Paul Reisler (Founder and Artistic Director) is a composer, songwriter, recording artists, performer and teacher. He’s the founder and artistic director of Kid Pan Alley, co-founder of Trapezoid, as well as his current bands, Paul Reisler & A Thousand Questions featuring Howard Levy, and Three Good Reasons. Over the past 45 years, he’s performed in over 3,000 concerts, recorded close to three-dozen albums, co-wrote Aesop’s Fables for Orchestra and Narrator, as well as the script and songs for two musicals Bouncin’ and The Talented Clementine.
Paul has written more songs than the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, and Stephen Foster combined—somewhere north of 3,500 compositions. Certainly, his 65,000 short collaborators as well a handful of Grammy-winning co-writers have helped. Artists including Sissy Spacek, Raul Malo, Darrell Scott, Cracker, Corey Harris, Jesse Winchester and many others have recorded his songs.
He’s one of the most popular songwriting teachers in the country and has taught at workshops and songwriting schools including Rocky Mountain Song School, Utah Song School, New Song Academy, Swannanoa Gathering, Augusta Workshop, Hollyhock, Kerrville, NSAI, Songcamp in the Mountains, Puget Sound Guitar Workshop, Berklee College of Music, University of the Pacific, and Moulin a Nef (France).
Jen Jacobsen (Executive Director) comes to KPA from the recording industry, where she served as Vice President for Industry and Government Relations for Sony Music Entertainment before joining Kid Pan Alley as Executive Director. Previously, Jen worked as Vice President of Global Public Policy at Time Warner and AOL, at the law firm Akin Gump, and as a congressional staffer on Capitol Hill.
Jen graduated from the Leadership Music program in Nashville, a forum for music community leaders to identify and explore issues currently affecting the music industry. A lifelong musician, Jen has performed in numerous community theatre productions in the D.C. area, and is currently the lead singer in a local cover band “The Overcommitments.” She holds a B.A. from Yale University and a J.D. from University of Virginia School of Law.
Cheryl Toth (Grants & Education Specialist) loves to sing. When she started school, her ability to sing harmony landed her invitations to join her first choir at the age of 9. This passion led to earning a bachelors and master degree in music education.
Cheryl is an avid music educator. She believes in the creative process integrating voice, movement, improvisation and instrumentation as a means of inspiration and discovery. She started her professional career as an elementary school music teacher. This led to a position supervising the elementary music program for 136 schools for the Fairfax County Public School district. Then she served as an elementary school principal for 8 years before joining Kid Pan Alley.
Her experience includes teaching preschool students with special needs through high school. She has served coordinator of the All County Choral Festival for 900 voices and assistant conductor for the George Mason Symphonic Chorus. She has performed with the Symphonic Chorus at the Philharmonic in Koln, Germany.
Ryan Benyo (Director of Licensing and Creative) is a Los Angeles based record producer, songwriter and pianist. He got his start in music at an early age studying Classical and Jazz piano in his hometown in Virginia which flourished into a passion for songwriting and music production. After working with Kid Pan Alley’s Paul Reisler, Ryan decided to peruse a career in music full-time and went on to study at Berklee College of Music in Boston and he received a B.S. in Music Production from McNally Smith College of Music in Saint Paul, MN in 2012.
During college, Ryan worked as an assistant engineer at two state-of-the-art recording facilities: one commercial studio, Bias Studios in Springfield, Virginia and at Dave Matthew’s private studio. In addition, Benyo interned at Media City Sound, an audio post-production facility in Los Angeles, and worked on a variety of Films and TV Shows. After college, Ryan relocated to Los Angeles permanently and began working for an artist development and marketing company while also producing an internationally syndicated taste-maker radio show.
With an electric taste in music, Ryan has worked with a variety of artists including Parachute, Sheppard, Baker Grace, Alberta Cross, Through Fire, Vusi Mahlasela, Caro Emerald, Lisa Loeb, and Owen Danoff. He has also released 6 solo albums as an independent artist.
As the Director of Licensing & Creative for Kid Pan Alley, Ryan’s focus is on the recording, development and marketing of our growing catalog of songs, as well as to aid in music and entertainment industry relations on the west coast.
Melissa Luce (Office Manager) Melissa has been keeping small businesses and non-profits organized for over 25 years. A recent transplant to Madison County, she is setting roots at the base of Old Rag Mountain – a mountain she has been hiking since she moved to Virginia in the mid-1990s. Melissa grew up outside Los Angeles where she earned a BA in Psychology and spent as much time as possible in the mountains, deserts, and beaches of California. She is happy to support Kid Pan Alley’s mission of promoting creativity, collaboration, and song in children and other kids at heart.
Robbie Schaefer (Teaching Artist) is a musician, songwriter, and playwright devoted to service through the arts. He is the guitarist and songwriter for the indie folk band Eddie From Ohio and has released several solo albums, including his most recent, 2017′s Sounds Like Home: Songs From the Musical, Light Years. In 2018, Robbie made his theatrical stage debut in Signature Theatre’s LIGHT YEARS, a musical for which he wrote the book, music and lyrics.
Lea Morris (Teaching Artist) was the Grand Prize winner of the Bernard/Ebb Songwriting Awards in 2017. She was an Artist-in-Residence at The Music Center at Strathmore and is a beloved children’s music performer among DC families. Lea has shared the stage with legends like Odetta and Mavis Staples, as well as modern troubadours like Dar Williams and Anthony Hamilton. She has performed at The Kennedy Center, The Birchmere and Wolf Trap, as well as at venues throughout Europe.