The Partnership for the Homeless

Meet the Facilitators

We are thrilled to be working with Teachers College at Columbia University, who will be facilitating a May 5 rehearsal with the children participating in The Legacy of Charles Mingus: Bringing Music and Art to the Kids of East New York, Brooklyn.


Lori Custodero is Associate Professor of Music and Music Education at Teachers College at Columbia University. With degrees in piano performance, music theory, and music education (D.M.A., University of Southern California), her work brings together issues of teaching, learning, and musicality as they are co-constructed throughout the lifespan. In her research with children from infancy through preadolescence, and with adults as musicians, teachers, and parents, she has examined musical challenge, engagement, creativity, and meaning in a wide variety of educative environments including classrooms, playgrounds, and family settings.

Lori has been widely published, with numerous journal articles and book chapters, including translations in Greek, Portuguese, Chinese, and Italian. Most recently, she has co-edited a book with Harold Abeles entitled Critical Issues in Music Education: Contemporary Theory and Practice, published by Oxford University Press, in which she authored chapters on musical development and musical meaning. Custodero has served in various professional leadership roles including Co-Chair of the National Association for Music Education's Special Research Interest Group for Early Childhood, and Chair of the International Society for Music Education’s Early Childhood Commission. 

In addition to projects and partnerships worldwide, she has developed music programs with many local institutions including Jazz at Lincoln Center, the New York Philharmonic, and Columbia Head Start.

Tim "Sully" Sullivan began his studies in music growing up on the upper west side of  Wisconsin. After graduating high school in 2002, Tim enrolled at the Chicago College of Performing Arts (CCPA) in Jazz Studies, graduating early and with honors in 2005. Tim has worked with a diverse scope of artists including: Aretha Franklin, Dave Liebman Big Band, the Blues Brothers Revival Show produced by Dan Aykroyd and Judy Belushi (Broadway Chicago), the Chicago Jazz Festival (2002-2004) with the Toshiko Akiyoshi Big Band, Curtis Fuller Quintet, and the George Freeman Ensemble,

After graduating from CCPA, Tim moved to New Orleans and, two years later, graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Master's degree in Jazz Studies from the University of New Orleans (UNO). At UNO, he was a member of the school's flagship ensemble, the Louis Armstrong Quintet. Quickly becoming a sought after player and educator in the city, Tim could regularly be seen playing and teaching in the city's most revered venues including Tipitina's, Snug Harbor, Maple Leaf, House of Blues, and the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. He has had the great fortune to play with Ellis Marsalis, Delfeayo Marsalis, Jason Marsalis, Irma Thomas, George Porter Jr., Johnny Vidacovich, Stanton Moore, Simon Lott, Herlin Riley, Alfred 'Uganda' Roberts, Victor Goines, Irvin Mayfield, and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band's Kirk Joseph, Roger Lewis, and Terrence Higgins.

Tim has performed, recorded, and toured extensively throughout the US and overseas, having freelanced with a wide array of artists including: Fred Wesley, Roy Hargrove, Clark Terry, Matt Wilson, Marcus Printup, Vincent Gardner, Candido, Travis Sullivan's Bjorkestra, Eric Krasno (Soulive), Chali 2na (Jurassic 5), Robert Walter (Greyboy Allstars), Cab Calloway Orchestra, and the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra.

Currently living in New York City, Tim teaches at Jazz at Lincoln Center for the early childhood music program "Webop". In January 2012, Tim joined the adjunct faculty at Long Island University, where he maintains a private woodwind studio. Tim also serves as Director of Programming for JazzReach, Inc., a NYC-based arts education non-profit dedicated to fostering awareness, appreciation, and education for jazz in young audiences. He begins advanced graduate work at Teachers College at Columbia University in September 2012.

Austin Becker is a musician, composer, and educator based in New York City. He has a diverse and extensive performing background which has taken him all over the world performing at such venues as Jazz at Lincoln Center (NYC), Bimhuis (Amsterdam, Netherlands), Kulturclub Lebewohlfabrik (Zürich, Switzerland) and Neringa (Vilnius, Lithuania).

Austin regularly teaches and presents clinics to NYC metro area elementary, middle, and high school children to educate students on the performance styles, historical significance, and cultural relevance of jazz.  He received his undergraduate (B.M.) and graduate (M.M.) degrees from Manhattan School of Music in Jazz Performance and is currently pursuing his Ed.M. in Music Education from Teachers College at Columbia University.

GianGian Tornatore is a graduate of Berklee College of Music and New York University, and is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in education at Teachers College at Columbia University while teaching and performing in the New York City Area. He founded a music program at a middle school in Washington Heights where he teaches, and has released three albums as a leader. Gian has been recognized by numerous organizations and publications, such as Downbeat Magazine for his musical achievements as a bandleader, composer, and performer, and by the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz as a semi-finalist in the 2008 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition.