Area 3 Directors’ Seminar 2022

August 12-13

Featuring – David Harris

Stafford Regional Handbell Society
112 Juliad Ct. #111
Fredericksburg, VA  22406

In-Person and Virtual Options

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 EARLY BIRD DEADLINE EXTENDED TO JULY 22 !!!

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AREA 3 DIRECTORS’ SEMINAR 2022 CLASS DESCRIPTIONS

In order to provide the best experience for you, everyone must pre-register for classes after theyhave registered for the seminar. Record
your choices on the form below.

Class Descriptions—Class Session 1

CSI 1 | Q & A—The Raleigh Ringers / Community Groups David Harris
Is there something you’ve always wanted to know about The Raleigh Ringers? Have you always wanted to start a community group but don’t know where to start? Do you have a question on anything regarding community groups? Well, here is your opportunity to ask those
burning questions regarding The Raleigh Ringers and community handbell groups.
CSI 2 | Creating Hearing Accessible Events Wendy Chang
Do you know how to make your concerts, performances, and rehearsals accessible to individuals with hearing loss? In this workshop, we will discuss how to ensure your in-person and virtual events are accessible to individuals with hearing disabilities.
CSI 3 | The Conductor’s Toolbox Laura Blauch
As conductors, our gestures are the tools of communication with our choir. The more tools we
have in our toolbox, the more likely it is that we will get the musical result we want. We will
look at some common conducting challenges and any particular issues you want to tackle.

Class Descriptions—Class Session 2

CSII 1 | Creative Assignments Sarah Sheffield
Have you ever been in the situation where you’ve had less ringers than what you thought was
standard for the number of octaves in your bell set? In this class, we will look at creative assignments to play your full bell set with less than the “standard” number of ringers.
CSII 2 | Keep Them Ringing Marquis Hodgson
Learn how to clean, polish, service, and maintain your organization’s Malmark and / or Schulermich bells.
CSII 3 | How to Teach Treble Techniques to Your Ringers Laura Blauch
This class is for those who wish to teach a class in multiple bell techniques to their ringers but
are not sure how to get started. We will focus on 4-in-hand and Shelley techniques. Bring
gloves!

Class Descriptions—Class Session 3

CSIII 1 | Children and Youth Ensembles Fran Underwood & Sarah Sheffield
This session will be to discuss anything relating to Children’s and Youth Ensembles you might
have. For example—how to start Children’s and Youth Ensembles, how do you recruit more
ringers, how to tour with your ensembles, what music should you pick, or how to motivate
your ringers. Questions are welcome as well as ideas that have worked for your ensembles!
CSIII 2 | Programming for the Church Year Neesa Hart
Tips on how to think beyond the 5th Sunday and worship services. Learn how you can grow
your bell choir and help them serve your church and / or community with creative solutions
and ideas.
CSIII 3 | Bell Trees In Worship Laura Blauch
Bell trees are a lot of fun and can be a great challenge if you have ringers looking for something new. We will review the basics of how set up and play a simple tree and explore various
ways it can be incorporated into worship.

Meet Your Class Instructors

David M. Harris has been the director of The Raleigh Ringers since January 1990, when he was instrumental in the formation of the group. David is a graduate of The Pennsylvania State University and has studied conducting privately with Dr. William A. Payn at Bucknell University. David was the director of the handbell program at Hudson Memorial Presbyterian Church, and has served Handbell Musicians of America in several capacities: as All-Star Conductor, Ringing Track Conductor, Instructor for the National Seminar, North Carolina State Chairman, and as Area III Treasurer. He chaired the national committee that planned the first Community/Professional Handbell Choir event, Pinnacle 2000, held in Las Vegas, Nevada. In addition, David has led well over 200 handbell festivals and workshops in 36 states as well as in England, Puerto Rico, Canada, and the Caribbean. He has also been the primary handbell clinician for several denominational music events, including Montreat, Lake Junaluska, and Lutheridge (NC); Mo-Ranch (TX); Massanetta (VA); and the National Association of Pastoral Musicians (KY). He has written several articles for Overtones, the national publication of Handbell Musicians of America. After growing up in the Northeast, David moved to Raleigh with his wife, Kristina. Dave and Kris have three grown children and one granddaughter.

