board of directors

Yoshi Akiba

Jason Hofmann

Sheila E  (aka Sheila Escovedo)

Sheila Escovedo is a multi-faceted drummer, percussionist, vocalist, songwriter, performer, arranger, producer, composer, instrumentalist and humanitarian.

The daughter of legendary percussionist Pete Escovedo, Sheila first picked up the drumsticks at the precocious age of three while watching her father rehearse.  She delivered her first solo performance to a live audience two years later, and has never looked back – establishing herself as one of the most talented percussionist/drummers and performers in the world.  Best known to music fans as ‘Sheila E.’, she became a top session and touring musician before the age of 19, performing and/or recording with George Duke, Herbie Hancock, Billy Cobham, Con Funk Shun and countless others.  Soon to follow were appearances with Marvin Gaye on his final world tour, as well as Diana Ross, Lionel Richie, Gloria Estefan, Babyface, Patti LaBelle, and Stevie Nicks, among others.

In the 1980’s, Sheila’s friend and fellow musician Prince helped catapult her to pop superstardom.  Her obvious talent, and hits like ‘The Glamorous Life’, and ‘Love Bizarre’, plus her pivotal work on other Prince collaborations, brought international fame and recognition.  Among other work during this period, Sheila performed on USA For Africa’s ‘We Are the World’ for African famine relief, and performed at the Academy Awards with virtuoso tenor/ conductor Placido Domingo. In recent years, Sheila has served as musical director for the likes of Jennifer Lopez, Beyoncé Knowles, and Prince.  Her producing and arranging talents have been showcased on the Latin Grammy Awards, Summer Olympics, ALMA’s, and the Image Awards – to name but a few.  Sheila was television’s first female musical director for Magic Johnson’s ‘The Magic Hour’, and in 2012 appeared as a featured performer on the 84th Annual Academy Awards.  Her enthusiasm for “passing it on” to a new generation of players led her to design “The Sheila E. Player’s Series”, featuring lines of percussion instruments for adults and children. Sheila also appeared for three consecutive runs as drummer for Ringo Starr’s All-Starr Band, was a celebrity judge on Fox’s ‘The Next Great American Band’, and was the grand-prize winner on ‘Gone Country 3’ on CMT. Her most recent project is The E. Family’s worldwide release of their first collaborative CD ‘Now & Forever’, with father Pete, and brothers Juan and Peter Michael. In addition to the demands of making and teaching music around the world, Sheila is also an ardent philanthropist, maintaining an unwavering involvement in several charitable organizations. In 2001, along with her manager and business partner (and fellow 51Oakland Board member) Lynn Mabry – Sheila co-founded the Elevate Hope Foundation, a Los Angeles-based non-profit “dedicated to providing abused and abandoned children an alternative method of therapy through music and the arts.” For her work with Elevate Hope, Sheila has received the Imagen Foundation’s Humanitarian Award, Angels Across America Award, The Prism Lifetime Achievement Award, Woman Of The Year Award, and Women Of Soul Award. As a survivor of sexual abuse, her work with Elevate Hope is extremely personal. “Growing up, I struggled with the shame of my childhood experience, but fortunately I had an outlet,” Sheila explains, “My exposure to music at an early age assisted in the healing process.”

Sheila is living proof that exposure to music and the arts can be a life-altering positive experience for the young people of Oakland.

