing the Community


How we support Elementary School students: Summer Arts Camps– Each year we offer four weeks of Summer Arts Camps. The camps open to elementary school students vary but have included beginning piano, musical theatre and beginning strings. Check out our website for current information.

The Fifth Grade Traveling Instrument Program has been updated in 2018 with all new instruments! (Many thanks for all donations – especially Suncoast Credit Union, Gannett Community Foundation and Rotary Club of Fort Myers). These band and orchestra instruments (in three sets) rotate to participating elementary schools in Lee County.

How we support Middle School students: Summer Arts Camps – Approximately 15 – 20 arts camps are offered each summer. These include musical opportunities as well as visual arts and our new culinary art camp. Approximately $10,000 is awarded each year to needy students to attend our camps.

How we support High School students: Summer Arts Camps – A high school band camp has been offered in recent years. Check our website for current information.

High School Summer Music Program Scholarships – These scholarships are awarded by audition to high school musicians for summer music programs. Approximately $4,000 is awarded each year.

How we support Florida Southwestern State College students: Each year several music scholarships are awarded to FSW College music students.

How we support Music Teachers in Lee County: A Professional Development Program offers continuing education scholarships for chosen music teachers to attend the FMEA Conference.