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About the VEL
The Vanguard Emerging Leaders is a youth advisory board that offers leadership and mentorship opportunities, and provides a voice for the younger generations of our organization. The VEL has been empowered to run themselves as their own board, and they are tasked to provide the VMAPA Board of Directors with the issues and initiatives that are important from their point of view. Their opinions matter and they will have a strong influence on the overall strategic direction of the Vanguard Music and Performing Arts organization. And, in the process, we are creating the future leaders of the VMAPA.
What We're Up To
We are excited to share a sample of the work that one of our VEL Teams has been engaging in recently. This comes from the Health & Wellness Committee, chaired by Polly Dimmock, Troy Pagkalinawan, & Carl Huang.
You can look forward to exciting news from our Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Committee along with an update from our brand new Community Outreach Committee (coming soon)!
A Note from the Founder
“We created the VEL program because Vanguard will benefit greatly from listening to the voices of the current members and recent alumni. This current generation is so smart, engaged, active, and passionate. I want to give them the chance to change the future of the organization.”
Board of Directors
VEL Founder & Advisor
Carl was born and raised in the Bay Area and recently graduated from UC Davis in 2019 with a degree in microbiology. While attending UC Davis, Carl delved into scientific research with the Langley Genetics Lab and the Ryan Physiology Lab where he was able to lead and manage his own projects. Now, Carl works as an Emergency Medical Technician with Royal Ambulance and is aspiring to become a Physician’s Assistant as he continues to gain more first-hand clinical experience to further his knowledge of patient care.
Apart from his goals in healthcare and science, Carl is also well versed in the marching arts. Carl has accumulated eight years of experience in the drum corps community between marching with the Vanguard Cadets (2011-2015), the Phantom Regiment (2016) and the Santa Clara Vanguard (2017-2018). Carl is no stranger to leadership either; he has served as the head drum major for the Vanguard Cadets for 3 years, has conducted at Phantom, and was a drum major for SCV during both of his years there. Carl has also lead the Vanguard Cadets and the Santa Clara Vanguard to two Open Class Championships and one World Class Championship, respectively. Throughout his DCI marching career, he has used his knowledge and experience to give back to the local Bay Area music community by teaching several high school marching bands including Lynbrook HS, Live Oak HS, and Homestead HS. Carl extended his vision of community growth to a national level by helping start Silent Command, an online leadership education company that provides conducting lessons and leadership clinics to students and schools all over the country. Carl now looks forward to working with all who are involved with VEL in order to bring about positive change within VMAPA.
Katie Starnes is currently the Instrumental Music Teacher at Peterson Middle School in the Santa Clara Unified School District where she teaches three orchestras and two bands. Before this current position, Katie taught elementary school music and high school band in the greater San Jose area. Katie has a degree in Music Education from San Jose State University where she studied saxophone with Dr. Michael Hernandez. Katie is currently on marching band staff at Homestead HS in Cupertino, CA. Katie is professionally involved with the California Music Educators Association and California Band Directors Association. She also serves on the board for CMEA Bay Section as one of the Solo and Ensemble Festival Coordinators.
Katie marched Vanguard Cadets from 2014, 2015, before aging out with the corps in 2017. She played both baritone and mellophone and served as the mellophone section leader and soloist. In 2015, Katie was a part of SCV International, where she performed in Taiwan. Katie joined the SCVC visual staff in 2019, and currently serves as a visual tech with the corps. Katie is very excited to be a part of the VEL group and give back to the Vanguard organization which has given so much to her.
Lizzie is a senior Music Education student at the University of Texas at Arlington from Argyle, TX. As a performer, Lizzie currently serves as a drum major for the Santa Clara Vanguard Drum & Bugle Corps, where she began her journey in 2019 serving as the field assistant. She also was a member of the inaugural cast of Orion Winds in 2019.
Lizzie has worked extensively with ensembles at UTA, such as, the Maverick Marching Band, Clarinet Choir, Chamber ensembles, Wind Symphony & University Singers. She has also worked with many marching programs across DFW and currently works at Coppell High School. Lizzie’s professional affiliations include Texas Music Educators Association, Tau Beta Sigma & Collegiate Texas Music Educators.
