Alumni Spotlight: Alex Factor

Alex hikingRecent drum corps alumnus Alex Factor may have only aged out from the corps in 2014, but since then he’s been dedicated to helping with all facets of Ascend Performing Arts, from assisting with camp and clinic registration for both the drum corps and the percussion ensemble, to spearheading tasks such as painting and cleaning the food truck, to working with eager middle-school band students at our Day of Percussion clinic that was held the day of Drums Along the Rockies.

Most recently, Alex (along with co-age out CJ Garcia), has become the driving force behind Ascend Performing Arts’ new leadership training program, to debut at the first Friendship Cup band competition this fall.

We took a few moments with this remarkable alumni to ask him some questions:

What year(s) did you march in the Blue Knights?


What section?


Where did you attend high school?

Evergreen High School

Education beyond high school?

Bachelor of Science in Business Association, focus on Management, University of Denver 2015

MBA Candidate, concentration in Marketing, University of Denver, Plan to graduate in June 2016

What is your current occupation?

Full-Time Graduate Student

Part-Time Contractor at Hill-Rom

Why did you choose to march with Blue Knights?

I first went to DATR when I was in middle school and loved everything about it.  I continued to attend DATR almost every summer through my Junior year of high school and always admired the hometown corps, the Blue Knights.  I considered auditioning for the 2009 season, but decided I needed more practice.  In my Senior year of high school, a few Blue Knight veterans and alumni helped my high school marching band, and with the their encouragement and the weekly lessons from Angelo Sapienza, I got a spot on the 2011 Blue Knights Contra-Line.

What is your favorite drum corps memory?

I have several favorite drum corps memories from over the four years I marched and with all the amazing people I marched with over the years.  I will break the rules and do two favorite memories.  The first was during the 2014 season and we just finished our show in Erie, PA.  The entire corps knew we had a phenomenal show and we were on the brink of breaking 90.  When they announced the scores, there were at least 20 of us listening by the gate.  When they announced we broke 90, we all gave each other hugs and knew we accomplished something the Blue Knights haven’t been able to do in several years.  My second favorite memory is with the Executive Director of Ascend, Mark Arnold, and 2013-2014 Drum Major, CJ Garcia.  CJ and I, along with Ken Adams and Thelma Fung, decided that we should nominate Mark for the DCI Hall of Fame because we couldn’t think of anyone in the activity who was more deserving and we were surprised he wasn’t in the Hall of Fame already.  We discreetly sent in the application without Mark knowing and hoped for the best.  In April of 2014, I received an email from the coordinator from the DCI Hall of Fame and got the amazing news that Mark was inducted!  The best part of all of this was going in to Corps Hall the next day, coincidentally on Mark’s birthday, and CJ, Thelma, and I told him the great news.

What motivates you to continue to be involved with the Blue Knights?

What motivates me to continue to be involved is that I have gotten to know Mark Arnold, Rosalie Danskin, as well as almost every other staff member from being a local and the horn sergeant, and I have seen how much work each individual puts in to make the drum corps function.  I tried to do what I could to help out as a member, but as an alumni, I feel like I can help the corps in different way and give those who give it their all everyday to make the drum corps function a break.

Anything else you’d like to add?

As an alumni, it is very rewarding to see the corps succeed after you age-out and seeing the Blue Knights making a name for the first time in a while.  It is even more rewarding when you can give back with fellow alumni, like when we cleaned the food truck the day before DATR this past season.  There is no better time than now to give back as an alumni.  Whether it is donating or just giving a few hours to help out, it goes a long way and is very much appreciated by the whole Blue Knights family.  I go on…

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Ken Adams


Mark Arnold is one of the longest-serving Directors in Drum Corps International, serving as Executive Director of the Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps since 1985 and as CEO of Ascend Performing Arts since 2010.

Under his leadership the Blue Knights organization has developed into one of the premier Drum and Bugle Corps in the history of the activity, recognized Internationally for excellence and innovation in the performing arts. Through the years the Blue Knights has expanded its programing and now serves thousands of young musicians and performers annually in multiple performing ensembles, events and educational programs under the umbrella of the Ascend Performing Arts.

