Our Story is Our Community.
Located just 5 blocks from Ocala’s Historic Downtown Square in picturesque Tuscawilla Park, the Reilly Arts Center is Ocala’s home for the arts and live entertainment. Featuring state-of-the-art acoustics and production equipment, the 705-seat venue hosts an eclectic assortment of events, concerts, meetings, and parties and has become a hub for the arts in Ocala.
The Reilly opened in October of 2015 after a $3.4 million renovation to the City Auditorium – a WPA project that was completed on July 4, 1940. Over the decades the auditorium hosted countless Ocala proms, graduations, concerts and events from the Boston Pops to good ol’ southern wrastlin’.
In addition to being the home of the Ocala Symphony Orchestra and producing local, regional and national acts, as the new flagship center for arts and culture in Ocala, the Reilly is committed to being an active and accessible venue in our community.
CEO and Artistic DirectorEmail
MATTHEW WARDELL (b. 1983) began his tenure as Music Director and Conductor of the Ocala Symphony Orchestra in 2009. When appointed Music Director of the Ocala Symphony Orchestra, the Ocala Star Banner declared, “Wardell brings an impressive resume of musical and conducting training … Maybe more important than his musical credentials is Wardell’s youthful enthusiasm and unabashed zest … Wardell is not only a daring and dynamic choice as the Ocala Symphony Orchestra’s new conductor, but a smart one.”
Born in Jacksonville, Florida, Wardell began his undergraduate work in percussion and composition at the University of Florida and received his Bachelor of Music cum laude at the University of North Florida working under Charlotte Mabrey. Wardell continued his education by earning a Master of Music at the University of Florida and is currently completing his Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) degree there with his mentor, Raymond Chobaz. Wardell has served as a guest conductor with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, Gainesville Orchestra, Florida Youth Symphony Orchestra, and the Ocala Civic Theatre. In addition to purely orchestral pursuits, he thrives in the theatre and has appeared as conductor for the fully staged productions of A Little Night Music, La Bohème, Tosca, The Miraculous Mandarin, Phantom of the Opera, Susannah, The Impresario, Dido and Aeneas, Die Fledermaus, Sunday in the Park with George, and Camelot. As a composer, Wardell wrote music for the award-winning NPR podcast, Odd Ball, and co-wrote a new full-length score to the 1923 silent film, The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Wardell spent five summers at the Pierre Monteux School for Conductors and Orchestra Musicians in Hancock, Maine studying with Maestro Michael Jinbo. He was fortunate to have been recognized as both an Osher and Quimby Family Foundation scholar and serve several summers in Hancock as an Orchestra Assistant. Wardell has been selected and participated in masterclasses with Keith Lockhart of the Boston Pops and BBC Orchestra, Thomas Cockrell of the University of Arizona, and studied for an extended time with conductor and composer Peter WesenAuer in Salzburg, Austria.
Matthew is a champion of all kinds of music. He believes programming traditionally core repertoire hand in hand with underrepresented composers and new music believing that good music is just that – good music. He is a member of the American Symphony Orchestra League and has served on the boards of the Ocala Municipal Arts Commission (OMAC), Young Professionals of Ocala (YPO), and The Centers. In addition to his musical pursuits, Wardell is passionate about being involved in his community and served six years as an elected official on Ocala’s City Council from 2015 to 2021. He enjoys traveling, good company, and attending Jacksonville Jaguars games – and even once attended a game that the Jaguars won. In 2019, he married the love of his life and partner, Pamela Calero. Matthew and Pamela have one dog, Buckley, who is probably up to no good at this very moment.
Pamela Calero Wardell
Director of Venue OperationsEmail
Director of Business OperationsEmail
Director, Marion Theatre OperationsEmail
Business Development ManagerEmail
Director of Education and Community OutreachEmail
Margaret Dixon began her relationship with the Ocala Symphony Orchestra in 2010 as a hornist on stage, but she quickly took on additional roles with the ensemble. In 2016, Margaret assumed leadership of the orchestra’s Symphony for Schools Program, helping it grow to reach over thirty Marion County Schools. In 2019, her duties expanded to include the positions of Librarian and Personnel Manager of the Orchestra, and in 2021 she was appointed Director of Education and Community Outreach for the Reilly Arts Center.
Margaret has a great passion for teaching and spreading the joy of music, especially to youth and underserved communities, and having her own music school has been a dream of hers for the last decade. Music is such a natural and human form of expression, and it opens the door to such a wealth of opportunities. From traveling the world performing to singing holiday tunes with your family, the possibilities and reach of music are endless and should be available for everyone. Margaret’s philosophy is that anyone can learn music, regardless of age, experience, background, socio-economic status, or physical or mental ability. You dont have to be great to enjoy making music, you only have to be willing to try. Music creates deeper personal connections, encourages community, builds confidence, inspires creativity, and even has mental and physical health benefits.