Lizzie is very humbled and excited for the opportunity to serve the Vanguard organization in a new way alongside her fellow VEL members.
After her age out with the organization, Bri continued her performing experience with the Santa Clara Vanguard Winterguard from 2013-2016. During that time, she also had the opportunity to work with many programs around the West Coast, specifically in the Las Vegas and Southern California area. Presently, she works as a dance director at Rowland Heights HS and colorguard caption-head at Capistrano Valley HS. Bri is grateful she has been able to remain close to the drum corps activity. She has served as a staff member at Pacific Crest (2014-2018), Vanguard Cadets (2016-Present) and has been recently appointed as the assistant colorguard caption-head at the Vanguard Cadets.
Originally from Honolulu, HI, Bri Tomas attended the University of Las Vegas, Nevada and holds her BA in Sociology with a minor in dance. She recently received her MA in Leadership Development at Chapman University where she was able to collaborate her culminating capstone project with Drum Corps International.
Aside from serving as an officer for VEL, Bri also works with the VMAPA social media committee. She is delighted and thankful for the opportunity to give back to the VMAPA organization and marching arts activity.
Brandon is a junior at California State University, Fullerton studying kinesiology with the intent of pursuing physical therapy or chiropractic care. He marched bass drum at the Vanguard Cadets in 2015 and 2016, and the A-corps in 2018 and 2019, and is the current bass drum section leader. He also marched at other groups including Blue Devils, Pulse Percussion, and Tri-City Percussion, Orange County Independent, and Team Percussion USA.
Brandon is dedicated to building a strong bass drum culture in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has a passion for marching arts education and taught at multiple schools in the Santa Clara County including Saratoga High School, Los Gatos High School, Cupertino High School, and Mountain View High School.
Brandon is excited to serve VMAPA alongside the exceptional leadership in VEL.
Elise Denghausen is currently in her 4th year of undergrad at UCLA majoring in Neuroscience and minoring in Genetics. Elise has dedicated many years of her life to drum corps, starting with Impulse in 2014, Pacific Crest 2015-16, and finally, Santa Clara Vanguard A Corps 2017-20. These past two seasons she has served as the mellophone section leader and Horn Sergeant for the Santa Clara Vanguard and has loved being able to help lead and grow this organization.
After undergrad, she wishes to attend grad school to earn a PhD in Neuroscience and pursue a career in research. Drum corps, especially her experiences in Vanguard, has helped her immensely in her academic endeavors and she is extremely grateful for her time in Vanguard. Elise is excited to be a part of VEL and help foster the positive and progressive culture that is essential to Vanguard’s identity.
Polly was a member of Vanguard for the 2019 and 2020 seasons. She marched previously with Incognito (2015-2016), Gold (2017), and Pacific Crest Drum and Bugle Corps (2018), as well as Vessel (2018-2019) and RCC Indoor Percussion (2020).
As a student at the University of La Verne majoring in Kinesiology, concentrated on Health and Human Performance with a Psychology minor, Polly is interested in attending graduate school for Occupational Therapy. She looks forward to advancing physical and mental health education and resources available to current and future members. She has experience serving as a college volunteer to pediatric and adult populations in physical rehabilitation.
Polly is grateful for the opportunity to serve and provide new influence within VMAPA as a contributing member to VEL.
Matthew Distante is a senior Music Education and Tuba Performance double major at California State University, Long Beach. He is also a freelance musician and educator in the Southern California region, having worked with Long Beach City College, West High School, La Quinta High School, Redondo Union High School, University High School, and Los Alamitos High School. He has studied tuba with John VanHouten and Gabriel Sears and is a member of the Kappa Omicron chapter of Phi Mu Alpha.
Matthew has a wealth of experience in the marching arts, spending two years with Pacific Crest and then marching with the Santa Clara Vanguard for the 2018, 2019, and 2020 seasons. He has also marched indoor percussion with Vessel, POW, and Pulse Percussion.
Matthew hopes to inspire his students through music and instill valuable life lessons applicable both inside and outside of the classroom. He is honored and excited to be a charter member of the VEL and can’t wait to bring his visions and ideas for the program to life.
