Board and Staff

Board of Directors

Ruthie Millgard is Artistic Director of the San Diego Children’s Choir. Hailing from the Pacific Northwest, Ruthie received her BA in Music Education from Western Washington University and MM in Choral Conducting from the University of Oregon. Ruthie has also been a life-long chorister, performing at regional and national ACDA (American ChoralDirector’s Association) conventions as well as across Europe. Ruthie began her career as a music educator in the New York City public schools (teaching grades 6-12) before relocating to San Diego in 2014. In San Diego, Ruthie has been involved with the San Diego Unified School District as conductor of various district honors choirs, as well aschoral festival clinician.

Kate Thickstun joined her first chorus at the age of nine and continued to sing throughout college. To balance out her undergraduate major in biology (and the drudgery of seemingly endless bio, chem, and physics labs), she began to study voice and sing in the university chorus. After earning her bachelor’s degree, she left biology behind and continued her operatic training in the San Francisco Bay Area where she sang with the San Francisco Bach Choir, community opera and musical theater companies, and numerous churches. After returning to San Diego to attend law school, she accepted the directorship of the choir at St. George Serbian Orthodox Church, where she has now directed for over thirty years. She has also sung with the San Diego Master Chorale, Lyric Opera San Diego, and the chorus of San Diego Opera. Since 2013 she has also directed the Pacific Women’s Chorus. She is a member of Chorus America, ACDA, NATS, the Choral Consortium of San Diego, and is Co-Director of the San Diego District of the Metropolitan Opera National Council, which runs the local annual Met auditions. She believes everyone can and should sing, especially in a chorus. It makes the world a better place.


Dr. Lukas Schulze is a composer, pianist, conductor, writer, and teacher. Originally from Chicago, he lives in San Diego, where he directs an award-winning choral program at Marshall Middle School. He received his MA and PhD from UCSD, where he studied with Roger Reynolds, Brian Ferneyhough, George Lewis, Jann Pasler, and Harvey Sollberger. He is the assistant choral conductor of the La Jolla Symphony Chorus and sings as a bass in that ensemble.

Satomi Saito is currently working as Library Collections Fiscal Manager at UC San Diego Library.  She also worked in several departments as a fund manager to assist faculty members to manage grants.  Born and raised in Fukushima, Japan where chorus competition is a big deal for schools, she came to the US to study English and fell in love with sunny San Diego.  She sings as an alto in La Jolla Symphony & Chorus, serves as an assistant section leader, and volunteers at various events.


Paul Girard is a native of Miami, Florida, and a graduate of the Naval Academy. His early musical experience was highlighted by playing French Horn Bugle in high school and college Drum & Bugle Corps. He served in the Navy for 23 years and, after obtaining a PhD in Electronics, transferred into computer systems development, which he continued in his civilian career with SAIC in San Diego until 2004. Paul is now fully retired and devoted to supporting Youth In Harmony. He joined Sun Harbor chorus in 1992 and transferred to Pacific Coast Harmony (PCH) in 2003, singing baritone. He supported PCH by transcribing musical manuscripts digitally and making synthesized recordings of songs. He served for a time as Vice President for Music and Performance. He also applied his computer skills by becoming webmaster. He has sung in four quartets (most fun). Currently, his primary role is as Youth In Harmony Chairman. As such, he interacts with school district Visual and Performing Arts departments and choral teachers in the classroom. He coordinates the assignment of volunteer coaches who mentor young men in quartets and ensembles, and purchases music and learning materials for the students, which PCH provides for free. He also manages the scheduling and execution of special events, including workshops and festivals for students to learn and perform. Additionally, he promotes special performances involving PCH with other youth choral groups from San Diego and visitors from other states and countries.


Nancy V. Gray retired in June 2015 after 35 years of teaching public school choral music with her most recent position at Poway High School in the Poway Unified School District. Choirs under her direction have performed in National venues including Carnegie Hall, Orchestra Hall in Chicago, Davies Symphony Hall, Segerstrom Center for the Arts and more. Some of her awards and recognitions include CMEA Fortissimo Award of Excellence in Choral Music 2011, CMEA State Choral Educator Award for 2002, National Board Certification 2003, music staff member for Grammy Signature Gold School Award 2001 & 2006. In her retirement she is enjoying a part time assignment as a lecturer at San Diego State University supervising student teachers, adjudicating choral festivals and conducting the Poway Community Choir.

A native of Mexico, Ibis Laurel studied music education as an undergraduate in Veracruz. There she became involved in the world of choral music, as it offered the most accessible way of uniting different peoples through music. After participating in a choral festival in Cuba she decided to continue her studies at the graduate level. In 2013 she was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to pursue a Masters in choral conducting at San Diego State University. Then upon taking her degree she was offered a position at Tijuana’s ‘Centro de Artes Musicales’ (CAM) and relocated to the border zone of Baja California. Since 2016 Mtra. Laurel has been active as a choral teacher, leading community and academic choirs at bachelor’s level. She also assistant-conducts several of CAM’s youth ensembles. Yet she is also passionate about Mexico’s “classical” baroque music. In 2018 she founded ‘Camerata XXXI’, a vocal-instrumental ensemble whose mission is to research and revitalize the musical treasures of “Nueva España’s” Colonial Era. Her dream is to create awareness on both sides of the border of this amazingly beautiful repertoire which was heretofore largely unknown outside the Catholic Church and Europe and even Latin America. Whether leading an orchestra or mixed choir from the podium, or directing in an intimate consort setting, Ibis Laurel sees herself as a cultural ambassador on the San Diego/Tijuana arts landscape: “Music that can surmount the political barriers that separate us will bring us together to celebrate our common humanity.”



Carol Manifold is the founder of the Choral Consortium of San Diego and an experienced choral volunteer, having served as the Board President for SACRA/PROFANA professional vocal ensemble and the San Diego Master Chorale. She is a past member of the La Jolla Presbyterian Church Concert Series Committee and sings in both the La Jolla Symphony Chorus and the Pacific Women’s Chorus. She received her B.A. in Biology (Music minor) from UCSD and her Doctor of Pharmacy degree from UCSF. She is retired from a career in the biopharmaceutical industry and hospital pharmacy.