2023 Area 5 Board Member Elections

Every two years, the membership of Area 5 has the opportunity and obligation to choose their leaders. Due to the challenges of the pandemic the 2021 election was postponed to 2022. This election in spring 2023 is necessary to reset the board to its normal cadence. You can read more about that decision in this letter from former 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, 2023. Results will be announced June 1, 2023.

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

2023 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.

Shannon Hardiek

Shannon Hardiek was introduced to handbells in 1985 and has been ringing or directing ever since. Currently, Shannon serves as director of the Trinity Ringers handbell choir at Trinity English Lutheran Church in Fort Wayne, IN alongside Bob Hobby and Evan Anderson. In 2017, Shannon shared her love of handbell ringing with band students at Homestead High School and started their first handbell choir. The next year, a second choir was added as interest grew. A number of students from this program have been selected for the Indiana Music Educators Association All-State Handbell Choir. Shannon is a founding partner of Phillips Financial where, for over 20 years, she has been providing financial planning and investment management services to clients. Additionally, Shannon is past Board Chair for the Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne, currently serves as Treasurer for the Board of Trustees at The Canterbury School, Golf Activities Director for the LPGA Amateur Golf Association, Fort Wayne Chapter and is a member of P.E.O. Chapter BD.

What special skills and/or experiences would you bring to the office of Chair-Elect?
Since the mid-1980’s, Shannon has attended numerous local, Area 5, and National festivals. Her church handbell choir regularly attends Area 5 festivals and continues to learn and grow from each experience. Shannon has led or been part of a number of committees that have planned and executed events similar to handbell festivals. Organization, strong communication skills, effective listening, and leadership are traits that she uses in her professional life that will make me an effective Chair-Elect for Area 5.

What do you hope to see Area 5 accomplish in the near future?

In Shannon’s early years, she remembers numerous church handbell choirs in the community. As directors of these choirs retired, there wasn’t anyone equipped to take over this role, the quality diminished and choirs became defunct. Some church congregations have a set of handbells, but no one knows how to ring them let alone teach others how to ring. I would like to focus efforts on developing new leaders that can revive handbell choirs within churches. I would like to see interest in handbells grow in all Area 5 communities which would include increasing awareness and accessibility in both churches and schools. Traditionally, handbell choirs are part of a church congregation and have not typically been part of a school’s fine arts program. Introducing the younger generation to handbells will continue to grow membership and opportunities. Offering more local HMA events will also provide opportunities for networking and sharing within communities and developing young directors to lead their choirs. I have a passion for handbells and will do my best to grow our community and expand our reach to all generations.

Ann Wood

Ann Wood has served as Director of Music at First Presbyterian Church in Escanaba, Michigan, where she conducts vocal and handbell choirs, since 1989. She began there as the handbell director in 1982 when the church purchased three octaves of handbells. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.A. in Speech/Theatre and from Concordia University Wisconsin with a Master of Church Music/Choral Conducting/Handbell degree.

Ann maintains a large private music studio in the Escanaba area, teaching music theory, piano, voice, and Suzuki and traditional strings. She has recently revived her community handbell choir which started in 2019 and was abruptly silenced by the pandemic. She has two handbell compositions in print. Ann lives in Escanaba with her husband Brian, who shares her love of music, and has three grown children, one of whom is a professional classical singer.

Ann has previously served Area 5 as Michigan State Chair and Secretary and was the site chair for 2022’s Area 5 Festival at Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.

What special skills and/or experiences would you bring to the office of Chair-Elect?

I am currently serving as President of the Great Lakes Region of the Presbyterian Association of Musicians, so leadership is not new to me. I have attended many Handbell Musicians National Seminars since receiving my master’s degree and will do so again this summer. The experience and knowledge I have gained through my attendance will serve me well in this role. I have conducted a community vocal ensemble for 30+ years, so I have experience planning concerts and have planned or participated in planning a number of handbell workshops. In addition, my previous experience on the Area 5 board has prepared me for this leadership role.

What do you hope to see Area 5 accomplish in the near future?

I hope to see Area 5 continue to plan excellent festivals and workshops and maintain outreach to younger ringers through events such as the recent Inspiring event. Living in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, I also hope to work toward providing access to workshops and educational events to the more remote parts of our Area.

I’d like to see the Area 5 board move toward a single annual in-person meeting and meet more frequently—quarterly or even monthly–via Zoom or some other online platform. I think it would be a cost-saving measure as well as keeping us better in touch. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it would be that electronic meetings can be effective!

Julie Hyatt

I am a 40+ year bell ringer, beginning as a 15 year old in my youth bell choir. From there I joined the adult bell choir and never stopped ringing. I love to practice and ring solo music as well as playing in duets and trios. I have assisted in running a very successful youth music program in my church for the past 12 years and helped to develop a middle school /high school bell group which I currently direct. By day I am a Director of Adult Literacy at a local non profit that does amazing work in our community. I feel blessed every day to go to work and help make a difference in the lives of adults who need some extra help in their literacy skills.

What special skills and/or experiences would you bring to the office of Secretary?
I am a detail oriented and have been the secretary for many committees in my church. I am also the individual who updates the website for the MEA – Retired group for the state of Michigan as well as sending out many emails a month to the retired teachers (over 11,000) Because of these tasks I am able to prioritize which posts or emails need to be addressed at certain times and sent out appropriately. I am also very good at proofreading work from other people and helping to prepare documents for publication.

