Kara DioGuardi is a Grammy-nominated songwriter, former American Idol judge, producer, and music publisher. For the past five years, she has been a Herb Albert Visiting Scholar at Berklee College of Music. As one of the most successful contemporary songwriters in the world, Kara’s songs have appeared on more than 160 million albums. She has won 20 BMI awards for most performed songs, including BMI’s 2007 Songwriter of the Year award. She’s had over 320 songs released by major labels, 150 songs on platinum-selling albums, and over 50 charting singles. Her credits include successes and collaborations with artists such as Pink, Katy Perry, Celine Dion, Kelly Clarkson, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Miley Cyrus, Jason Derulo, Demi Lovato, Gwen Stefani, Carrie Underwood, Colbie Caillat, Enrique Iglesias, Rascal Flatts, The Band Perry, Darius Rucker, Faith Hill, Santana and many more.
Kara is also an established record producer, record executive, music publisher, and author. As Executive Vice President at Warner Brothers Records, Kara signed artists such as Jason Derulo. Her publishing company, Arthouse Entertainment, boasts hits from Bruno Mars, Carrie Underwood, Cee-Lo Green, Eminem, B.O.B., Travie McCoy, Flo Rida, Whitney Houston and Sean Kingston. She recently signed Artist Jon Bellion (Capitol) and Clairity (Lava/Republic).
Additionally, Kara was a judge on seasons 8 and 9 of the hit FOX show, American Idol and featured as the head judge on Bravo’s songwriting reality show competition, Platinum Hit. In the fall of 2011, Kara made her Broadway stage debut as merry murderess, Roxie Hart, in the Tony Award-winning hit musical CHICAGO. Kara built five recording studios at Phoenix House, one of the nation’s leading non-profits dedicated to leading individuals, families and communities affected by addiction from disrupted to productive lives. She also has an educational scholarship in her family’s name at the Columbus Citizens Foundation that provides financial support to students of Italian descent.
CO-FOUNDER, Vice President
Sara Simonds brings her strategic planning, finance, and non-profit board experience to Inspired Nation. As a founding board member, Sara will assist in building a focused, sustainable, and impactful business model, and will work to develop a robust organization. Sara is passionate about supporting youth and giving back in meaningful ways to populations in need. Sara has served on the board of Coaches across Continents, an internationally recognized leader in sport for social impact in developing countries, and works with the United National Capital Development Fund to increase financial inclusion in the world’s least developed. Sara is a graduate of Harvard College and of the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. She lives in Maine with her husband, Geoff, and two children, Emma and Jamie.
“I am thrilled to be a part of the Inspired Nation team. Inspired Nation has demonstrated the arts can empower youth, build community, and be a conduit for supporting important charitable organizations. I am excited to help set the stage to highlight young artists and to give back.”
Megan Gean Gendron brings her fundraising, public relations, and non-profit management experience to Inspired Nation as a founding member of the Board of Directors. In addition to her professional fundraising and public relations work, Megan brings a unique perspective of helping others to Inspired Nation. Megan has been involved in the non-profit world her entire life and her first job in the field was working third shift at a homeless shelter during college breaks.
Megan lives in Maine with her husband, Steve, and her daughter, Harper.
“I could not be more excited to be a part of Inspired Nation’s mission of empowering youth. We have a unique model that we have built and we look forward to supporting communities while celebrating the talent within those communities.”
Michael joined the Inspired Nation team in 2017. He has been with Congress Wealth Management, a Boston-based, SEC-registered independent investment management firm since 2011 and has 11 years of experience in the investment business. Michael works with Congress Wealth’s Family Office clients and is responsible for developing comprehensive financial strategies that meet their needs and overseeing their entire financial picture.
As Director of the Family Office Group, Michael assumes the day-to-day administration and management of a family’s affairs including investment management, tax & estate planning, retirement planning, charitable planning and bill pay. Prior to joining Congress Wealth, Michael worked at SCS Financial Services in their Private Client Group and in the Risk Management Group at State Street Global Markets. He earned a B.A. in English from Boston College, an M.B.A from the Carroll School of Management at Boston College and holds the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER(tm) professional designation.
Michael currently lives in Melrose, Massachusetts with his wife, Andrea.
MARKETING & PROGRAMS MANAGER
Annie Lukach brings her strategic planning and creative management skills to the Inspired Nation team as the Marketing and Programs Manager. With a unique background in small business startup and music industry affairs, she is excited to help grow and expand the Inspired Nation music competitions and volunteer programming with finalists. Her responsibilities include the day-to-day operations of the organization and coordination of new and exciting community engagement activities. Originally a Wisconsin native, Annie currently resides in Nashville, Tennessee.