SVVMF President Lisa Donald has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Sky Velvet Vassar Music Foundation since its inception in 2010. She had the privilege of knowing Sky through their weekly private cello lessons and was always inspired by Sky's natural musical inclination and eagerness to learn. Having attended Hummingbird Music Camp as a child for several summers, Lisa loves helping young musicians find magic and growth in incomparable summer experiences and assisting new high school graduates in finding their way as professional musicians through her work with the Foundation. As an adult, Lisa has returned to Hummingbird as a teacher and clinician, which she finds incredibly rewarding. In addition to teaching music, she works as a professional cellist with the New Mexico Philharmonic, Santa Fe Symphony and various chamber ensembles.


Huitzil Bennett Perez joined the SVVMF Youth Board of Directors in October of 2017. She brings a host of skills and attributes that run amazingly deep for such a young person. The nomination letter sent to the SVVMF Board Members on Huitzil's behalf speaks volumes:

"Huitzil is exponentially talented, with a background in violin, piano, guitar, flamenco, ballet and contemporary dance, cheer-leading, circus, community theater, graphic design, and various athletics. She shows deep love for her community in everything she does, including regularly attending marches and rallies in the battle for social justice. She is overall one of the most caring people I know, and would be a great asset to the board through her compassion, social connections, media skills and overall talent."

Huitzil was one of the first recipients of a Skybird Scholarship to Hummingbird Music Camp several years ago. We are now excited to welcome her into our SVVMF Youth Board.  We would also like to thank Mamie Yanu Willis, who recently graduated from our SVVMF Youth Board to the SVVMF Board of Directors, for her glowing nomination letter and for bringing our relationship with Huitzil full-circle from Scholarship Recipient to Board Member.



Sitara Schauer has been studying violin since she was a child. Classically trained, she developed a strong foundation with proper technique, ear training and scale studies. What remained when she decided to step “out of the box” were the soulful sounds of the minor keys. These led her to Arabic, Klezmer, Irish, Swedish, Tango, Gypsy and Balkan musical styles. Sitara has studied maqam (Arabic and Turkish scales) with world renowned teachers and performs actively with many different ensembles including the all-female Balkan and Mid-Eastern band, Rumelia Collective (, of which she is a founding member. She has a degree in instrument repair and also plays mandolin, guitar, piano and santoor (an Indo-Persian hammered dulcimer). She mentors middle and high school orchestras through an outreach program with Performance Santa Fe and maintains a string studio where she teaches private violin lessons to people of all ages. Sitara was Sky's first violin teacher.


Ayanna Freeman

SVVMF Board Secretary, Ayanna Freeman, has always loved music.  In her youth in the southern United States she excelled as a saxophonist, and her musical tastes have only expanded with the incredible experiences she’s had as an adult.  As a clothing designer, Ayanna travelled extensively in Asia frequenting India, Hong Kong, and China.  At the age of 29, she moved to Bangalore, Karnataka, India to run a fashion design department. There she immersed herself in the local culture—music, art, entertainment, traditions, and natural remedies.  It was an organic progression for her to then start her own skincare company, Leela’s Body Cocktails, for which Ayanna hand-makes all of the products.  She is also a regular contributor to Encantado and Los Ranchos Village magazines, writing about skincare topics and do-it-yourself remedies. Though Ayanna never knew Sky, she says, “Sky’s soul has touched me through her beautiful mother and siblings and I am honored to continue Sky’s efforts in sharing the contagious love of music.”  We are thrilled to have Ayanna join us and look forward to sharing in her enthusiasm!


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