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Steinway Society of Riverside County Welcomes Four New Board Members

Barbara Spencer, Marly Bergerud, Louisa Castrodale Higgins, Helen Lanford

The Steinway Society of Riverside County (SSRC) welcomes four new board members this season who join forces with longtime board members to support the nonprofit’s various fundraising and special events that bring music to children in local schools.

New on the board are Barbara Spencer, board president; Marly Bergerud; Louisa Castrodale Higgins, education chair; and Helen Lanford, marketing chair.

“We are delighted to be working with these remarkably accomplished women this season,” said SSCR founder and CEO Ruth Moir. “They each bring their distinguished professional backgrounds as well as their passion for music and children to our board.”

Barbara Spencer has been a volunteer at The Living Desert for 24 years, during which she has been chair of the mentors and Docent Council chair, on the Board of Trustees Long Range Committee for four years, and for the past five years, on the Scholarship Committee.

A 38-year Coachella Valley resident, she lives with her husband Stu in Palm Desert. She brings her organizational talent and experience to the Steinway Board, and was inspired by founder Ruth Moir’s “commitment to helping children learn the value of music.”

With an avid interest in music and performance Marly Bergerud has joined the Board of the Steinway Society as a director. Her career spans 30+ years in higher education within the California Community Colleges, primarily in management leadership. Bergerud has authored and published 25 computer technology textbooks with the most recent one she co-authored and led a team in the development of Interactive 3D Visualization Development. She lived most of her adult life in Orange County, CA and now resides in Palm Desert. She is president of the Palm Springs Writers Guild, educational ambassador of the McCallum Theatre Muses, and a contributing writer to the Greater Palm Springs edition of LOCALE magazine.

Louisa Higgins has been a professional educator for the past 27 years, and is the current Arts Administrator for the Riverside County Office of Education. She was inspired to become a board member from her 12 years of partnership with the Steinway Society, while she was the Arts Coordinator for Palm Springs Unified School District.

“As an arts educator and administrator, I believe I can assist the Society in continuing to offer effective and relevant programming for students,” she said.

A longtime Coachella Valley resident, Higgins and her husband, Tony, live in Palm Desert, where she also raised her children, Anthony, Isabella and Sophia Castrodale.

Helen Lanford is a former vice president of marketing, National Field Operations for Vistana Signature Experiences (formerly Starwood Vacation Ownership and now Marriott Vacations Worldwide.) She oversaw marketing operations for the Westin, Sheraton and Hyatt Vacation Ownership properties, assisting with the Marriott transition prior to retiring in 2018.

“Because of my retirement, I have time to get back to working on my piano. I was a piano major in college at the University of Hawaii, and want to help keep classical music alive. Steinway helps to do that with its programs.”

She brings her experience in marketing, developing comprehensive marketing campaigns for both awareness and fundraising as well as extensive leadership and people management skills, having been a corporate executive for more than 20 years.

Lanford and her husband moved to the Coachella Valley in 2005 and live in Palm Desert with their two cats.

With a full calendar of events, Steinway’s first event is a showcase on Thursday, Dec. 5, 7 p.m. at the Rancho Mirage Library featuring pianist Jonathan Mamora, a recent Julliard graduate who was a Junior and Senior winner of SSRC’s Festival Piano Competition every year.

“Bravo! Children in Music,” SSRC’s major fundraising luncheon and concert, is on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at The S at Rancho Mirage. Dorothy Hamilton is chair and the event honors Ron Celona, founder of CVRep Theatre. Master of Ceremonies is Leo Milmet. Entertainment includes a special performance by Liberace impersonator, Ken Hopper.

Cost is $130 per person; $1300 for a table of 10. For tickets and reservations, go to the website, or call (760) 341-4130.

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