June 19, 2020


(South Bend, Indiana — June 19, 2020) South Bend Symphony Orchestra announced today the extension of Music Director Alastair Willis’ contract through 2025 and the appointment of John Axelberg as Board President. Grammy Award-nominated Willis has served as Music Director since 2017 and has been widely credited with amplifying the Symphony’s presence. Axelberg has served on the Symphony’s Board since 2015 and is the well-regarded CEO of South Bend-based General Stamping & Metalworks. He succeeds Tim Maher, a partner at Barnes & Thornburg.

“I am honored to renew my contract with the South Bend Symphony Orchestra. Our wonderful musicians are a pleasure to collaborate with, and I’d like to thank them, the Board, staff, and audience for their support. I’m proud of all we have achieved so far, and I look forward to continuing our musical journey together and serving our communities,” Willis affirmed.

“Alastair is the right maestro for our Symphony,” added outgoing Board President Tim Maher. “He was the obvious choice when we hired him, and he has advanced us musically and with the community from the start.”

In addition to the renewal of Willis, the South Bend Symphony has elevated Vice President John Axelberg to be the next president, effective July 1, 2020. He succeeds Tim Maher who has served in the position for two years and oversaw Willis’ first years as Music Director and led the hiring of Executive Director Justus Zimmerman.

“Tim’s legacy as President is an organization well-prepared to weather the uncertainty of the COVID-19 era. Without his leadership, we would be like so many other performing arts institutions facing bankruptcy during this unprecedented time,” remarked Zimmerman. “And I couldn’t think of a better follow-up than John Axelberg. His management background and penchant for strategic thinking are exactly what we need at this moment.”

In addition to Axelberg, the Symphony’s Board elected Jennifer Kary as Vice President, John Seidl as Treasurer, and Pat Ruszkowski as Secretary. Full bios of the South Bend Symphony Orchestra Board of Directors officers are below.

About the SBSO
Embarking on the 89th season, the South Bend Symphony Orchestra is the region’s only professional orchestra and is committed to engaging the community in all it does. In addition to being recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts and other state and local arts funding organizations, the South Bend Symphony Orchestra is the recipient of the Community Foundation of St. Joseph County’s 2019 Leighton Award for Nonprofit Excellence, which recognizes the best-run nonprofit organization in St. Joseph County, Indiana.

John Axelberg, President
John Axelberg considers it a privilege to live his life in the community where he grew up. He is the third generation of the Axelberg family to lead General Stamping & Metalworks since its founding in 1922. He succeeded his father, Jim, as president in 2005 and today the company is widely recognized as one of North America’s premier metal fabricators.

Over the years, John’s commitment to South Bend grew beyond business concerns and family life. He served on the boards of the South Bend Regional Chamber and the Boys & Girls Clubs of St. Joseph County and is a former trustee of the Stanley Clark School. He currently serves on the Regional Advisory Council of the LIFT Network.

John has been a member of the South Bend Symphony board since 2015 and is honored to serve as its next president. In a world that often underplays our better nature, the South Bend Symphony Orchestra brings us together as a community to experience the greatest music ever written, and as often as not, to share a glimpse of the sublime.

Jennifer Kary, Vice President
Jennifer Kary is a CPA and Partner at Crowe LLP, a top ten public accounting firm, where is she in charge of Crowe’s Ethics and Independence National Office and has prior experience providing audit and consulting services to financial institutions.

Jennifer is a life-long resident of South Bend and graduated from Indiana University South Bend in 1995 with a degree in accounting. She resides in the South Bend area with her husband, Jack, and their two children, Alexis and Karsten.

In addition to serving on the South Bend Symphony Orchestra board, she is an active volunteer and board member of First Brethren Church and El Campito Early Childhood Development Center.

John Seidl, Treasurer
John Seidl served as President and CEO of Indiana Trust Company before his retirement in 2018. He is an active member of community-based civic and business organizations, including the South Bend Rotary Club and Foundation and Notre Dame Club of St. Joseph Valley Scholarship Trust.

John is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame with a degree in business administration, gaining the Chartered Financial Analyst designation in 1991. Prior to joining Indiana Trust in 1998, Seidl served as the senior investment officer at two regional banks and has a total of over 40 years of experience in providing investment management services.

Pat Ruszkowski, Secretary
Pat Ruszkowski is the CEO of Carleton Inc. Pat serves as president of the Studebaker National Museum Foundation, Chairmen of the Notre Dame Federal Credit Union board, board member of the South Bend Lyric Opera, and past president and board member emeritus of St. Joseph County Family and Children Services.

Ruszkowski joined the South Bend Symphony Orchestra board in 2018.

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