» Staff

Executive Director

Kristin’s passion for music, service and the power of the arts led her to SongwritingWith:Soldiers in the fall of 2017. She brings twenty plus years of non-profit development and leadership experience through her work at KCRW Los Angeles, the GRAMMY charities, and Nashville Opera.

“The work of SongwritingWith:Soliders aligns with and deepens all the reasons I came into non-profit work. I’m grateful and honored to continue the work the entire SW:S community.”

Co-Founder/Program Director

Mary is a master at creating collaborative programs that inspire connections and highlight individual and community strengths. When witnessing Darden Smith write a song with a veteran, she was compelled to put her skills to work in creating the SongwritingWith:Soldiers program.

With vast experience in Positive Psychology, educational programming and organizational communications, Mary helps SW:S create the most effective and meaningful experiences for everyone involved. Her creative reach is reflected in her client list which includes New York State Department of Economic Development (I LOVE NY); MentorCoach training programs; VIA Institute on Character; Indian Ladder Farms: The Mayerson Academy, The HAPPY Movie; Discovery Retreats, and more. She has studied Positive Psychology with leading researchers from around the world, is an international workshop presenter on the subject and was a discussion facilitator at a United Nations meeting on Happiness and Well-Being. She serves on the editorial board for the India Journal of Positive Psychology and PsyInsight magazine. Mary co-founded The Barn School, an award-winning sustainable agriculture camp that raises funds for family farms and Heifer International®. She earned coaching certifications from Dr. Martin Seligman of the University of Pennsylvania, MentorCoach and others. She has a B.S. in Organizational Communications from the University of Texas at Austin and teaching certifications in Speech, English and Spanish.

Jay Clementi
Music Director

Music brought Jay to Nashville, where he found songwriting chemistry and friendship with acclaimed artist/writer Radney Foster. His songs and voice have been featured on five Foster records. They also worked together singing harmony on Willie Nelson’s Grammy-nominated album The Songs Of Cindy Walker. Jay was the lead singer of The Lucky Bucks signed by Warner Brothers Records and produced by Paul Worley in 2006. Since 2008, Clementi has been a full-time songwriter/producer on staff first with Warner Chappell and now Sony ATV in Nashville. He had a Billboard #1 with Luke Bryan’s “Move” in 2017 and has had songs recorded by Dierks Bentley, Sara Evans, Martina McBride, Darius Rucker, Sunny Sweeney, The Josh Abbott Band, CB30 and a song featured on the hit show Nashville, totaling over 5 million records sold.

Jordyn Hay
Program and Event Manager

Jordyn was raised in a military community which included members of her own family. She has a heart for helping others and has diverse experience in event management, content creation, and brand campaign management. After graduating with a degree in Film Production and Event Management, she began managing productions for Caesars Entertainment. She has developed and managed more than 300 events across 23 countries for brands such as the Cannes Film Festival, Super Bowl Music Festival, EA Sports, NFL, and Bud Light. In 2019, Jordyn worked with Microsoft and the band MUSE and developed award-winning experiential events for their world tour. From small intimate events to multi-city music tours, Jordyn takes pride in bringing each piece of the puzzle together to create an exceptional experience.

Angee Rose
Administrative Coordinator

Being part of a team where creativity meets compassion—that’s where Angee is most at home. From working in music publishing to playing a key role with a nonprofit communications firm, Angee knows both songwriting and social impact, and that is why SongwritingWith:Soldiers is an ideal fit for her. Angee is a talented organizer, a skilled project manager and a consummate team player.

Meredith Krygowski
Development Manager

Meredith has diverse experience in community development and civic engagement through the arts. She graduated from Michigan State University’s Residential College of Arts and Humanities with a BA in Arts and Humanities with a focus on Art and Public Life. Post college she honed her programming and development skills with the Lansing Symphony Orchestra. She has been in Nashville since 2015 and has worked with festivals and organizations such as Defy Film Festival, Mile of Music (Wisconsin), and Girls Write Nashville.

Special Advisor / Program Associate

Kevin currently serves as the Program Manager for the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Clinical Team at the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System. He specializes in post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, and readjustment issues of returning Veterans.

A Veteran of the United States Marine Corps, he completed his Pre-Doctoral internship at the VA Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee and his Postdoctoral Residency at the VA Medical Center in Kansas City, Missouri. He is a faculty member of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and has served as a Consultant and Trainer for the National Center for PTSD, as well as consulting for the FBI.

He is a past recipient of the Psychologist of the Year award for Hospitals and Medical Centers by the Arkansas Psychological Association. Kevin was featured on a 2013 episode of 60 Minutes called “The War Within” that brought national awareness to Veterans; their courage in recovery and the therapies the VA is using to help them.

