Help Ascend with an End of the Year Donation

Missed Colorado Gives Day? Not a problem!  We are still taking donations at

Taking your Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) in December? Please consider donating all or a portion of that distribution to Ascend Performing Arts. Your donation will go a long way in support of all of the great Ascend programs or you might designate your donation to our upcoming Equipment Trailer capital campaign (more information will be posted throughout 2022). This might even save you some money on your 2021 taxes!

Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA) and Required Minimum Distribution (RMD)
The Individual Retirement Account (IRA) was first introduced in 1974 with the passing of the Employee
Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). This act allowed employees to save a portion of their income
from their employer tax free, thus reducing an individual’s taxable income by that amount. The incentive
to participate in an IRA was substantial in that these monies would be held in a qualified account and
growing based on the investment strategy and then accessed during ones retirement years. At the time
the money is withdrawn it is treated as ordinary income and taxes paid with the thought being that
most individuals will be in a lower tax bracket at retirement than during working years (yes, Uncle is
going to get his money one way or another). IRA’s have been an incredibly successful saving tool! As of
the end of the second quarter of 2021, it is estimated that there is $13.2 trillion dollars held in qualified
IRA accounts.
The Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) is the mechanism the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) uses to
insure that money is taken from IRAs and the appropriate taxes are paid. The rules governing RMDs are
as follows:
  • If you reach 70½ in 2019 your first RMD would be due 4/1/2020.
  •  If you 70½ by 2020 your first RMD would be due April 1st of the year you reach 72.
  •  For subsequent years including your first year you must take your RMD by December 31st.
  •  Your RMD is calculated by dividing the prior December 31st balance in all of your IRA accounts by the life expectancy factor as reported annually in the IRS publication 590-B. Get a good tax accountant!
What many retirees don’t know is that they can donate all or a portion of their RMD directly to charity.
This is called a Qualified Charitable Distribution or QCD. QMDs do not provide a charitable deduction
for a taxpayer, regardless of whether you itemize deductions. Instead, with a QMD, a check is sent
directly from an IRA to the charity or charities. This allows the donor to exclude the amount (up to
$100,000) from taxable income. The following are a few reasons why someone might benefit by gifting a
portion of their RMD to Ascend:


  • RMDs can push retirees into a higher tax bracket. Since distributions are ordinary taxable
  • income, it can push some retirees into a higher marginal tax bracket.
  • Medicare surtax. RMD distributions also increase a taxpayer’s modified adjusted gross income (MAGI), which could trigger the 3.8% Medicare surtax.
  • Taxing Social Security. Even modest withdrawals from a retirement account can cause Social Security benefits to become taxable, up to 85% for single filers with income above $34000 annually or married couples with income above $44,000.
  • Medicare Part B and D premiums are calculated using a taxpayer’s MAGI from the prior year. So large RMDs can cause sharp increases to your Medicare cost

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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