Staff & Board

Minnesota Sinfonia Staff

Jay Fishman, Executive & Artistic Director

Jay Fishman has been the artistic and executive director of the Minnesota Sinfonia since its inception in 1989. Under his leadership, the Sinfonia inaugurated its polices of free admission and welcoming children to all concerts, and created Music in the Schools, the orchestra’s education program for inner-city elementary students. As artistic director, Mr. Fishman is responsible for the development, quality and execution of all the Minnesota Sinfonia’s music programs. He chooses all musicians, repertoire and soloists, and conducts all rehearsals and concerts, including all Music in the Schools (MIS) performances, and is instrumental in the development of the MIS curriculum. As Executive Director, he oversees all administrative matters, and works with the orchestra’s management as needed on fundraising and other tasks. Jay earned a bachelor of science in music education and bachelor of arts in music composition from the University of Minnesota in 1969. In 1974, he earned a master’s degree in orchestral conducting from the Indiana University School of Music. Also in 1974, he was a finalist in the Fulbright-Hayes Conducting Fellowship. From 1974 to 1976, Jay served as music director and conductor for the Louisville Chamber Orchestra. He then traveled to London, where he worked with Sir Neville Mariner of the Academy of Saint Martin in the Fields Chamber Orchestra. While in London, he also recorded for BBC Radio. In 1978, Jay Fishman returned to the United States and for 11 years served as the music director of the Minneapolis Chamber Symphony (MCS), which he founded. Under his leadership, the MCS received local, regional and national accolades, including the Award for Excellence from the McKnight Foundation and ongoing support from the National Endowment for the Arts. In 1989, Jay founded the Minnesota Sinfonia and took on the role of executive and artistic director. To date, he has conducted over 1,300 performances, and introduced classical music to 150,000 inner-city elementary students. In 2008, he led a symposium on use of the professional orchestra in music education for the Arts Midwest Regional Conference, and spoke on the same subject to the Association of Wisconsin Orchestras in May of 2010.

Joan Gill Elwell, Managing Director

Joan Gill Elwell  joined the Minnesota Sinfonia team in December 2016, bringing more than 30 years of nonprofit administrative, marketing, and fundraising experience with her. She has worked for a number of diverse Twin Cities nonprofits including Parenting With Purpose, Lakeshore Players Theatre, Ethnic Dance Theatre, and the Upper Midwest Branch of the International Dyslexia Association, among others. National work has included special communications projects for the National Folk Organization and the USDA Forest Service. She is excited to be part of a team bringing beautiful music to everyone.

Board of Directors


Bruce HumphrysChairperson, Retired Executive Director, Compatible Tech International

Sharla Wagy – Vice chairperson, General Manager, Memphis Woodfire Grills

John Higdon – Treasurer, Senior Product Manager, US Bank

Allison BrownSecretary, Development Officer for Step Up, Augsburg College



Kelly Jo Abdo, Event Specialist, St Jude Children’s Research Hospital

Emily Cole-Jones, Development Director, Stages Theatre Company

Tom Cook, Special Assistant to the President, Metropolitan State University

Joaquim Cretella, Project Manager, ThermoKing

Jon K. Dalager, Systems Director for Academic Programs, MNSCU

Jay Fishman – Artistic/Executive Director (Ex-officio), Minnesota Sinfonia

Joan Elwell – Managing Director (Ex-officio), Minnesota Sinfonia

Jane Goettl, Retired Administrative Assistant, General Mills

Shannon Hovey (Ex-officio), Accounts Manager, Motivaction

Dorothy Jacobs (Ex-officio), Musician, retired

Mark Jensen, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Epicor Software

Patrick Lundy, Sr. Vice President, Investments Private Client Group, Oak Ridge Financial

Robert Rhawie, Owner, Dolce Vita

Seth Zimmerman, Vice President Creative, Target Corporation