Staff & Volunteers

FWCC Staff:
(To email a member of the staff, click on their name)

Denice Beights, Executive Director
Mrs. Beights has many years of experience in both the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors and has a diverse background in fundraising, training, management, and volunteerism.  In addition to her role with the FWCC, Mrs. Beights is Adjunct Faculty for IPFW Continuing Studies, and teaches in the Leadership and Supervision series. She is an active community volunteer and is currently serving as President of the IPFW Alumni Association Board of Directors. She is a church musican and leads the brass ensemble at her church. She was a 2012 Athena Young Leadership Development nominee, was awarded the 2010 IPFW Alumni Citation,  is a 2007 graduate of Leadership Fort Wayne and a 2006 Future 40 Award winner. Mrs. Beights is a saxophonist and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in  Music Education from IPFW.  During her free time, she loves watching Colts football with her husband Mike and her son Joey.

Jonathan BusarowArtistic Director
Jonathan Busarow is the Artistic Director of the Fort Wayne Children’s Choir and directs the Concert Choir, Youth Chorale, and Chamber Singers.  Mr. Busarow also serves on the voice faculty at Indiana University - Purdue University - Fort Wayne. Previously, he served as director of the Valparaiso University Men’s Choir and instructor of voice.  Additionally, he served as the sabbatical replacement for his mentor, Dr. Christopher M. Cock, directing the Valparaiso University Chorale.  Prior to his appointment at Valparaiso University, he served as a graduate teaching assistant at The Ohio State University and has worked at several churches in Ohio and Indiana.

Mr. Busarow is in frequent demand as a clinician and as a tenor soloist. Recently, he has been invited to conduct at the American Choral Directors Association National Conference, the Indiana Music Educators Association Convention, and the Bach Institute at Valparaiso University. Mr. Busarow also serves as the Reading Session Chair for the American Choral Directors Association Central Division Conference.

Mr. Busarow holds a Bachelor of Music degree in vocal performance from Valparaiso University, and a Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting from The Ohio State University as well as a Kodály Certification from the Kodály Institute at Capital University.  Mr. Busarow holds music education licensure from Ohio State University. He has studied conducting with Christopher Cock, Dennis Friesen-Carper, Lenki Igo, Lilla Gabor, Robert J. Ward, and Hilary Apfelstadt.

Janet Treadway, Director of Operations
Mrs. Treadway has been dedicated to the choir for over sixteen years, both as a volunteer and an employee. Her two daughters are alumni of the Fort Wayne Children’s Choir. Mrs. Treadway is an active participant on the Northrop Choral Association Parent Board and has served as co-chair of the Classique Show Choir Invitational as part of the Northrop Choral Association for the past 10 years, even though her children have been out of Northrop High School since 2007.  She still follows the show choir circuit and enjoys seeing current and former FWCC members in the local show choirs.She holds a degree in management from Akron University and is a 2011 graduate of Northeast Indiana Nonprofit Alliance’s Emerging Leaders Program. Emerging Leaders is a program that helps to strengthen the leadership and organizational skills of mid-level and senior executives in northeast Indiana’s nonprofit industry sector. In her spare time, she is a member of the Junior League of Fort Wayne and sings in her church choir with her father!

Susie Peirce, Director of Outreach
Mrs. Peirce is known in the community for her collaborative work with nonprofit organizations. Although it has been several years since she played saxophone and marched in her high school band, she loves music and has an appreciation of music performance. Mrs. Peirce has worked with parents and children as a Fort Wayne Community Schools elementary school media clerk and television producer and as WFWA PBS39 Education Outreach Coordinator. Her work at the television station included collaborative community programs and projects. Educated as a professional registered nurse, she worked at Parkview Hospital and Orthopaedics Northeast. Currently Susie is a School Buddy for Big Brothers Big Sisters, member of the United Way of Allen County Investment Cabinet and early childhood investment team chair, and serves on additional committees for Fort Wayne Community Schools and United Way. Married to John Peirce, she is the mother of two adult children. Her spare time includes watching football, reading, walking, needlework, sewing, and playing with her two dogs, Joey and Riley. 

Nancy Swanson, Executive Assistant
After a three-year position as administrative assistant with Love In Deed - Sharehouse, Mrs. Swanson has returned to the FWCC as financial manager and executive assistant, a position she held from 2004-2010.  Her previous experience includes four years at the University of Saint Francis and three years with all for One, productions.  She is an active member of the Grabill Missionary Church and can often be found preparing meals for families in need.  Mrs. Swanson holds a B.S. in Organizational Management from Goshen College. Her husband, Jon, is an active supporter of the FWCC, often seen taking photographs and assisting at performances. Mrs. Swanson's daughter, Hope, is an alum of the Fort Wayne Children's Choir Youth Chorale. 