What do you hope to see Area 5 accomplish in the near future?
I am happy to provide thorough notes for all Area 5 board meetings as well as help the other Area 5 officers in any way that I can. I am also very happy to manage and direct people at Area 5 events and do whatever I can to make a ringers experience a positive one. My desire for the future of Area 5 is to continue to help develop a vibrant bell ringing community and help develop more opportunities for our youngest ringers so they will grow up wanting to be lifelong ringers.

Jane Snow

Jane Hicks Snow’s handbell adventure began 47 years ago when she was introduced to handbells at Aldersgate UMC in Fort Wayne, IN. The following year she attended a week-long workshop for handbell directors at Indiana University with Don Allured. Jane became director of both middle school and high school bell choirs, while continuing to ring in an adult bell choir. Allured encouraged her to start a handbell festival in Fort Wayne and under his tutelage, Jane began the Three Rivers Handbell Festival. Not only did the festival see growth, but the community witnessed a tremendous increase in bell sets from 5 to 33 in just 3 years and the number of choirs attending grew from 13 to 49 from four states in the same amount of time.

Contemporaneously, Jane began elementary handbell and chime choirs at Haverhill School with soon-to- become National Teacher of the Year, Dorothy Kittaka. Jane’s adventure continued when hired as Director of Music at Forest Park UMC where she had a multi-choir program in addition to teaching Handbell Pedagogy and conducting the handbell ensemble at the former Indiana-Purdue University Ft Wayne, now PFW.

Jane served as interim handbell director at First Wayne Street UMC, white serving as handbell director at Trinity English Lutheran Church all in Fort Wayne. After a move to Augusta, Georgia, she rang, and substitute directed the Ringers of the Church of the Resurrection Lutheran Church. Upon return to Indiana, Jane continued ringing at Trinity English Lutheran and directed the adult bell choir at Waynedale UMC. Currently, Jane rings with Trinity English and substitute directs for colleagues.

What special skills and/or experiences would you bring to the office of Secretary?

Jane previously served Area 5 as Indiana State Chairman and Secretary-Treasurer. These were the years when Area 5 had two summer festivals with 700-1200 ringers at each site. She has taught at National Handbell Festivals and National Directors Seminars from coast to coast and from Minneapolis to Houston. Jane has conducted festivals in three states and was the Bronze Choir director at the Area 5 festival in Fort Wayne. Further, Jane has served as site chair at several Area 5 festivals and most recently as site chair for the Inspiring College Festival in Fort Wayne in January.

A Six Sigma Black Belt, Jane holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and has worked in business process improvement for a Fortune 500 company. She believes Six Sigma is not just a methodology, but a way of life, as she is tapped to facilitate meetings where important decisions must be made for the right reasons using data to support the decision, not just deciding because it feels like the right thing to do.

What do you hope to see Area 5 accomplish in the near future?

Area 5’s focus should be on both ends of the age spectrum. As we attempt to reach all age levels, it is important to think about and address the aging ringer: the ringer who has difficulty with sight, standing, weight of bells, the pain of 4-in-hand or surgical rehab. This is especially important to those ringers who have enjoyed ringing for many years and should not have to give it up for any physical reason. We need to tap those who have been through this and share their experience and knowledge, because we don’t want to lose seasoned ringers. Another near-term focus should be bells/chimes in schools, where we work in collaboration with elementary, middle school and high school music teachers to create ringing possibilities for their students. The intent is to create more school handbell choirs.

Darlene Burkett

Music has always been a part of my life, starting piano lessons before even starting school, with involvement continuing from that point forward.

My educational background is a Bachelors Degree in Music with an Organ Performance Major (also a minor in Business Administration). I later returned to my alma mater to serve as Adjunct Faculty in the Music Department.

I have enjoyed ringing handbells for 42 years and conducting several different groups for the past 25 years. Currently, I am the founding director of a community handbell ensemble (began in 2011) which draws members from a 25-mile radius around Cass City, Michigan. A recent highlight for me was ringing in “Distinctly Bronze West” held in Portland, Oregon in 2021!

What special skills and/or experiences would you bring to the office of Treasurer?

While serving as Adjunct Faculty teaching organ and piano, I also directed the handbell program at Huntington University (Huntington, Indiana) for 10 years, planning curriculum, concerts, tours, etc.

I feel I am an organized individual with a keen attention to detail which should be useful as Registrar for Area 5 events.

[I also got A’s in all my math classes in school!! 🙂 ]

What do you hope to see Area 5 accomplish in the near future?

I have participated in and enjoyed so many wonderful events in Area 5. Therefore, I would count it a privilege to be part of the leadership of an organization which looks to the future by offering an increasing variety of opportunities for ringers and directors to improve their skills.

Sherri Stoffer

Sherri Stoffer has been involved in music all her life.  She began playing violin, piano and handbells in kindergarten and later adopted 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 vision was expanded to the wider scope of what handbells can do.   She has been ringing and directing ever since.  In 2000, Sherri took over as Artistic Director of the Stow Heritage Ringers, Inc.   She is a member of the Donald E. Allured Original Composition Committee and has served as a clinician and festival conductor at local,  area, and international events.  Sherri currently serves on the Area 5 board as Treasurer.  Professionally, she is an account specialist with 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 currently serve on the Area 5 Board as Treasurer.  I proudly serve as co-chair of the North Hills Handbell Association events.  Professionally, I work in promotional marketing, where I navigate ever-changing specifications to meet the event deadlines of our clients.  These skills, combined with my passion for ringing, blend well 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 few 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.  My short time on the Area 5 Board so far has enlightened me to the changing needs of our membership.  We have a unique opportunity to re-connect and meet you where you are in the moment; to have real conversations on what you need 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.