Beth Ann Edwards, Chair, 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 a children’s vocal choir, 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.
Her ringing career began 30 years ago in a church handbell choir. For the past 15 years she has attended advanced ringing events including Bay View Week of Handbells and Distinctly Bronze, and currently rings in the community handbell ensemble, HeartBeat. Beth Ann has directed all ages and levels of handbell ringers since 1999. The education and networking opportunities provided by Handbell Musicians of America have been instrumental in her development as a ringer and director, and led her to attend graduate school to receive a Master of Church Music degree in 2012 at Concordia University Wisconsin, studying with Dr. John Behnke. She has made life-long friendships through handbell ringing, and has learned first-hand how membership in a handbell choir can change lives.
Beth Ann has been Area 8 Membership Chair, she chairs the Donald E. Allured Original Composition Award committee, and has served as secretary on the Iowa (AGEHR) board. She has held several appointed and elected positions in community and civic organizations including Des Moines Choral Society, Arts in the City, and Junior League. Beth Ann is married and has three grown children and two grandchildren. She balances her music activities with painting in her studio, travel, knitting, and reading.
Sharon Schmidt, Chair-Elect, has had an active involvement with Handbell Musicians of America began in 1994 when she joined the Illinois State Committee. She’s still on the committee, serving as chair for her second time following several terms as treasurer.
At the national level, Sharon was faculty coordinator for the 2003 National Seminar, chair for ten Distinctly Bronze events from 2004-2013, co-chair for the 2007 Distinctly Bronze European Tour, served on the 2008 International Handbell Symposium Committee, and was recently appointed as national Certification Program Coordinator. In 2013, she received the President’s Award in appreciation of her service to the Guild.
After learning to ring in the 1970s, Sharon began directing at Gary UMC in Wheaton, Illinois, in 1985, where she continues to direct Altar Bells and Sanctuary Ringers. A current and charter member of The Agape Ringers, a Chicago-area community handbell ensemble formed in 1992, Sharon was its first president. She has taught many aspects of the art of handbell ringing at the state, area, and national levels since 1995.
Educated as a chemical engineer with BS & MS degrees, Sharon worked at the Amoco Research Center as research engineer, economics analyst, supervisor, and project manager. Since leaving in 1999, she’s studied music theory and accounting, and exercised her project management skills on Guild events and church projects in addition to operating a small business serving the handbell community.
Pat Latshaw, Secretary, has been involved with music since an early age and studied flute at the University of Kansas while earning a B.A. in German. She has been ringing for 30+ years and is currently the director of handbells at Lutheran Church of the Resurrection in Prairie Village, Kansas. Pat enjoys solo and ensemble ringing and is a member of Rezound!, Kansas City’s auditioned community handbell ensemble. She has been the ensemble’s Publicity Director for 8 years.
She is active as a clinician and instructor at regional workshops and Area 8 Festivals and has been involved on the organizing committees for the Fall Show-Me Ring in Missouri and for Resonate, an advanced ringing workshop in Kansas.
She currently serves as secretary on the board of directors for the Midwest Chamber Ensemble in Prairie Village, Kansas.