In addition to shaping the course of Ascend Performing Arts, Mark also has played an integral role in the ongoing development and successes of Drum Corps International as a collective. He served as chairman of the DCI Board of Directors in 1994 and again from 2008 to 2013. Mark was honored as Corps Director of the Year in 2004, and was the inaugural recipient of the George Bonfiglio Chairman’s Award at the 2012 DCI World Championships, which is given to an individual each year who demonstrates extraordinary leadership and service on behalf of DCI and its performing drum corps.  Mark was inducted into the DCI Hall of Fame in 2014 and the Blue Knights Hall of Fame in 2019.

Prior to his position with the Blue Knights, Mark was the Assistant Director of the Troopers Drum and Bugle Corps from 1978 through 1983, serving alongside Director Jim Jones, one of the founders of Drum Corps International and an inaugural member of the DCI Hall of Fame.  Mr. Arnold has a degree in Music Education from the University of Wyoming and taught High School Music in Wyoming and Nebraska from 1979 through 1985.
Mark Arnold


Scott Factor has served on the Ascend Performing Arts Board from 2012 to 2018 as a voting member in various positions including Vice-Chairman. Since 2019 my role has been in an Advisory position.

Outside of Ascend Performing Arts i am Senior Account Executive for Baxter HealthCare.
Scott Factor


I am currently an Ascend Board Member-at-Large.  I have been a volunteer with the Blue Knights since 2013.  I have been serving on the BoD since 2019.  I retired from the United States Postal Service in 2010.  Although I have never marched drum corps I am an avid fan of the activity and thoroughly support our members in any way that I can.  “We Go On”!!! 

Neil Corvino


Board member Kathy Black is an attorney in New Mexico practicing as a full-time litigator focused on employment and civil rights defense. She came to the law as a second career after twenty-five years in high tech with NCR Corporation, doing everything from operating systems programming to Vice President positions in engineering, customer services, and sales. She earned her JD from Lewis & Clark Law School and her BA from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Ms. Black is active as a percussionist in the Albuquerque area. Way back in 1978 she marched with the Guardsmen, including at DCI Finals in Denver.  After many years of being just a drum corps fan, she was elected to the Drum Corps International Board of Directors in January 2016 and served on that board until January 2022, including three years as chair. 

Kathy Black


Bryant’s path to the Ascend Board of Directors, which began in 2021 as a member-at-large, traces back to his childhood. Watching the Reading Buccaneers senior drum corps practice near his grandparents’ home ignited a lifelong passion, and a student of all thing’s percussion.

Years later a family move to Colorado provided Bryant with a platform to display his passion, both on the stage with the nationally acclaimed Green Earth Percussion Ensemble and on the field as a snare drummer with the Blue Knights Drum & Bugle Corps until his age-out year in 1984.

In his professional career as the Senior Director of Strategic Accounts at Yokohama Tire Co., Bryant credits the principles instilled by the marching arts and years on tour for his success. On a personal level, the arts played an even larger role, where Bryant met his wife, Stephanie. The Rankin’s currently make their home in South Carolina, enjoying time with their grown children, two incredible grandchildren, and their beloved brown lab, Zoey.
Bryant Rankin


Retired, Director, Office of Research and Analysis, Colorado Department of Revenue Ms. Archibeque served 26 years in the area of statistical analysis for the Colorado Department of Revenue and Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. Her skills in this area assist the board in developing a strategy for statistical analysis in the area of program evaluation. She has also been a significant volunteer managing and working with volunteers for the organization and will assist the board in understanding the complex nature of the organization. Her personal experiences as a minority and female can inform and promote a more inclusive environment and agenda for the projects that the board supports.

Janet Archibeque


Rob Batchelder was appointed to the Ascend Performing Arts Board of Directors in May 2023, and currently serves as Vice Chair. As a member of the Senior Foreign Service, Rob has represented the United States overseas in India, Poland, Germany, Argentina, Nicaragua, Jamaica, and Namibia during a diplomatic career spanning nearly 30 years. He currently serves as Managing Director for Visa Services in the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs in Washington, DC. Rob marched in the Blue Knights hornline in 1987 and 1988, and he was Drum Major in 1989. He and his family live in Alexandria, Virginia, but his heart still yearns for Colorado.

Rob Batchelder