Area 1 Special Election for 2022

Area 1 does not currently have a chair elect.  In October 2022, the chair elect will take office and serve as chair elect until 2023 at which time he or she will become chair, and regular elections will be held for new Chair Elect as well as Treasurer and Secretary.

Voting in the Special Election

Due to bylaws that require manual ballots for special elections, voting for this special election will be done by mail.  Handbell Musicians of America members with voting rights will receive a mail via USPS with the voting options.  Please fill it out and mail it back.

Note: Bylaws are currently under review to address the requirement of mailed ballots for special elections and other situations that may arise in the future.  A vote on revised bylaws will happen in the future.

Chair Elect (will become chair at time of next election)

Below, you will find out more information about each chair elect candidate to inform your vote.

Stephanie LaShoto-Westfield

When I was transferred to a new middle school, I saw a handbell choir perform for the first time. I had never seen anything like it, but knew I had to try it. I rang with my middle and high school choir, lucky enough to have handbells as an official class in my school schedule. I joined the Old South Ringers in Boston while in graduate school in 2007 and was accepted into Back Bay Ringers in 2013. I believe my experience as a youth ringer, church choir ringer, and community choir ringer give me a broad perspective into various ringing settings. I have enjoyed attending six  Area 1 festivals, one Spring Ring and one Winter Workshop, countless Boston Handbell Festivals, and even National Seminar, and am always thriled to feel part of the larger ringing community.

I have been the Small Ensemble Coordinator, Operations Director, and now Communications Director of Back Bay Ringers, so I have handbell board experience. In addition, I served on the Board of Deacons at Old South Church, including 3 years as a senior deacon, so I would bring leadership skills as well.

Professionally, I am a workforce development specialist, aiming to upskill entry level employees in the healthcare setting to build their skills and their careers. I oversee development of classes, workshops, and provide individual coaching, so I bring program design experience. I care deeply about lifelong learning, adult education, and intercultural communication.

Vision for Area 1:

My leadership style is collaborative.  I try to lead by listening, involving stakeholders in the process, and aiming for consensus. As Chair Elect, I would welcome the opportunity to learn from the inside how Area 1 runs, what works well and where there is room for improvement, and to support and shape the efforts of the many passionate musicians and educators in our area.

The vision of the HMA is a very powerful one. Through ringing in various settings, I know some musicians are looking for a musical challenge, others just want to have fun and make music whether it comes out perfectly or not, and others express their faith with handbell ringing. If I were to be elected as chair, I would ensure Board efforts would make ringers of all stripes feel welcome and respected by the HMA.

Goals of mine would be to expand the awareness of handbells in communities where it is unfamiliar and to build partnerships. I would love to build connections between youth choirs/school choirs and adult choirs, so that young musicians know that there is a long future of ringing ahead of them, and that handbells programs don’t end at graduation, or at the door to the church.

In addition to ensuring our existing spaces are welcoming to all, I’d like to challenge the HMA community to bring our way of music-making to spaces where it may still be unknown. It would be exciting to connect with school music programs or faith groups in communities of color to introduce the art of handbell ringing to children and church musicians who may not have experienced it before.

Jenn Stack

I began ringing in 2012 when a coworker invited me to her rehearsal.  I thought it was a one time thing, but I definitely fell in love with the music, the instrument, and the fellowship-so I’m celebrating my 10th year of joyfully ringing with friends!  You can definitely find me ringing a lot of the time.  I just finished my 4th year with the Merrimack Valley Ringers.  I also have worked to grow the membership of Randomly Bronze, a pickup ensemble for ringers who love to gather on a whim and sightread or throw together performances for Spring Ring and Festival Conference this year in a slightly more rehearsed manner.  I conduct an adult handbell choir at my church and will be adding a feeder children’s chime choir and youth bell choir this coming year.   I currently am serving as the Area 1 Chime Loan Chair and have enjoyed working with Area 1 members to promote ringing for young people.

When I’m not working with all things handbell and handchime, I love to knit, read, and teach.  In my day job I work as a PreK teacher for a local PK-8 school.   I’ve published several children’s books-and look forward to writing and publishing a handbell picture book with my best ringing friend in the future!

Vision for Area 1:

I believe that youth and young people are the key to the future success of our Area.  For many years our Area has enjoyed hearty success and big numbers of members at Festival Conferences, yet our youth numbers have declined sharply.  We need to address this and bring young people and education towards the forefront of what we do in order to ensure the strength of our Area in the future and to continue to promote our mission of educating others in the art of handbell ringing. I plan to continue to work with the educational liaisons and other members to bring more handbell and handchime opportunities and awareness to music educators across the Area.  My goal is for our Area to have a few of our own youth groups at Festival Conference 2025.

Another key aspect of what will keep our membership ringing is the fellowship we all enjoy when ringing as part of a group.   So many of the ringers I spoke with during Festival Conference this year spoke about their long lasting friendships and time spent with other ringers as the driving force behind attending festival conference.  Others attended to create new friendships and for the opportunity to learn from other ringers.  Still more recounted fond memories of Family and Friends Handbell Camp, Youth Ring, and Festival Conference attendance in past years including highlights such as the Talent Show(or No Talent Show depending on who you ask!)  We need to build in more opportunities for fellowship and communal ringing into our future events and conferences. This will add so much value to the membership fee(just $9 a month-3 coffees at Dunkins, or 2 at Starbucks!) and will help us retain the members we have.  My personal passion project is finding a way to bring Friends and Family Handbell camp to our Area again in 2024.

The last portion of my vision would have us reaching out to those members with support and opportunities to gather and grow.  While I’m fortunate to live in the part of our Area that could throw together a Winter Workshop in less than 48 hours, not all of our members have access to close support or ringing opportunities nearby.  There are also those whose programs have been hard hit by the pandemic and have not been able to bounce back.  To that end, we need to create and maintain systems for all members to have a voice at the table. This will provide all members with the supports they need to grow as ringers and maintain strong programs and relationships.  Part of my commitment to this was asking anyone I could find at Festival Conference 2022 what brought them to the Festival and what keeps them coming back year after year.  We have committed to this in the past, and I think with continuing efforts we will be able to ensure the success and health of Area 1 for years to come.

We are the original HMA Area, and we can continue to innovate to provide a model for other Areas in the future.  David Harris told me that in Area 1 anything is possible, and I absolutely agree with him!  I look forward to the opportunity to continue to serve Area 1 in whatever capacity is needed and with great joy and gratitude for all of the many friendships and excellent education I have received to this point.