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BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Kyle Abello - education specialist and advocate

Christopher Elstner - (vice president), Physician​

Sherylle Mills Englander - Attorney-at-law and Executive Director

Gamble T. Parks - (co-president) Attorney

Christine Pouquette - (co-president) clinical psychologist

Alita Rhodes -  retired Santa Barbara Symphony cellist and educator

Amy Trujillo - arts advocate

Sellars Whitehead -  social worker

Mary Beth Woodruff - classical violinist/Artistic Director  and Conductor of Santa Barbara Strings

Christopher Yick - Executive Director of Hawaii Chamber Music Festival, double bassist

 

Staff: Pilar Montes, Director of Operations

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Santa Barbara Strings Board Biographies

Kyle Abello was raised in the Santa Ynez Valley, attended SY High School and graduated UC-San Diego summa cum laude with a major in Biology and minor in Humanities.  He was the founder of the Buellton Recreation Department and served as Recreation Director for the City of Buellton for 20 years during which time he helped to establish the Buellton Community Recreation Center, the Santa Ynez Valley Botanic Garden, PAWS Off-Leash Dog Park, and many community events and recreational programs that continue to benefit the local community.  He has served on the Boards of the Santa Ynez Valley Foundation, Santa Ynez Valley Chorale, Santa Ynez Valley Union High School District, and currently serves at the College Elementary School District.  Kyle has always loved classical music, especially the Baroque era, and he feels incredibly blessed to be able to serve on the Board of Santa Barbara Strings to support the next generation of musicians.  Kyle is married to Yana and their twins, Skylar (violin) and Tristan (cello) are enjoying the fantastic music education and ensemble environment of SB Strings.

 

Christopher Elstner, M.D. is now in his third year as a board member and thoroughly enjoys bringing music to all young people, regardless of their backgrounds. Dr. Elstner graduated from Iowa State University (B.S. Journalism and Mass Communication) and later attended the University of Vermont College of Medicine with subsequent pediatric resident training at the University of Utah and the University of Vermont. He passed his board exams at Tufts in Boston, Massachusetts. Having been fortunate to have lived in Iowa, Vermont, Utah, Massachusetts and Washington, D.C, he moved with his wife, Paula Bagalio (Nurse Practitioner recently retired from UCSB after 32 years) and three sons to the Santa Barbara area. Affiliated with Cottage Hospital, he practiced primary care pediatrics in private practice and with the Goleta Neighborhood Clinic and spent time with Doctors Without Borders in South Sudan. After an active 43 year career in pediatrics, Dr. Elstner recently retired, yet he still spends much of his time mentoring and advancing music and the  arts to  students in the Santa Barbara area. Dr. Elstner’s interests include music (he plays the piano and cello), mentoring young people, bicycling, hiking and traveling. His goal as a board member of the Santa Barbara Strings is to bring high quality string music to youth of all backgrounds, letting them know that they are all worthy to play beautiful music if they simply look and really give it a try.

Sherylle Mills Englander grew up in the Los Angeles area, where she studied flute with Louise DiTullio.  She holds a Bachelors of Music in flute performance from the Eastman School of Music, where she trained under Bonita Boyd, and pursued graduate studies at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music in Timothy Day’s studio.  Ms. Englander plays in the Folk Orchestra of Santa Barbara, the Santa Barbara Chamber Players, the SBCC Orchestra and Concert Band and the SBCP Wind Quintet, and performs in ad hoc chamber music ensembles at a variety of local venues.  When she is not playing the flute, Ms. Englander is an attorney and serves as the Executive Director for Strategic Initiatives and Operations at UCSB’s California NanoSystems Institute.

Gamble Parks is an attorney with Fennemore Law and is director in the firm’s Trusts & Estates practice group. Originally from North Carolina, Gamble is not only a trusted counselor to her clients, she is also a board member of several Central Coast nonprofit and civic organizations, including Cottage Health System and the Music Academy of the West. Outside of work, Gamble can often be found on the tennis court or the golf course. She serves as the President of the Ballard School Parent Teacher Association where she also leads the chess club. A world traveler, ask Gamble about her trek to the base camp of Mount Everest. Gamble received her training at Washington and Lee University for both her B.A. and J.D. Gamble’s son, Garrison, is an SB Strings’ violinist and collects original edition Berenstain Bears books.

 

Chris Pouquette earned her PhD in clinical psychology at Clark University in Worcester, MA, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at UCSF.  She had 3 children, one an alumni of Santa Barbara Strings, and another a current member both of whom are violinists.  Her son, Josh is a sophomore at Columbia University; daughter Zöe is a senior at Santa Ynez High School; son Dylan is a 6th grader at the Ballard School. Chris was the co-owner and operator of The Ballard Inn 2004-2021, and has served on the Ballard School Board of Trustees since 2009.