Monte is a freshman Music Education major at San Jose State University. He has tutored and led a few percussion groups throughout his highschool career, and has participated in multiple music groups outside of school such as the SJSU Honors Wind Ensemble and Sociedade Filarmónica Nova Aliança, a community Portuguese band.
Monte has been with the Vanguard Music and Performing Arts organization since 2016 and joined the Vanguard Cadets in 2018. He started in the organization as a youth percussionist in the newly formed Youth Percussion program and was introduced to the Vanguard Cadets group in 2017. He was offered a spot in 2018 as a prop mover and the following summer in 2019 was asked back as a backfield conductor and field assistant. He now serves as the current head drum major for the organization and hopes to create a positive and fun experience for members who join the corps.
Monte is extremely honored to be a part of this extraordinary group and hopes to be able to contribute however he can to Vanguard Emerging Leaders.
Isabel Guerrero has been a member of the Vanguard Cadets from 2016-2019. She marched with the Vanguard Cadets through her ageout. In 2018 and 2019 she was also Colorguard Co-Captain. In addition to her marching the Vanguard Cadets, she filled an alternate hole at the Mandarins, marched InMotion Performance Ensemble, and Tri-City Winterguard.
As a student she is currently earning her associates degree through Foothill College. After she plans to transfer to pursue her bachelors in graphic design. Currently for work, she is employed at St. Francis High School and the King’s Academy. She helps run the Colorguard program at both schools.
Isabel is humbled for this opportunity to serve the Vanguard Organization and is looking forward to seeing what new ideas come out of VEL.
Claire marched in the Santa Clara Vanguard Colorguard from 2015-2018. After aging out, she went on to teach for the Santa Clara Vanguard Cadets. In 2019, she graduated from the University of California Davis with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and double minors in Professional Writing and Human Rights. She currently works as a Grant Coordinator at Boys & Girls Clubs of Oceanside, serving at-risk youth from primarily Title I schools. She also sits on VMAPA’s social media committee as a fundraising lead. She is passionate about serving at-risk populations and looks forward to continuing her career in the nonprofit development sector.
Bio coming soon!
Jaime Martinez is currently a freshman Mathematics major at San Diego State University hoping to find his way into the world of design and architecture.
Jaime began his marching career as a freshman at Bonita Vista High School. There he played the clarinet for three years, two of which he served as section leader, and took on the podium as drum major for his senior year. Hearing about the amazing opportunity presented by the Vanguard Organization for the 2020 season, Jaime traveled to San Jose for a drum major position and was offered a spot on the Vanguard Cadets team.
As a rookie member to the Vanguard organization, Jaime is excited to see where VEL and Vanguard as a whole takes him.
Timothy currently attends Foothill Community College where he is double majoring in both Psychology and Business Administration. He is currently fulfilling credits to earn two AA degrees for both of his majors and plans to transfer to a 4 year college within the next year. After undergraduate school, Timothy plans to go onto graduate school to study industrial organizational psychology and earn his masters or doctorate.
Timothy was a member of the Santa Clara Vanguard Cadet in 2017 and the Santa Clara Vanguard in 2018, 2019, and 2020. He marched the baritone during all of his seasons and was the baritone section leader for the 2020 SCV season. Timothy will age out of drum corps in the year 2022.
Timothy has taught the Los Altos High School Marching Band in 2018 and 2019 as well as the Homestead High School Marching Band in 2019. He has also taught a beginning jazz band class for high school students in the winter of 2020. Timothy works as a tutor aiding students K-12 in math, english, science, and history.
Timothy is excited for the potential of Vanguard Emerging Leaders and is thankful for the opportunity to give back to the Vanguard community.
Ken Nakamoto is the Director of Instrumental Music at William C. Overfelt High School in San José, CA. In this role, Ken teaches the school’s string orchestra, two concert bands and serves as the Performing Arts Department Chair. Outside of his duties with Overfelt, Ken is serving as the Co-Solo and Ensemble Coordinator for the Bay Area section of the California Music Educators Association (CMEA). Ken received his Bachelor’s in Music Education & Euphonium Performance from San José State University and had the privilege of studying with Prof. Thomas Hornig and Dr. Matthew Tropman.