Tena Crist, Volunteer Coordinator
Mrs. Crist is a native of Fort Wayne and is currently pursing her MBA with a concentation in health care administration. She graduated from IPFW with a degree in Mechanical Engineering Technology. Volunteering has been a part of her life. While employed at KUS she served as the company coordinator for the Junior Achivement Bowl-A-Thon and March of Dimes fundraisers and United Way workplace campaign. She also has volunteered with her church and other activiies in the community. The mother of five daugheters, she still finds time to volunteer for FWCC having chaperoned two tours and servnig as chair of the Parent Organization fundraising committee. Mrs. Crist, and her husband, Jeremy, still have three daughters at home. Daughter Brianna participates in the Youth Chorale.

Irene S. Ator, Assistant to the Artistic Director, Concert Choir, Youth Chorale and Chamber Singers Accompanist
Mrs. Ator has been accompanying the Fort Wayne Children's Choir since she traveled to Shrewsbury, England in 1999. Marking her twelfth year with the FWCC, she  traveled with the Concert Choir to England for the Canterbury Festival this summer. With many tours and concerts in between, she feels extremely privileged to work with our talented singers and directors. Mrs. Ator is in demand as an accompanist and as a private piano and organ instructor. She spent twenty-five years in church music ministry.  Since the early 1980s, she has been organ instructor at IPFW and the organist and harpsichordist with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic. Her Music Education degree was earned at Indiana University and further piano and organ study took place at the Eastman School of Music in her hometown of Rochester NY.She is married to Dr. James Ator, retired Professor of Saxophone, Composition and Theory at IPFW and one of our 2008-2009 FWCC commissioned composers.

Susan LaCroix, Director of Apprentice Choir and Preparatory Program
Mrs. LaCroix is in her seventeenth year with the Fort Wayne Children’s Choir. A native of Minnesota, she received a Bachelor of Arts in Education from Concordia University in River Forest, IL. She received additional training in the child’s voice, conducting, and Level One Kodály Certification at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN. She has operated a private piano and flute studio and taught music education at IPFW, Unity Lutheran School, and with Southwest Allen County Schools. She is currently a music education specialist and band director at Holy Cross Lutheran School. Her oldest two daughters are alumnae of the FWCC, and her youngest daughter is a member of the FWCC.

Kathy Coutler, Accompanist for Apprentice Choir
Mrs. Coulter has been with the FWCC for seven years. She received a Bachelor of Music at the College of Wooster in Ohio and a Masters of Art in Music Education at Montclair State University in New Jersey.  She taught music for many years in New Jersey, New York, Iowa, and Indiana, most recently at Canterbury School in Fort Wayne. She is currently teaching preschool at the SonShine Christian Academy in Fort Wayne, thoroughly enjoying her class of three year- olds. She lives in Auburn with her husband, Scott, two of their three adult children, and four cats. 

Phyllis Boester, Director of Lyric Choir
Mrs. Boester received a Bachelor of Music in Music Education from Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne. She teaches general music at Harris Elementary School. At First Wayne Street United Methodist Church, Mrs. Boester is the Associate Choir Director and Director of Children's Music. She has completed Levels I & II of Orff-Schulwerk and is a member of the NIOSA Chapter. She completed three levels of Kodály training at Capital University and two levels of Creating Artistry for Choral Conductors at Butler University.  She is the Area 2 Middle School Coordinator for the Circle the State with Song Festival and a dedicated member of Heartland Chamber Chorale. Her two sons are both alumni of the FWCC program.

Steve Snyder, Director of Treble Choir
After discovering his love for vocal music in the All-Ohio Youth Choir, Mr. Snyder received his collegiate musical training at Miami University.  He then worked for the Ridgewood school district in Ohio for ten years, serving as choir director for the middle school and high school.  He moved to Fort Wayne in 2011, and was hired by the Goshen Community Schools to found the high school’s first men’s choir, direct the Crimson Choir and teach guitar class.  He earned his Master’s degree in vocal music education from Capital University in the summer of 2013.  In his spare time he enjoys learning new instruments, as well as playing Ultimate Frisbee and disc golf.  He currently resides in Kendallville with his wife, Kristen.  

Donna Hartleroad, Accompanist for Lyric Choir & Treble Choir
Mrs. Hartleroad was the former accompanist for Concert Choir working with Mr. Fred Meads, former FWCC Artistic Director. She also accompanies at IPFW where she assists students in preparation for performances, competitions, and degree recitals. She also maintains a private piano studio. Mrs. Hartleroad serves as the Director of Music at Shoaff Park Baptist Church. Previously, Mrs. Hartleroad was coach and accompanist for the IPFW Department of Music, was Assistant Musical Director for the IPFW University Singers, Chamber Singers and Opera Ensemble.   Mrs. Hartleroad has a degree in piano performance from Cedarville University in Cedarville, Ohio and has done post-graduate work at Ohio State University.   She and her husband Randy, an engineer, have two children.

