Meet Tad LeVan, Donor and Project 440 Board President! Tad is the man behind the scenes, ensuring that our Board is running like a smooth oiled machine. Our interview highlights what drives Tad to give so much to our organization and the important role music has and continues to play in his life.
Q: How did you get to know Project 440?
Back in 2014, my daughter Elena was being inducted in the Tri-M Music Honor Society at Washington Township High School in New Jersey. Joseph Conyers, Project 440’s Executive Director, gave the keynote address at the ceremony. I was blown away by Joseph’s passion, motivation and vision for using music as a tool to teach important career and life-skills to high school students. I walked right up to him after the ceremony ended and offered to help any way I could!
Q: What inspired you give to Project 440 as a donor and as a working Board member in your current capacity?
Music has always been an important part of my life. I was completely taken with the idea of using music to develop educational, entrepreneurial and community-engaging programs to provide direction, assistance and professional advancement to young people. And, of course, you cannot speak of inspiration without recognizing Joseph himself: His joy, passion and excitement for Project 440 is contagious. It’s impossible to hear Joseph speak and not want to be part of his vision to change the world for the better. So right from the start I was excited to support Project 440, both financially and by serving on the Board.
Q: Why do you think our work is important?
Our country’s public secondary education system primarily focuses on providing students with substantive knowledge in particular subject-matter areas. Even in well-administered and fiscally solvent districts, secondary schools rarely provide opportunities for students to develop the entrepreneurial and community-engaging skill sets that are so necessary to thrive in today’s world. Project 440 fills that gap and provides important service and support in those critical skill areas. As our mission aptly states: “Project 440 engages, educates and inspires young musicians, providing them with the career and life skills they need to develop into tomorrow's civic-minded, entrepreneurial leaders.”
Q: What is your personal connection to music?
I have happily been involved with music my entire life. When I was younger, I played piano and trombone, and also performed in several professional musical theater productions. Even after becoming a trial attorney, music has remained a critically important part of my life. Over the years, I have sung with numerous choral groups, including the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus, Choral Arts of Philadelphia, and most recently Choral Arts of Southern New Jersey. In addition, within the past few years I have returned to the stage in musical theater productions after a 30-year hiatus. I have always loved performing in front of an audience but I now have the added benefit of causing great embarrassment to my children! I consider that a win-win.
Q: How did the skills you developed through your musical involvement/activities help in your career or inform your work approach?
Needless to say, there are numerous similarities between performing onstage and being a trial attorney. Skills in public speaking, story-telling, and relating to an audience – to name just a few – easily transferred to my professional life and provided a solid foundation upon which to build. But just as importantly, my early involvement in music taught me how to work within an ensemble, showed me the importance of consistently practicing your craft, and helped me develop the necessary grit to persevere through challenging situations that inevitably arise in any professional setting.
Music is magical: It has been a constant pillar in my life and will undoubtedly continue to play a central role in my years to come. I am immensely grateful to have the opportunity to work with Project 440 and share the power of music with the next generation.