2023 Elections

MMEA 2023 Elections -- Candidate Profiles


 Jared Cassedy Jared Cassedy

Jared L. Cassedy is the K-12 Performing Arts Coordinator for the Lexington Public Schools, Massachusetts where he oversees and supports all music and dramatic arts programming and curriculum development in collaboration with the performing arts teachers, and also conducts the LHS Wind Ensemble. He is the recipient of the 2015 GRAMMY Music Educator Award furnished by the GRAMMY Foundation and The Recording Academy having been selected out of a pool of more than 7,200 nominees nationwide and most recently was recognized as a 2022 National Music Teacher of Excellence by the Country Music Association (CMA) Foundation. He is currently the chairperson for the Massachusetts Music Educators Association Northeastern District and serves on the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) Equity Committee, Strategic Planning Committee, and the Council of Music Program Leaders. Jared also serves as a teacher leader for the Connected Arts Network (CAN) and prior to coming to Massachusetts, was the President-Elect for the New Hampshire Music Educators Association (NHMEA).

Beginning his career in 2005 as a music teacher at Windham Middle School, in Windham, NH, Jared was appointed as the first Director of Bands for the newly constructed Windham High School directing all instrumental ensembles in 2009. Until 2016, Jared held the position as Director of K-12 Fine and Performing Arts responsible for the supervision and evaluation of teachers as well as the development of curriculum. From 2016 to 2018 Jared spent two years working as the first Director of K-12 Performing Arts for the Salem School District in New Hampshire (his alma mater) where he helped to define, develop, and strengthen the department’s capacity through curriculum and assessment development, collaboration, teacher supervision and effectiveness, and district-wide programming.

Jared’s continued collaboration with his students and colleagues has enabled his ensembles to be selected to participate in a myriad of national performances and festivals in New York City (National Band and Orchestra Festival at Carnegie Hall and the New York Wind Band Festival at Carnegie Hall), Chicago (Festival of Gold), and at the Bands of America (BOA) National Band Festival sponsored by Music for All and Yamaha in Indianapolis. His ensembles have also been selected to perform at the NAfME Eastern Division Conference, for the Mayor of Quebec City and Governor of Montreal, and most recently at the Pacific Basin International Music Festival in Honolulu, Hawaii (2023).

Jared is also the conductor of the New England Conservatory Preparatory School’s Jr. Massachusetts Youth Wind Ensemble, a position he has held since 2016 where he works with students within the Greater Boston area who rehearse and perform actively throughout the school year. Prior to this appointment, Jared was the director of the NH Youth Wind Ensemble. He has conducted a myriad of regional honor bands across all states in New England, has given a variety of lectures on leadership and best practices in teaching including TEDx talking about his journey and philosophies through education and has co-presented the session, “Fine Tuning Ensemble Culture and Why it Matters: Intentionally Creating a Positive Community through Conversation and Collaboration” at the International Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic in 2021. In 2011 the New Hampshire Band Directors Association honored Jared with the “Outstanding Young Band Director of the Year Award.” He was also nominated for New Hampshire Teacher of the Year in 2014. Jared graduated Summa cum Laude from the University of New Hampshire – Durham where he received his Bachelors of Music degree in Music Education and has a Masters of Education degree in Curriculum and Instruction with a focus in Educational Leadership from Southern New Hampshire University. He is a member of NAfME, MMEA, NBA, and ASCD, and the prestigious Pi Lambda Theta Education Honors Society.

 Eddie Wilkin Eddie Wilkin

As a conductor, guest speaker, educator, and pianist, Dr. Eddie Wilkin encourages everyone to find their artistic voice through music and self-discovery. Eddie’s philosophy is built on past experiences at home, in school, and through his recent musical activities. Eddie thoroughly enjoys working with students of all ages in vocal and instrumental ensembles of varied sizes and experience levels. Most importantly, Eddie is deeply passionate about creating collaborative systems that contribute to a living, breathing, and nurturing environment that fosters whole-child education. Eddie believes that this environment can be built through cultural and mindful awareness and metaphysical understanding of self-discovery.