Becky Walter, Director of Whitley Community Children's Choir
Mrs. Walter is retired after 30 years of teaching elementary music in Whitley County. She is now focusing her energies on creating musical and artistic opportunities through the Whitley Arts Partnership for people of “all ages and stages”.  She earned her music education degree from Western Michigan University and her Masters degree from IPFW. She has completed Levels I and II of the Orff-Schulwerk training, is an Endorsed Trainer with Education Through Movement, and has a certification in First Steps in Music. a music literacy program for the very young. Mrs. Walter and her husband, Larry, are the proud parents of a Brady Bunch and six grandchildren. 

Jolene Stewart, Accompanist for Whitley Community Children's Choir
Jolene Stewart graduated from Huntington University in 2007 with Bachelor degrees in piano performance and church music.  She taught piano at Ascendo Piano in Fort Wayne until 2008.  Mrs. Stewart served as the Director of Worship ministries at Oak Grove Church of God in Columbia City until 2010.  She currently has her own piano studio in Columbia City and serves 40 students.  Jolene and her husband, Elijah, volunteer on the worship team at First Church of God.  In her spare time she plays piano for weddings, funerals, church services, and accompanies many soloists for the ISSMA competitions.  

Pamela Pierson, Director of DeKalb Community Children's Choir
After eighteen years as a music teacher in Fort Wayne Community Schools, Pamela K. Pierson is currently the elementary principal at Lakewood Park Christian School in Auburn, IN where she has worked since 2011. Mrs. Pierson earned her Bachelor's degree in music education from Taylor University, Fort Wayne as well as her Master's in curriculum from Indiana Wesleyan University.  She is also certified in Levels 1 and 2 of Orff-Schulwerk.   As a past member of the Indiana Music Educators Association, Mrs. Pierson served the organization as an elected board member and as the Area 2 Circle the State with Song Coordinator.  She is frequently asked to present at their annual conference for music teachers.  A singer since the her elementary school days and a past member of the Heartland Chamber Chorale, Mrs. Pierson currently enjoys singing at her church, Taylor Chapel United Methodist Church and leading Kids Worship.   She and her husband, Ed, make their home in Auburn where Mrs. Pierson enjoys reading and quilting and together they cheer on their nieces and nephews in their various activities.

Kristen Snyder, Accompanist for DeKalb Community Children's Choir
Mrs. Snyder discovered her love for music while taking piano lessons as a young child. She furthered her musical training at Indiana Wesleyan University where she received her Bachelor’s degree in Music Education. Mrs. Snyder also holds a Master's degree in Music Education and Kodaly Certification from the Kodaly Institute at Capital University. After spending five years in China teaching at the International School of Qingdao, she returned to Indiana in 2011. Currently Mrs. Snyder is the music education specialist at James R. Watson Elementary in Auburn and at Waterloo Elementary in Waterloo. In her spare time, Mrs. Snyder enjoys watching cooking shows, experimenting with new recipes, and traveling to new places with her husband Steve.

Board of Directors:

President: Jeff Gery, Lincoln Financial Group

Vice President: Debbie Powers, Kelly Services

Treasurer:  Jenny Lemmon, Andorfer and Co, LLP

Secretary: Ingrid Laidroo-Martin, Fort Wayne Community Schools

Members at Large:

John Foxworthy, Phillips Financial

Jeff Fritz, Dupont

George Guido, Carson Boxberger

Charley Hire, Hire's Automotive

Michelle Merritt, King + Knight

Carrie Minnich, Dulin, Ward and DeWald, Inc.

Barbara Resch, IPFW

Justin Shurley, Fort Wayne TinCaps

Tony Strickler, Sweetwater Sound

Advisory Board:

Randy Brown, Allen County War Memorial Coliseum
Suzon Motz, Community Member
Barb Richardson, WAJI Majic 95.1
Bob Roets, Wooden Nickel

Music Advisory Board:

Joan Phillips, retired, President

Fort Wayne Community Schools:
Erin Bean, Weisser Park Elementary School
Wendy Bloom, Haley Elementary School
Amy Maupin, Price Elementary School
Janet Piercy, Arlington Elementary School
Kay Bishop, Towles Intermediate School

Antwerp Local Schools:
Mary Smith, Antwerp Local Elementary

Northwest Allen County Schools:
Diane Barton, Hickory Center Elementary School
Sheila Gagen, Arcola Elementary School

Southwest Allen County Schools:
Anita Kowalski, Summit Middle School
Donna Lehman, Aboite Elementary School

Catholic Schools:
Vannessa Liggett

Parent Organization:

President: Jamie Wilsey-Heckman
Vice President: Seema Reddy
Treasurer: Alice Minnick
Fundraising Chair: Jamie Wilsey-Heckman
SCRIP Chair: Alicia Davis
Social Chair: Jennifer Balkenbusch
Logo Chair: Tracey Wahl
Board Liaison: Charley Hire
Staff Liaison: Tena Crist

The Parent Organization was formed to support the social activities of the choir and help provide fund raising opportunities to defray tuition costs and tour expenses for the singer and the organization. The success of the Parent Organization depends on volunteers to serve on the social committees, fund raising committees, committee chairs and choir representatives.


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