As of last Friday, I have completed my service to MSVMA as staff for the Summer Conference. For four years, I had the honor of working alongside some amazing colleagues in programming, planning, and coordinating the conference, and while I’m excited to be refocusing my volunteer time on the All-State Jazz Choir, I’m blue at leaving this position alongside my friends.
My primary responsibility for the conference was to select presenters and sessions, and then program them into a 3-day conference that would provide an educational and inspiring experience for the membership of MSVMA. As such I programmed over 100 sessions comprised of many of the finest choral educators I know, at the middle school, high school, and collegiate levels in Michigan and beyond. I thank every educator who shared their time and expertise during my tenure. I also thank the headliners who led the conference during my tenure: Robyn Lana, Lynda Hasseler, Jo-Michael Scheibe, Sandra Snow, and Jerry Blackstone. I’m also pleased to have had a hand in inviting next year’s fabulous headliners.
My MSVMA Conference Staff colleagues and I were able to innovate on several aspects of the conference while I served on the board. I’m proud that we now offer SCECH credits to our teachers, that we found a new schedule format to alleviate some of the conference-exhaustion we observed in the past, and that we tried a Friday-Focus day on “Specialized” choral styles (musical theater, pop a cappella, Spiritual, vocal jazz) that led to increased attendance throughout Friday. I’m most proud of the ChoralTED TED-Style session we included every year I was on the staff–providing a unique opportunity for our presenters to deliver polished talks in the TED format, and delivering three such talks in one 50-minute session.
Most of all, I’m appreciative of the relationships I made and the wonderful colleagues I worked with and learned from while in this position.
Nancy Bray oversaw the Summer Conference until this year. She is a brilliant educator, wonderful soul, and kind with her time and insights. I feel blessed that I got to spend many hours working alongside her.
Both of my Executive Board supervisors put in countless hours collaborating, overseeing, and taking care of countless details throughout this process. Thank you both, Brandon Ulrich and Kyle Zeuch. It was a distinct pleasure to work with both of you. Debra Jacks has been a wonderfully calm and supporting presence these last two years in the Conference office, Christy Seyler has time and again been a lifesaver in the MSVMA office, and of course Ginny Kerwin offered clear, specific, and helpful advice whenever asked.
More than any other reason, I was sad to leave this position because I don’t get to keep working alongside my friend Helen Hansens. I got to know her because of this position, and my life is better because I did!
I was also blessed to work with Helen’s predecessor, Phil Johnson. I was lucky to receive guidance from my own predecessor, Jolene Plotzke, and I hope Eric Cadena feels ready to take over based on my advice and support.
Thank you to every one of you, as well as the many attendees who offered suggestions when I asked. This position gave me the unique opportunity to connect with, support, and learn from so many fellow choral educators, and I leave greatly enriched.
MSVMA is a truly special organization, and I was lucky to be able to serve in this small role for a few years. It’s not the end of my time volunteering for MSVMA – just a change in focus.