Laura Blauch has been directing handbell choirs for 20 years, including church choirs in MD and NC and festivals in VA and NC, working with both children and adults. She is currently the director for Queen City Ringers, an auditioned community ensemble in Charlotte, NC. Laura has a BA in Sacred Music and has studied conducting with William Payn through numerous HMA Masterclass Series, attaining the highest level of conducting certification in 2013. She was a finalist for the Distinctly Bronze Associate Conductor program in 2019 and conducted a solo piece at IHS in Nashville earlier this month. In addition to directing, Laura has been ringing for more than 25 years, participating in several Distinctly Bronze events and Virtuoso 2015, 2019 and 2022. She has served as the Historian and Membership Chair for Area 3 and is currently the HMA Certification Program Coordinator.

Wendy Chang discovered handbells seven years ago, when then-music director at her Catholic parish started a handbell choir. She now directs a community handbell choir called the White Oak Ringers and rings with the handbell choir at Grace Episcopal Church in Silver Spring. Having grown up with a significant hearing loss, she now works as Information Technology Specialist (with a focus on Section 508 and accessibility) for the US Food and Drug Administration. She is also the founder of the group, Association of Adult Musicians with Hearing Loss (AAMHL) – https://www.musicianswithhearingloss.org/wp/.

Neesa Hart has been ringing bells for 45 years. She is the programming director for the Stafford Regional Handbell Society – and bears responsibility for the organization and planning of the Society’s 6 youth ensembles and 5 adult ensembles. She is also the co-creator of The Great Christmas Ring, a collaborative event that brings handbell musicians together to perform in large public spaces—most recently, at Carnegie Hall in 2019 and Walt Disney World in 2021. She has been working with Carnegie Hall for a return of the Great Christmas Ring, and with Global Bronze Productions to bring non-seasonal ringing opportunities to world stages.

Marquis Hodgson began playing bells in 7th grade. Now a College Student, he works as Stafford Handbells’ primary bell technician, cleaning and maintaining their extensive in inventory of bells.

Sarah Sheffield started ringing in 1994 when her church bought a set of handbells. She was quickly recruited since she read music and hasn’t looked back since. Sarah has been with the Queen City Ringers (Charlotte, NC) since 2002 and is currently President. She is also a member of The Raleigh Ringers (since 2017). Sarah has been a part of Area 3 leadership since 2013 as NC State chair, then an At Large Board Member, and is now currently the Coordinator of Events. Sarah directs the adult handbell choir at Weddington UMC, loves subbing in local handbell groups, and also plays in the woodwind ensemble, flute choir, and orchestra at Matthews UMC. Outside of bells, Sarah likes to read, cross stitch, go to the movies, and visit Walt Disney World. Sarah has a degree in Music Education (French Horn and Flute) and works for an insurance agency. She and her husband (and fellow ringer) live near Charlotte, NC.

Fran Underwood has been ringing and directing handbells for over 30 years. She is Associate Director of Worship Arts at Clarendon United Methodist Church in Arlington, VA, where she directs four of the six graded handbell ensembles ranging from 3rd grade through adults. She retired in 2021 from Wakefield School, The Plains where she was the handbell teacher for 10 years and this year from Virginia Bronze where she was a ringer and president for many years. Fran holds a BA in education and a Master of Music/Church Music from Shenandoah University. In her spare time, Fran enjoys playing video and board games and listening to audio books. Fran lives in Burke with her husband, Richard.

Kath Wissinger, CHIME Loan Coordinator

Director, clinician, teacher, composer, ringer – Kath Wissinger loves all aspects of handbell ringing. This is her third term on the Area 3 Board – the first 2 as Secretary. She directs the teen ensemble “Spectrum” at Massanutten Presbyterian Church in Penn Laird, Va., and teaches 2 music classes (using bells and chimes) for 4th-8th grades as well as K-3 music at Redeemer Classical School in Harrisonburg, Va. She has taught and directed at local, regional, area and national events – for all Levels and ages. Kath has over 50 pieces in print – including a wide variety of ensembles and full choir pieces, some for double choirs, some with instruments, and a few original hymns accompanied by bells. She enjoys writing commissions for special occasions and pedagogical pieces that teach specific skills while still being musical. A former National Park Service Ranger, commissioned handweaver and Elder Hostel teacher, Kath currently teaches piano in her home studio in the Shenandoah Valley. Her website is: www.kathwissinger.wetpaint.com/.

