Board and Staff


Pensacola Opera is a non-profit, professional company serving Northwest Florida through
mainstage opera performances and a variety of innovative education and community
outreach programs.

Officers and Executive Committee

Brian Baumgardner


Dr. Elise Gordon

Vice Chair

David Richbourg


Malcolm Ballinger


Ruth Orth


Diane Appleyard


Bobby Dunn


Justine Simoni


Ralph Peterson

Immediate Past Chair

Trustees Emeriti

Don H. Partington

Jan R. Miller


Lois Benson
Allan Benton
Amanda Brown
Megan Burke
Karen Burke
Donovan Chau
Tracy Clark
Dr. Juliet DeCampos
Jacey Cosentino

Karen Huang
Barbara Jackson
Philomena Madden
Tony McDonald
Jane Merrill
Lisa Minshew
Mimi Moncier
Clair Montgomery

Marte Picker
David Richbourg
Michael Riesberg
Justine Simoni
Carol Stoot
Lynne Tobin
Dr. Louie Watkins
Trisha Woodburn


Chandra McKern General Director

Chandra McKern joined Pensacola Opera in 2015 as the Managing Director, was named Executive Director in 2018, and was recently appointed to General Director in 2022. Of note, Chandra has secured two NEA Grants, and IMPACT 100 Grant, a Sunday’s Child Grant, and now will take the lead on the 40th Anniversary Campaign. Previously, Chandra served as the Director of Education and Outreach at Nashville Opera since 2012 where she was responsible for all aspects of the Education and Outreach Programs including the Mary Ragland Young Artist Program. Prior to Nashville Opera, Chandra was the Education Director at Pensacola Opera from 2010-2012 and spent four years working for Goldman Sachs and two years at Rockefeller University in New York. Before transitioning to arts administration, Chandra had an extensive performing career working with opera companies including Tulsa Opera, Opera Birmingham, Nevada Opera, Chicago Opera Theater and Central City Opera. Chandra holds a Bachelor of Music Degree from the University of Northern Iowa and a Master of Music from Indiana University. Chandra is a member of the Leadership Pensacola Class of 2017 and was a member of the 2016 OPERA America’s Leadership Intensive Training Program.

Corey McKern Artistic Director

Award-winning baritone Corey McKern was recently named the Artistic Director of Pensacola Opera, and the Director of the Grier Williams School of Music at the University of West Florida.

Last season, Mr. McKern performed the role of Pizarro in Fidelio with Heartbeat Opera, and featured in Bliss with Detroit Opera. In concert, he performed as a soloist in Mozart’s Requiem with Meridian Symphony Orchestra and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with both Asheville Symphony Orchestra and the Jacksonville Symphony. This season, McKern will be seen in multiple engagements with Pensacola Opera: “Forty Forward”, La boheme, and Carousel.

Recent engagements include Older Thompson in Glory Denied with Opera Birmingham, Sharpless in Madama Butterfly with Inland North West Opera, the title role in Don Giovanni, Escamillo in Carmen, and Captain Corcoran in H.M.S. Pinafore with Pensacola Opera, performances as a soloist in Carmina Burana with Missoula Symphony, Handel’s Messiah with the Alabama Symphony, Mahler’s Songs of a Wayfarer for Pensacola Symphony, and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Tallahassee Symphony. He also returned to the Florentine Opera for a concert of “Opera’s Greatest Hits,” performed in Nashville Opera’s Opera Jukebox Virtual Concert, in Asheville Symphony’s Virtual Gala, and Mobile Opera’s Winter Gala Concert.

Of his performance in La bohème, the Santa Fe New Mexican said, “Corey McKern’s resolute, robust-voiced and rambunctious Marcello, a perfect picture of a wannabe Parisian painter, was one of the best I’ve ever heard.” Mr. McKern garners attention at leading opera houses for his charming and dynamic portrayals of his signature roles: Marcello in La bohème in his Asian début at Opera Hong Kong, Santa Fe Opera, Florentine Opera of Milwaukee, Nashville Opera, and Opera Grand Rapids; Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia with Nashville Opera and Opera Birmingham; the Count in Le nozze di Figaro with Nashville Opera, Opera Cleveland, Opera Columbus, Michigan Opera Theatre, Tulsa Opera, Opera Birmingham, and Syracuse Opera; Gabriel von Eisenstein in Die Fledermaus with Nashville Opera and Florentine Opera; Papageno in Die Zauberflöte with Opera Omaha, Arizona Opera, Opera Birmingham, and Tulsa Opera; as Silvio in Pagliacci with Austin Lyric Opera, Arizona Opera, Opera Birmingham, and Central City Opera.

Additional favorite engagements include a role début as Dandini in La Cenerentola with Nashville Opera; Sharpless in Madama Butterfly with Atlanta Opera; Enrico in Lucia di Lammermoor with Opera Saratoga; Olin Blitch in Susannah with Louisiana Opera; Anthony in Sweeney Todd and Danilo in The Merry Widow with Florentine Opera and Pensacola Opera; King Henry II in Becket with Long Island Masterworks; Zurga in Les pêcheurs de perles with Syracuse Opera and Florida Grand Opera; the Count/Rudolf in Schreker’s Der ferne Klang in his début with Bard SummerScape Opera; Harlequin in Ariadne auf Naxos and Macheath in The Threepenny Opera at Indianapolis Opera; Valentin in Faust with Opera Carolina; Pish-Tush in The Mikado with Arizona Opera; Don Quichote in Man of La Mancha with Pensacola Opera; and Pilot in Rachel Porter’s operatic adaptation of The Little Prince at Tulsa Opera.

