Our leaders come together from varied backgrounds to support the Lakeland Symphony Orchestra in its mission to connect, enrich, educate, and entertain.


Executive Director

Ashley’s role with the Lakeland Symphony Orchestra as Executive Director provides her with an opportunity to put her fundraising, relationship-building, and communications skills to work. Inspired by her love of music and the community where she was born and raised, Ashley’s greatest desire is to ensure that professional symphonic music is accessible to everyone.

Before joining the LSO, Ashley honed her marketing and advertising skills at MADE Brands as an Account Executive. Prior to that, she spent her career sharing the mission and vision of one of Lakeland’s beloved nonprofits – Volunteers in Service to the Elderly (VISTE).

Ashley is a Lakeland native and earned her B.A. in Advertising from Florida Southern College. Many describe her as a bundle of energy always ready to contribute her love for authentic storytelling, and collaborative spirit to the task at hand.

Ashley is a graduate of Leadership Lakeland Class XXXVI, and the recipient of the United Way of Central Florida’s 2017’s Outstanding Partner Agency Employee Coordinator. She lives in Lakeland with her husband, Josh and her son, Jack.


Music Director | Conductor

Mark Thielen is a 40 year resident of Polk County. Mr. Thielen retired after 30 years of teaching in the public schools where he served as theory, electronic music instructor and orchestra director at the Harrison School for the Arts in Lakeland, Florida.

Mr. Thielen’s orchestras have performed successfully at state, regional, and national level festivals and conferences. From 2006-2015, Mark was the orchestra director at All-Saints’ Academy in Winter Haven where he taught string students in grades 6-12. In May of 2015, Mr. Thielen retired from his position at All Saints. He maintains a private studio as well as works with Central Florida schools as a guest clinician/conductor.

Maestro Thielen performs professionally with the Hollingsworth Trio and the Unstrung Quartet. He is a past president of the Florida Orchestra Association. For 14 years, he was conductor of the Honors Orchestra program at the University of Central Florida. Maestro Thielen has been associated with the Imperial Symphony Orchestra for more than 40 seasons. He served as concertmaster and associate conductor for 24 of those years before becoming music director and conductor in 2000.


Patron Engagement & Operations Manager

Christine Collister is the Patron Engagement & Operations Manager of the Imperial Symphony Orchestra. Originally from Massachusetts, Christine earned her BFA in violin at Ithaca College in New York. Christine honed both her musical and administrative skills in New York and Connecticut before moving to central Florida in 1999. In addition to classical music, Christine also enjoys performing jazz, folk, Celtic, bluegrass, and country and performs regularly throughout central Florida as a freelance musician. You can see Christine perform with Jon Corneal and his Compadres every Friday afternoon at Noon and 1:30PM at Hillcrest Coffee (corner of Hillcrest/Missouri in Lakeland), and in area venues with the Munn Park Saints and 32 Trees.

Besides music, Christine enjoys crochet, reading, travel, cooking, and trying new and exotic cuisine. Christine met her husband, Davis Collister, in the LSO (he in the bass section, she in the violins) and they live in Kathleen, FL with their son, Daniel.

2023-2024 Board of Directors

Ashley Bailey | President

Shannon Abitbol | Vice President

Margaret Parry | Treasurer

Lu Fitzwater | Secretary

Robert Berganza | Past President

Christiaan Abbott

Stephen Bates

Christina Boyce

Lesley Chambers

Steve Githens

Kelsey Jaffer

Holly Parrish

Lori Powell

Greg Sale

Don West

Richard Widick