Kathleen Wissinger

Kath embraces all aspects of bells–director, teacher, ringer, composer. Directing since 1988–advanced teen groups, young beginners, adults, community group, grades 4-8–she creates a wide swath of music for her diverse groups, plus commissions and pieces that simply catch her fancy. Well-known for unique originals and fresh arrangements–as well as unique series that include pedagogical pieces written over her 15 years of teaching–she also loves a good challenge in writing for solo/small ensemble, belltree, double choir; including voices and instruments; and adapting pop and movie themes. Her publishing company “ringTrue” features all these and more.

Al Reese

Al Reese has been the Musical Director of Virginia Handbell Consort since January 2008, has taught classes for ringers and directors at Handbell Musicians of America Area 2 and 3 events and has served as Massed Conductor for such events as La Plata, MD, Hampton (Genesis), Ringing at the Springs, Virginia Baptist Handbell Festival, and Area 3 Roanoke Festival. He was selected as the Associate Conductor for Distinctly Bronze East, 2015.

Al is a published composer and holds a Master of Church Music Degree with concentration in Handbells from Concordia University, Wisconsin where he studied with William Payn, John Behnke, and Arnold Sherman. He is currently an Adjunct Instructor in the Music Department of Norfolk State University teaching private Trumpet, Piano and Music Theory, and serves as the Music Director/Organist at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Suffolk, VA.

Ann Cameron Pearce

Ann Cameron Pearce has directed handbells at Highland UMC in Raleigh, NC since 1987, developing one of the most accomplished church choirs (comprised of adults spanning five decades) in the Triangle. A Raleigh native, she earned her Bachelor of Arts from UNC-CH and a Master’s from Duke Divinity School. She is a founding member (1986) of the Raleigh Flute Choir, in which she specializes in contrabass flute. She is a freelance performer and served twenty years as flute instructor at Saint Mary’s School. In 2011, she and one of her sons established an online sheet music publishing company, ScoreVivo.

Linda R. Lamb

Linda Lamb has been involved with handbells since 1992, as director, ringer, and composer. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology from Carson-Newman College (now University) with a minor in music, and a Master of Church Music with handbell emphasis from Concordia University Wisconsin. She is the founder and list owner of the Frustrated Friends of Finale (FFF), a mailing list for users of the computer music program who mostly compose and arrange for handbells. She has numerous handbell publications to her credit. She is married with two grown children and two grandchildren.

Nick Hanson

Nick Hanson received a BA degree from Concordia University, Irvine, CA, as a major in music with concentration in handbells. He is in his twelfth year as the director of handbell ensembles at the Potomac School in McLean, Virginia, teaching instrumental music to 5th – 12th grade students in four handbell ensembles. He is also in his tenth year as the handbell director at Bush Hill Presbyterian Church in Alexandria, Virginia. Nick has served as faculty, clinician, and conductor at handbell events in 13 states, Washington DC, and internationally in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan. In 2015, Nick was chosen as the first-ever Associate Conductor for Distinctly Bronze, under the mentorship of renowned conductor, Dr. William A. Payn, and, he also conducted the Distinctly Teen ensemble at the Handbell Musicians of America National Seminar in Dallas, Texas. This summer, he will be the co-conductor for the 2018 All-Star Handbell Ensemble at the National Seminar in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He has written articles for the national handbell magazine “Overtones”, and has arranged and composed over 40 pieces of handbell music.

Pepper Choplin

Pepper Choplin is a full-time composer, conductor and humorist. With a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, he went on to earn a Master of Music degree in composition from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. His published works includes over 300 anthems for church and school choir with 20 church cantatas and two books of piano arrangements. Since 2013, he has conducted several cantatas with choir and full orchestra at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center in New York City; and at Meymandi Hall in Raleigh, NC. He also visits many schools, churches, and conferences to conduct and to entertain.

Brian Childers

Brian Childers is an accomplished composer whose works are performed throughout the world. He is in demand as a clinician and conductor. His easy-going style and teaching expertise quickly connects with ringers of all ages who respond with enthusiasm and energy. He currently serves as Director of Children and Youth Music at Myers Park United Methodist in Charlotte, NC where he conducts 7 handbell choirs. Brian is an avid runner and a rabid fan of the San Antonio Spurs. You can learn more about Brian and his compositions at BrianChilders.org.

