2022 Awardees

2022 awards

Each year, JEN is proud to recognize the efforts of hard-working students and educators, who are engaged in creating excellence and making an impact in jazz education. The following awards were presented a the 2022 JEN Conference in Dallas, Texas. 

Nominations are OPEN!

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Ellis Marsalis, Jr. Educator of the Year Award

John LaPorta Jazz Educator of the Year Award

LeJENds of Latin Jazz Award

LeJENds of Jazz Education Award 

Donald Meade Legacy Griot Award

Presidents’ Service Award

joseph jefferson

Dr. Joseph L. Jefferson currently serves as the Assistant Professor of Trombone/Euphonium and Director of Jazz Studies at Southeast Missouri State University. As a soloist, chamber musician, and educator, Joseph maintains an active and versatile performance schedule in Symphonic, Jazz, and Commercial musical settings both nationally and internationally. Regularly, Joseph is invited to serve as a guest artist, clinician, and adjudicator for both high schools and collegiate music programs throughout the United States. As a scholar, Joseph has published and presented research on the Shout Band Tradition in the United House of Prayer. Since his arrival at Southeast Missouri State University, Dr. Jefferson has been recognized by the Office of the Provost in the faculty spotlight highlighting his performance and teaching successes. In 2019, Dr. Jefferson was selected as the Holland College of Arts & Media Outstanding Teaching Award Recipient at Southeast Missouri State University. 


As a jazz/commercial musician, Joseph leads the JLJ Jazz Quartet. Additionally, he has performed with Sean Jones, Andre Hayward, John Fedchock, Nick Finzer, The Cab Calloway Orchestra, Christopher Bill, Jennifer Wharton, Jae Sinnett, and Randy Brecker among others. Joseph has also performed with international R&B artists Dwele, Jon Bibbs and Raheem Devaughn. Dr. Jefferson has earned degrees from West Virginia University (D.M.A.), Shenandoah Conservatory (M.M.), and Norfolk State University (B.M.) Joseph is a performing artist and clinician for S.E. Shires Trombones and performs exclusively on his “Signature” mouthpieces manufactured by Giddings Mouthpieces.


roosevelt griffin, iii

Dr. Roosevelt Griffin III MA ’11 believes “being an educator is not a career, it is a lifestyle.” His approach to teaching is one that is intentional and full of care and love. He believes music education should be a vehicle to promote not only musical excellence, but also unity and diversity.

The Owner and Operator of GI Music LLC, Griffin specializes in curriculum, program, and professional development. In 2017, he founded the Griffin Institute of Performing Arts NFP, where the transformative abilities of the arts are used to lift the lives of students and families throughout southern Cook County and beyond. In addition, Griffin leads as band director for Harvey School District 152 – where he attended schools from grades K thru 12 – and Chicago Jazz Philharmonic’s Youth ensemble. He co-directs and is a student mentor for VanderCook College of Music’s One City Program.

Griffin worked with some of the world’s greatest musicians, including Luciano Pavarotti, Diana Ross, and Jimmy Heath, before becoming a full-time teacher. He is often invited to present at conferences and workshops for music education including the Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinics, National Association for Music Education, Jazz Institute of Chicago, Jazz Educators Network, Illinois Music Educators Association, Utah Music Educator Association, and others. He also serves on the National Association for Music Educators Council for Jazz Education, Jazz Education Network’s Education Committee, and the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra Education Committee.

An award-winning educator, Griffin has been recognized multiple times for his contributions from a hometown street in Harvey, IL renamed “Roosevelt Griffin III Ave.” to a Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching from the Golden Apple Foundation in 2014 to achieving Semi Finalist for “Best Music Educator” by the Grammy Foundation and Recording Academy in 2017. In 2015, Griffin received the “Outstanding Alumni” award from Northern Illinois University Alumni Association. Most recently, he received the “2021 Distinguished Alumni” award from Concordia University Chicago Alumni Association.

His training and transformative approach has been highlighted in the ASCD video by Eric Jenson, “Teaching With Poverty In Mind.”  He and his students have been featured in Downbeat and JazzEd magazines for obtaining an endorsement with Jody Jazz Mouthpieces. Griffin co-authored the latest addition to GIA Publication’s Teaching Music through Performance: Beginning Jazz Ensembles series and the Meredith Music publication Rehearsing the Jazz Band.

