Including 3 New Board Members and a Slate of New Officers
Dr. Nina Torkelson is Elected President
McAllen, Texas (July 10, 2023)–Katy Coy, Executive Director of the Valley Symphony Orchestra, today announced that at its recent annual meeting, the Board of Directors unanimously elected Dr. Nina Torkelson as President and elected several returning and new board members in addition to a slate of new officers. The Board voted to install the following officers: Dr. Nina Torkelson, President; Timothy A. Sers, Vice President; Karen Valdez, Treasurer; and Joshua Cummings, Secretary. The Board elected the following new members: Michael Fallek, Daniel Silva, and Charles “Chuck” Stark, and elected for a second term Dr. Rutchie Contreras, Erika Montanaro, Orlando Castañeda, Marsha Green, and Sally Guerra. In Spring 2023, Commissioner Joaquin Zamora and VSO Principal Percussionist Philip Johnson were elected as Ex Officio members of the Board.
Additional Directors for 2023-24 include Michelle Crane, Harry Urey, Jr., Suzanne McDonald, Sony Rego, and Saul Sanchez.
“We are incredibly thankful to every member of the VSO board and extend a warm welcome to our new officers and directors,” said Executive Director Katy Coy. “The board plays an important role in stewarding the organization, and providing vision and advocacy for symphonic music and the performing arts. I am especially grateful to Dr. Nina Torkelson for serving as president, her passion for music and enriching the Valley is second to none. I look forward to the exciting ways she and the entire board will lead the VSO into this next chapter.”
“I’m thrilled to be serving on the VSO board alongside so many talented corporate and community leaders,” said Torkelson. “Our three new members, along with Commissioner Zamora and Phil Johnson, our musicians’ representative, join a dynamic group dedicated to advancing the Symphony’s mission. Our future is bright as we look to the upcoming season and beyond. I’m pleased to be taking on this important role as Board President, and partnering with Katy Coy and Maestro Dabrowski to lead our beloved Valley Symphony. I look forward to increasing the impact of music for young people and families, our musicians, and everyone who calls the Valley home.”
Board President, Dr. Nina Torkelson:
After graduating Magna Cum Laude from Cornell University in 2000, Dr. Nina Torkelson moved to the Rio Grande Valley to join Teach For America as a 5th grade teacher. During this time, Nina played violin with the VSO under the final year of Dr. Carl Seale’s direction, then Dr. Peter Dabrowski’s first. She chaired the 2018-19 VSO Gala Committee and has served on the board ever since, most recently as treasurer.
Dr. Torkelson earned her medical degree from the UT Houston/McGovern Medical School in 2006 and is currently a family practice physician and on faculty at the Valley Baptist Family Practice Residency in Harlingen. She is an adjunct assistant professor at UTRGV School of Medicine and UT Health Science Center San Antonio. She is past board chair of the Knapp Community Care Foundation and on the boards of Weslaco Parks and Recreation, Su Casa De Esperanza, and Cornell Chorus Advisory Council. Nina is the South Texas chair for Cornell Alumni Admissions Ambassadors Network. She served as the National Team physician for St. Kitts and Nevis Women’s Soccer in the 2020 CONCACAF games.
Nina and her husband of 19 years, Tom, have three children: Lincoln (17), Liam (14), and Gwendolyn (11). She is a Boston marathon, NYC marathon, and Ironman 70.3 Triathlon finisher, and qualifier of the USA Triathlon National Championships. Dr. Torkelson remains deeply committed to making the RGV a truly great place to live.
New Board Members:
Michael Fallek, whose family history in McAllen extends four generations, is a product of the McAllen school system, culminating with him graduating as Salutatorian of his class at McAllen High School. He completed his education at the University of Texas at Austin, where hen received his undergraduate degree with highest honors, and from the University of Texas School of Law, from which he earned his law degree. Beyond his extensive business dealings, Michael has served the community as an active and current member of the McAllen Planning and Zoning Commission, by developing leaders through his commitment to the Leadership McAllen program, for which he served as Chairman; serving as President and sitting on the Board of Directors for Temple Emanuel; and serving as a Board Member of the McAllen Chamber of Commerce. Michael has helped start a number of successful McAllen-based businesses over the past 20 years, with a particular focus in hospitality and real estate, investing in the community and creating hundreds of jobs for people living in the area. Michael has also served on the Board of Directors for Texas Regional Bank for the past 10 years.
Daniel Silva has spent the entirety of his professional career in the public sector focused on economic development, transportation, education and job creation. He currently holds the following certifications: Certified Public Manager (CPM) which he obtained in December of 2015, Economic Development Finance Professional (EDFP) which he obtained in November of 2013 and a Professional Community and Economic Developer (PCED) which he obtained in March of 2009. Mr. Silva’s educational background includes a Master’s in Public Administration which he completed in May of 2015, as well as a Bachelor’s of Business Administration in Computer Information Systems and Quantitative Methods which he obtained in 2004. Mr. Silva currently serves as President/CEO of the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) Partnership. He also assists the Mission Redevelopment Authority as the Executive Director. Prior to his current position with the RGV Partnership, Silva was the CEO for four years and COO for six years at the Mission Economic Development Corporation. Mr. Silva helps attract and retain businesses in the community as well as provide workforce training to the citizens of Mission, TX. Mr. Silva also oversees a 55k sq. ft. coworking facility called the Center for Education and Economic Development.
Charles “Chuck” Stark is the Regional Vice President of Universal Health Services, Inc. (UHS) Texas and Oklahoma Acute Division region. Hired in 2018, Stark started with regional responsibility for hospitals in the McAllen, Edinburg, Laredo and Eagle Pass markets, and then in September 2020 he was given responsibility for additional markets located in Amarillo and Denison, Texas as well as Enid, Oklahoma. Prior to joining UHS, Stark served as Chief Executive Officer of Brookwood Baptist Medical Center in Birmingham, Alabama, and before that he served as President and CEO of Columbus Regional Health System (now Piedmont Columbus Regional) in Columbus, Georgia, as well as President and CEO of Firelands Regional Health System in Sandusky, Ohio. Stark earned both his Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and his Master’s Degree in Healthcare Administration from Duke University and is a graduate of the RGV Partnership (Class of 2020), Leadership Columbus (GA) and Leadership Metro Richmond (VA) programs. Chuck currently serves as a Board member for the Texas Hospital Association and the Canton Village HOA and has previously served on the Board of the Richmond (VA) Ballet, American Cancer Society (Richmond, VA and Sandusky, OH), Stein Hospice (Sandusky, OH), Ohio Hospital Association, Ohio Health Information Partnership, United Way of Chattahoochee Valley, and the Greater Columbus (GA) Chamber of Commerce.
About the Valley Symphony:
Founded in 1952 as an orchestra of volunteer musicians, the Valley Symphony Orchestra (VSO) celebrated its 70th anniversary in 2021-22 and is now in its 72nd year of live symphonic music performances. Under the baton of Dr. Carl Seale, the orchestra was established as a student and community ensemble at the University of Texas – Pan American, a legacy institution of the University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley, and has since developed into an all-professional ensemble under the direction of Maestro Peter Dabrowski. In 1984, the Valley Symphony Orchestra Chorale was formed. Historically, VSO performances have provided the only consistent symphonic performances available in South Texas and they have been met with enthusiastic community support and appreciation. The Valley Symphony Orchestra is a resident ensemble at the McAllen Performing Arts Center, the City’s state-of-the-art performance hall that opened in 2017. Annually, the VSO presents 5-6 classical concerts, 6 educational concerts, and several special chamber and community events along with a gala and fundraising performance.