Mark A. Smith


Mark, the founder and President of the Mon Valley Academy for the Arts, has been working in the Mon Valley music industry for over 50 years. Starting as a student drummer under the tutelage of the famed Edward “Prof” Sweadner and moving on to study with Twin Coaches Orchestra drummer Bill Crockett, Smith advanced to the professional drummer level, working in all phases of the music industry: teaching, performing and recording. During a chance meeting in November 2015 with the late Maestro Joe Campus, the Twin Coaches Orchestra Project was conceived. Following the initial “Coaches Tribute” concert, the Mon Valley Academy for the Arts (MVAA) was established and it’s now the Mon Valley’s most active arts and cultural nonprofit organization. Mark is a permanent Mon Valley resident, father of five and grandfather of 11. With a lifetime of musical experience, Mark moved naturally into a leadership role with the MVAA, and his future goals and objectives echo the MVAA’s motto: “Save the music and pass it on to the next generation!”

Annette Buffer

Vice President

Annette is Vice President of the Board of Directors for Mon Valley Academy for the Arts and a member of the organization’s media team. Annette is a retired Nursing Home Administrator and Speech-Language Pathologist. She is a lifetime musician and choir director for over 40 years. Co-founder of the Power of Music (2014-Present), a not for profit group providing free summer concerts, she is a tireless advocate for live music. Annette serves as a community choir director with the Bentworth Ministerium Community Choir that she began eight years ago and with the newly formed show choir, VOICEZ on Fire, a project under the auspices of the Mon Valley Academy for the Arts. Annette holds a Masters Degree in Speech-Language Pathology and an undergraduate degree in education from California University of Pennsylvania. Annette, originally from Brownsville, PA, relocated to Daisytown in 1981. She remains active in organizing community events, fundraisers, concerts, and choir performances. Email her at

Carla E. Anderton


Carla E. Anderton is Secretary of the Board of Directors for Mon Valley Academy for the Arts and a member of the organization’s media team. Carla is a professor of English and communications at Westmoreland County Community College and Seton Hill University. From 2014-2019, she published Pennsylvania Bridges, a monthly regional newsmagazine, and from 2006-2009, she was Editor-in-Chief of California Focus. Previously, she served as President of the Board of Directors at Jozart Center for the Arts from 2010-2016, during which time she oversaw the general operations of the organization as well as helped plan and coordinate over 500 arts and entertainment programs and events. She holds a Masters in Fine Arts from Seton Hill University and an undergraduate degree in English from California University of Pennsylvania. Carla is the author of The Heart Absent, a fictional take on Jack the Ripper, and is an internationally recognized expert on the Jack the Ripper murders. Born and raised in Memphis, TN, Carla relocated to Pennsylvania in 1999 to attend California University of Pennsylvania. She currently lives in Daisytown, PA. Visit her website at

Kristen Spahn


Kristen Spahn is the Chief Financial Officer for Tusk Development, a property management company that leases office space in Washington, Westmoreland, and Allegheny counties. As a member of the executive board of directors for the Mon Valley Academy for the Arts, Inc., she serves as the Treasurer, utilizing her education to maintain the non-profit finances for the organization. With ten years of classical piano training, Kristen spends her free time performing with the Bentworth Ministerium Community Choir and Sanitarium Road (worship band) and leading worship at her church. Kristen serves on the media team of various organizations, providing her knowledge and skills to produce Facebook Live events and media streams. Passionate about youth and the world as it changes, she is providing families with the ability to give their children the best possible care in a society with a hybrid education platform. In addition to education services, Kristen provides piano lessons and various other arts and media lessons to students who have that creative spirit. Originally from Somerset, PA, she relocated to Washington County, PA in 1994 to attend California University of Pennsylvania where she obtained her associates degree in accounting. In 2006, Kristen opened Spahn Tax & Accounting Services and has helped many people avoid serious tax issues. Since 2006, Kristen has obtained her master’s degree in accounting from American Intercontinental University and expanded her tax business across the country. Contact Kristen at

Gerald D. Onesi

Board of Directors

Gerald D. Onesi is the owner and operator of West Side Auto Repair, an award-winning auto repair and body shop in Uniontown, PA. A professional bassist, guitarist, and vocalist, he’s played in local and regional bands for over 50 years. Gerald is the lead singer of The Allies, an acoustic classic rock band that performs most weekends, and in recent years, was a member of a successful tribute band that toured the region and was named “best cover band” by Columbus, Ohio’s premier rock radio station. On Sundays, he can often be found playing acoustic guitar for services at St. Therese Church. In addition to serving on the board of the Mon Valley Academy for the Arts, Gerald also sits on the advisory board of the Uniontown Salvation Army, where he plays DJ for their 5K races, and chairs their nominating committee. 

Joy Tillman-DeFerrari

Board of Directors

Joy Tillman-DeFerrari is the owner of Live and Love Photography by Joy.