Kyler Brengle

Kyler Brengle, Music Director at Westminster United Methodist Church (WUMC), is a graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park, where he earned both a BS and MS in Music Education. His responsibilities at WUMC include directing all vocal choirs, children through adult, and the church’s 5-octave adult handbell choir. Kyler was a member of the Westminster Ringers, an auditioned community handbell ensemble, from 2006-2016, serving on their Board of Directors and as Assistant Music Director. He was the guest conductor for the Holston River Handbell Festival in Kingsport, TN in October 2017, and served as Area 3 Chair from 2015-2017.

Gregg Bogovich, Layout Coordinator

Gregg designs all of the floor plans for Area 3 festivals. He has been listening to handbells since 1996, and has been the unofficial roadie and videographer for his sister Lynn’s various handbell groups, including Anacrusis and the Community United Methodist Church in Crofton, MD.

Theresa Carpenter, Registrar

Bio coming soon!

Laura Blauch, Scholarship Chair

Laura Blauch started playing handbells in 1978, in her hometown of Emmaus, PA. Laura continued to ring after moving to Maryland, and in 2002, she was asked to form and direct a new handbell choir, as her church had received a memorial gift to purchase a new set of handbells. Laura began attending workshops and festivals, and quickly discovered that she loves directing as much as ringing! Laura moved to NC in 2006, and currently directs the Chancel Bells and sings in various choirs at Davidson United Methodist Church in Davidson, NC. Laura has a B.A. in Sacred Music (voice) from Lebanon Valley College and a Masters of General Administration from University of Maryland University College. She is a Senior Financial Analyst with HP. Laura is married to Dave, a Professor of Chemistry at Davidson College and bass ringer in Laura’s bell choir, has 2 wonderful children, Tim and Katie, 4 cats, and in her spare time, loves to play tennis.

Ken Bissell, Mentor Coordinator

Bio coming soon!

Karen Eggert, Historian

Retired from her 25+ year career as a librarian for the International Monetary Fund, Karen serves as the Area 3 historian/archivist helping to organize, preserve and make accessible the Area 3 historical materials for future handbell ringers. She also has a 20+ year stint ringing handbells with various choirs and currently rings with the Anacrusis Handbell Ensemble and duets with Chesapeake Bronze. These efforts have culminated in participating in numerous Distinctly Bronze events, Area 3 festival choirs and International Handbell Festivals.

Sarah Sheffield, Events Coordinator

Sarah’s start into handbells began like so many folks out there. In 1994 her church purchased a set of handbells. Since she could read music, she was on the short list of recruits. Thankfully she jumped at the chance as she has been playing bells ever since. Sarah currently rings with Queen City Ringers (since 2002 and is currently President) and with The Raleigh Ringers (2017 was her first year!). Even though she works for an Insurance Agency to pay for her handbell addiction, Sarah received a Music Education degree from Wingate University where her principal instrument was French Horn and secondary instrument was flute. She lives near Charlotte with her husband, Milton, who is a fellow ringer. Handbell highlights include: 3 performances at Disney World directing the Weddington UMC Youth Handbell Ensemble; participation in Distinctly Bronze East since 2002 and Distinctly Bronze West since 2014-2017; performing the National Anthem for the Washington Nationals and Texas Rangers; and performing onstage with the Raleigh Ringers as part of Virtuoso 2013 and 2015.

Lynn Bogovich, Composition Contest Chair

Bio coming soon!

Susan Atkins, Chair (2023)

Susan M. Atkins, PHR, CEBS, of Richmond, Virginia, has been involved in instrumental music most of her life. Sue played bassoon and euphonium from middle school through college. She marched at the collegiate level with “Virginia’s Finest”, The James Madison University Marching Royal Dukes and is a life member of Kappa Kappa Psi, the national honorary band service fraternity. She met her husband, David, on the marching band practice field at JMU. Their son, Brian, followed in his parent’s footsteps as a low brass player – he was a tuba player in both high school and college. Sue started ringing handbells in the late 1980s and currently is active as an on-call substitute for churches throughout Richmond. Sue joined The James River Ringers, Richmond Virginia’s auditioned community handbell ensemble, in 1999. She held various positions on JRR’s Executive Board including at-large member, Vice-President, and President. She has rung at Distinctly Bronze on and off (mostly on) since 2003. While handbells are her love, the job that pays the bills for Sue is being a Director, Human Resources for Travelers Insurance supporting 350 employees in two Virginia offices. Sue has been in HR since 1986 and holds three HR credentials – Professional in Human Resources (PHR), Society for HR Management Certified Professional (SHRM-CP) and Certified Employee Benefits Specialist (CEBS).

