2022 Area 5 Board Member Elections

Voting has closed. Thank you for your participation. Results will be announced June 1, 2022.

Every two years, the membership of Area 5 has the opportunity and obligation to choose their leaders. Normally, there would have been an election in 2021 but the Board voted to postpone that election to 2022. You can read more about that decision in this letter from Chair Rhonda Blacklock.

Our members have the responsibility to learn about the candidates and cast their votes in order to insure the continuing level of service and events that Area 5 offers.

Handbell Musicians of America introduced online voting for national board elections in 2014. To ensure each member only votes once, and to maintain the security of the voting process, only votes submitted through the online ballot will be accepted.

Click here for Voting Instructions. Online voting begins April 15 and runs through May 15, 2022. Results will be announced June 1, 2022.

Thoughtfully choosing good leaders is the future for Area 5. Please read all the information and cast your vote. Everyone’s voice is needed!

2022 Candidate Information

Please read carefully the biographies of each candidate and their answers to questions asked by the Board. This should provide some insight into how each candidate sees the work of Area 5 and what they hope to bring to their respective offices, if elected.

Candidates are presented by office in alphabetical order by last name. Click on each tab to view candidates for each office: Chair-Elect, Secretary, and Treasurer.

Jarod Ogier

A native of southeastern Ohio and a member of Area 5 since 2010, Jarod Ogier lives in Columbus with his spouse, Sarah Dove, and their Irish Terriers, Gus and Maeve. Jarod serves as Director of Music Ministries at Worthington United Methodist Church, where he conducts the Chancel Choir and Jubilee Ringers and manages a yearly concert series. 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, assisting graduate students, postdocs, and faculty members in the Research Commons on campus.

In May of 2022, Jarod will finish a master’s degree in Public Policy and Management from the John Glenn College of Public Affairs at OSU. In his most recent coursework, he has studied program evaluation and assessment, quantitative and qualitative data gathering and analysis, and nonprofit management. Prior to his work in the Glenn College, he earned degrees in vocal performance and musicology from Otterbein College and Ohio State.

What special skills and/or experiences would you bring to the office of Chair-Elect?
Broadly, I can offer strong organizational, social, and leadership skills to Area 5. I have nearly 10 years of experience working with a variety of constituents in higher education. In my professional roles at Ohio State, I have developed skills in building operations and staff/student management, technology support, event planning and execution, and on-demand research support and referrals. I have served on committees aimed at staff training, staff advisory of administrative processes, digital file sharing and organization, and internal grant programs for staff professional development and student scholarships. At the John Glenn College, I have developed skills in organizational assessment, particularly nonprofit board management using tools from BoardSource. I am currently serving on a consultant team with 4 other graduate students serving an education nonprofit in Central Ohio. We are providing board assessment, followed by facilitated sessions aimed at strategic development and organizational/missional alignment.

I’m currently serving Area 5 as the State Chair for Ohio. In that position I’ve started to build a network of relationships around Area 5 that would allow me to bring social continuity and recent experience on the board to the Chair-Elect position.

What do you hope to see Area 5 accomplish in the near future?
I’d like to see Area 5 focus on developing new relationships with schools and educational support organizations to increase its presence in the broader education community. I believe we must challenge ourselves to expand our target audience and increase our reach through more grassroots local efforts. Expanding our target audience will require revisiting, and perhaps revising our slate of activities and assessing what areas are effective and what areas need work. Area 5 has benefited from strong leadership and financial stewardship in the past. I believe we are well situated to lead in new ways and broaden our impact to communities that we do not currently see represented in our membership and at our events. I’d like to see us put our emphasis on nurturing those pathways and taking a leadership role in the future of handbell ringing and education.

Stephanie Wiltse

Stephanie Wiltse was introduced to handbells in 1982 when she joined Trinity United Methodist Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and learned to ring under the leadership of Lee Afdahl. In 1995 she was one of the founders of the community handbell ensemble Embellish, and has directed the group since 1998. She has directed handbell ensembles at Calvin College and Aquinas College, as well as at several churches in Grand Rapids. She currently directs the Allegro Ringers at Calvin Christian Reformed Church. Stephanie has served as conductor for mass rings and directors’ events throughout the US and in Liverpool. Stephanie has served Handbell Musicians of America both as a District Leader, a member of two Pinnacle planning committees, and as an at-large member of the National Board.