Eddie is currently the Music Teacher at Nantucket Intermediate School in Nantucket, Massachusetts. He is also the Founder of Lighthouse Education and Coaching (providing PD and educational opportunities for the education workforce) and the Artistic Director and Conductor of the Nantucket Community Music Centers’ Community Chorus. Formerly he was the Director of Choral Activities at Fair Haven Union High School in Fair Haven, Vermont. Previous conducting appointments have been as the Artistic Director and Founder of The Slate Valley Singers (a community chorus) and the Conductor for the Rutland City Band and the Union Church of Proctor; Lakes Region Youth Orchestra, Grace Church in Rutland, Vermont, and as a guest conductor with The Philharmonic Orchestra “Mihail Jora” of Bacau, Romania. Eddie holds an Ed.D. from the University of New England, a MM in Choral & Orchestral Conducting from the University of Rhode Island, and both an MM.Ed & BM.Ed in Music Education from Castleton University. Currently, he is enrolled in a mentorship program with the New York Chamber Orchestra of New York City, studying conducting under Salvatore Di Vittorio.

Eddie has been an active conductor and teacher of large choral and instrumental groups such as concert choirs, chamber ensembles, symphony orchestras, wind ensembles, and chamber strings. Current professional appointments include the NEMFA Social Media Chair. Past professional assignments include the NEMFA Choral Manager, Past-President of the Green Mountain Music District, and formerly VT-ACDA Student Activities Chair. Through his enjoyment and craft of leadership, Eddie has received many honors and awards, including but not limited to the GMMDV New Music Educator of the Year (2016), ARSU Teacher of the Year (2017), UVM Teacher of the Year (2017), Grammy Music Educator Semi-Finalist (2018 & 2019), Vermont, Teacher of the Year, Finalist (2018), and GMMDV Music Teacher of the Year (2019).


Claire Leath  Claire_Leath

Claire Leath is a Band Director at Vassal Lane Upper School in Cam-bridge, Massa-chusetts. At VLUS, Claire is responsible for concert band rehearsals and group lessons for grades 6 and 7. Previously, Claire taught band in New Bedford, Massachusetts at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. She also served as the Assistant Director for the New Bedford High School Whaler Marching and Concert Bands. As part of this position, she was actively involved in all facets of the band program including competitive marching and concert band, winter guard, and percussion ensemble. Claire is passionate about diversity and equity in classical music spaces, specifically in large ensembles, and is actively involved in research and discussion of how to further bring those concepts into public schools. She is proactive in ensuring her own ensembles are working towards being spaces where all students can feel safe and successful through the use of standards based grading and UDL.

Claire has performed on piano, euphonium, trombone, clarinet, voice, and as a conductor across eastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Highlights include the Greater New Bedford Chamber Choir (soprano), “Godspell” (conductor), and the American Band College Director’s Band (clarinet). She has recently begun pursuing performing opportunities in the Cambridge area, including performing in pit orchestras and the Boston Orchestra Book Club (trombone). Claire received a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education, Magna Cum Laude, from the University of Rhode Island in 2016, and a Master's Degree in Music Education from Central Washington University as part of the American Band College program in 2022.

 Nicholas_Quigley Nicholas Patrick Quigley

Nicholas Patrick Quigley (they/he) is a practitioner and facilitator of eco-conscious, therapeutic musicking. They have self-produced multiple records of original compositions, soundscapes, and electronic music. A licensed educator in Massachusetts, Quigley currently serves the Randolph Public Schools as an elementary general music specialist. Their diverse and dedicated service extends beyond the classroom as a member of the Randolph Educators Association's Contract Action Team and as a Co-Organizer of the Play On Music Festival.

Nico has presented research and professional development for educators in school district settings and multiple academic conferences. Their research on DIY musicking and pedagogies centering on expressive arts integrations and trauma-informed teaching have appeared in the Journal of Popular Music Education, Massachusetts Music Educators Journal, and Teaching Music, respectively.

Quigley is a graduate of the University of Massachu-setts Lowell (BM, Music Business, cum laude) and Boston University (MM, Music Education), where they were inducted into Pi Kappa Lambda. They are currently studying in the Professional Applications of the Expressive and Creative Arts CAGS program at Salve Regina University. Their critical praxis is rooted in soil, leisure, and an understanding that sustainable, transformative, life-giving musicking is a universal birthright.

 Arthur_Thovmasian Arthur Thovmasian

Arthur Thovmasian is the instrumental music teacher at Long- meadow High School where he directs the Symphony Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, Concert Band, Jazz Band, Pep Band as well as teaches Studio Production. He is in his 7th year of public-school teaching and served in a similar role at Southbridge High School prior to his time at LHS. During his first year at Southbridge High School, he was awarded Educator of the Year.

