Christine Zemla is a professor of American Studies at Rutgers University. Her research in music history – particularly the history of the blues – began years ago, following a week-long conference held at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, coordinated by JSJBF founding member Bob Santelli. This “best conference ever” inspired her to create the Rutgers course “Race, Roots, Rock ‘n’ Roll.” Rock music, she tells her students, is firmly rooted in blues music. To gain a better understanding of the origins and evolution of blues music, she reminds us, we need to consider the social, political and racial hierarchies of the deep South in the early-to-mid-20th century. She travels yearly to the Mississippi Delta and recently completed a graduate program sponsored by Delta State University in Cleveland, MS, which included classes in the history and geography of the South, as well as the sociology of the blues, and earned her recognition as an “International Blues Scholar.”
Emil has resided in Monmouth and Ocean counties since 1979. After attending many JSJBF events, Emil became a member in 2018. He joined the board in January 2019, serving as Treasurer since November 2020, while receiving the Volunteer of the Year award in 2019. He graduated from Lehigh University in 1977 and although his degree was in Chemical Engineering, he’s been in corporate finance since 1989 (“accounting is just simplified engineering”). Although recently retired, for the last eight years he served as the financial manager for Wingit Innovations in Tinton Falls.
Tom is a three-term President and is a twenty-year member of the foundation. He graduated from Monmouth College in 1970 and began a career in banking that lasted thirty-two years. He retired in 2001 and was the owner of Lazare Shoes in Keyport, New Jersey until 2010. Tom has served on several church boards and is currently the Treasurer of the Community Church in Keyport. He has also produced summer concert series in Keyport and Middletown as well as shows in multiple venues in Monmouth County. He is a member of the Blues Hall of Fame and is married to former JSJBF Volunteer of the year Joanne.