Our Staff

Click a name to contact that staff member.  For general inquiries, click here


Lauren Deutsch, Executive Director

Ms. Deutsch became Executive Director of the Jazz Institute in 1996, having served on its board for 14 years.  As a result of her leadership for more than two decades, the Jazz Institute has grown from a grass roots volunteer-based organization to a highly respected cultural institution with a staff of eight and an annual budget of nearly a million dollars.


Ms. Deutsch credits her background in community organization and the arts for the impetus to develop programs in collaboration with a variety of small and large institutions. As a board member she helped produce and promote concerts, including the Chicago Jazz Festival and annual Jazz Fair, develop a high school jazz curriculum and negotiate a home at the University of Chicago for the Jazz Institute of Chicago’s archives.  As Executive Director she has cultivated partnerships including the long running JazzCity free concert series, a collaboration with the Chicago Park District which provides access to high caliber jazz performances to communities all over Chicago and the Jazz Links teacher-partnership that provides in-school residencies and after school opportunities for students to perform with and learn from jazz veterans.  In addition to being invited to collaborate with the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events to  develop and program the 11-year Made in Chicago: World Class Jazz commission-based concert series at Millennium Park, Ms. Deutsch cultivated a 12-year partnership presenting the Made in Chicago Festival in Poznan, Poland, introducing a broad mix of Chicago jazz artists to European audiences..


In 2004 she was selected as one of the Chicago Tribune’s Chicagoan’s of the Year for her contributions to Chicago’s cultural landscape.  She has also received recognition from her community including  the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians for Community Service (2005) , the Chicago Jazz Ensemble for Outstanding Cultural Contributions (2007), the Jazz Journalists Association A-Team Award (2008) the Hyde Park Jazz Society James Wagner Community Service Award (2012), and the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic  Think Big Award (2015).


She is also a published and internationally exhibited photographer; some of her images can be viewed at https://www.lensculture.com/lauren-deutsch.





Diane Chandler-Marshall, Education Program Director

A former member of the Board of the Jazz Institute of Chicago, Ms. Chandler-Marshall received unanimous board approval for her new role with the organization. Her career in the arts community spans over 20 years as an arts administrator and advocate. Ms. Chandler-Marshall’s work includes extensive experience with both local and national-level government, public and private organizations and non-profit arts agencies. In 1999, she was awarded the Music of the Heart Education Award by the National Association for the Recording Arts and Sciences, Inc. for her outstanding contributions to music and arts education.


Nicole Gotthelf,  Development & Membership Director

Nicole has over 30 years’ experience in fundraising and communications that increase funding and visibility of non-profit organizations. Nicole previously worked at the Center for Neighborhood Technology, Garfield Park Conservancy Alliance, American Friends Service Committee, and Community Shares of Wisconsin.  Nicole was elected and served on the City of Madison Common Council for eight years. As an Alderman, she served on numerous boards, committees, and commissions, including Madison Parks Commission, Broadband Telecommunication Board, and State Street Mall Operating Committee. Nicole volunteered at WORT-FM Radio, a listener community radio station in Madison, for ten years. Her responsibilities ranged from PSA Director to producing the morning talk show, The Breakfast Special, as well as a frequent substitute host. Nicole served on the Boards of Directors of the Andersonville Development Corporation. Community Media Workshop and Woman Made Gallery. Nicole has a B.A. in Geography from Beloit College.


Mekeda Johnson-Brooks, Communications & Marketing Director

Mekeda Johnson-Brooks is a marketing professional with over 15 years of experience. She has been recognized by several organizations for community involvement and management of corporate civic campaigns.



John Foster, Education Associate/Student Council Coordinator

John Foster is a jazz saxophonist, composer, bandleader and educator.  John acts as the coordinator for the Jazz Links Student Council, and is an alum and past president of the Jazz Links Student Council. He is also a co-director of our Jazz Ambassadors program. John holds a B.F.A in Jazz Performance and Music Therapy CT from The New School University in New York City.



Michael Nearpass, Education Associate

Michael is a trombonist, composer, and educator.  He helps coordinate the NextGenJazz series and serves as a conductor for the Jazz Links Youth Jazz Ensemble. Michael graduated from the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University and from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


Morgan PirtleMembership, Volunteer, and Operations Coordinator

Morgan is a vocalist, educator, and composer currently completing her undergraduate degree in Jazz Studies at University of Illinois, Chicago. A past participant in the Jazz Institute of Chicago Jazz Links Programs and a former Jazz Institute of Chicago Intern, Morgan is the membership and volunteer manager. She handles all new and existing member relationships and volunteer opportunities for all Jazz Institute events. Morgan is also a co-leader of the Jazz Institute of Chicago Women’s Leadership Initiative.


Adriana Prieto, Program & Event Support Manager

Adriana holds a B.M. in Vocal Jazz performance from the National Institute of Fine Arts in Mexico and recently graduated from the M.A. in Arts Management program of Columbia College Chicago. She performs several marketing and production duties for the Institute’s programs and events.

Become a Member

By joining the Jazz Institute of Chicago, you help support the music you love



Be in the know! Sign up for our email list.


We Need your Support

Your support makes a difference! Support Jazz in Chicago by becoming a member, volunteering or giving today.


The Gift of Music

Your charitable gift helps us continue to provide jazz education, develop Chicago musicians, and build audiences for a thriving jazz scene.