What special skills and/or experiences would you bring to the office of Chair-Elect?
Stephanie first served HMA (then AGEHR) as a District Leader, back when that was a “position,” primarily tasked with planning district level ringing events. When the online community Handbell-L was formed, she found herself making wonderful connections with ringers and directors all over the US, which helped to inspire the formation of Embellish. She became a part of planning committees for two Pinnacle events geared toward professional and community groups. Later she was nominated to run for National Board, on which she served for six years. Stephanie has served on boards and on the ground floor of other musical and arts organizations in the Grand Rapids community.

What do you hope to see Area 5 accomplish in the near future?
Never having directly served the Area 5 organization, I would want to spend much time initially listening and learning. There’s no doubt Guild events have changed dramatically since the days of gargantuan mass rings. Though the pandemic has changed the way we are able to do things, some of those new ways have had their benefits. My hope is that we would continue to explore the possibilities of virtual and hybrid events, allowing greater inclusion for people of all ages, backgrounds, and financial ability. We all just want to be in community together, whatever that looks like.

Lora Lee Curren

Lora Lee Curren is a founding member of Joyful Sound Community Handbell Choir in Greenwood, IN. She began ringing when she and her husband, Tom, started dating and their wedding was the first official gig of Joyful Sound in 1999. Lora Lee has attended several Area 5 events over the years. She has loved and been involved with music for as long as she can remember. She is a member of First Baptist Church of Greenwood handbell and vocal choirs and is also part of the Praise Team. She is also active with the Indiana Extension Homemakers in Johnson County, Indiana. Lora Lee is a transport technician for AT&T in Indianapolis, IN. In her spare time she enjoys knitting, crocheting, reading and traveling.

What special skills and/or experiences would you bring to the office of Secretary?
I work well with others and have good communication skills. I have served in multiple officer’s positions with Joyful Sound. I have been a member of several planning committees at church and with Johnson County Homemaker’s Association. All of these positions have required organization and planning skills.

What do you hope to see Area 5 accomplish in the near future?
I look forward to Area 5 getting back to full capacity once COVID has calmed down. I would hope to be able to offer the full experience at festivals with ringing tracks, classes and shopping with the vendors. I am excited to be involved in that planning process.

Mary Lou Fast

I studied elementary education, minored in music, and graduated from the University of Northern Colorado. I received my master’s degree from Bowling Green State University (Ohio). I taught elementary students for 29+ years and now supervise student teachers at the University of Toledo. Together, with my husband Larry, we raised two daughters and now enjoy five grandchildren.

I began directing handbells at First Alliance Church in 1998 and was instrumental in starting and directing another handbell choir in Blissfield, Michigan. My dream since college was to arrange music. Two of my pieces are published with two more coming soon.

What special skills and/or experiences would you bring to the office of Secretary?
I was the Membership Chair for four years and strived to welcome new members and encourage others to renew their membership. I worked well with the vendors who came to our events and still enjoy assisting them at the various events when asked to do so. I am presently the Secretary for Area 5. As secretary I kept accurate minutes, prepared the festival booklets, and assisted others as needed.
During the last years of my teaching career, I was privileged to receive computer training which I used. As a supervisor of student teachers, I prepare my reports using a computer software program required by the colleges and universities in Ohio. Having these skills has adequately prepared me to fulfill this position.

What do you hope to see Area 5 accomplish in the near future?
Area 5 continues to do an outstanding job preparing and presenting various festivals and workshops among our members, which I would like to see continue. However, my biggest concern is getting the younger generation(s) interested in handbells. We need to place more handchimes in the schools. We need to be providing events that attract our youth, college students, and young, career minded adults. They need to experience the joy of ringing handbells with others. Area 5 is planning a College Ring in 2023. This is a start but let us continue supporting our young people and offer events for all ages.

Sherri Stoffer

Sherri Stoffer has been involved in music all her life. She began playing violin, piano and handbells in kindergarten and later moved to Oboe as her instrument of choice. She received her Bachelor’s degree from Kent State University and her Master’s degree from the Ithaca College Conservatory of Music, both in Oboe Performance. She learned handbells under the tutelage of Marilyn Hines in Slippery Rock PA and through her time there, was introduced to the wonderful events of the HMA (back then, AGEHR). She settled in the Akron, OH area with her husband, Mark and was brought back into handbell ringing by the late Dorothy Sarver, thru a venture to start a community handbell ensemble in the Stow, OH area. Shortly thereafter, Sherri started attending the annual Bay View Week of Handbells, under the direction of Donald Allured and her passion for handbells was again sparked. She has been ringing and directing ever since. In 2000, Sherri took over as Artistic Director of the Stow Heritage Ringers, Inc. She also serves Stow Presbyterian Church as Handbell Director. Sherri is a member of the Donald E Allured Original Composition Committee and has served as a clinician and festival conductor at local and area HMA events. Professionally, Sherri is an account specialist at Proforma Solution Ventures in Akron, OH.

