Dr. John R. Gerdy




Dr. John R. Gerdy serves as founder and executive director of Music For Everyone a non-profit dedicated to cultivating the power of music as an educational and community building tool in Lancaster County. Since 2006, MFE has invested almost $1 million in school and community arts organizations and initiatives to enhance music programs in Lancaster County, PA. He has authored five books, among them, Ball or Bands: Football vs. Music as an Educational and Community Investment (2014), Sports: The All-American Addiction (2002) and Air Ball: American Education’s Failed Experiment with Elite Athletics (2006). He has also been extensive published in journals and periodicals such as The Chronicle of Higher Education, Sporting News, Black Issues in Higher Education, NCAA News and College Board Review.

FIG-Mag-Picture-webJohn’s background and experience have afforded him a unique perspective. He grew up in Little Falls, NJ, the son of a high school football coach, who also was the school’s physics teacher. John was an all-state basketball player at Passaic Valley HS where his jersey number is retired. A 1979 graduate of Davidson College, he received all-American honors and graduated as the career-leading scorer in school history, a record that stood for 30 years. Davidson retired his jersey in 1979 and inducted him into its Hall of Fame in 1994. Davidson also awarded him the John W. Kuykendall Award for Community Service in 2014. He was drafted by the NJ Nets and played professionally in the Continental Basketball Association for one season.

John served as the youth sports program director at the Johnston YMCA in Charlotte NC for two years before enrolling in Ohio University where he earned his MA in sports administration (1983) and Ph.D. in Higher Education (1986). From 1986-89, Gerdy worked at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) as a legislative assistant before serving six years at the Southeastern Conference as Associate Commissioner for Compliance and Academic Affairs.

With the birth of their first child, John left the SEC to be a stay-at-home Dad. During this time, he began teaching as a Visiting Professor in Sports Administration at Ohio University and began writing in earnest. In 2007, he was chosen one of America’s Most Influential Sports Educators by the Institute of International Sport.

A life long musician, he has served as an “artist in residence” at the New School of Lancaster, teaching the Blues to children from first to fifth grades, conducted summer music camps and performs in public regularly under the stage name of Willie Marble.

He resides on a farm in Conestoga, PA with his wife, two children and a bunch of dogs and cats.


The Value of the Arts as a Community Investment

The Value of the Arts as a Community Investment explores how investment in the arts builds more creative, prosperous and vibrant communities.

Every challenge we face, as a city, state, country or world community, whether related to health care, the environment, or international relations, is becoming more complex in this increasingly fast paced, interrelated global economy and world community. To successfully meet these challenges we must develop in our populace, a corresponding increase in creativity. The arts are our most effective tool to develop this creativity.

In addition to nurturing creativity, their “universality” offers opportunities for unique applications for integrated, interdisciplinary learning. They also provide an unparalleled platform for international and cross-cultural educational experiences, as any education worthy of the 21st Century must nurture the skills necessary to engage responsibly and effectively in a global environment.

The arts also have tremendous power to unite. Examples include, Music For Everyone’s “Keys for the City.” Bringing people together enhances citizen “engagement”, leading to a more vibrant, connected community.

Further, individuals who conceive and apply new levels of thinking and creativity to the workplace and marketplace will be the future’s most effective, influential and successful employees, entrepreneurs and community leaders. These people are most likely to be engaged with, and in a position to positively influence communities. Communities that invest in creativity will be more likely to attract this rising “creative class” to want to live, work and raise their families in their community.

Finally, the arts can positively impact public health. Research regarding their positive impact on healing is growing, presenting tremendous opportunities for building healthier communities. In short, the value of the arts as an educational, community-building and economic tool is enormous and will continue to grow in importance as a community investment.