Lynn Mabry

LynnMabry2 For Lynn Mabry, born into a musical family and raised in the church, singing came as naturally as breathing. In 1975, at the suggestion of friend, she auditioned for Latin artist Coke Escovedo. Much to the young Ms. Mabry’s surprise, she was hired by Escovedo, and began performing with his band at the historic King Richards Nightclub in Jack London Square, Oakland. It was here that Lynn eventually opened for funk/soul icons Earth, Wind & Fire. The rest is musical history. Recognizing her potential, Lynn’s cousin Sly Stone (of Sly & The Family Stone) hired her to sing on his Heard You Missed Me album – an experience that was followed by an appearance on a promotional tour opening for Parliament Funkadelic and Bootsy Collins. During that tour, George Clinton enlisted Lynn and other back-up singers on several recordings. By 1977, she and her fellow singers were asked to join Clinton and company on a permanent basis, and she toured and recorded with P-Funk for over 4 years. The legendary Clinton launched and produced Lynn’s first studio album. As part of the original Brides Of Funkenstein, the album – Funk or Walk – topped Billboard’s Top 10 dance charts in 1978.
In 1979, Lynn became a proud single parent, giving birth to her daughter Akasha in December of that year. After taking a 2-year break to raise her infant child, the highly sought-after singer returned to performing in 1981, touring internationally with Rita Coolidge, then joining the Talking Heads the following year. While with Talking Heads, Lynn starred in their highly-acclaimed feature film Stop Making Sense and the hit video Naive Melody. She went on to appear in motion pictures such as Tape Heads & The Night Before. As lead vocalist, she joined the George Michael on the ‘Faith” tour in 1988, and again for the ‘Cover to Cover’ tour in 1991, then toured with Don Henley for his ‘Dirty Laundry’ tour. Lynn was a featured vocalist for Bette Midler (’92-’94), and appeared in Midler’s HBO Special ‘Diva Las Vegas.’ She also appeared on numerous variety and award shows including The Tonight Show, David Letterman, the Grammy Awards, and the American Music & Image Awards, among many others. During her career, Lynn has recorded, toured, and/ or appeared in videos with a who’s-who of celebrated artists, including Mick Jagger, Elton John, Rod Stewart, Celine Dion, Eric Clapton, Stevie Nicks, Fleetwood Mac, Don Henley, Dave Stewart, Sheila E., Ernie Isley, Chris Isaac, Neil Shawn, and many more. She has also worked with top Japanese artists like Namie Amuro, Ichiki Yazawa, Ruichi Sakamoto, and, Minako Yoshida, and Masayoshi Takanaka.

In 1995, Lynn retired from touring, moving from the stage to the business side of the music industry. As Vice President and Executive Director of Heaven Productions Music, Lynn took over exclusive management duties for world-renowned performing artist & entertainer Sheila E. in 1996. In 2011, Lynn launched the management company White Rose Entertainment & Investment Group, adding songwriter & performer Havis, Image Producer & Wardrobe Stylist Roni Burks, and Pop Artist Justin Avery to her client roster. Currently, Lynn can be seen in theaters as part of the critically-acclaimed documentary 20 Feet From Stardom.

In addition to Lynn’s lifelong involvement in music, she is also a passionate advocate for children, and remains active as a committed philanthropist. She is Co-Founder (along with her fellow 51Oakland Board member Sheila E.) & CEO of the Elevate Hope Foundation, promoting music and arts education as an alternative form of therapy for at-risk youth. Music and the arts continue to be her driving force – and she strives to utilize her experience and gifts as a means to making a real, positive difference in the world.

Don Reed

Don Reed is a comedian, actor, and playwright born and raised in Oakland.Yoshi&DonReed Currently serving as the opening act for The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Mr. Reed is also author and star of three highly-acclaimed one-man shows: East 14th, The Kipling Hotel, and Can You Dig It?  Together, the shows serve as chapters in a moving and hilarious autobiographical trilogy, drawing material from Mr. Reed’s life and experiences in Oakland and beyond. While his accolades and accomplishments are too lengthy to list, select highlights include appearances on The Cosby Show and A Different World, stand-up specials on HBO, Showtime, Comedy Central, A&E, and other networks, and appearances on stage and screen alongside the likes of Damon Wayans, Chris Rock and Kevin Hart.  A multi-dimensional entertainer, Don has employed his prodigious talents as a motivational speaker on the college circuit, and currently lends his services to several Non-Profit Organizations including the AIDS Foundation of San Diego, LM Sarcoma Direct Research, and the UCLA Medical Center.

