Raleigh Convention Center Sales Director to Attend Leadership Bluegrass in March


When the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) announced its Leadership Bluegrass Class of 2016, an unusual title appeared on the list among musicians, festival organizers, music association and museum administrators, record labels, and bluegrass media - Sales Director for the Raleigh Convention Center.

That title belongs to Laurie Okun, who for the past three years has co-chaired the local organizing committee that helped lure IBMA's World of Bluegrass events to Raleigh from Nashville. Since then, the committee has helped IBMA and the City of Raleigh work together to transform IBMA's Fan Fest into the popular and successful Wide Open Bluegrass, presented by PNC. The 2016 World of Bluegrass events are scheduled for Sept. 26-Oct.1, with Wide Open Bluegrass taking place the last two days of the event - Sept. 30 and Oct. 1.

“For three years, hundreds of thousands of people have celebrated, danced, performed and joyously come together during Raleigh’s Wide Open Bluegrass festival. I’m honored to be just one part of a huge team and a welcoming community that has answered the call to give bluegrass music a home in Raleigh, and excited to represent our city as part of Leadership Bluegrass, Class of 2016,” Okun said after the announcement of this year's class.

Raleigh has hosted IBMA's last three World of Bluegrass events. In addition to the popular Wide Open Bluegrass, presented by PNC, World of Bluegrass also includes a business conference that is held in the Raleigh Convention Center; the annual International Bluegrass Music Association Awards; and the Bluegrass Ramble, a series of juried performance showcases featuring up-and-coming bluegrass bands in venues around downtown Raleigh and in the Convention Center. 

Leadership Bluegrass is an intensive three-day program of advanced interactive learning experiences. A cross-section of people with exhibited or potential leadership qualities examine the opportunities, choices and challenges of the current music industry, in bluegrass and beyond. The program is taught by high-profile music industry and business professionals, and encourages independent and collaborative thinking, new perspectives and a fresh approach to the issues facing the modern bluegrass community.

2016 marks the 17th year of the program, which boasts nearly 400 alumni. Participants are selected for the highly-sought curriculum through an application process. This year, Leadership Bluegrass received over 60 applications for just 26 seats.

BMI will once again host Leadership Bluegrass at its offices in Nashville on March 21-23. Trisha Tubbs, a business consultant from Lacey, Washington, and 2000 Leadership Bluegrass graduate, will return as facilitator.

The 2016 class includes:

Alan Bibey; Grasstowne; Surfside Beach, South Carolina

Daniel Boner; East Tennessee State University; Elizabethton, Tennessee

Dustin Boyd; Planet Bluegrass; Boulder, Colorado

Darby Brandli; California Bluegrass Association; Oakland, California

Janet Brightly; Consultant, Greyfox and Wintergrass; Annandale, Virginia

Aengus Finnan; Folk Alliance International; Kansas City, Missouri

Jocelyn Gold; Gold Heart; Hamilton, Virginia

Katherine Hanson; FDA Leadership Development; Ijamsville, Maryland

Kelsi Harrigill; Flatt Lonesome; Trinity, Alabama

Lisa Husted; Greyfox Bluegrass Festival; Whitesboro, New York

Leah James; International Bluegrass Music Association; Nashville, Tennessee

Chris Joslin; International Bluegrass Music Museum; Owensboro, Kentucky

Tony Kamel; Wood & Wire; Austin, Texas

Brad Kolodner; WAMU’s Bluegrass Country; Baltimore, Maryland

Devon Leger; Hearth Music; Shoreline, Washington

Marian Leighton Levy; Rounder Records; Newburyport, Massachusetts

Kimber Ludiker; Della Mae; Hendersonville, Tennessee

David Morris; Bluegrass Today/Paddle Faster Publishing; Gaithersburg, Maryland

Laurie Okun; City of Raleigh/Raleigh Convention Center; Raleigh, North Carolina

Patrice O’Neill; Acoustic Sound/Wintergrass; Milton, Washington

James Reams; James Reams & the Barnstormers; Litchfield, Arizona

Salvatore Sauco; Rhode Island Bluegrass Alliance; East, Rhode Island

Annie Savage; Colorado Bluegrass Music Society; Lafayette, Colorado

Lee Stivers; The Jakob’s Ferry Stragglers; Washington, Pennsylvania

Lucas White; Middle Tennessee State University; Murfreesboro, Tennessee

Dede Wyland; Independent Artist & Teacher; Silver Spring, Maryland

IBMA is the trade association that connects and educates bluegrass professionals, empowers the bluegrass community, and encourages  worldwide appreciation of bluegrass music of yesterday, today and tomorrow.