Staff & Board

Blue Bear Staff and Board


  • Executive Director Steve Savage, PhD., a Blue Bear founder and current President of the Board of Trustees, is an active producer and recording engineer and has been the primary engineer on seven records that received GRAMMY nominations, including CDs for Robert Cray, John Hammond, The Gospel Hummingbirds and Elvin Bishop. He is a former Chapter President and National Trustee of the San Francisco Chapter of the Recording Academy, and teaches in the Humanities Department at San Francisco State University. Steve has a Ph.D. in musicology from The University of London and has three recently published books: Mixing and Mastering in the Box from Oxford University Press, The Art of Digital Audio Recording from Oxford University Press, and Bytes & Backbeats: Repurposing Music in the Digital Age from The University of Michigan Press. Steve also sits on the board of Spirit Series, which is a drama-based character education curriculum that brings inspirational biographies to life.
  • General Manager/Program Director Dennis Criteser has produced albums in folk, rock and jazz styles for a variety of Bay Area artists. He’s cut eight albums of original music as Diesel Cats, ranging from the cinematic musico-documentary History Club Minutes to the faux-jazz hip-ocracy of In Search of Blue Treasure. Dennis attended Blue Bear as a student from 1979 to 1980, studying piano, voice, saxophone and songwriting. Current musical activities include performing songs of Fabrizio De André and other Italian singer/songwriters.
  • Little Bears Program Director Stephanie Lamond is a San Diego native who has been playing, writing, and breathing music as long as she can remember. Through assisting with children’s music summer camps, music/brain research in college, and her work in the music business, she’s built a solid foundation of experience and is excited to help introduce music to parents and their wee bears.
  • Cole Odin Berggren is Blue Bear’s Community Programs Director as well as a drum instructor. He is a true patron of all things ART and good times. A trained glassblower, Cole is also a prominent local DJ who spins vinyl and the occasional CD in locations city- and country-wide. He has played in bands for nearly 20 years and is the primary songwriter and singer/multi-instrumentalist for his own group, a pulsing, psychedelic, electronic rock band called OWNERSHIP, whose recent accomplishments are playing the legendary Bimbo’s 365 Club in SF and signing a licensing deal with PlayNetwork. He’s a people person through and through, so sling him a smile and he’ll sling it back…
  • Development Director Renee Richardson is best known for her on-air work at KFOG in San Francisco. She spent much of her 20-year radio career cultivating the Bay Area’s music scene by creating and curating the KFOG Local Scene series. After an unexpected showing of the door by Cumulus Media, Renee has landed as director of development for Blue Bear. Having formerly been on the Board of Trustees at the Bear, she comes to the school as a kindred spirit who firmly believes everyone should be able to play the music they love, and that music changes lives.
  • Finance Director Sandy Lange was born on the East Coast and with her family left the country at age 10. She spent 5 years in Germany and 2 years in India. Upon returning to the US she attended and graduated with a degree in Accounting from George Washington University in Washington, DC. She then bounced around the country living in Florida, South Dakota, and Texas before winding up in the Bay Area. Most of her time in the Bay Area was spent as the Controller for the SF Bay Guardian newspaper. After the newspaper shut down she landed on her feet here at Blue Bear School of Music and is loving it.


  • Office Manager Kristina Melendez keeps all things on track at the Bear!
  • Desk staff Nazan Aktas is a musician who is also passionate about all aspect of arts/performing arts. She began studying ballet at 3 and continued until the age of 13 when she switched her focus to acting and music. Nazan picked up the cello at the age of 14 and has been studying and performing ever since! She graduated from Sonoma State University with a Bachelor of Music Degree focusing on Classical Performance and Jazz Studies. Now studying at the Ali Akbar College of Music in San Rafael, Nazan hopes to keep learning, performing, writing, making art, dancing, acting and traveling and is very excited to join the Blue Bear family.
  • Desk staff Tennessee Mowrey is a Bay Area native who has been a musician for as long as he can remember. A multi-instrumentalist singer/songwriter who has written for folk, rock, reggae, and punk bands, he has also written numerous film and theater scores. He is proficient in guitar, bass, drum kit, hand percussion, mandolin, and ukulele. He has released multiple self-produced solo albums, as well as albums with his various bands, including Borneo and Electric Tiger Lily. He has played at the Sweetwater and at the Mountain Play (really!). Tennessee graduated from Wesleyan University with High Honors in Music in 2014.

Board of Trustees

Board Emeritus

      • Steve Strauss – Founder
      • Mitchell Stevko – Founding chair
      • David Schwartz – Chair
      • David Given – Chair
      • Dominic Haigh – Chair

Advisory Board

      • Elvin Bishop
      • Randy Eckhardt
      • Ben Fong-Torres
      • Rose Kirkland
      • Huey Lewis
      • Vicki Randle
      • Carol Snow


Blue Bear is very grateful for our volunteers who help with event production, fundraising, marketing and more. If you have talents or contacts, and the dedication to volunteer with Blue Bear School of Music, please contact us at 415.673.3600 or at