Ken’s involvement with the Vanguard organization goes all the way back to 2011 when he first joined the Vanguard Cadets. He spent the next two seasons with SCVC before moving up to SCV in 2013. After he aged out in 2016, Ken marched in the Rose Parade and Alumni Corps (with his dad!) in 2017. Currently, Ken is serving on the Vanguard Cadets brass staff as a Baritone and Mellophone Instructor
Being a part of VEL has been a very full circle experience for Ken. He is excited to be a voice for the future generation of VMAPA members & alumni.
Troy Pagkalinawan is currently a first year student attending UC Irvine and is working on a bachelor of science degree in Psychology. After the completion of undergraduate school, he hopes to attend medical school in pursuit of a career in Psychiatry.
Troy began his marching arts career at Ann Sobrato High School, a small high school in Morgan Hill, CA. There, he marched the clarinet for two years and later became a drum major during his junior and senior years. In addition, Troy has also been part of many groups such as the South Valley Symphony and the South Bay Honor Band.
During his time as a high school drum major, Troy attended many leadership workshops, including several led by SCV’s very own Carl Huang through Silent Command. This training and his passion for drum corps eventually led to him to obtain a drum major position with the Vanguard Cadets. Thus, the 2020/2021 season is the first season that Troy will be spending with the Santa Clara Vanguard organization!
As a rookie to the organization, Troy is extremely thankful and excited to have the opportunity to be part of the Vanguard Emerging Leaders. He aims to provide his own influence and insight to the organization in hopes to strengthen the Vanguard community.
Bio coming soon!
As a Performer Educator with Kaiser Permanente Educational Theatre, Kimberly works with hundreds of schools throughout Northern California utilizing theatre as a medium to educate youth about their health. Prior to working full time with KPET, Kimberly graduated magna cum laude from California State University Fullerton with a double major in Theatre and Cinema Television Arts as well as a minor in American Studies. After graduating, Kimberly worked for numerous performing arts organizations throughout the state of California teaching dance and musical theatre. Kimberly is also a local titleholder in the Miss America Organization, holding the title of Miss Santa Clara County. In this role Kimberly aims to share her love for both the community of Santa Clara as well as her love for the arts, through her social impact initiative “Arts for All.”
Kimberly is a firm believer that the arts are a powerful tool to educate, heal, and inspire all people; Her involvement with the Santa Clara Vanguard played a large role in instilling this belief. Marching the Vanguard Cadets from 2013-2014 and the Santa Clara Vanguard A Corps from 2015-2018, the Vanguard played a pivotal role in shaping her work ethic, drive, and resilience. After aging out, Kimberly was thrilled to have a full-circle moment in the organization as she went on to join the staff of the 2019 Vanguard Cadets. Kimberly also currently serves as a member of the VMAPA social media committee. As a member of VEL, Kimberly hopes to share her passion for the community and arts education, as well as be a voice for the younger generation of leaders in the VMAPA organization.
Noah has been a member of the Vanguard since the 2018 season. He also March Pacific Crest in 2016 and 2017. He spent the 2019 winter season as part of the visual ensemble at Pulse Percussion. Noah currently works with multiple high schools throughout the Southern California as a visual and brass instructor. Educationally he is pursuing a degree in Music Education and hopes to continue teaching arts and music deep in to the future. Noah is extremely excited for the opportunity to be a part of the Vanguard Emerging Leaders and can not wait to see where the group goes moving forward.
Timothy Yang is a third year student at San Jose State University and is in his final year studying computer science. He is currently seeking to expand his horizons by researching computer science in graduate school and beyond. He aims to not only gain as much knowledge as possible, but to give back and teach to future students.
Timothy has been learning about the musical arts since childhood, starting with piano and learning trombone in middle school. After he joined the marching band in high school, he joined the Santa Clara Vanguard Cadets in 2018, 2019 and 2020 on baritone. In his third year with the corps, he now serves as the horn sergeant for SCVC. His goal is to not only make each performer better over the season, but to give them a valuable experience that has an impact on their lives.
Timothy is incredibly enthusiastic to give back to the Vanguard Family and organization, and is looking forward to working with Vanguard Emerging Leaders.