Welcoming our New Board Chair and Vice-Chair: Marlen Rodriguez-Wolfe and Stephanie Epstein

Miami, FL, December 1st, 2023

Marlén Rodriguez-Wolfe
Stephanie Epstein
Stephanie Epstein
After the sad loss of our board chair, Mr. Tom Bales, the Ukulele Kids Club (UKC) was driven towards finding new leadership that would continue our mission in integrity towards our goal of supporting hospitalized children with music. The UKC is proud to announce the appointment of new board leadership positions within its board of directors. We are honored to share that our past CEO, Marlen Rodriguez Wolfe, will be returning to our organization as Chairperson of the Board, while past President Stephanie Epstein is joining the board as the Vice-Chair. Marlen and Stephanie have been vital members of the UKC for many years and we know there are no two better leaders that understand the ins and outs of our mission. Marlen and Stephanie working together is the perfect combination. As graduate students at the University of Miami, they began to find similarities in their philosophies surrounding pediatric healthcare and music therapy. Following graduation, Marlen and Stephanie went on to start new neighboring music therapy programs at The University of Miami’s Sylvester Cancer Center and Holtz Children’s Hospital at Jackson Memorial Hospital, respectively. We trust their strong relationship will be a catalyst in advancing our impact and reach for thousands of kids every year.

Marlen and Stephanie created strong partnerships between both pediatric music therapy programs at Holtz and Sylvester Cancer Center

Stephanie Epstein became involved with the UKC in 2014 when she started the music therapy program at the Jackson Pediatric Center, a Prescribed Pediatric Extended Care facility. She quickly became the music therapy advisor for the UKC and soon began presenting regularly at conferences on utilizing the ukulele in the clinical setting and advocating for the UKC to music therapists and the media. In 2015, the UKC named her the Vice President/Director of Music Therapy, and in 2019 she was appointed President of the organization.

She has represented the UKC in numerous media stories, including NBC Nightly News, (include link) created the UKC Resource Portal, UKC Academy, the new UKC Circle Community, co-create UKC at Home with Marlen, and has been heavily involved with the UKC-Broadway initiative.

“To move into this type of leadership role within this organization is an incredible honor. To think that in 2015 we were celebrating our 500th ukulele and now in 2023 to have donated over 15,000 is an unbelievable accomplishment,” says Epstein. “As a pediatric music therapist, I have been in the unique position of being able to see the organization’s immediate and significant impact on a hospitalized child and their family when I am able to tell my patient, ‘This instrument is yours to keep,’ witness their triumphs, hear their stories, and see their tears of happiness from this small instrument. I am humbled and honored to help lead this organization forward with an incredible colleague.”

Marlen Rodriguez Wolfe joined the UKC as a therapist receiving donations at Sylvester at the invitation of Stephanie. After years of supporting UKC as a therapist, she joined the organization in 2018 as Clinical Outreach Coordinator, quickly ascending within the UKC she took over the CEO leadership in 2019 at the recommendation of founder, Corey Bergman. Despite the COVID-19 global pandemic in 2020, under Marlen’s leadership the UKC saw a 3 year period of 20% growth in impact and revenue year over year with expansion of programs and increased presence around the world. We know there is no one better to take the helm at this time to continue what we know should be an essential part of pediatric healthcare: music, play and healing.

“I am honored to return to the organization as our board chair. It will be impossible to replace the amazing Tom Bales, but he and I worked closely for many years on what the organization could be for many children,” shared Rodriguez-Wolfe. “I am inspired to continue our work and his legacy. I look forward to continuing our reputation as a leading organization donating instruments to hospitalized children around the world.”

Please join us in congratulating Marlen and Stephanie on their new roles as they lead us in strategizing on the next steps for our organization; Working hard to reach hospitalized children all around the world with music and an instrument of their own.


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