Carl Ashley, Bell-O-Gram Editor

Carl is the Minister of Music at First Baptist Church in Goldsboro, NC, where he directs two handbell ensembles. Previously, he was the Director of Choral Activities and Assistant Professor of Music at the University of Mount Olive, where he conducted the Concert and Chamber Choirs and taught courses in the voice curriculum, church music, and music education. He holds a BMME from the University of Florida, an MM from Westminster Choir College, and a DMA in choral conducting from the University of Miami, where he studied with Dr. Jo-Michael Scheibe. His choruses have consistently received the highest ratings at district and state MPAs, have won or placed in numerous national choral festivals, and have performed at Carnegie Hall on several occasions. He is in demand as a conductor, composer/arranger, clinician, and adjudicator. He conducts Goldsboro’s premier community choir, the III Century Singers, and his choral music is published by National Music, Colla Voce, and Walton. Carl is the editor of the Carolina Caroler, a publication of the NC ACDA, and is the founder of Songworth.org, a ministry dedicated to the composition of contemporary hymnody. He and his wife Marie, an elementary music educator and opera singer, live in Mount Olive, NC, with six-year-old son, Ian.

Marcia Payne Wooten, Secretary

Marcia Payne Wooten is a retired Foreign Language Educator (Spanish, French, ESL, FL Pedagogy) and “Abuela” to the twin tornados (4 years old and in high gear). She is also the Director of Music and organist at Union Grove United Methodist Church in Union Grove, NC. She has been involved with handbells as a ringer, director, soloist, roadie, etc since 1998 when Bob Ivey came to introduce handbells to her church.  She has attended several National Seminars (Des Moines was the first), Area III and XII conferences, and Distinctly Bronze East in 2017. Marcia rang with Bells of Lake Norman for a year and a half until Covid shut down everything and plans to continue to ring when they start back up. Handbells have contributed so much in her life, and she is ready to serve Area 3 as needed.

Jerry Hill, Metro D.C. Chair

Jerry Hill is the handbell director at First Baptist Church Alexandria, Virginia where he oversees the handbell ministry and directs the Adoration Ringers and children handbell choirs.  He is also the music director at Christ Episcopal School in Rockville, Maryland where he directs four hand chimes choirs.  Jerry earned his master’s degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.  He has taught in both private and public schools for over 25 years as well as served on several church staffs.  In 2009 Jerry represented the National Association for Music Education on a cultural exchange program to China.  His choirs have performed on national television, regional conferences and recently performed at the National Cathedral. He is a former Area 3 District Chair for Northern Virginia.

Trinity Martin, North Carolina Chair

Trinity Martin, residing in the greater Charlotte area, has been playing and directing handbells for nearly 25 years. She currently is the Master Theory Instructor for the National Handbell Musicians of America which includes both writing the curriculum and teaching the theory classes 1, 2 and 3 starting the summer of 2021 in Phoenix, AZ. Trinity holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Theory from Belmont University in Nashville, TN, and a Master of Music degree in Music Theory from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. Trinity received a full assistantship working as a graduate instructor teaching theory and aural skills and served as the University’s theory tutor. Upon receiving her Master of Music degree in Theory, the University of North Carolina-Greensboro hired her as an adjunct theory professor teaching advanced undergraduate theory and aural skills. She went on to pursue the Doctor of Musical Arts in Choral Conducting at the University of North Carolina in Greensboro, NC finishing her course work but is still contemplating her dissertation. Trinity Martin is the Director of Music at St. Francis United Methodist Church in Charlotte, NC where she works with an enthusiastic adult choir, adult, youth and children’s handbells and a very active children’s choir. Trinity has over 20 years of experience in music ministry previously serving as the Director of Handbells, Youth and Children’s Music at Myers Park United Methodist Church (Charlotte, NC) where she worked with 7 handbell ensembles, 3 children’s choirs and a youth choir. She served at Elon Community Church (Elon, NC) as Director of Children and Youth Music and Handbells, overseeing and directing eight ensembles from pre-k to adults. While at Elon she planned and directed a Music Camp for children and youth ages 2-18 that attracted close to 100 kids every summer. She served as Director of Music at Sedge Garden United Methodist in Kernersville, NC and at Summerfield United Methodist in Summerfield, NC and was a college music intern at Belmont United Methodist in Nashville, TN. Trinity joined the 2018-2019 season of Charlotte Bronze, an elite handbell ensemble performing all over the southeast, and served as the ensemble’s assistant conductor. Trinity is married to Steve Martin, an attorney and a very talented musician in his own right. They have three daughters together, Gwen and Evvy (twins), and their youngest, Harper. In Trinity’s spare time she loves to cook and bake and has become quite the accomplished bread maker.

