Meet our Board of Trustees for 2017-2018.
From left to right, Back: Rick, Nancy, Kathy, Susan, Front: Jim, Justin, Dan, Alysse
Justin began his foray into Irish music on January 13th, 1996, which was the very first day of classes at the Riley School. Since then he has become a full-time music teacher, performer, and recording artist. His dedication to sharing the joy of music-making drives him to serve on the board and teach fiddle, mandolin, and tenor banjo classes at the school.
Rick is a native of western Massachusetts and discovered Irish music through contra dancing in Connecticut. When he isn't playing music, he is a professor of plant ecology at Northern Kentucky University. At Riley, he started out as a student of John Skelton's in 2006, but, for his sins, he ended up a beginner whistle teacher and leader of the Reily Ceili Band, too. His main instruments are flute and whistle, although he can also play the ukulele badly if at gunpoint. What keeps him engaged with Riley is two things: the music and the people.
Jim is a recently retired transportation engineer who was active with Riley School from 1996 to 2000 when his son was learning Irish fiddle (he still plays but in Vermont). Jim taught piano accordion for several of those years and played piano for the Riley Ceili Band at the Chicago Fleadh in 1998. His keenest interest is in playing for dancers and, since 1988, has played accordion for local contra dances. Jim reconnected with Riley by joining the Board in the Spring of 2017 and enjoys helping with the Reily Ceili Band - "I cherish reconnecting with a number of longtime musical friends at Riley School."
Dan has been a student at the Riley School almost from the beginning and has also served as a Board member much of that time. Each of his four children, his wife, and one granddaughter have also taken lessons there over the years. Dan's involvement in Riley School's participation in the Midwest Fleadh Cheoil led him to help found the Riley Branch of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann (the international Irish music association), a group associated with, but distinct from, the Riley School. This also led to Riley hosting the Fleadheanna in 2003, 2004, 2015, and 2016. Dan is active in Irish music in Cincinnati and around the Midwest, playing the fiddle and button accordion, and serving on committees.
Susan Cross Gilligan
Susan is a retired high school French and Science teacher who taught in the Cincinnati area at Newport Central Catholic, Ursuline Academy, Cincinnati Country Day School and Cincinnati Public Schools. She founded the Riley School of Irish Music on January 13, 1996, and named it in honor of her mother, who had recently been involved in a fatal car accident. Susan studied classical violin as a child and switched to traditional music in her thirties. She has played and taught traditional Irish fiddle for 35 years, and has taught fiddle at the Riley School since its opening day. Susan loves teaching, she loves traditional Irish music along with its community, and she is devoted to her students, who constantly amaze her.
Alysse has been involved with the Riley School for the last several years, mostly as a parent, although if the rest of the board has its way, she will have to take up an instrument soon! Her children take fiddle lessons and her husband sometimes takes banjo and fiddle lessons as well. Her family has participated in the Fleadh every year since joining the Riley School and it has become one of their favorite family events. When she is not reminding the kids to get their fiddles out of the car or driving them to one kids band practice or another, Alysse works as attorney in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Nancy has been part of the Riley School for nearly ten years, and has studied whistle, fiddle, and singing at the school. She has served on the Board since 2010. Outside of her current role as Board Chair, Nancy has helped the school with marketing and promotion, and lead the expansion of the harp program. She enjoys playing in the adult ensembles and public performances of the school. Outside of her work with The Riley School, Nancy enjoys running and watching her son play hockey. Nancy performs with the band The Bonnies (@TheBonnies3), an all-female band in Cincinnati that plays American and Traditional Irish Music.
Kathy has been a part of the Riley School almost since its beginning. She became interested in learning Irish music after hearing the uilleann pipes for the first time on WNKU Radio and enrolled in a whistle class. Later Kathy became enthralled with traditional Irish singing when Riley offered a class in rudimentary Irish, including a few easy traditional songs. She attended a couple of summer workshops and states, "the rest is history." Kathy has been teaching the Riley singing class for about seven years and has had the opportunity to compete in singing in English and original song composition, as well as the grupa cheoil at the regional Midwest Fleadh competitions, as well as the All-Ireland. "It's been a wonderful journey and I have met so many lovely singers and other musicians through this continuing sojourn through the world of traditional Irish music."