Margaret is still an active performer and music educator. She holds the Principal Horn position in The Gainesville Orchestra, the Second Horn position in the Ocala Symphony Orchestra, and she is a well-known and regularly requested performer throughout North-Central Florida. She has also performed with Orchestras in the surrounding states, recorded with Carl Fischer and the Trade Winds Ensemble, and has played in numerous performances around the world.
Margaret has a successful private studio of students of varying abilities and age ranges, and she currently holds the position of Adjunct Professor of Horn for the College of Central Florida. She provides group coaching at several local middle and high schools, and she has worked extensively with local collegiate institutions, including Santa Fe College, College of Central Florida, and the University of Florida. Margaret’s younger students are typically the top performers in their county and in the state, many have received college scholarships and have gone on to pursue successful careers in music performance and education. Her adult students are all active players in their respective communities, and they always have a great time!
Margaret’s business experience includes several years managing the former music school and retail store Great Southern Music. It was in this position that Margaret honed her leadership, organization, and communication skills, and learned first hand the pitfalls of the typical music school.
Margaret has had the privilege of studying with some of the finest horn players in the country, including renowned teachers and performers Lowell Greer, Michelle Stebleton, Michelle Baker, Joseph Anderer, and Robert Watt. Margaret holds a Bachelor’s in Music from the University of Alabama where she studied with Professor Charles “Skip” Snead, and a Master’s Degree in Music from the University of Florida where she studied with Dr. Paul Basler.
Assistant Theatre Manager, Marion TheatreEmail
Mary Kelley Hoppe
Box Office and Volunteer CoordinatorEmail
Concessionist, Marion Theatre
Concessionist, Marion Theatre
Box Office Assistant, Marion Theatre
Concessionist, Marion Theatre
Our Board of Directors
The Reilly Arts Center is governed by a board of directors, and serves on behalf of the membership to ensure that the organization operates within the bylaws and other policies of the corporation. Each director supports the Reilly Arts Center through their time, talents and treasure on an annual basis.
Emeritus members include Robert Reilly, Morris Dittman and Paulette Millhorn.
Mike Mangan is a native of Ocala and has resided in his hometown for much of his adult life. He is a graduate of Forest High School and completed his education as a graduate of the College of Central Florida and the University of South Florida. For more than 25 years he was the co-owner and President of George Mangan Insurance. After leaving the insurance industry, Mike’s career path led him to his current position with Duke Energy. As a member of the Duke Energy Large Accounts team he is responsible for the relationships with governmental and industrial customers over a six-county territory throughout Central Florida.
Mike has always valued the importance of community service and his past involvement has included serving terms on the board of directors of the College of Central Florida Foundation, the former Ocala/Marion County Economic Development Council and Chamber of Commerce, the Salvation Army, as well as being past president of the Metropolitan Ocala Rotary Club.
Mike and his wife Amy are approaching their 30th wedding anniversary and have a son Griffin and daughter Gillian. They also have two very spoiled Lhasa Poo dogs – Lucy and Lizzy – who keep the nest from feeling too empty. In his spare time, Mike enjoys travel, hiking and walking, and reading a good detective novel or historical fiction. And most evenings include listening to the music of John Coltrane, Miles Davis and Pat Matheny.
Bill Nassal is the Chairman and Founder of The Companies of Nassal based in Orlando/Los Angeles. He is a graduate architect of Kent State University and a graduate engineer of New York State University. He has been a board member with the OSO for 13 years, and is the immediate past president. He has also served as past president for the Orlando Philharmonic and past board member of the Orlando Ballet.
Rebecca currently serves as the Executive Director of Circle Square Foundation and The Colen Family Charitable Trust. These private operating foundations primarily focus on educational, health, and recreational initiatives. She is the former Director of Philanthropy at Hospice of Marion County from 2015-2019 leading all fundraising efforts for end of life care.
Rebecca is presently a member of the Ocala Women’s Network and has served as a Board Member for Kimberly’s Center for Child Protection where she led the Fundraising Committee for her 3-year term. She is a member of the Non-Profit Business Council and was a Forum Member of the National Healthcare Philanthropy Initiative.
Rebecca has been a Program Presenter at the Florida Hospice and Palliative Care Association and earned her CFRE (Certified Fundraising Executive) certification in October of 2018. Additionally, Rebecca sits on the Ocala Aquatics Board of Directors.
Rebecca is a ‘curious’ musician who loves many genres of music and still plays her baby grand piano every day. She is married to Steve and together they have 3 adult (!) children and 1 Australian Shepherd.
Naaz Samji Saju
Naaz Samji Saju
Born in Kenya, Naaz spent her childhood and formative years in East Africa. She moved to Boston where she completed her Doctor of Pharmacy degree at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.
