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Encore Fellows Spotlight: Marvin Kaiser

Posted by sarahcohendoherty

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Growing up on a farm in Kansas, Marvin was surrounded by extended family and community members with music at its heart. Daily life involved intergenerational family and community with grandparents, older neighbors, and children always around. Graduating from his community’s one room school house and due to his parents’ commitment to education, he went on to obtain degrees in philosophy and social work, culminating with a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

While a faculty member at Kansas State University, Marvin focused his teaching and research on the lives of older adults, especially those in rural settings. With a life changing experience of a Kellogg Foundation Fellowship, he was given the opportunity to serve with the US Agency for International Development and the United Nations Office at Vienna which, in both settings, opened his world to the lives of older adults and their families in developing countries. Most importantly, he came to understand that while these older adults had real needs and very limited public infrastructures to support them, they were viewed and treated as valued assets and role models for their communities.  Marvin joined Portland State University in 1993 as the dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. While serving in this academic leadership role for sixteen years, he championed the role of higher education to both prepare students for their life’s work and for active citizenship in regards to service to others. Following his retirement from Portland State, he served for 5+years as the CEO of Mary’s Woods, a non-profit senior living community in Lake Oswego, Oregon.

For his Encore Fellowship, Marvin is privileged to partner with Portland based Music Workshop, a nonprofit who creates and provides free of charge online music education to K-8th graders. As the Financial Strategist, his role is to work with Amy Richter to expand Music Workshop’s base of financial support and long-term fiscal sustainability by developing an array of corporate and foundation partnerships.

The success of this partnership is also built upon the leadership of Amy Richter, the Founder and Executive Director of Music Workshop. Diagnosed with dyslexia, Amy overcame many obstacles using music education, participation and the practice of music. After graduating from Beaverton High School, Amy attended Whittier College and obtained a degree through the Whittier Scholars Program with a double major in Music and Psychology with a focus on Music Therapy. After having children, Amy realized that the music education landscape had changed dramatically and that a large number of school programs had been reduced or eliminated in many K-8 schools. Believing that music education is vital for every child, Amy founded Music Workshop to create an inspirational music education program that any school could access and teach no matter their means, location or teacher expertise. Starting from scratch, the program is now educating over 350,000 students in schools located in 43 states and 13 countries, Amy and Marvin are working hard to create financial sustainability so that Music Workshop’s program can expand and reach millions of students in the years to come.