His consistency and professionalism have made him a favorite at several companies including Santa Fe Opera where he performed Masetto in Don Giovanni, Pallante in Agrippina, Peggy Bond Church’s adaptation of the children’s story Shoes for the Santo Niño, the 1st Shepherd in Strauss’ Daphne, Valentin in Faust, Belcore in L’elisir d’amore, and as a cover for the title role in Wozzeck; Opera Birmingham as Enrico in Lucia di Lammermoor, Escamillo in Carmen, Ping in Turandot, and Ambroise Thomas’ Hamlet; and Opera Omaha as John Brooke in Little Women, Ping in Turandot, and Slook in Rossini’s farcical comedy La cambiale di matrimonio.

An active concert performer, Mr. McKern made his début with the St. Louis Symphony performing Wozzeck and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, which he also performed with Seattle Symphony and Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra; made his Carnegie Hall début in the Fauré Requiem; and returned to the prestigious concert hall for John Rutter’s Mass of the Children and Mozart’s Requiem. Other recent concert engagements include Mahler’s Rückert-Lieder with the Missoula Symphony; Vaughan Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem and a concert of operetta highlights with the Indianapolis Symphony; performances with the New Choral Society in Beethoven’s Mass in C Major, Brahms’ Requiem, and Händel’s Messiah, which he also performed with Phoenix Symphony; Orff’s Carmina Burana with the Yakima Symphony Orchestra, the San Juan Symphony in Colorado, New Choral Society, the Phoenix Symphony, Alabama Symphony, Milwaukee Symphony, Asheville Symphony, and in his début with Seattle Symphony; and a concert of arias and duets with San Juan Symphony.

Mr. McKern is a grant recipient from the Sullivan Foundation, as well as the first-place winner of Opera Birmingham, Shreveport Opera, and Mobile Opera competitions. He holds a Master of Music degree from Indiana University, and a Bachelor of Music Education Degree from Mississippi State University. He is also a graduate of the Seattle Opera Young Artist Program.

Cody Martin Music Director

American conductor Cody Martin was recently named Music Director at Pensacola Opera, where he was previously the Director of Education and Director of the Artists in Residence Program since 2017.  During the 2023-24 season, he leads a production of Lucia di Lammermoor and serves as associate conductor and chorus director for Die Fledermaus, in addition to continuing his work with the company’s nationally respected Jan Miller Studio Artist Program. He also appears as guest conductor for Florida State Opera‘s The Cunning Little Vixen. Recent seasons have seen Cody leading productions of CarouselDie ZauberflöteDon GiovanniAs OneFlorencia en el AmazonasMan of La Mancha and María de Buenos Aires in Pensacola, in addition to various concert appearances. He made his debut with Fargo-Moorhead Opera conducting Jake Heggie’s Three Decembers in 2019. Other companies Cody has enjoyed working with include Des Moines Metro Opera, Arizona Opera, Opera Birmingham, Virginia Opera, and the Janiec Opera Company at Brevard Music Center.

Cody holds degrees from Murray State University and Florida State University. He lives in Pensacola with his former shelter dog, Rosina, a corgi/dachshund mix (@rosinathelongdog).

>> Artist Website

Alex Hilkey Director of Marketing & Communications

Alex joined the Pensacola Opera staff in February 2022, making the move from Western Kentucky where she grew up. Originally studying Music Education in college as a French horn student, she switched her education to focus on Public Relations and Advertising. She received her Master of Science degree from Murray State University in Mass Communication and her Bachelor of Science in Public Relations, with Advertising and Music minors. Since graduating in 2016, Alex has expanded her public relations foundation and strives to be a well-rounded marketing professional, while being a true creative at heart with graphic design and photography at the forefront of her skillset. She has worked in marketing in several fields including publication, agriculture, tech, healthcare, and most recently made her way back into the arts as the Marketing Director of Market House Theatre in Paducah, KY for over four years where she found her niche in nonprofit arts marketing. Alex was glad to head further south to the white sand beaches of Pensacola and is excited to bring her love of the arts and creative marketing & communications expertise to this organization and community.

Brooke Fleming Development & Special Events Coordinator

Brooke was born and raised in Pensacola, where she attended the University of West Florida before transferring to the University of Florida where she majored in Broadcast News and minored in Theatre. She also participated in the Opera Theatre program at UF. Brooke first got her start with the Pensacola Opera in the seventh grade when she enrolled in our summer opera camp! After college, she returned to Pensacola and joined the opera chorus where she had the pleasure of performing for several years and many fabulous productions. Brooke has been planning events, festivals, and weddings for the last 11 years and is so excited to be back with the opera as the Development and Special Events Coordinator.

Bethany Roberts Community Engagement & Patron Services Manager

Bethany joined Pensacola Opera in 2022 bringing almost 10 years of customer service and administrative experience, including work with the National Flight Academy and the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office. Bethany’s passion is arts administration and advocacy rather than performance but loves to participate in Pensacola’s vibrant arts scene whenever there is free time to do so! Bethany has been seen as a director and actor with Obsidian Theatre, West Florida Home Educator Drama Troupe, PenArts, and most recently was in the cast of 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche at Pensacola Little Theatre. Bethany even joined the Pensacola Opera Chorus for the 2024 production of Lucia di Lammermoor and can be seen working as a Production Assistant with the Pensacola Symphony Orchestra! In the spring of 2024 Bethany was named as one of Inweekly’s “Rising Stars” in recognition for her talent, enthusiasm, and drive as an emerging leader in the community. Bethany came to Pensacola in 2014 from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario and over the last few years has fallen in love with Pensacola and the vibrant and growing arts community.

Bethany holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music (Voice) and a Bachelor of Arts in Performance Studies from Pensacola Christian College, and a Master of Arts degree in Communication, with a concentration in Media and Arts Marketing and Management, from Regent University.

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