Zack Pitt-Smith

Zack Pitt-Smith 51Oakland is proud to have Zack Pitt-Smith – the Oakland Unified School District’s 2012-13 Teacher of the Year – join its Board. Mr. Pitt-Smith, who holds a bachelor of arts in ethnomusicology from Brown University, and attended the Berklee College of Music, has directed a thriving music program at Oakland’s Edna Brewer Middle School for the past six years. The ambitious program includes beginning, concert, and symphonic band, jazz ensemble and jazz combo, three levels of string orchestras, a chamber music string program, an Orff-based world percussion ensemble, and a drum group for male achievement.  Highlights of the 2012-2013 school year, attributable to Mr. Pitt-Smith’s energetic leadership, include a “Unanimous Superior” rating – the highest possible – awarded to the jazz combo at the prestigious California Music Educators’ Association Jazz Combo Festival competition, and an on-field performance of the national anthem at an Oakland Athletics game.  Mr. Pitt-Smith has also managed to find the time to freelance as a woodwind performer for the past ten years.

John Lucasey

john lucaseyJohn moved back to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1991 to open his first studio named “Lucasey Video/Film/Audio Productions” John  continued doing stunt work, but with the Production company, he leaned toward the less successful part of the Production company’s service which was Audio (Music). 1997, John moved his operation to a warehouse in Oakland where he opened his award winning recording studio and re-named it “Studio 880” (Next to interstate 880) in a section of Oakland named Jingle Town. Green Day refers to the Oakland Warehouse as well as Jingle Town in their Platinum selling Grammy winning album “American Idiot”. Now Jingle Town is made even more famous by the now New York Broadway musical “American Idiot” which is set in “Jingle Town.” John has enjoyed much success with his company catering to Multi-Platinum recording artists as well as some of the worlds top music Producers. To further his creative spirit and concentrate more on his mixing and Productions, John recently sold the legendary Studio Warehouse in Oakland which consisted of 3 main recording Studio’s all with private lounges and 22 production offices in exchange for an historic Victorian Mansion completely restored with a fully functioning recording studio for his own mixing and Productions.

Jack McAboy

Jack McAboy’s career has featured diverse business ventures including co-founding a security alarm company and specialty women’s clothing store, serving as general partner and general manager of one of the largest independent home medical equipment companies, serving as Chairman of the Board of California Electric Service, and teaching management seminars and strategic presentation workshops. In 1995, Mr. McAboy founded Bay Area Education Support Services, Inc., a company that has become the largest operator of Sylvan Learning Centers in the world. Mr. McAboy’s civic accomplishments are equally impressive: he has served as president of the Orinda Youth Association, Oakland YouthWorks, the Oakland Rotary Endowment, and Mental Edge, Inc., and chaired the Department of Consumer Affairs Disciplinary Review Committee for the State of California. In 1993, he spearheaded the development of H.O.P.E. (Help Oakland Pupils Excel), a scholarship/mentoring program that has served over 80 at-risk Oakland youths, guaranteeing them $10,000 college scholarships. Mr. McAboy’s past and current board memberships include: Redwood Day School, Warrack Medical Center Hospital, Third Age Foundation, Orinda Parks and Recreation Foundation, 100 Club, Marcus A Foster Educational Institute, Oakland Zoo Foundation Board, and Remember-Them, Champions for Humanity Steering Committee.

Dr. Richard Kahn

Dr. Richard Kahn is a physician specializing in plastic and reconstructive surgery practicing in Oakland, CA. Born into a family of musicians, Dr. Kahn has harbored a lifelong love for music and a deep appreciation for music education. Raised in a community which provided educational opportunity in the arts – well-supported music programs were available at every level in public schools, and scholarships for study at Michigan’s Interlochen Music Camp were available to students – Dr. Kahn recognizes the tremendous benefit of these early opportunities, and the important formative influence they had on his life. Dr. Kahn views his involvement with 51Oakland as a chance to provide some of the same inspiration and encouragement to Oakland students he was fortunate enough to receive.  “Music is a career for some, but whether you end up playing professionally or simply enjoying music as an enthusiast, everyone can benefit from a lifelong relationship with the international language of music,” Dr. Kahn said, “51Oakland wants to make this relationship available to as many students as possible.”  Dr. Kahn looks forward to working with 51Oakland the Board to ensure all students have the opportunities he was fortunate enough to enjoy.