 

Alita Rhodes was born and raised in Santa Barbara, CA, received her degree from the University of Washington, and taught English in the Seattle public school system for 5 years before moving back to California. As a cellist, she attended the Music Academy of the West in her early collegiate years and was a member of the Santa Barbara Symphony for 35 years before retiring recently. She has taught privately in the Santa Barbara area for many years, is an avid chamber musician, contributes to the music program at El Montecito Presbyterian Church, and has been a founding board member of Santa Barbara Strings since its inception. One of her last students, before retiring from teaching, was her grandson, Aidan Woodruff. Despite ‘retirement’ she is still a string assistant with SB Strings and currently teaches 3 of our ESTP young cellists.

 

Amy Trujillo was born and raised in Arizona, Amy discovered her passion for music in the 3rd grade when she began taking viola lessons, both privately and in orchestra settings. Her dedication to music continued to flourish as she eagerly attended nearly every recital and concert hosted by Santa Barbara Strings over the past 14 years. Transitioning into a culinary career 27 years ago, Amy found herself in the kitchen daily, where music became essential for maintaining a cheerful, engaged, and focused environment. She recognized the transformative power of music, capable of instantly uplifting atmosphere and mood. Today, Amy finds joy and inspiration in the intersection of music and culinary arts, viewing it as a blend of creativity, discipline, and artistic expression. Amy’s degrees in Latin American Studies are from Mount Holyoke (undergraduate), Vanderbilt (graduate), and Scottsdale Culinary Institute.

 

Sellars Whitehead was born and raised in Mexico to a pure blood Chumash mother. She has a master’s degree in psychology and lives with her husband and two sons, both of whom were long-time participants in Santa Barbara Strings. She has been deeply engaged in social work throughout the community of Santa Barbara. “I have collaborated as a volunteer for many local non profits like Catholic Charities, St. Mark's Pantry, Santa Barbara Strings, Mariachi Summer Institute, Las Monarcas Youth and Children's Mariachi Groups, Santa Barbara Youth Symphony, Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Pipe and Drum Corps, The Guthrie Pipe and Drum Memorial Band,  Santa Barbara Community Kitchen, Santa Barbara Food Bank, to name a few.  My sons and I are the founders of the Jesus Loves You Sandwich Club an interfaith prepared food distribution program where we serve homeless individuals.  In the winter time - when people are turning out their old bedding in order to update - we recover gently used blankets/linens and run a sleeping bag and blanket distribution program.  We are also the founders of the Farewell Group an effort that donates military bagpipe accompaniment at the memorial services of homeless war time veterans.  We are also the on-call pipe group for the SB Veterans' Memorial Association.  Additionally I extend space in our apartment as a safe refuge for women who are in transition from domestic abuse to safely keep their belongings in a secure environment.”

 

Mary Beth Rhodes-Woodruff grew up in Southern California, attended high school at the Interlochen Arts Academy, further studies at the New England Conservatory of Music, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (B.S. Chemistry and Music), and Carnegie Mellon (M.A. Violin Performance). While studying in Boston, she was member of the Boston Philharmonic, Emmanuel Music, the MIT Chamber Music Society, and the New England Chamber Orchestra. She spent summers in Maine at the Kneisel Hall Chamber Music Festival.

 

Upon receiving her Master’s degree she began teaching at Biola University Conservatory of Music in Los Angeles where she taught violin, viola, music history, strings literature/repertoire, strings pedagogy, and was Head of Chamber Music Studies.  During her 7 years at Biola, she led a group of students on a chamber music concert tour of mainland China and soloed with the Biola Symphony Orchestra on a concert tour of Italy, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. Upon the birth of her first child Ms. Rhodes-Woodruff left Biola to focus on both performing and teaching in Santa Barbara County. In 2009, Ms. Woodruff expanded her work in training young musicians and founded Santa Barbara Strings where she is currently Artistic Director and conductor. Additionally, she is violin faculty at the Interlochen Center for the Arts and teaches a full studio of violinists and violists at the Music Academy of the West.

 

Chris Yick was born and raised in Honolulu, Chris Yick is a dynamic musician and entrepreneur. Chris is the Founder of the Hawaii Chamber Music Festival, an organization dedicated to featuring world-class artists with an emphasis on youth education. As a student of the McDuffie Center, Chris has had the honor of performing in Carnegie Hall while being featured on NPR’s Performance Today. From 2020-2022, he was the youngest member of the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra as Acting Section Bass. Chris is also a graduate of the Manhattan School of Music.

In 2021, Chris was the youngest faculty member of the Manhattan School of Music's Summer Program. As an educator, he has taught privately and was a teaching artist for Midori & Friends. He has been invited as a guest lecturer for arts entrepreneurship at the University of Hawaii: Manoa. He has been a teaching artist for Santa Barbara Strings. Since 2018, as the Founder of the Hawaii Chamber Music Festival, he has singlehandedly produced over 40 concerts and has featured over 40 artists. In 2021, he launched the festival's Young Artist Program, which is Hawaii's premier tuition-free chamber music institute for local students. For 2023, Chris has facilitated a ground-breaking partnership between the festival and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Committed to giving back, Chris frequently performs for various Hawaii community organizations and nonprofits.

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