Institute for Music and Neurologic Function Adds Medical, Cultural and Legal Luminaries to Its Board of Directors

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The IMNF names Jay Stark, a long-time board member, as board chairman and adds noted pediatric ophthalmologist and eye surgeon Dr. Amir Arbisser, attorney and legal scholar Harry Ballan and veteran cultural radio and television broadcaster Midge Woolsey to the Institute’s Board of Directors.

“Since its founding, the IMNF has pioneered new techniques in music therapy and contributed significantly to the adoption of music therapy as a meaningful therapeutic tool." -- Jay Stark, IMNF board chairman.

Taking the Institute for Music and Neurologic Function (IMNF) into its third decade of groundbreaking music therapy research and service, newly installed board chairman Jay Stark announced the appointment of noted pediatric ophthalmologist and eye surgeon Dr. Amir Arbisser, attorney and legal scholar Harry Ballan and veteran cultural radio and television broadcaster Midge Woolsey to the Institute’s Board of Directors.

“Each of these new board members brings his or her own personal and professional strengths to the board and each is committed to the goals of the Institute for Music and Neurologic Function and the healing power of music,” said IMNF Executive Director and Co-Founder Dr. Concetta Tomaino.

In accepting the board chairmanship, Jay Stark pledged to advance “the extraordinary work and visionary mission that Edwin Stern began when he joined together with Dr. Tomaino and Dr. Oliver Sacks to found the IMNF 19 years ago.” Stark is only the third board chairman since the IMNF’s founding in 1995 and the successor to Stern’s 13-year tenure in the role. Edwin Stern will continue on the board as Chairman Emeritus.

“We move forward with the distinct advantage of having Ed Stern as a trusted friend and advisor,” said Stark. “Since its founding, the IMNF has pioneered new techniques in music therapy and contributed significantly to the adoption of music therapy as a meaningful therapeutic tool.”

“Music therapy continues to play a vivid and vital role in medical science’s study of traumatic brain injury, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, as well as the revolutionary breakthroughs taking place in the science of brain mapping,” Stark added.

Jay Stark (age 50) is an “attorney by training and a real estate investor by profession.” A founding principal of Latus Real Estate Partners, a real estate opportunity fund, and now with Winter Properties, a 40 North Company, Stark joined the Board of Directors in 2008 after being introduced to the IMNF’s work by Ed Stern at the 2006 Music Has Power Awards.

“As someone who connects to memories through the music that was in my life at the time, my reaction IMNF’s mission was a genuine, ‘well, of course’ moment. It made perfect sense to me. Shepherding the Institute through our next stage of growth is truly humbling given the accomplishments Ed Stern, Connie Tomaino, Oliver Sacks and all of the other dedicated board members, researchers and front-line music therapists have achieved over the past 20 years.”

Midge Woolsey (age 58) is a renowned New York area musician and broadcaster whose three decade career spanned both radio (on New York’s leading classical music station, WQXR 105.9 FM) and television (on PBS nationally with such iconic series as “Great Performances” and locally on WNET-TV Channel 13). Her addition to the board will raise awareness of the benefits of music therapy and build a wider following for the IMNF.

Finding the work of the IMNF “new and “exciting,” the direction charted for music therapy also meshes well with Woolsey’s professional life in the media and as a performer, as well as her personal life. In addition to her board role with the IMNF Woolsey’s active volunteer work includes the Martina Arroyo Foundation; Interschool Orchestras of New York; Opera Index; The Seagle Music Colony, and a five-year term with the Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research at Rockefeller University under the direction of Nobel Prize winning neuroscientist Dr. Paul Greengard.    

Harry Ballan (age 54) is an attorney, a legal scholar and an adjunct professor of law at both Columbia Law School and New York University School of Law. He is also a former Assistant Professor of Music at both Brandeis University and Pennsylvania State University, and a former Instructor in Music at Yale University. Ballan’s passion for music predates his legal career, having earned a PhD in music from Yale Graduate School of the Arts and Sciences before he obtained his Juris Doctorate from Columbia Law School.

“I’ve been involved with music my whole life and have always believed in the power of music to move people,” says Ballan. “When I heard about the remarkable work of the IMNF, I knew I had to get involved. Music therapy has a transformative power for those who directly receive it and, by extension, for their families and loved ones. It is, I think, one of the most effective and compassionate ways to help people.”

A partner at the New York-based law firm of Davis Polk and Wardwell LLP, Ballan brings vital expertise and practical experience to the IMNF board.

Dr. Amir Arbisser (65) is a leader in the field of pediatric ophthalmology and an eye surgeon whose work resulted in the founding of Eye Surgeons Associates PC, one of the leading ophthalmological practices in Iowa and Illinois. Dr. Arbisser’s clinical expertise and his hands on knowledge of the entrepreneurial side of healthcare adds increased dimension to the board’s overall expertise.

As a pediatric ophthalmologist for more than three decades, Dr. Arbisser is no stranger to the concept of neuroplasticity (the brain’s ability to find alternate pathways to process information when primary routes are blocked, damaged or destroyed). He was introduced to the benefits of music therapy when it was added to the course of treatment for one of his patients with a debilitating neurological disease.

“I noticed an extraordinary behavioral change. The benefits were direct and obvious,” explains Dr. Arbisser. “Music therapy provided good moments in an otherwise bleak landscape and brought us a lot of pleasure.” Inspired by the results he witnessed, Dr. Arbisser soon became involved with the work of the IMNF.

About the Institute for Music and Neurologic Function (IMNF)
The Institute for Music and Neurologic Function is a non-profit organization and a member of CenterLight Health System. Founded in 1995, the IMNF is driven by 35 years of clinical observations on the actual effects of music on different types of physical and neurological trauma. Directed by renowned music therapist Dr. Concetta M. Tomaino, with medical guidance from distinguished neurologist Dr. Oliver Sacks, its distinctive setting allows researchers to not only apply their theories, but to follow patient rehabilitation in the long term. The Institute actively collaborates with researchers and practitioners at other leading organizations to advance world progress in understanding and applying the power of music to promote healing and wellness. Learn more at

About CenterLight Health System
CenterLight Health System is a leading non-profit provider of rehabilitation and long-term healthcare services. Its broad scope of comprehensive programs is as diverse as the communities it serves. With deep roots in New York neighborhoods for more than 90 years, CenterLight currently cares for more than 15,000 individuals daily. Programs include managed long term care, short-term rehabilitation, home care programs, residential nursing homes and music therapy. Learn more at

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Lisa Cesarano
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