Griffin earned his BM in Music Performance (Tuba) and Illinois Teaching Certificate K-12 (Music) from Northern Illinois University in Dekalb, IL (2001). He completed his MA in School Leadership and Type 75 Certificate from Concordia-Chicago (2011) following by an EdD in Organizational Leadership at Argosy University in Chicago, IL including a study sabbatical at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL (2015).

He is proud to call Matteson home where he lives with his wife, Tasneem, and their three children.

ignacio berroa

Grammy Award winner and international drum star Ignacio Berroa has been recognized by many as one of the greatest drummers of our time.  His numerous contributions to the American music scene have earned him a place among a very selective group of artists known to have set new musical trends for the 20th century.

Jazz Legend Dizzy Gillespie best defined Ignacio as:

…”The only Latin drummer in the world, in the history of American music that intimately knows both worlds; his native Afro-Cuban music as well as Jazz…”

Highly respected among his peers, Ignacio’s musicianship and versatility have enabled him to build a successful career by gaining the recognition of some of the most important artists in the business.

Ignacio Berroa was born in Havana Cuba on July 8,1953. Following his father’s footsteps he began his musical education as a classical violinist.

But his life changed the day he heard albums by Nat King Cole and Glenn Miller. It was then that he realized he wanted to play that music and pursued that dream with a passion, taking his first drum lesson at age 11.

He studied at the National School of Arts and subsequently at Havana’s National Conservatory, beginning his professional career in 1970. By 1975 Ignacio Berroa had become Cuba’s most sought after drummer.

After moving to New York in 1980, Ignacio met and had the privilege of working with musicians of the stature of Mario Bauza, and others. It was Mario who introduced him to the late Bebop master, Dizzy Gillespie.

In August 1981, Dizzy officially invited Ignacio to join his quartet.  Later he would also become an integral part of all the important bands Gillespie assembled during that decade, such as the “Dizzy Gillespie’s 70th Anniversary Big Band”, “Dizzy Gillespie All Star Big Band” and the Grammy Award winner “United Nations Orchestra”.

But Ignacio’s contributions to the arts have not been limited to perform on stage. As an educator, he first made his mark by becoming an Adjunct Faculty Instructor at Florida International University from 1991 to 1994. Later, in 1995, he released his video “Mastering The Art of Afro-Cuban Drumming” under Warner Bros Publications , deemed by Downbeat magazine as the best instructional video of the year.

His latest book, “Groovin’ In Clave”, distributed by Carl Fischer is a great tool to learn independence and Afro-Cuban grooves, as well as mixing the Rumba clave with other styles like Rock, Funk, and Brazilian.

Ignacio has also conducted clinics and master classes all over the world and has recorded and played with musicians of the stature of McCoy Tyner, Freddie Hubbard, Wynton Marsalis, Jackie McLean, Clark Terry, James Moody, Milt Jackson, Ron Carter, Charlie Haden, Eddie Gomez, Phil Woods, Michael Brecker, Joe Lovano, Jon Faddis, Jack Bruce, Jaco Pastorius, Tito Puente, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Lalo Schifrin, Chico Bouarque, Gilberto Gil, Gal Costa, Lenny Andrade, Ivan Lins, Joao Bosco, Slide Hampton’s Jazz Masters Big Band, Carnegie Hall Big Band, Lincoln Center Orchestra, WDR Big Band and BBC Big Band, to name a few.

joseph jennings

Joseph Jennings received a B.M. degree from Southern University and Masters of Music Ed, from University of Illinois. Born in Natchez, Mississippi, Mr. Jennings is currently residing in Atlanta Georgia.  Joe retired  as Director of The Spelman College Jazz Ensemble and Coordinator of Jazz Studies at Spelman College on May 31, 2013. 

     Joe Jennings’ teaching experience includes: Brinkley High school in Jackson Mississippi, Clark College, Mississippi Valley State College, Morehouse College and Spelman College. His performing experience includes tours and performances with Johnny Taylor, Duke Pearson, Clifford Jordan, Edward Kid Jordan, Alvin Fielder, Freddie Waits, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Ruben Phillips and Nancy Wilson to name a few.


     Joe has been director of music at the Atlanta Center for Black Art, and Artist-in-Residence at the Neighborhood Arts Center, also in Atlanta. He was the founder/director of the Neighborhood Arts Ensemble, leader of “The Joe Jennings Saxtet,” founder/director of the Metropolitan Atlanta Youth Ensemble, and is the co-founder/director of the recording group Life Force. Joe directed the Atlanta All Stars, cultural ambassadors to the 1994 Olympic Winter Games in Lillehammer, Norway. 

