The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

February 25, 2013

New Director

Excited about orchestra’s future

DANVILLE — Staci Disney-Walker has fond memories of going to Danville Symphony Orchestra concerts with her grandmother in recent years. Now, as the new executive director, she said, “I’d like other people to have the same enthusiasm.”

Disney-Walker is in a position to promote the orchestra, which she describes as “remarkable” for the area. The orchestra is fortunate to have so many talented musicians, as well as music director and conductor, Jeremy Swerling.

“We want to carry on the great reputation,” she said.

Disney-Walker started her job just last week, so she’s still learning about the organization and how it works, she said. She replaces Jennifer Dixson, who resigned as director in December after nearly six years.

When Disney-Walker saw the advertisement, she decided to apply because the orchestra has had a special place in her life. Her grandmother, Thelma Spencer of Fithian, had always bought season tickets, and both loved going to the concerts.

“I’m excited to be on board and starting a new chapter in my life,” she said. “I’m excited about getting to know the people from the area.”

That enthusiasm is one quality that helped land her the job.

Marla Bauerle-Hill, board president, said of Disney-Walker, “She comes to us with tons of enthusiasm. She’s such a personable person — always happy and optimistic about the symphony and what she can do for us.”

Disney-Walker will have some big shoes to fill, coming in after Dixson, who was a very good director, Bauerle-Hill said. “The whole board is looking forward to working with her.”

She added, “She is in there with both feet and I think she’ll be great.”

One thing Disney-Walker likes about the orchestra is that there’s something for everybody — from classical to popular entertainment. Recent programs have included Irish song and dance, and the Chicago Brass Quintet and upcoming programs of classical music and a tribute to Maurice Chevalier.

“You can pick and choose what you want to see,” she said.

On April 20, its big fundraiser gala will be staged at the David S. Palmer Arena, featuring Cirque de la Symphonie.

As executive director, Disney-Walker oversees the part-time staff and volunteers, reports to the board, manages the budget, sets up fundraisers, works with guest artists and handles marketing, concessions and ticket sales, and other duties. She handles all the business aspects, while Swerling handles the musical side.

A native of Oakwood, Disney-Walker graduated from Oakwood High School in 1987; she and Mary Wright started the Oakwood Times.

Growing up, she took voice and piano lessons and played the saxophone in the school band. She occasionally plays the sax and guitar in the praise band at Faith Church in Fairmount.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and fine arts from Indiana University, and did freelance graphic design work until her children were born. When the boys started school in 2004, she went to work at the Vermilion County Farm Bureau as the agriculture literacy adviser, and held that job for eight years.

She’s now working on her master’s degree in organizational leadership from Lincoln Christian University.

She and her husband, James Walker, have two sons, Clayton, 15, and Riley, 11. The family has livestock on its farm near Oakwood, and Disney-Walker has learned to make cheese and can food. She also shows her creative side by decorating cakes for family and friends.


Learn more at Its office is at 149 N. Vermilion St., and its phone number is 443-5300.

Staci Disney-Walker wants to hear comments, good and bad, about the symphony, as well as suggestions for programs. E-mail her at

Text Only
Local News
  • Kindergarten roundup nears

    April 20, 2014

  • Head Start services offered

    April 20, 2014

  • City to discuss chicken ordinance, animal control DANVILLE -- Residents love their pets -- ranging from the furry to feathered kind -- and let city officials know about it. Mayor Scott Eisenhauer said two of the biggest issues he's received phone calls about since he's been mayor have been about the

    April 20, 2014

  • NWS-CN0420 - Vignette2 image Danville thrift store glass gets a second life Chris Moore of Danville admits he's never been known as an artistic person among friends and family. But after seeing some glass garden decorations at a landscaping business about a year ago, something clicked and he decided to try his hand at creati

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Three injured in shooting on east side DANVILLE -- Police have made one arrest in connection with a triple shooting incident Friday night on the city's east side. Police and emergency personnel responded around 6:30 p.m. Friday to the 1000 block of Moore Street to reports of shots fire. T

    April 20, 2014

  • NWS-CN 0420 - Vignette3 image Odds and ends turn into great useful objects Four Danville Area Community College students took some wooden pallets, a used tire, two broken clocks and a fallen tree limb and created four completely usable objects that will be entered in the college's Trash to Treasures repurposing challenge on

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • NWS - CN0420 - Repurpose5 image Trash into treasure What started out as an idea for a class project quickly snowballed into a campuswide initiative at Danville Area Community College, with the results being on display this week. To mark Earth Day this year, the Biology Department and the Sustainabilit

    April 20, 2014 2 Photos

  • NWS - CN0420 - Rock Church cross image Floral cross celebrates Easter DANVILLE — A cross at The Rock Church is blooming with the beauty of spring and the promise of Easter.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • NWS-CN 04-20 Vignette1 image Couple creates rustic salvaged furniture Kim Hannah of Danville has been salvaging and reusing materials -- most notably barn wood -- for close to two decades. Hannah has sold her handmade crafts and primitive, rustic furniture made of salvaged barn wood at shows around the Midwest for 18 y

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Auxiliary buys ‘Wagons for Warriors’ Auxiliary buys ‘Wagons for Warriors’

    A benefit last month raised $771, which was donated to Wagons for Warriors.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

AP Video
Raw: More Than 100,000 Gather for Easter Sunday Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest
NCAA basketball
NDN Video
Jabari Parker's Top 5 Plays From Duke Career Kourtney Kardashian Is a Bikini Babe More Manpower Than Ever Expected At 4/20 Rally Debunk'd: Miley Cyrus AIDS, Cheeseburgers Cause Cancer, Military Warning Bill Previewing the NBA playoffs Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite My name is Cocaine Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Lohan Gets Candid About Her Sex List The 2014 New York Auto Show Meet Johnny Manziel's New Girlfriend Chelsea Clinton Announces Pregnancy Funny: Celebrating Easter with Martha Stewart and Friends Man Accuses 'X-Men' Director Bryan Singer of Sexually Abusing Him As a Teenager Man hit with $525 federal fine after he doesn't pay for soda refill Lea Michele & Naya Rivera Feuding? Jabari Parker declares for the NBA draft Singing Nun Belts Out Cyndi Lauper New West, Texas Explosion Video Swim Daily, Throwback Thursday
Must Read