An honors graduate of the University of Montana School of Music with additional musical training in Vienna Austria, David’s diverse career as an educator, performer, producer, recording artist, inspirational speaker, worship leader, and mental health advocate has taken him to all 50 states, 19 countries, and 4 continents.
He has served as Education Director and Teaching Artist for Arizona Broadway Theater, Fort Peck Montana Fine Arts Council, Desert Foothills Theater, and as a Teaching Artist for Alice Cooper’s Solid Rock Teen Center, AZ Child’s Play Theater, Scottsdale Desert Stages Theater, Wyoming Council on The Arts, Steppingstone Theatre for Youth Development in St. Paul MN, and the Missoula Children’s Theater's International Residencies. Additional teaching experience includes residencies with the Minneapolis and St. Paul Public Schools, University of Montana (Missoula, MT), Casper College (Casper, WY), Estrella Mountain Community College (Phoenix, AZ), and of course, as Executive Director and Teaching Artist with The UBU Project (precursor to UBU Music) directly engaging with over 17,000 students, educators, behavioral health specialists, administrators, and families.
David has also served on the Arizona Department of Education's Round-table Advisory Committee for Arts Education and the ADE SEL-Arts Crossing Guard Cohort developing SEL-Arts curriculum for K-12 teachers throughout the state.
David has performed live with Edwin McCain, Alice Cooper, Bob Hope, The USO, and members of REO Speedwagon, A-ha, Tower of Power, and Sly & the Family Stone. In addition, he has appeared as a featured soloist with The Phoenix Symphony, The Schubert Kirche Orchester (Vienna Austria) the Vancouver British Columbia Symphony Orchestra, and just post 9/11, he performed the National Anthem for the Minnesota Twins against the Seattle Mariners in the HHH Metrodome in Minneapolis. He also played Matthew in multiple national tours of Harry Chapin's COTTONPATCH GOSPEL (with Bluegrass Grammy Award nominees Special Consensus) and had the honor of serving as Music Director, Bassist, and featured soloist for Motown Recording Artists: The Drifters.
In addition, David is a thriving survivor of his own suicide attempt, is a grateful, recovering alcoholic with over 30 years sober, experienced bullying, and lives with the managed mental health diagnoses of major depressive disorder recurrent, PTSD, and free-floating anxiety. This, in addition to his professional training and ongoing partnership with experts in childhood trauma and K-12 education, helps David bring a unique and hope-filled perspective and dedication to his work with UBU Music!
Whether in a classroom, coffee shop, rock club, classical concert hall, or on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier in the middle of the Indian Ocean, David brings a wealth of experience, energy, and encouragement to every stage, school, or project he encounters.
David has one adult son, Niko (an opera singer currently living in Minneapolis, MN), and splits his time between homes in the Phoenix AZ West Valley, and Sac County Iowa with his beautiful wife Tamara, the love of his life.
Charles D. Atkinson MA, MSW, LCSW: UBU Childhood Trauma Advisor
Charles D. Atkinson MA, MSW, LCSW served as a professor at Rutgers the State University of New Jersey for thirty years. While there he researched, developed and lectured on the first academic course "Principles of Stress Management". His tenure included presentations, seminars, and clinics to both private and public organizations regarding the effects of stress on the well being of individuals. He was also instrumental in expanding the awareness of understanding earlier childhood trauma and its effects on individual and family dysfunctional behavior. He also developed his expertise into a professional psychotherapy private practice for two decades.
UBU is an essential extension of my work. I whole heartily support the artistic and creative side initiated by David Simmons. He brings a much needed approach to children who are struggling with emotional and psychological issues. His unique style and experience provides a safe and supportive environment for children and youth to freely express themselves
Christy Kane, MA – Pre-licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Certified Life Coach: Mental Health Advisor
Christy Kane, MA is a recent graduate of North Central University with a master’s in marriage and family therapy. She specializes in relationship trauma, setting healthy boundaries, and helping couples and families learn to communicate with each other in more effective ways. She is passionate about helping partners, parents, and children learn an emotional language that gets them on the same wavelength as each other to reduce conflict and increase healthy interactions. Christy also assists others in healing the traumas that have kept them stuck and prevented them from reaching the joy they want in their lives. Though she is currently in the pre-license process, Christy brings 20 years of experience working with relational trauma as a layperson and Certified Life Coach. She currently works at Soul Work Counseling in Minneapolis, MN, has been married for over 26 years to her husband Dan, and has raised two adult children.
UBU’s mission is close to my heart because the arts are an amazing way to learn emotional expression. Kids who don’t know how to talk about what they feel become teenagers who don’t know how to talk about how they feel. And the teenagers become adults, become partners, become parents. Learning an emotional language and how to communicate more clearly with others is something that has been neglected for too long. Combining arts education, which in itself is emotional expression, with emotional support and education can prepare today’s kids to impact their world like never before. I also know first-hand how the arts can change – and even save someone’s life.
Isaac M. Akapnitis, LMSW: Behavioral Health, Substance Abuse, Suicide Prevention Advisor
Isaac M. Akapnitis, LMSW (pronouns: he/they) is a macro social worker and advocate in Phoenix, Arizona. They have 15 years of experience working with LGBTQ youth and young adults across Florida, Texas, and Arizona in the areas of mental health, suicide prevention, substance use prevention, and harm reduction. Isaac earned a Bachelor of Science in Sociology/Social Welfare at the University of North Florida and a Master of Science in Social Work from the University of Texas at Austin. They will join the ASU School of Social Work Ph.D. cohort in the fall of 2020 to continue focusing on mental health and suicide prevention for trans/nonbinary communities.
I am invested in UBU because I believe in the power of the arts in raising awareness about mental health, supporting youth in finding their voice and power and building community.
Dr. Elizabeth Simmons-O'Neill, Ph.D.: UBU Curriculum Advisor
Dr. Elizabeth Simmons-O'Neill is a faculty member emeritus at the University of Washington in Seattle, where she taught medieval literature and community-based research and writing in the Social Sciences, Directed the Community Literacy Program in partnership with high-needs K-12 public schools, and Coordinated the UW in the High Schools English Program, through which high school teachers across the state offered UW composition courses in their high school classrooms.
"I support UBU because it is an outstanding model for Social/Emotional Learning for all students, integrating arts-based activities through projects which engage students as individuals and as members of learning communities. UBU, co-led by professionals in the performing arts and in education, works closely with K-12 teachers, counselors, and curricula to deepen students' social/emotional understanding, develop their creative skill and confidence, and build their self-esteem and ability to communicate with others through joyful learning experiences."
Julie Dauer Wright, M. Ed.: UBU Curriculum Advisor
Julie received her Master’s Degree in Education (sum cum laude) from Roberts Wesleyan College in Rochester, NY. She was inspired to do so having raised a child (now adult) with high functioning autism. In addition she has completed extensive research on adolescents with executive functioning disorders. She has worked as a classroom teacher, tutor and academic coach for struggling learners including students with: ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Auditory Processing Disorder, Dyscalculia, Dyslexia, and Emotional Disabilities.
Additional Training and Certifications: Julie has earned an Arizona Professional Teacher’s Certification, K-12, Special Education with additional, extensive training in Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS). She also continues to develop and implement her own progressive and creative applications of educational strategies for students with executive functioning disorders through Mathematics and Writing Education.
In addition to serving as a curriculum consultant for UBU, Julie leads her own company, Endurance Tutoring LLC specializing in working with students across the full spectrum of educational experiences.