SAVANNAH, GA – Aug. 9, 2016 – The Savannah Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus recently announced the addition of five new members to its board of directors for the 2016-17 season. Mr. Benjamin Couch-Payne, Mrs. Tiffany Hughes, Mrs. Yvonne Johnson, Mrs. Linda Moore and Mrs. Molly Swagler, joined the 26-member panel, which includes three ex officio representatives, ahead of what is certain to be the organization’s most successful season yet.

Couch-Payne is the founding Director at Savannah Classical Academy, a K-12, public, Title-I charter school, which opened in fall 2013 in Savannah’s Eastside neighborhood. Payne earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Virginia and a master’s in architecture from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Before helping launch Savannah Classical, Payne and his wife, Amanda, were dorm parents and faculty at West End School, a K-8 boys boarding school in Louisville, Ky. Payne won a Community Star Award in 2016, competed in the Man and Woman of the Year competition for The Leukemia Lymphoma Society, and serves on the Eli’s Place Advisory Committee. Savannah Classical Academy operates a classical strings conservatory program in partnership with the SPO and the support of the Hodge Foundation.

Hughes is a controller with The Pinyan Company in Savannah. She has amassed over 17 years of banking experience working with business owners in various capacities from service to wealth management. Previous employers include Regions Financial Corporation, Wells Fargo Advisors and SunTrust Bank. Hughes volunteers as a Savannah Philharmonic ambassador, is a past member of the Savannah Technical College Community Council, and a former sustaining member of the Junior League of Savannah. She earned a bachelor’s degree in French from Ohio University, where she graduated with Cum Laude honors.

Johnson is a violist in the Savannah Philharmonic and was a founding member of this group. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English from St. Olaf College and a master’s degree in viola performance from Indiana University, Bloomington. Johnson was a member of the Savannah Symphony for seven seasons and twice performed concerti with that group. She also performed with the Minnesota Orchestra, Hilton Head Orchestra, Jacksonville Symphony, and was a member of the Magellan Quartet at Georgia Southern University, the Chamber Music Hilton Head Quartet, and the contemporary string quartet in residence at Cleveland State University. Johnson currently teaches string methods at Armstrong State University and has an active violin/viola studio. She is married to violist, Liuzhou Liu, and they have three children

Before moving to Savannah, Moore practiced law as chief legal counsel for the University Of South Carolina School Of Medicine, where she was responsible for all legal matters pertaining to the school’s 13 medical specialty clinics. She was a member of the Columbia Symphony Guild and served on the Board of the USC School of Music.  Following her move to Savannah, Moore served on the board of the Memorial Hospital Foundation. She graduated from Duke University with a master’s degree in English literature and earned her MBA and Juris Doctorate degrees from the University of South Carolina. She is married to Dr. William T. (Ted) Moore, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, University of South Carolina.

Swagler, Vice President of Communications at Tourism Leadership Council, oversees all public relations and marketing efforts for the Savannah-based organization, including media outreach, speaking engagements, and educational opportunities. Before moving to the Hostess City, she worked as a communications instructor at universities in Florida and Georgia. Swagler also taught for two years in Ukraine and spoke at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv’s symposium, “Framing Public Policy in the U.S.” She began her career 20 years ago as a journalist, having earned a bachelor’s degree in mass communication/journalism from West Texas A&M University. Swagler also holds a master’s degree in media and communication studies from Florida State University.

The Savannah Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus board is led by Chairman Austin Hill, Vice Chairman Samir Nikocevic, Secretary Phyllis Albertson, Treasurer Deepika Paul, Executive Committee Members Andrew Dekle and Nina Eidell, and Past Chairman Ron Morris. Other members include Mrs. Carol Bell, Mrs. Carolyn Brown, Mr. Michael Brown, Mrs. Rhegan Clemm, Mr. Scott Howard, Mr. Herb McKenzie, Mrs. Linda McWhorter, Mrs. Fran Thomas, Mr. James Spano, Mr. Bob Vinyard and Mrs. Susan Whitaker.

The Savannah Philharmonic Orchestra is a professional orchestra presenting a full range of concerts annually from September to May. The Savannah Philharmonic Chorus is a community-based auditioned ensemble that performs regularly with the orchestra. Both are 501(c) 3 nonprofits. For more information, please visit, email or call 912-232-6002.

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