Kevin attended his first SongwritingwithSoldiers retreat in October 2015 as a participant, and has returned several times to help facilitate the retreats.

Margaret Bentley
Retreat Facilitation Team

Margaret has been part of the SongwritingWith:Soldiers’ team since the initial retreat in 2012 and has been key in assisting with program development. An accomplished editor, poet, short fiction writer and mixed-media artist, she also leads creative writing and journaling workshops as part of the Creative Connections component of our retreats.

Carl Blackwood
Music Support Team

Carl brings an enormous amount of music and engineering experience to the SWS team. He serves as the General Manager/Program Director for The Linda, WAMC’s Performing Arts Studio in Albany, NY. He’s also been a recording engineer in upstate NY, working at Black Dog Recording Studio and running his own Warming Room Studio, Carl began working with SWS in 2015.

» Board of Directors

Gary Leopold, President and Chairman
Founding Partner, Prism Advisory Group

For over 30 years, Gary has been immersed in travel and hospitality marketing. His thinking has influenced such brands and destinations as Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Sheraton, American Express, Hong Kong, The Islands Of The Bahamas, Barbados, Emirates Airline and Harley-Davidson.

Gary began his travel career as Director of Public Relations worldwide for Sonesta International Hotels Corporation and then went on to lead Boston-based, travel-marketing firm ISM for over 25 years, before merging with Connelly Partners in 2013. He currently serves as a founding partner of the consulting firm Prism Advisory Group.

Gary is the proud recipient of the Albert E. Koehl Lifetime Achievement Award in travel advertising from the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI), an honor he shares with Michael Eisner and Sir Richard Branson.

Gary is a past President of HSMAI the world’s largest organization of travel marketing professionals and served on the Board of the HSMAI Foundation. He has also served on the Board of the Photographic Resource Center at BU, the Council at Curry College and as an advisor to Tourism Cares and Lesley University. He joined the SWS Board in 2014 and became President and Chairman in 2018.

Mike Schatzlein, M.D., Treasurer
Healthcare thought leader, executive and pioneering heart transplant surgeon, principle at advisory firm Schatzlein Solutions Group, founding director and Chairman Emeritus of the Center for Medical Interoperability

Until December 2016, Dr. Schatzlein was a group operating executive at Ascension Healthcare, the largest non-profit health system in the United States. Earlier in his career, he was the Indiana market CEO at Community Health Systems, a national health system headquartered in Nashville. He also directed the Northern Indiana Heart Institute’s transplantation program and was the first to perform a heart transplant in northern Indiana. At one point in 2002, nine of the world’s 22 longest-living heart transplant patients had received their new hearts under Schatzlein’s direction.

Outside of healthcare, Dr. Schatzlein founded TRC Studios in 1972 in Indianapolis. TRC was Indiana’s leading audio recording facility for 29 years, and now operates as a private facility in Nashville. He also worked as a staff assistant in the White House during the Nixon administration. Schatzlein has served on the boards of the United Way of Metropolitan Nashville and the Tennessee Hospital Association, and the Nashville Health Care Council.

Dr. Schatzlein received his B.S. and M.D. from Indiana University. He finished his thoracic surgery residency in 1980 at the University of Michigan Medical School and received his MBA in 1998 from Indiana Wesleyan University. A Nashville resident, he is married to broadcast journalist Liz Schatzlein, and has three married children and seven grandchildren.

Barbara Kornreich, Secretary
Founder/Producer, Piper7Media

Barbara lives in Manhattan and has been involved with SW:S as a volunteer and is passionate about the program. She helped raise funds to hold a retreat in New York in 2016, and more recently attended our training retreat at the Carey Institute.

Barbara began her career as a lawyer and then helped found Grantworks, a firm that specialized in research and grant writing for non-profits, which she ran for over nine years. During that time she was also president of the New Castle Media Center in Chappaqua, NY, a non-profit community media center that provides training and access to production tools. Bitten by the video and production bug, Barbara is now the Founder/Producer of Piper7Media which specializes in creating short documentaries, profiles, image pieces, corporate and music videos, as well as films for non-profits.

Harry Ballan, Director
Senior Counsel, Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP; Chairman, Institute for Music and Neurologic Function (IMNF)

Harry Ballan is a senior director at the Tikvah Fund and Senior Counsel at Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP after serving for six years as an associate and 16 as a partner. Harry holds a B.A., M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D. from Yale, as well as a J.D. from Columbia. He clerked for Judge Wilfred Feinberg on the Second Circuit before joining Davis Polk. Ballan has delivered presentations, papers, and classes on subjects in both law and neuroscience. He is chairman of the Institute for Music and Neurologic Function (co-founded by Oliver Sacks, M.D.), and he served as dean of Touro Law Center from 2016 to 2019.

