Area 5 Board Members
The Area 5 board members are here to serve you. If you have any Area 5 business, ideas for festivals or workshops, or questions about handbells in general, please reach out to us. We are happy to help in any way we can.
The Area 5 Board has a history of service dating back to 1960. We’re grateful to our previous Chairs for their service.
Rhonda Blacklock is one of four Assistant Directors at Purdue Musical Organizations at Purdue University. She is the Director of Purdue Bells, the only instrumental ensemble at PMO, as well as the Director of Heart & Soul, PMO’s gospel choir. Rhonda also maintains a successful piano studio in her home.
Outside of her teaching responsibilities, Rhonda serves Area 5, Handbell Musicians of America, as Chair for 2019-2021. Rhonda has served HMA (previously AGEHR, Inc.) previously as Area 5 Membership Chair and Indiana State Chair. An active clinician specializing in high bell techniques, Rhonda has taught at events at the local, state and national level.
Prior to working for Purdue, she was the Director of Music at Grace United Methodist Church in Franklin, Indiana. A church musician since the age of 12, Rhonda has served many churches and denominations throughout the Midwest in both traditional and contemporary music.
Rhonda holds a Bachelor and Master’s degrees in piano performance from the American Conservatory of Music (Chicago, IL) and Bradley University (Peoria, IL). Wife (to high school sweetheart, Ron), Mom (to Nick and Kaitlin), Grandma (to Addison) and Puppy Mama (to Cavaliers Cricket and Cannon) round out Rhonda’s active and busy life in Lebanon, Indiana.
Connie Nicholson received her undergraduate degree in Physical Education and Health at Bowling Green State University (Ohio), and a Master’s degree in Sociology of Sport at the University of Illinois. She has been had playing handbells at First United Methodist Church of Midland, MI since 1977, and on the music staff for First UMC since 1992 teaching music and directing several chime/bell choirs to children, youth and more recently adults. She has also been very involved with teaching and playing with ensembles, such as trios and quartets. She became interested in solo ringing in 1993, and in 2004 handbell trees, playing for numerous churches, functions and festivals throughout the United States. She has two publications; a handbell solo called “Rock-A-My Soul” and a handbell (5 octave) piece called, “The Cross”, which uses the Aberystwyth tune with narration of the Passion.
Mary Lou Fast adventured into the handbell world later in life. She has directed the handbell choir at First Alliance Church for 20 years and was instrumental in starting and conducting a handbell choir in Blissfield, MI. She took Advanced Conducting at Concordia University with Bill Payn, and her first composition will be in Chorister’s Guild 2020 Spring Catalogue. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Northern University of Colorado and a Master’s Degree from Bowling Green State University. Both degrees are in Elementary Education. She taught for 29 years and now supervises student teachers at the University of Toledo. She is married to Larry, and they have two daughters and five grandchildren, two horses and too many cats to count.
Dave Baker has had a passion for music ever since the first time he picked up a trumpet at age nine. He is multi-instrumentalist playing trumpet, guitar, banjo and keyboards. Dave’s past musical experience includes serving as a contemporary worship leader and choir director. He is a member of the Cross of Grace Lutheran Church Alleluia Ringers handbell choir and a member of the church praise band where he plays guitar and piano. Dave is also active in community music ensembles. Dave attended Indiana University and has a bachelor’s degree in business with a major in accounting. Dave is an IT Architect at Eli Lilly and Company.
Linda VanDenBerg has been ringing handbells longer than she would like to confess. But, the more she rings, the greater her love for the art of Handbell Musicianship increases. By day, Linda is an accountant, and in the evenings she participates in her church handbell ensemble, and any other handbell opportunity that comes her way. She also participates in the choir and praise band. Her accounting experience includes fifteen years serving her church as treasurer. She is excited to join the board and support the many festivals and workshops that she has attended over the years.
Patty Saunders directs the Alluring Community Handbell Ensemble, an auditioned group in Lexington, KY along with a newly established children’s chime choir, the Music Makers. Previously, she held the position of Kentucky State Chair. When not teaching kindergartners, Patty enjoys being outdoors in the garden, inside painting, or spending time with her family – usually with a cup of coffee in hand.
