Faculty Biographies

Faculty Biographies
Bring It! Ring It!
Handbell Musicians of America – Area 8
Updated 6/8/18

Lily Acatina (Yuri Yamazaki) is a singer and songwriter and multi-instrument player including piano and handbells. She has a warm and heart-melting voice and distinctive style of singing and playing. She’s inspired by many Pop, Jazz and R&B artists such as Christina Aguilera, Brian McKnight, Incognito, Norah Jones, etc.

Linda Ashley (NE Chair) has been ringing handbells at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Omaha, NE for close to 35 years, and has been the director of the Handbell Choirs for 27 years. She has attended every Area 8 Festival since 1996. She has had the wonderful opportunity to ring with the River City Ringers under the direction of Joyce Miller since 2007. Linda has had the privilege to participate in most Distinctly Bronze and Bay View Week of Handbells events since 2009.
Classes: Community Groups Roundtable; Handbell Olympics

Cathy Brenner has been ringing bells for over 20 years in her church choir. Since 2008, she’s been a member of Rezound!. To support her handbell habit, Cathy works as a scientist with the Department of Agriculture.
Class: STEAM Rolling Bells in the Classroom

Janet Carter earned her Music Education degree and teaching credentials in New Zealand and has more than 40 years experience teaching music in schools and churches. She is Director of Music, Youth and Small Group Ministries at St Mark’s UMC, and is responsible for the church website and the worship technology team. Janet has been a clinician and faculty member at various handbell events including AGEHR National, Area VIII and Area II events for both Adults and Young Ringers. She is a faculty member at the annual Intergenerational Handbell Camp in Parkville, MO and loves to teach “Maori Stick Games” classes whenever possible!
Classes: Maori Stick Games I; Maori Stick Games II

Lauran Delancy (Education) has been ringing, performing as a soloist, and directing church, community, and college ensembles since 1997. She holds a Master of Church Music with a Handbell emphasis from Concordia University Wisconsin where she was privileged to study under Dr. John Behnke for 6 years. Lauran has several handbell pieces in publication, currently directs Rezound! in the Kansas City area, and is one half of the handbell duet team A Lovely Shade of Blue. Lauran is the Music Director at Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church in Olathe, KS where she works with four handbell choirs and multiple small ensembles from age 4 through retirement.
Classes: Ask a Composer; Small Ensemble Resources; Working with Young Ringers

Beth Ann Edwards (Chair-Elect) serves as Director of Arts, Handbells, and Youth Choirs at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Des Moines, Iowa, where she directs four handbell choirs and two vocal choirs, oversees all arts programming, and assists with worship planning. She holds a Master of Church Music degree with Handbell Emphasis, a degree in secondary English education, a Bachelor of Fine Arts in visual art, and a Master of Business Administration. She has attended advanced ringing events including Bay View Week of Handbells and Distinctly Bronze, and currently rings in two community handbell ensembles: Des Moines Concert handbells and HeartBeat. She has made life-long friendships through handbell ringing, and has learned first-hand how membership in a handbell choir can change lives.

Lori Fenton (IA Chair) has been ringing bells for 35 years and currently rings with two ensembles in Des Moines, IA. She has rung at a number of advanced ringing events including Distinctly Bronze and Virtuoso. 
Classes: The Cup Game; First Connections Lunch

Alex Guebert is a composer, arranger, percussionist, music director and music teacher from Orange, California. He directs two advanced-level handbell groups: Cathedral Bells of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Orange, and L.A. Bronze; he also leads mass ring events and teaches classes at handbell seminars in the area. Alex has about 10 handbell works in print from various publishers, and has won two handbell composing contests in the last three years.
Classes: In-Depth Score Study; Music Literacy I: Notes; With Mallets Aforethought

Alisha Horton Class: Line Dancing

Tessique Houston holds a Bachelor of Music in Music Education from the University of Nevada, Reno, where her main instrument was flute. Tessique currently rings with Sonos Handbell Ensemble and Tapestry Ringers and Singers. She directs the Chancel Handbell Choir at Lafayette-Orinda Presbyterian Church, is the Director of Handbell Ministries at Walnut Creek UMC, and teaches at various handbell clinics throughout the area. She is also the Chair for Area 12 of The Handbell Musicians of America and a member of Sigma Alpha Iota International Music Fraternity. 
Class: Conducting: SHOW Them What You Want

KatRyn Howell has played piano since she was three and bells since she was 11. She has toured throughout the States and around the world in the 70’s with the Hollywood CA “Freedom Ringers”; 80’s, 90’s and 2000’s with L.A.-based Campanile, a professional handbell ensemble, breaking barriers and challenging old notions about bellringing; the last 11 years with San Francisco-based Sonos and LA-based Timbre. She has taught numerous classes on assigning (Katsigning), ringing style, tour management, and performing style at conventions and workshops from Rhode Island to Seattle to Corpus Christi. And loved every minute of it! 
Classes: Katsigning: Doing More with Less; Metal and Muscle; Music Literacy II: Rhythms; The Camera Doesn’t Lie