Joe has written many compositions and arrangements and performed on and produced several recordings with Life Force. Joe’s recording, “A Different Lens”, was released in May 2012.


      Joe completed 25 national tours with the Spelman College Jazz Ensemble, to such places as Kennedy Center, NJPAC, Schomburg center for Social Research in New York City, the annual African-American Music Awards ceremony, colleges, universities and Cultural Centers throughout the United States. Joe produced and performed the Third Sunday Jazz Mass and Fifth Sunday Big Band Jazz series at Atlanta’s Church of The Incarnation 2016-2020.

roxanne stevenson

Professor Roxanne Stevenson, M.S. from University of Illinois Champaign Urbana, IL and B.S. from Bethune-Cookman University Daytona Beach, FL., is Director of Bands, Music Education and Gospel Music Coordinator at Chicago State University where she has served for 29 years after 9 years as band/choral director and classroom/music teacher grades k-12. Stevenson is the HBCU-NBDC Jazz Coordinator, IAC panelist, Chicago Jazz Philharmonic and Blue Lake Fine Arts Camps director. Stevenson started the CSU Community Concert and Jazz Bands, Gospel Ensemble and Marching Band. The Jazz Band presented at IMEA, Midwest, National Association for Negro Musicians Centennial, Jazz Education Network, and was nominated for the AAAAC’s Black Excellence “Best Performance in Jazz Award”. She is published in textbooks Teaching Music Through Performance in Jazz Volumes I&II and Rehearsing the Jazz Band, wrote the article “Novel to Normal: Seeing Women in Music” for Illinois and Connecticut Music Educator Journals. Professor Stevenson performed with Bernie Mac, Vickie Winans, Jean Carnes, Cherelle, the Chi-Lites and TV show “Singsation”. “Roxanne Stevenson RSVP” was featured on Chicago’s “Gospel on the Pier”, Chicago Jazz Festival, ABC’s “Windy City Live”, Fox’s Christmas Special, WGN’s “Gospel Heritage” and “For Colored Girls”, African Festival of the Arts Virtual Show and other shows. Stevenson was panelist/moderator for numerous live and virtual conferences. She is saxophonist/arranger for Trinity UCC, and Stellar/Grammy nominated “Unplugged” by Ricky Dillard and “Stay Connected” by TUCC. Stevenson is a member of WBDI, IMEA, JEN, NAfME, TBS, KKPsi, Phi Beta Mu and AKA Sorority, Inc. Stevenson received AAAAC’s Black Excellence Award for Outstanding Achievement in Music – Jazz, The Absolute Winds of Change Tribute to Chicago’s African-American Women in Jazz and a Christian Girls Rock award. She was a quarter-finalist for the 2nd Annual Grammy Music Educator Award. Professor Stevenson is the mother of daughters, Morgan and Bailey.

charlotte lang

Swiss/Dutch saxophonist Charlotte Lang was born in 1996 in Basel and studied the bachelor and master program at the JAZZCAMPUS Basel under the guidance of Domenic Landolf and Daniel Blanc. She is currently studying the Master of Music in Global Jazz at the Berklee College of Music in Boston under the artistic direction of Danilo Pérez. In addition she is part of Terri Lyne Carrington’s Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice.


From 2015 to 2018, Charlotte she was a member of the Swiss National Youth Jazz Orchestra under the direction of Christian Muthspiel. Since 2020, she became a member of the German National Youth Jazz Orchestra (Bundesjazzorchester Deutschland), under the direction of Niels Klein and Ansgar Striepens. She also plays is the Austrian FJO (Frauen Jazz Orchester→Women Jazz Orchestra of Austria).


In 2021, Charlotte founded her own Quintet the „Charlotte Lang Group“, for what she is composing, arranging and booking. In the fall 2023, her first album will be recorded and hopefully released by a renowned label.


Charlotte plays in the “Swiss Jazz Orchestra” and the “Zurich Jazz Orchestra”, the two professional Big Bands of Switzerland.

Charlotte recently got the unique opportunity to write a monthly blog for the Swiss Jazz & Blues Magazine called JAZZTIME, to tell readers about her time at abroad and specifically her time at Berklee. Her graduate program lasts only until the summer of 2023. She hopes to stay in the United States to enlarge her network and build her musical career.