Susan Stephenson is a violinist from Toledo, Ohio. She maintains a private Suzuki Violin teaching studio and also teaches Suzuki Early Childhood Education classes. She picked up a handbell for the first time three years ago and fell in love with the sound. She plays with, and occasionally rehearses and directs, the handbell choir at First Presbyterian Church in Maumee, Ohio.
Joe Galyon engages people from all walks of life in the music ministry at Church of the Saviour United Methodist in Cincinnati, Ohio. With a passion for developing church musicians of any age, he oversees a program of eighteen choral, handbell, and instrumental ensembles. As an Area 5 clinician, Joe conducts festivals, masterclasses, and training sessions for area events and individual congregations. His handbell compositions are published by Jeffers Publishing and Hope Publishing Company. Joe currently lives in Montgomery, Ohio with his wife Tammy and their two daughters, Emma and Sophie.
Nancy Kindraka is the daughter of a professional soprano and was surrounded by music and music education from a very early age. She has taught classes at several HMA Area Festivals, and since 2007 she has participated in Distinctly Bronze East, a massed ringing event for advanced ringers hosted by HMA. She has also performed in all four of the Virtuoso events, hosted by the Raleigh Ringers. She currently rings with the Detroit Handbell Ensemble, directed by Brenda E. Austin. Nancy lives in metro Detroit with her husband, and she works for the third-largest textbook and educational resource publisher in the country. When not involved in music, Nancy enjoys all things Star Wars and reading lots of books.
Indiana State Chair
Sarah Stoel has been ringing handbells in Greenwood, Indiana for over twenty years. She also has experience in being a director and soloist. She is involved in church music as an organist and choir member. Sarah appreciates the friendships she has made through her experiences at Area 5 events. She graduated with a BME degree from Augustana College, Rock Island, Illinois. Before retirement she taught group keyboard classes known as Harmony Road to children ages 3-12. Since retirement, Sarah keeps busy with volunteering with Metropolitan Youth Orchestra. She enjoys spending time with her seven grandchildren and also traveling with her husband.
Kentucky State Chair
Kelly McCoy Johns has been ringing handbells since the age of 11 and has participated in many Area 5 festivals and workshops over the years. She is a founding member of Alluring Community Handbell Ensemble and serves as the group’s business manager. A native of Lexington, Kelly is a partner of Stablemate Creative, a marketing and advertising agency.
Michigan State Chair
From the time I was in high school, I have been hooked on handbells! Over the past 38 years I have continuously rung bells in numerous handbells choirs, and handbell ensembles, directed bell choirs, offered handbell solos, and bell tree solos. I am, and always will be, a student, and artist of music; singing, composing, playing guitar and learning hammered dulcimer.
I currently ring my church’s 7 octave adult handbell choir, JuBELLation, as well as direct, Allegro, our middle school/high school bell choir, and our 3rd-5th grade handbell and handchime choir, as part of our mid-week children’s and youth music program, Trinity Musical Arts.
I am a retired school teacher, offering teacher training in technology use in the classroom. I live with a precious kitty, Abby, am an avid photographer and gardener. I also love sewing adaptive therapy tools for children.
Expressing my faith through music, and teaching others to share their heart and soul through music, is my greatest passion.
Ohio State Chair
Jarod Ogier serves as the Director of Music Ministries for Worthington United Methodist Church, where he directs the Chancel Choir and Jubilee Ringers. He is a co-founder, conductor, and current President, of Columbus Rings, a community handbell ensemble composed of ringers from the Central Ohio Area. As a “daytime gig” he works for University Libraries at Ohio State. When he’s not conducting, ringing, singing, or reading, you’ll find him spending time with his wife, Sarah, and their Irish Terriers, Gus and Maeve.
West Virginia State Chair
Rob Hrezo has been a handbell musician for almost 20 years with the Carolyn Ringers of Blessed Sacrament Parish in South Charleston, West Virginia. He fell in love with the sound of handbell music during a church service and enjoys the variety of applications of handbells in both sacred and secular music. He was a founding member of the Kanawha Valley Ringers during the community choir’s existence. He currently rings with the community ensemble, Mid-Ohio Valley Ringers of Parkersburg. He is excited to be serving West Virginia in this capacity and wants to promote the beauty of handbell musicianship.