Kristin Kalitowski-Kowal (Chair) caught the handbell bug in 1990 at Santa Maria (Mundelein, IL). While studying civil engineering at college, she was a ringer and Manager in Purdue Bells. She now designs roads as a Project Manager at Civiltech. Kristin has been an Agape Ringer for 15 years, and is a past President of the group. Previously the Illinois Chair and Area Treasurer, Kristin is now Chair of Area 8. She has taught at Area 1, 2, 7, 8, and 10 Festivals and workshops, and directs a jr/sr high choir at Gary UMC (Wheaton, IL). 
Classes: Assignments/Levels: Does One Affect the Other?; Change Ringing; Chat with the Chair

Laura Kopff (Communications) grew up in St. Louis and first picked up a bell in her high school’s only instrumental music class – handbells. A few years later she joined a church handbell choir as a form of “stress relief” during graduate school and has played with various bell choirs as she’s moved around the Midwest. Currently, she is the Communication Chair for Area 8, as well as the director of the Chimeringers at First Congregational UCC in Naperville, IL. When she is not busy with bells, Laura teaches chemistry to high school students from around the state, and enjoys being crafty, reading a good mystery novel, or doing some “experimental baking.” 
Classes: Communications; Handbell Olympics

Patricia Latshaw (Secretary), a ringer since 1986, enjoys performing small ensemble and solo handbell music. She studied flute at the University of Kansas while earning a BA in German. Pat is the handbell director at Lutheran Church of the Resurrection in Prairie Village, KS, and has served as clinician and instructor at regional handbell workshops. She is a ringer member of Rezound! Handbell Ensemble in Kansas City, serving the group as Publicity Director. 
Classes: Stopped Sounds 1: The Basics; Stopped Sounds 2: Combinations

Mary Liao is a renowned handbell soloist with 35 years of advanced solo & ensemble experience. Mary is originally from Taiwan, and received her Math degree from UCLA. Mary currently serves as the Director for East Valley Children’s Choir & Handbell (Walnut, CA). 
Classes: Beyond the Basics; XYZ: Perpendicular Four-in-Hand

Elizabeth Mays completed her Bachelor’s degree in Handbell Performance at the University of Redlands and her Masters in Conducting and Handbell Performance from Azusa Pacific University. She is an accomplished soloist, clinician, and teacher, having performed at the National Seminar for the Handbell Musicians of America in 2017 as well as events all over the world. She works full-time as a Student Services and Admissions Director. She is founding member of Timbre and currently serves as Historian for Area 12 of the Handbell Musicians of America and still blames it all on her mother. 
Classes: Four-in-Hand: Use It or Lose It; If Bells Grew on Trees; There Ain’t No Such Thing as Solo/Ens Techniques

Johanna McWhirter is a Certified Massage Therapist in California and an instructor at the Southern California Health Institute. She has played handbells since she was 13 yrs old and was a member of Campanile. Joy, as she is called by everyone who knows her, loves family, friends, food, AND music! 
Class: Relax and Unwind

Barbara Meinke (See Clinician Biography)
Classes: We Damp Through the Air with the Greatest of Ease; Remedies for Sightreading Blues

Sara Mulford began ringing handbells in 1995 and since that time she has played regularly or substituted in a variety of handbell groups in the Leavenworth, Kansas area, including being a current member of Rezound! Handbell Ensemble. Over the years she has also explored music through the clarinet, piano, and classical guitar. Originally from Anamosa, Iowa, and a graduate of the University of Northern Iowa, Sara is currently a 5th grade language arts teacher at Lansing Elementary School in Lansing, Kansas. 
Class: STEAM Rolling Bells in the Classroom

Bethan Neely is the home office refurbishment coordinator for Schulmerich Bells, overseeing refurbishments performed at the main factory as well as at regional Schulmerich Authorized Refurbishment Centers. Bethan is also the Director of Music at Faith Presbyterian Church in Medford, NJ, where she directs handbell and vocal ensembles as well as playing the organ and piano in worship. Bethan holds a degree in Organ Performance and Sacred Music from Westminster Choir College of Rider University, and is a former member of the Westminster Concert Bell Choir. Bethan currently rings with Quadrants Handbell Quartet as a founding member, and with the Philadelphia Handbell Ensemble where she also serves as treble section leader and executive board secretary. 
Class: Schulmerich Maintenance

Carol Pickford has been playing bells for nearly 40 years, starting when her father brought her to a newly formed group and said “We are going to do this!”, starting a genuine love of the instrument. Carol has played almost continually thru the 40 years, met her husband playing bells, and currently plays in Timbré and two church choirs. 
Class: Dream Weaving