Reggie Fox, Virginia Chair

Bio coming soon!

Beau Lochte, Maryland Chair

Musician, teacher, composer, and conductor with a degree in Music composition from Towson University, Beau Lochte currently directs three handbell programs and teaches over 20 piano students. He arranges original, popular and symphonic music for handbells including Rimsky Korsakov’s Scheherazade and Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A minor. He also performs regularly as a solo ringer and in chamber ensembles. In 2013 Mr. Lochte founded Charm City Bronze Handbell Ensemble (CCB) in Baltimore, MD. This exciting group ranges in age from youth to adult and performed alongside Arsis Youth Handbell Ensemble from Estonia in 2014. CCB has twice participated in the annual Festival of Trees to benefit the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Maryland and has also live-streamed concerts from unique venues in Baltimore such as the historic Bromo Seltzer Tower, the Pagoda in Patterson Park and the Palm House at the HP Rawlings Conservatory.

Kevin Chamberlain, DelMarVa Chair

Kevin B. Chamberlain serves as Minister of Music and Organist Avenue United Methodist Church, Milford, DE. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Asbury University in Wilmore, Kentucky, and a Master of Music in Church Music with an emphasis in Organ Performance from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Beginning December 1, 2019, Kevin will be starting a doctoral degree in Worship from the Institute for Worship Studies in Jacksonville, Florida. Kevin works part-time at POLYTECH High School in Woodside, DE where he teaches all of the choral classes and several music technology classes throughout the year. He serves as the Assistant Director/Accompanist for the Mispillion Children’s Chorus; a non-profit organization providing educational and inspirational music to children ages 6-12yrs old. Kevin serves as the co-Director of the Lay Servant Academy for the Dover District Board of Laity in the Peninsula-Delaware Conference of the United Methodist Church. He is on the faculty of the Music School of Delaware where he teaches private and group piano lessons. He also maintains a small private piano and organ studio with several high school students. Kevin is involved with various professional music organizations where he serves in various capacities. He has long been an active member of the Fellowship of United Methodists in Music and Worship Arts, the American Choral Directors’ Association, as well as the Hymn Society in the U.S. and Canada.

Neesa Hart, Board Member (2025)

Neesa Hart began playing handbells in 4th grade at First Baptist Church in Richmond, VA. After six years of highly unsuccessful piano lessons, she persuaded her mother to let her make the switch. Thus began a life-long love of handbell musicianship and the relationships, experiences, and musical camaraderie that comes with ringing. She is the program manager for the Stafford Regional Handbell Society — a community ringing organization in the Fredericksburg, VA area. She is responsible for concert planning for the Society’s 9 ringing ensembles, inventory and maintenance of the equipment, and administration of the Society’s Bells After School program — a music instruction program for elementary – high school age students using handbell ringing to teach advanced musical concepts. Founded in 2005, the Society’s youth ringing program enjoys a national reputation for musical excellence and innovation. She is also the organizer for the National Honors Handbell Ensemble, a national youth ringing event the Society sponsors. She is the co-creator of The Great Christmas ring, a mass ringing event for handbells held world wide annually. She has also served AREA 3 in various volunteer capacities as equipment chair and workshop chair for several events. Neesa hopes to bring her commitment for innovations in youth ringing and growth for Handbell Musicians of America to the Area 3 Board. Handbell musicians need innovative solutions to sustaining and growing handbell ringing programs. Thinking beyond the walls of the church, new approaches to community ringing, and a commitment to viable and sustainable youth ringing programs is essential to the future of Handbell musicianship. She would like to serve the members of Area 3 by equipping existing handbell programs to grow and thrive, and by identifying underserved populations and establishing handbell ringing programs at the local level.