The ensembles at LHS have been part of commissions by composer Steve Danyew for band as well as orchestra and are currently working in part of a consortium with the South Shore Conservatory with a commission by Sally Lamb McCune. LHS ensembles have also regularly participated in the MICCA festival each spring.

Arthur is an active member of the MICCA executive board and an active member of MMEA-WD where he is the orchestra librarian, scholarship coordinator and string coordinator. He has also been a manager for the western district festival orchestra. Arthur completed his undergraduate in Music Education from the University of New Hampshire and completed degrees in trombone performance from the Eastman School of Music (MM) and Boston University (DMA). In his spare time Arthur is an avid runner and has completed 12 marathons, an ultra-marathon and several mountain races.


 Stephanie_Riley Stephanie Riley

Stephanie Riley is the 8-12 Choral Music Director at Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School.

In addition to her choral directing responsibilities, Mrs. Riley teaches Beginning Piano, Music Technology, History of Rock and Roll, Intro to Music Theory, and AP Music Theory. Stephanie is also the advisor to D-Y’s Tri-M Music Honor Society Chapter.

During her career, Stephanie has brought her choirs to perform at prestigious venues such as the Massachusetts State House, participated in the Handel and Haydn High School Outreach Program, performed the inauguration for District Attorney, Michael O’Keefe, events to benefit Children’s Cove, coordinated a collaboration of Cape Cod High schools and the Cape Cod Symphony, and partnered with other schools on Cape Cod to perform a variety of choral Masterworks.

Mrs. Riley is an active member of the Music Education Community, currently serving as State Treasurer and is the All State Conference Chair. In the past she has served as Chairperson for the Southeast District, Past President of The Cape Cod Music Educators’ Association where she pioneered the All Cape Vocal Jazz Festival. Stephanie holds the position of Choral Editor for the Massachusetts Music Educators’ Journal after previously serving as Technology Editor and regularly writes for both the MMEJ and Pan Pipes: a quarterly journal for Sigma Alpha Iota, Music Fraternity. Mrs. Riley regularly presents sessions on technology in the music classroom and grant writing.

Mrs. Riley actively performs with the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Tanglewood Festival Chorus and locally with The Chatham Chorale and Chatham Chorale Chamber Singers. In addition to her teaching and singing endeavors, Stephanie is the Assistant Choir Director at the First Congregational Church of Chatham, MA as Chancel Choir Director.

Mrs. Riley holds a BM in Music Education from The Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam, MMed. In Music Education from The Hartt School of Music at the University of Hartford, and CAGS in Choral Conducting from Messiah University.


K-12 Administrative Rep

 Lisa_Leach Lisa Leach

Lisa Leach is the Performing Arts Liaison of the Worcester Public Schools and the proud supporter of over 75 music, dance and theater teachers and 25,000 students. Lisa received her undergraduate degree from Tulane University and her graduate degree from Syracuse University. She is the Founding Director of Worcester UNITES bringing instrumentalists of all ages from across the Worcester Public Schools to make music and become Citizens, Artists and Scholars Every day, Everywhere. She has served on the Growing Music in Mass subcommittee, has presented at previous MMEA conferences and is on the adjunct faculty of Worcester State University.


Higher Education Rep

Ruth_DebrotRuth Debrot

Dr. Ruth A. Debrot espouses a joyful approach to music-making. Presently, she is the coordinator of music teacher licensure and lecturer in music education at Boston University. Her journal publications include Frontiers in Psychology, The Journal of Popular Music Education, The Arkansas Segue, The Orff Echo, MENC’s Spotlight on General Music, and the Massachusetts Music Educators Journal. She contributed book chapters to Points of Disruption in the Music Education Curriculum, and Living Song: Singing, Spirituality, and Wellbeing. Research presentations include the NIME 8, Desert Skies Research Symposium, the Mayday Colloquium, and the Connecticut, Maryland, and Massachusetts Music Educators Association. Debrot is a featured clinician on the NAfME Academy: A Professional Development Webinar Series. Academic and teaching honors include Pi Kappa Lambda, the Lowell Mason Award, the SGMM Award for Excellence in General Music and The MMEA Distinguished Service Award. Prior to her appointment at Boston University, Ruth enjoyed a highly successful career as a middle-school music educator.