Brianne Pituley took up bells in self-defense 17 years ago when she decided she wanted to see more of Michèle. Since then she has been thoroughly corrupted–er, converted–to the ergonomic techniques of safe and healthy ringing by Michèle. This year she is applying her technical bent to supporting Timbre’s show. 
Class: Basics Revisited: Your 100,000 Measure Tune-Up

River City Shakers are a local non-profit dance group, who participates in community events such as parades and demonstrations for nursing homes and assisted living facilities.  We also offer free community dance lessons every Tuesday evening at 6:30pm at Bogies West in Millard, we invite you to join us.   Your instructor today is Steve Lustgraaf, who is a nationally known choreographer and has been dancing and teaching since 1994.  Steve has instructed numerous dance workshops around the country and also is our instructor on Tuesday evenings.  We also invite you to like us on Facebook, look for River City Shakers.  
Class: Line Dancing

Sharon Schmidt (Treasurer) is a charter member of The Agape Ringers, an auditioned community handbell ensemble from the Chicago area. She directs two adult handbell ensembles at Gary United Methodist Church in Wheaton, IL, has served on the Illinois State Committee for Handbell Musicians of America since 1994 and was chair for eleven Distinctly Bronze events. Sharon is currently treasurer for Area 8 and the Certification Program Coordinator for the Guild. Her teaching experience includes numerous local events, events in Areas 2, 5, 7, 8, and 10, several National Seminars, and Pinnacle 2015. 
Classes: Ring S’More Track; Stem Direction Does Count!

Michele Sharik rings professionally with Sonos Handbell Ensemble, is the founding Artistic Director of Timbré, and is an internationally-renowned handbell soloist, conductor, and teacher. She completed a Bachelor of Arts in Visual and Performing Arts in 2012 from Cal State San Marcos and a Graduate Certificate in Performing Arts Medicine in 2017 from Shenandoah University. Michèle is Master Teacher of Handbell Techniques for the Certification program of the Handbell Musicians of America, and Immediate Past Chair of Area 12.
Classes: 50 Shades of Damping; Orchestration for Bells; Ringing in One Accord; There’s More than One Way to Peel a Banana

Carla Sue (See Performer Bio)
Classes: 8-Bell Music; British 4-in-Hand

Larry Sue (See Clinician Biography)
Classes: 8-Bell Music; Bass Layout/Teamwork; Bass Techniques; Unpublished Music Reading Session

Jennifer Vangolen (National Board) currently serves as a Member at Large on the Handbell Musicians of America National Board. She is also a member of Bells of the Sound, an auditioned community handbell ensemble in Seattle, and works as a business analyst in software development at Ellucian Company LP, designing degree auditing and advising software for colleges and universities. When not ringing, Jennifer can be found hiking or skiing on a mountain. 
Class: How to Make the Most of Your Guild Membership

Tim Waugh (See Clinician Biography)
Classes: Rhythms to Ringing™ ; Unpublished Music Reading Session

Jeff White (MO Chair) has been ringing handbells since 1983 and conducting bell choirs since 1986. He is the associate music director and organist at Historic Trinity Lutheran Church in the Soulard district of St. Louis. He has a Master of Church Music degree with an emphasis in Organ from Concordia University Wisconsin. He rings in the Gateway Ringers. 
Class: Worship Track

Kipp Willnauer (KS Chair) began his lifelong career in church music more than 54 years ago in New Britain Connecticut. He received his Bachelor of Music Education from Baker University and a Masters Degree in Education Administration from UMKC. Since 1972, Kipp has taught vocal music and handbells & chimes in the elementary, middle and high schools in Kansas. Kipp is currently Director of Music at King of Kings Lutheran Church, Past Director of Intergenerational Handbell Camp and Flint Hills Handbell Festival, interim director of Heartland Ringers Agapes, and is now retired after 38 years of vocal & handchimes director in Wheatridge Middle School of USD 231. 
Classes: The Best and Not-So-Good Fundraising Ideas; Boomwhackers: A Music Maker For All!; Processionals; Reading Session: Lent and Easter

Nancy Youngman has been a handbell choir director since 1984, currently with 5 choirs in two churches under her direction, ages ranging from 5 to 94! She is the founder/director of Bell-issimo, Lincoln Nebraska’s auditioned Community Handbell Choir.  Nancy has degrees in Instrumental Music and German, and recently retired from Lincoln Public Schools, where she taught both subjects for years. Since 1990, Nancy has been a member of the Nebraska State Handbell Committee, and has served the Guild as Nebraska State Chair (1994 – 1996), Area 8 Secretary (1996 – 1998), the Area 8 Chimes Chair (currently, besides serving for many years as Nebraska’s Chimes Chair), and teaching at many Nebraska and Area 8 events. 
Classes: Extra-Ordinary Ringers; Let’s Chime In