Debra LeBrun, Board Member (2023)

Debra LeBrun received her B. Mus. from Syracuse University and her M.M. in Organ Performance from the University of Illinois at  Urbana/Champaign. In October 2010 she became the full-time Director of Music for Raleigh Court United Methodist Church in Roanoke, VA after serving for 24 years as the Minister of Music for the Congregational Church of Littleton, MA. She has been a professional musician for over 30 years, working as a church music director and organist, conductor, accompanist, director for musical theater and opera productions, teacher of piano and organ, and as a handbell clinician. Debra’s love affair with handbells began in college and handbells have played an important role in her life ever since. She is a past member of the New England Ringers and now performs regularly as a handbell soloist. Debra has served on the Handbell Musicians of America Area I Board as Secretary and Chair, as well as being involved in organizing and teaching at many handbell events throughout New England and in Virginia. She has attended five International Handbell Symposiums and was selected to be in the All-Star Choir representing the United States at the 2012 International Symposium in Liverpool, England.

Dottie Tweedie, Board Member (2025)

Bio coming soon!

Laura Swafford, Board Member (2023)

Bio coming soon!

Tammera Missel, Board Member (2023)

Tammera has been an active member of Virginia Handbell Consort since January 2015 and Handbell Musicians of America since June 2014. She started ringing handbells/handchimes in 1991 at FUMC Kerrville, Texas. Tammera started playing piano as a young girl and picked up the clarinet in the 6th grade (only because the band director would not let her start on oboe!).  She finally switched to oboe in the 7th grade and continued through her junior year of college, while also playing baritone in marching band. After a break from music while serving our country in the U.S. Navy and having a child, she joined one of the handbell choirs at FUMC Round Rock, Texas and continued to grow as a musician. Tammera is the handbell director at Trinity UMC in Smithfield, and enjoys ringing at various churches in Hampton Roads as a solo ringer. She is always looking for ways to bring the art of handbell ringing to others and expanding the art of ringing. She enjoys thinking outside the box and problem solving and has a passion for the art of handbells! Tammera holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice. When she’s not ringing handbells or directing, she enjoys being a Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultant, spending time outdoors, spending time with family, and traveling!

Leslie Lewis, Treasurer (2025)

Leslie Lewis has been ringing handbells since 1979 when she was introduced to them at the Montreat Worship and Music Conference. Leslie has been ringing in the bass section for Distinctly Bronze East since the event began in 1999 and participated in the Distinctly Bronze European Tour in 2007. She has rung low bass in many area and national All Star Choirs and recently rang low bass at Virtuoso 2017 sharing the stage with the Raleigh Ringers for the final concert. Leslie has been treasurer for the Mid-Carolinas Handbell Festival committee since 1998 and has been responsible for table layout since the festival began. She is currently ringing with Queen City Ringers based in Charlotte, NC (currently serving as treasurer of the group) and is serving as the Treasurer for Area 3 of the Handbell Musicians of America. Leslie enjoys substituting for choirs in the Gastonia and Charlotte area and dabbles in solo ringing. After graduating from NC State with a degree in computer science, Leslie worked for IBM and First Union National Bank for a combined 15 years before turning a part-time role preparing income taxes into a career. Leslie is currently President of Unified Income Taxes and Accounting, Inc in Gastonia, NC where she prepares all types of tax returns and as an Enrolled Agent represents clients during IRS tax audits and appeals. In 2009, Leslie added the role of Director of Commission Accounting for a growing Charlotte, NC based Brokerage Firm with branches in seventeen states until she left at the end of 2015 to pursue the role of Chief Accounting Officer for a commercial aircraft maintenance, repair, and overhaul station located in Medley, FL.

Kerry Johnston, Chair-Elect (2025)

Kerry Johnston is Director of Music Ministry at First United Methodist Church in Cary, North Carolina. At First Methodist, he oversees a music ministry of 400 participants from kindergarten through adult, with a graded handbell program of over 80 participants. He served churches in Texas and Arkansas, before moving to North Carolina. Kerry holds a Bachelor of Music in organ performance from Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas, and a Master of Sacred Music jointly from Perkins School of Theology/Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Kerry has been involved with handbells since 1974, when he borrowed a 2-octave set of Petit & Fritsen bells to spur interest in the church he was serving. That started a long association with handbells and bell ringers. Kerry served previously on the AGEHR Area VI board as Arkansas State Chair, and on the HMA Area 3 board as North Carolina State Chair. He was the founding director of Ozark Bronze, an auditioned community ensemble in Northwest Arkansas. Kerry has conducted massed ringing at festivals and taught numerous classes at workshops. He is also a composer and arranger, with handbell pieces currently in print with Beckenhorst Press, Lorenz Publishing, and Choristers Guild.