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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Brenda Hayden has been a church musician for her whole career, living and working in New Brunswick and Ontario, Canada, as well as in Cincinnati, Ohio and in Midland Michigan. Her undergrad in organ performance was earned at Mt. Allison University in New Brunswick, and her Masters in Church Music was earned at Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio. She has just relocated back to the Cincinnati area and is taking on the new challenges of teaching K-12 school music in two northern Kentucky Catholic schools as well as being Director of music at St. Catherine of Siena church, Fort Thomas Kentucky.
Brenda first played handbells in a church choir in the early 1990s, and since then has founded a youth choir and directed adult choirs in Ontario, Ohio, Michigan and is now planting the seeds in northern Kentucky. She is sharing her love of teaching and ringing with her students by using chimes that are part of our Area 5 chime grant program, and the children are enjoying this new experience.
Brenda has two adult sons and two cats, Ivy and Phoenix. She is looking forward to settling into her new home in Cincinnati and to working with the Area 5 board to help spread the great news about music through handbells!
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.
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 hails from a family with a strong musical tradition, and she was introduced to handbells as a teen when her church acquired a used set of bells. In 2005, Nancy joined a community ensemble practically on a whim and handbells has been a full-blown passion ever since. In 2007 she attended her first of many Distinctly Bronze events, hosted by Handbell Musicians of America (HMA), and in 2014 she began serving on the HMA Area 5 Board. Nancy has participated in all five Virtuoso events, hosted by the Raleigh Ringers, and she currently rings with the Detroit Handbell Ensemble in Westland, Michigan under the direction of Brenda E. Austin. She lives in Farmington Hills, Michigan with her spouse and more than a few model horses.
Indiana State Chair
Jeffrey Scott Doebler serves as professor of music and director of music education and bands at Valparaiso University. Professor Doebler holds music education degrees from Luther College (B.A.), Valparaiso University (M.M.), and the University of Minnesota (Ph.D.). The recipient of numerous awards for teaching excellence, he is equally effective working with younger students, older students, and professional musicians. Dr. Doebler has appeared professionally in 30 states, Canada, Malta, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, and China. In a typical year he works with more than 3000 students.
Dr. Doebler has been a handbell choir conductor for more than 30 years. He founded handbell choirs at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Shakopee, Minnesota; Lutheran Summer Music; Trinity Lutheran Church in Valparaiso; and re-founded the handbell choir at Valparaiso University. In 2018, he conducted the Indiana All-State Handbell Choir, which is believed to be the first all-state handbell choir in the nation. Dr. Doebler has also served as a clinician for Handbell Musicians of America and the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians.
Kentucky State Chair
Abby Wentzel has been ringing handbells since the age of 10 and has participated in several church, school and community groups and HMA events across the country. She currently rings with Alluring Community Handbell Ensemble, where she’s been a member for the last 6 years. She lives in Nicholasville, KY with her partner, dog and two cats.
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
Cheryl Onesky started ringing handbells in 1997 after her church acquired a two octave set of Malmarks. She immediately fell in love with the instrument, and sought additional opportunities for ringing outside of the church choir environment. She attended every Area 5 conference that was offered to learn more about bell techniques, four-in-hand ringing and ensemble ringing – beginning in 2000 with a conference in Columbus, Ohio. Around that same time she began dabbling in solo ringing, met Ed Krzes, and formed the handbell duet team EKCO Ringers. In 2003, she joined Stow Heritage Ringers, a community handbell choir based in Stow, Ohio.
Currently, Cheryl rings in four church choirs. She serves as director/ringer for Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Cleveland. She has also expanded her ensemble ringing opportunities with a trio (We3Ring) and a handbell quartet at Rocky River United Methodist Church. Cheryl ‘s favorite expression is “Handbells take you places,” and bells have taken her to International Symposiums in Orlando and Vancouver (Canada); the Solo Ensemble Extravaganza in Colorado Springs , led by Kevin McChesney and Michael Kastner; the Palace Theater in Cleveland, performing with Stow Heritage Ringers in concert with the Cleveland Pops; and performing on cruises in the Caribbean.
Cheryl recently retired from her job as a Communications Specialist for Cleveland’s transportation planning agency, and hopes to spend more time talking to other handbell fanatics as well as building communications with ringers and directors throughout the state.
West Virginia State Chair
Bryon Yetter rings with the Mid Ohio Valley Ringers since their inception in 1994. He began ringing when he was a young teenager with his church and under his mother’s direction. He has been known as “the one that rings the big bells” in his community. He has a bachelors in accounting and financial management and has been a restaurant manager for 26 years. He is happily married to his wife, Leslie, and has two children, Matthew and Ethan.