Naaz moved to Ocala, Florida in 2004 after her marriage. She continued her career as a clinical pharmacist, which she still practices at AdventHealth Ocala. She also immersed herself into the hospitality world of the family hotel business. That business has now grown to become HDG Hotels, where Naaz is currently an investment partner.
Having an unwavering commitment to serving others, Naaz has led youth and community development for the Ismaili Center in Boston and Ocala for the past 25 years. She currently serves as a board member of the Aga Khan Foundation in Florida.
Jim Schneider recently retired as President & CEO of Signature Brands, LLC in Ocala, FL after 22 years and today is the Managing Partner and President of Saratoga Potato Chips – America’s first Kettle potato chips established in 1853. The Company is located in Saratoga Springs, NY where today they offer a full range of “great tasting chips and ready to eat popcorn positioned for the health – conscious consumer”. In addition, Schneider is President of a French fruit processor based in Lancaster, PA that is building a presence in the US with a range of products that are again, positioned to the health conscious consumer.
Signature Brands is a leading supplier of dessert decorations, Easter egg dyes, Pumpkin Carving Kits and fresh popcorn being marketed under the Betty Crocker®, Cake Mate®, PAAS®, Pumpkin Masters® and Popcorn Expressions® brands in North America. Today, Signature Brands is a $300 million business owned by Hero AG of Switzerland where Schneider was on the Executive Board of Directors.
Schneider began his Consumer Packaged Goods career as an intern with Procter & Gamble after graduating from Missouri State University in Kirksville. He then moved to Reckitt Benckiser where he held several positions of increasing responsibility during his sixteen years where he was Vice President & General Manager of the Spice & Seasonings business before joining Signature Brands in 1993 owned by Hero AG in Switzerland. In his 22 years with Hero, Schneider was also CEO of Beech Nut baby food in Amsterdam, NY.
He is past Chairman of United Way of Marion County, Junior Achievement of North Florida, and Munroe Regional Medical Center. Schneider is also on the Board of The Ocala Economic Development Council, Florida Tax Watch, The Board of Governors for the Florida Chamber of Commerce and The President’s Advisory Board of The Grocery Manufacturers of America.
The Associate Board
In 2017, the Reilly Arts Center established the Associate Board. The Associate Board is comprised of community members, 21-45, with a strong passion for growing the reach of the Reilly Arts Center and Ocala Symphony Orchestra. The three main focuses of the board are:
1) Build and engage audiences that are 21-45 years old
2) Support Youth Outreach initiatives
3) Support and grow opportunities for family activities at the Reilly Arts Center
Caly Bryan is a local singer-songwriter specializing in stripped-down acoustic performances. During the week, she works full time as Chief Operating Officer at Angie Lewis State Farm. Caly also serves on the board for YPO (Young Professionals Ocala) and is passionate about enriching our community through music and art.
Hilary A.C. Hoover
Hilary A.C. Hoover is a Speech Language Pathologist who works at Marion County Public Schools and has a growing private practice. She supports local art and community organizations as a member of the Appleton Museum of Art, volunteer for Couch Sessions, and supports the Kimberly Center.
Classic- Fleetwood Mac – “Rumors”
Guilty Pleasure- Kesha – “Rainbow”
Lauren is currently the Community Engagement Director for Marion County Public Schools. She serves on the Ocala Chapter of the Florida Public Relations Board as the Accreditation Chair, is a board member for United Way of Marion County, a member of the board of the Girl Scouts of West Central Florida and serves on the Marion County Litter Task Force.
Kaycie Hartley is a chiropractor, anatomy professor, wife to James and mother to two sons. She is also an active member of Junior League Ocala. Her hobbies include yard-saling and keeping her plants alive. She enjoys family time, traveling and good coffee.
Krista is the Director of Sales for the Springhill Suites by Marriott Ocala- one of 21 hotels in the HDG portfolio. Krista also runs her own flower company, Eufloria Flower Cart. Krista currently holds a position with the United Way on the PR + Marketing Committee.
Originally from Iowa, David has lived in Ocala for 13 years. He is the Registrar at the Appleton Museum of Art. In addition to the Reilly Associate Board he also serves on the FAFO board and the Ocala Municipal Arts Commission. In his free time he enjoys painting, distance running, and drinking beer, though usually not at the same time.
Teddy Sykes is a local artist and IT professional who has lived in the Ocala area most of his life. He also serves on boards for FAGO and YPO and is very involved in community events. He is a huge supporter of Ocala’s art and music scene and most of his free time is spent downtown supporting local businesses.
Hannah is a music educator at Madison Street Academy. She serves as Vice President of the Marion County Music Association, FMEA (Florida Music Education Association) member and a board member of FAFO. Hannah also directs several after-school music ensembles and produces performances with her student groups. Hannah has worked as a mentor at Madison Street and has also worked with local high school marching band programs.