What special skills and/or experiences would you bring to the office of Treasurer?
As a ringer and director, I have both attended and organized festivals. I understand the needs of the choirs and the labor of love that goes on behind the scenes. I have assisted Area 5 in the past with festival organization duties and proudly serve as co-chair of the North Hills Handbell Association events. Professionally, I work in promotional marketing, where I navigate ever-changing specifications and deadlines to meet the event deadlines of our clients. These skills, combined with my passion for ringing blend effortlessly in service to the Area 5 Board and their work to organize HMA events that help your ensembles grow.

What do you hope to see Area 5 accomplish in the near future?
The last couple of years have taken a great toll on us all – the performing arts, churches, the general work force, our economy, our personal sense of safety and well-being, and so much more. Everywhere we look we see struggles with staffing and volunteerism and how to provide a safe and productive path forward. It is in extraordinary times like these that great organizations evolve and grow and HMA is, indeed, a great organization. We have a unique opportunity to re-connect with our membership and meet them where they are in the moment; to better understand their needs to be successful. I would love to see greater local connections where we can really support one another and share the benefits of membership in HMA.

Karen Wiggins

“Will Commute for Bells!” Is there a bumper sticker with that saying? I have been ringing with Circle City Ringers in Indianapolis, Indiana since 2007, but living an hour+ drive away in Lafayette, due to my occupation as an academic advisor at Purdue University. I have been serving as CCR’s Education Coordinator for several years, helping facilitate how the ensemble fulfills our Education mission.

My undergraduate degree from Purdue was in Biology Education, though this was secondary to my primary reason for attending: to ring with Purdue Bells in the Purdue Christmas Show. I had been ringing since 6th grade church bell choir, but realizing I could continue my fascination with the instrument into college and life beyond was a revelation. When I can’t find someone to ring with, I do some solo handbell ringing, but that just doesn’t have the same appeal as joining forces to create something magical together.

My husband, Dan, and I met as a result of our mutual interest in all things Russian. I was an exchange student for a year in Siberia, and then spent a college semester on Study Abroad to St. Petersburg (Russia, not Florida!). We now have a five-year-old son, Oliver, who is already attempting to play 4-in-hand on his KidsPlay bell set, and does his very best to help CCR schlep cases at performances. Looking forward to future mom and son bell duets!

What special skills and/or experiences would you bring to the office of Treasurer?
Work colleagues once gave me the “Inspector Gadget Award,” for being the go-to person for tips and tricks to use existing software tools to make our role as academic advisors easier. For example, I am a bit of an Excel guru, and perhaps an Access database ‘guru in-training.’ I am constantly working with student lists and figuring out how to organize data, compare columns using formulas, and so forth. Attention to detail and use of data tracking tools will help with the “registrar” aspects of the Treasurer role. In college, I took the first Accounting course taken by Management majors at Purdue, so I also have at least a rudimentary understanding of business terminology and accounting tools. Lastly, I’m one of those people that actually LOVED math! Up through Calculus at Purdue, at which point I decided that was quite enough, thank you very much. But arithmetic and spreadsheet formulas? Bring it on!

What do you hope to see Area 5 accomplish in the near future?
COVID-induced handbell withdrawal showed me just how much the community of handbell musicians has become my second family. Going cold turkey in March 2020 left a hole in my mental well-being. I am grateful to be in an ensemble that could pretty much just pick up where we left off.

Then I think about programs without that traction, whether they are church-affiliated or community-based. How many have not been able to restart? How many could benefit from ongoing connection and support from the wider family of handbell musicians? I hope that Area 5 can find more ways to connect outside of the special events, which can be a big financial and time commitment. We have some great things going on via Facebook, but not everyone is on there, and it’s hard to subdivide without having to belong to a bunch of different “groups”: one for Area 5, one for your state, or maybe for a region within a state. I’d like to figure out what else might work where HMA members can more easily connect at different geographic levels and maybe special interests, but within one overarching system. How great for an ensemble that needs a sub for next month’s worship service to target a posting to fellow HMA members and ensembles in the same metro area? Or simply to ask if anyone has suggestions how to handle the EF5 part of that one song at measure 42?!? A sort of “Next Door” app for bells!