Jean Paul Coffy, President, a.k.a. “Coffy”, was born in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti and came to live in Chicago in September 2001. Coffy is co-founder of La Grande Famille, which provides pre-K youngsters a wide variety of hands-on educational curricula, including the music program “Music Magic Time.” At La Grande Famille Coffy has served as Lead Teacher for over 10 years. Coffy received his degree from the Academy of Music in Haiti and early childhood degree in the Waldorf education system. Prior to his teaching career, Coffy traveled the world as the lead musician for the legendary folklore band Boukman Eksperyans.
Tom Denio, Treasurer, is a retired banker who worked for 20 years as a Director at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ (now MUFG bank), where he was responsible for relationship management. Tom received his Masters degree in Economics from Indiana University. Tom has served as Treasurer and Chair of the Board of Trustees at Second Unitarian Church of Chicago, and is a founding board member of the anti-racism non-profit Together Is Better Alliance.
Michael F. (Mike) King, Secretary, is a volunteer, activist, and “agent of change” for the betterment of Chicago’s churches, communities, and non-profits attempting to improve the quality of life for People of Color.
Mike enrolled at Loyola University’s Graduate School in the Institute of Pastoral Studies and completed his Masters of Art Degree in Social Justice and Community Development in 2014. Mike serves as a member of the Christian Community Development Association, an advocate at Voices for Creative Non-Violence, and a participant of Community Renewal Society. In 2017, he founded the Bone-Crutcher Heritage Foundation. He is also a member of Uptown Baptist Church and Urban Village Church.
After graduating in Business Administration from Ball State University in 1976, Mike worked in Programs and Administration at Student Centers Operations.
At the Illinois Institute of Technology, he worked with with the Association of College Unions – International and served on its Committee on Minority Programs. At the University of Illinois-Chicago, Mike served as Operations Coordinator and Assistant to the Directors at UIC Student Centers.
Mike says, “It is a pleasure to continue my efforts to make a difference in the arts by entertaining, growing and healing our Chicago and Extended Communities by working with Crossing Borders Music. Music does, indeed, soothe the savage beast!”
Mi Ran Choi is an emerging Chicago-based cellist, educator, and academic completing their Master of Arts degree in Applied Music Pedagogy at Northeastern Illinois University. Originally a violinist from Los Angeles, Mi Ran picked up the cello when they were 16 and went on to major in cello performance at Los Angeles City College and later at North Park University in Chicago. At North Park, they played as principal cellist in the university orchestra, was active as a chamber musician, served as the orchestra assistant, studied abroad in Thailand in Summer 2019, and earned a Certificate in Music for Social Change and Human Values and 1st Place in the 2020 School of Music Service Awards. At NEIU, they remain active as a chamber musician and was a proud recipient of the Nada Spasojevich Endowment Award.
Passionate for accessible and empowering music education, Mi Ran maintains a teaching studio with the Chicago West Community Music Center’s Westside Instructional Strings and Harp (WISH) Program and serves as junior cello faculty at NEIU’s Community Music Program. They additionally serve the Human Values Collective as a teaching team member and web designer. In their free time, they enjoy biking through Chicago and
trying new coffee blends.
After completing his university studies in zoology, John A. Larson, Vice President, went on to serve in the US Army, where he served as a battalion-level Chemical Corps Captain as well as a Headquarters Detachment Commander. There, he developed a life-long interest in issues of governance and extensive experience creating effective Standard Operating Procedures. John is an author and poet who is not published – yet! He strongly supports Crossing Borders Music’s mission.
Curtis Smith, Past President and Governance Chair, is a Financial Associate at Thrivent Financial with a passion for working in neighborhoods where many have not had access to financial services. He is also Past President of the non-profit organization One Northside and leads the Second Unitarian Church of Chicago’s Anti-Racism Committee.