Brian Magerkurth, Director
US Army Lieutenant Colonel (Retired)

Brian is a graduate of the United States Military Academy (USMA), West Point, class of 1981. He comes from a proud military family. His Master Sergeant father served in the Korean War. His older brother served during the Vietnam War. Both his younger brother, who served in Italy, and his son, who served in Afghanistan, graduated from USMA, West Point classes of 1992 and 2010, respectively.

Brian served in the Army as a CH-47 pilot, flying Mt Rainier Mountain rescue, Mt St. Helen’s Volcanic Disaster relief, and fire-fighting missions in Yakima, WA. He served in the Sinai, Egypt, as part of the Multi-National Force and Observers in support of the Camp David Peace Accords (President Carter, President Sadat and Prime Minister Begin). Brian finished his military career at West Point as an instructor in the Department of Physical Education, retiring in 2004.

Brian has led Global Supply Chain and Manufacturing Organizations for Fortune 500 Companies. He is currently leading the America’s Supply Chain organization for Avantor, Inc, a Global Life Sciences company.

Brian competes internationally in Masters’ Track & Field as a Pole Vaulter. He is an avid Sky Diver and SCUBA Diver. He recently competed on NBC’s American Ninja Warrior Season 7, the Military Edition. He also is a percussionist and loves to sit in on the drum set with other musicians that favor classic rock ‘n roll. He and his wife Valarie live in Hickory, NC.

Brian became involved with SongWritingWith:Soldiers through an introduction at Boulder Crest in Virginia. Impressed with the people that he met, he recommended his son, Tyler, attend one of the SW:S retreats. Since then, Tyler has assisted on a few retreats in Texas.

Donald L. Navor, Director
Lieutenant Colonel, United States Army (Retired)

Don is currently an executive coach and consultant in the United States Government’s Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR). Prior to SBIR, Don served Rochester NY, the third largest city in New York State, as a Public Works Executive. Don also taught the Psychology of Business and Industry at the University of Rochester.

A true patriot, Don proudly served in the US Army for 21 years in multiple capacities retiring with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. His career ranged from platoon leader in combat to Army helicopter pilot to Installation Command overseas. Don is most proud of his service to the nation as an Infantryman. An Airborne Ranger combat commander in Vietnam he was awarded three Bronze Stars for Valor and the Combat Infantryman’s Badge. Don has a BS in Engineering from the United States Military Academy at West Point where later in his career he would return as Aide de Camp to the Superintendent and as Associate Professor of Spanish.

He has earned an MA in Spanish Language, Literature and Architecture from Middlebury College and an MBA from CW Post. He has diplomas from the Command and General Staff College and the Armed Forces Staff College. He is a certified Level III Forensic Examiner with the American College of Forensic Examiners. Don’s service to the world did not end in Vietnam. As a Rotarian he spearheaded a wheelchair distribution effort in Guatemala targeting the Mayan disabled in undeveloped jungle regions.

Don comes to the SongwritingWith:Soldiers Board as a thankful beneficiary of the program. His song, written with Mike Bradford, “El Camino,” is a poignant prescription for veterans to coexist with the haunting demons from long ago combat. His wife Kathleen, a 911 survivor, wrote “I Can’t Save You Now,” with Bonnie Bishop. Don and Kathleen, along with Don’s Service Dog Brixton, are out meeting America in their 30-foot Flying Cloud Airstream.

Co-Founder/Program Director

Mary specializes in creative communications and positive psychology programming. She has written widely and developed custom programs for international clients including the founder of the Discovery Channel, India Association of Health Research and Welfare, MentorCoach, VIA Institute, New York State, the Happy Movie and more. She is passionate about sparking strengths to inspire positive change.

"Pillar Of Peace" performed by Will Kimbrough

632 Fogg Street, #8
Nashville, TN 37203

Let's stay in touch!
Sign up for our newsletter.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

© 2021 SongwritingWith:Soldiers, Inc,, a nonprofit, 501c (3) organization. All contributions are tax deductible. Tax ID # is 26-1626709.

SongwritingWith:Soldiers transforms lives by using collaborative songwriting to expand creativity, connections and strengths.

If you or a veteran you know is in need of other assistance beyond the programs of SW:S, please call the confidential Veteran's Crisis Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK or dial 911. If you are in need of immediate help or if this is an emergency, please go to your nearest emergency room or dial 911.