Those who step into leadership know, or quickly learn, that it’s not an easy role. For every kudo and thanks you receive, there is often a complaint or demand placed. Decisions have to be made that don’t always make everyone happy. Obligations don’t always fit easily into the time allotted.
ACDA runs on volunteer leadership. In a membership organization like this, that fact is of critical importance. Our members are in the field, in choral classrooms and performance halls, and know what their colleagues are doing everyday. They understand first-hand their colleagues’ interests and needs. We are very lucky to have brilliant and talented leaders at every level, from state chapters up through national roles. In my role, one of the areas I enjoy the very most is working with our state chapter leaders. I’ve always felt – and witnessed – the fact that this group is one of the most diverse in many ways of all of our leadership. Presidents step into their roles with all kinds of experiences, are innovative in their thinking, devote immense amounts of time and energy to serving, and work hard to identify and develop new leaders who will follow behind them.
Our current state leadership – who for the most part took on their roles in July 2020 or 2021 – have had to deal with situations that no one could imagine. How do you lead when meeting in person is risky? How do you help members whose art is threatened and whose employment is facing existential challenges? How do you make decisions in a time when clear and fact-based answers are hard to come by, when everything seems to be uncertain? This group of leaders has faced those challenges head-on, stayed in leadership during some of the toughest times we’ve had, and worked to keep their colleagues’ needs and interests front and center. They have not only shared information, they’ve offered support and encouragement. In a performance focused art, they’ve had to make hard decisions about doing events in a safe way, or even doing them at all. They’ve used creativity to re-imagine how we gather and how we perform. They have taken all of that on, and done it with style.
We have a handful of state leaders with terms ending at the end of this month or shortly thereafter. We offer our thanks to the following state presidents who are shifting over to well-deserved past president roles:
Hawai’i ACDA President, Jace Saplan, is moving to Arizona and out of their role with the state this month as well. They are an educator, conductor, community facilitator, and DEIAB (diversity, equity, inclusion, access, and belonging) consultant. In the fall they will join the faculty of Arizona State University as Director of Choral Activities. They received their bachelor of arts degree in Hawaiian music from the University of Hawai’i, master’s in curriculum and instruction from Concordia University – Portland, master’s of music in choral conducting from the University of Oregon, and doctor of musical arts in choral conducting from the University of Miami Frost School of Music.
Mississippi ACDA President, Terry Walker, Jr., is ending his term this month. A native of Tupelo, Mississippi, he is currently in his eighth year of teaching at Long Beach High School. He earned his bachelor’s degree in music education with a vocal emphasis from the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) in 2009. He continued his studies at USM, receiving his master’s degree in choral conducting in 2011. While at Southern Miss, he was a member of Spirit of Southern, the USM Concert Choir, and the Southern Chorale under the direction of Dr. Gregory Fuller and Dr. John Flanery.
Montana ACDA President, Ellen McKenzie, is also ending her term this summer. Ellen has taught high school choir at Hellgate High School for 8 years, and has been a choral educator for 20 years. She is National Board Certified. Previous teaching experience includes one year of choir at Flathead High School in Kalispell, 7 years of K-8 music and choir in Frenchtown, and 4 years of high school choir in Manteca, California. Ellen earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Montana.
Our deep appreciation and gratitude for these leaders, and our best wishes to them on their next ventures! And to the other 47 state chapter presidents who are continuing through another year, we appreciate and value you!
Are you a member? Do you have something good to share about your state leadership? Please put it in the comments below!
Sundra Flansburg has served for ten years as Director of Membership & Communications at ACDA’s national office.