Sommer_ForresterSommer Forrester

Sommer Forrester serves as an Associate Professor of Music and Coordinator of Music Education at the University of Massachusetts Boston. She teaches undergraduate music education courses in instrumental music and conducting, advises undergraduate music majors, conducts the UMass Boston Orchestra, and oversees all aspects of the Music Teacher Licensure Program. Prior to her appointment at UMass Boston, Forrester served as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Toronto Scarborough. A former classroom teacher, Forrester taught instrumental music for eight years in three different countries: Kuwait, Israel, and Canada. During her tenures overseas at American International Schools, she taught elementary music, beginning band, and directed middle and high school level ensembles. In addition, Forrester was an instructor at a local conservatory of music that served refugee children from the West Bank. Forrester returned to her native country to assume the role as Director of Bands at Havergal College, a private girls’ school in Toronto Canada.

Forrester is committed to creating a learning space that privileges the process of learning over a definitive goal. She frequently collaborates with scholars, educators, and performers to inspire and guide her research and creative output, while serving as an example for students. She is deeply invested in examining teacher education in different disciplines to inform and re-imagine pre-service and in-service music teacher education. Forrester examines education in different contexts including overseas, to understand the experiences of first-generation minority students in North American schools. Her current research project involves studying music teaching and learning in Palestine. Forrester is actively involved in community partnerships and service-learning initiatives within the Boston Area. Current partnerships include: Boston Public Schools, YoFES, and the GIFT program. In 2018, Forrester was awarded the Community-Engaged Innovative Teaching Award from UMass Boston.

Forrester’s research explores teacher education, teacher knowledge, curriculum, and conducting pedagogy. Forrester is published in prominent peer-reviewed research journals and practitioner journals including the Journal of Research in Music Education, Journal of Music Teacher Education, Update: Applications of Research in Music Education, and the Massachusetts Music Educators Association Journal. She is an active guest conductor, clinician, and conference presenter. Recent presentations include regional, national, and international music education conferences and teacher in-service workshops in the United States, Canada, China, and Scotland. Forrester serves as a peer reviewer for the American Educational Research Association, and serves on the Advisory Board for the Music Educators Journal and the executive board of the Society for Music Teacher Educators.

Dr. Forrester earned her PhD in Music Education from the University of Michigan with a cognate in Wind Conducting; a Master of Music Education degree from the University of Michigan; a Bachelor of Education from the University of Toronto; and an Honors Bachelor of Music Education from the University of Western Ontario. Forrester is an active member of the National Association for Music Education, Massachusetts Music Education Association, Society for Music Teacher Education, International Society for Music Education, American Educational Research Association, and College Band Director’s National Association.

 Minji_Kim Minji Kim

Dr. Minji Kim is currently serving as Assistant Professor of Music at Gordon College. At Gordon, she directs College Choir and Women's Choir and teaches music classes including conducting, and choral method and literature. Besides her position at Gordon, she also serves as Associate Conductor for National Children's Choir Boston Chapter. Before joining Gordon College, she served as Visiting Assistant Professor and Assistant Director of Choral Studies at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where she directed the University Chorale and Chamber Consort, and taught Undergraduate Choral Literature, Advanced Choral Conducting, and Choral Methods classes. During her doctoral studies at the University of Maryland (UMD), she conducted and assisted the UMD Chamber Choir, University Chorale, and Treble Choir, and taught undergraduate conducting classes. Additionally, she served as a chorus master for major orchestras such as the National Symphony Orchestra and Baltimore Symphony Orchestra for various works including Across the Lines of Dreams, by Roxanna Panufnik and Rossini's Stabat Mater, and Kurt Weill's oratorio“The Road of Promise” and Handel's Messiah for UMD Symphony Orchestra.

Dr. Kim's conducting and performances have been recognized for their excellence. Her performance of Mozart’s Vesperae Solennes de Confessore with the University of Maryland Summer Chorus was selected as a finalist for the 2019-2020 American Prize. She was a selected finalist for the 2021 American Choral Directors Association Graduate Student Conducting Masterclass, a conducting fellow at the 2019 National Collegiate Choral Organization masterclass with María Guinand, and a fellow conductor and singer with the Yale Norfolk Chamber Choir with Simon Carrington.

Dr. Kim holds a Doctor of Musical Arts in Choral Conducting from the University of Maryland, a Master of Music from the Ohio State University, and a Bachelor of Music in Composition from Yeungnam University, South Korea.

Massachusetts Music Educators Association

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Michael LaCava
Interim Executive Director
PO Box 920004
Needham, MA 02492