Congratulations to our newly elected Executive Committee Members!
The following candidates have been elected to the Area 8 Executive Committee. For the next two years, they will join Sharon Schmidt, who will serve as Chair, and Beth Ann Edwards, who will serve as Past Chair. Chris Peck, our newly elected Chair-Elect, will continue on the board as Chair in 2022 and Past Chair in 2024.
Chris Peck, Chair-Elect
Sara Washington, Secretary
Lori Fenton, Treasurer
Chris Peck, Chair Elect, was introduced to handbells during his middle school / high school years at King of Kings Lutheran Church in Gardner, Kansas, with Kipp Willnauer. Chris went on to earn his Bachelor of Arts from Bethany College (Lindsborg, KS) where he had the opportunity to learn from educator, Bethany alum, and Malmark representative, Eunice Tarum. His senior recital included handbells, both as a soloist and a composer.
Chris went on to teach band and choir in public schools in Kansas and Iowa for several years. He has been involved with church music for the past twenty-plus years in various churches throughout Kansas, Iowa, and Nebraska. For the past five years, he has served as Director of Choir and Bell Choirs at Trinity Lutheran Church in north Omaha, Nebraska. Chris is also the Choir / Chime Choir Director at Eastmont Towers, a retirement community in Lincoln, Nebraska. Chimes have been a recent addition to the activities available at Eastmont while he has been involved there.
Chris rang for several years in the Omaha area bell choir “River City Ringers”, under the direction of Joyce Miller, and is currently ringing in the Lincoln area bell choir “Bell-issimo”, under the direction of Nancy Youngman. Chris is an accomplished handbell composer / arranger of about 10-12 published handbell pieces.
Chris has served Area 8 and the general handbell world in various capacities. In the early 1990s, he worked behind the scenes at a few Area 8 summer conferences helping shuffle equipment around to various rooms and helping with whatever necessary. He also served a term as the Area 8 Education (or Chime?) chair. In the later 1990s, he served a term as Iowa’s chair. He also spent a couple summers as one of the directors of Intergenerational Handbell Camp, in Parkville, Missouri.
When Chris is not directing bells or choir, or driving a school bus for Lincoln Schools, Chris is training for his next marathon. He is currently training for his first 50-miler, in October.
Chris is married to his wife, Melissa, and live in Lincoln, Nebraska (Go Big Red!) where they enjoy their small family of rescued cats and dogs.
Sara Washington, Secretary, started her handbell ringing career at First UMC in Manhattan, KS in 1975 and directing at First Baptist Arlington, TX in 1991. She has been selected for many advanced and auditioned choirs at HMA sponsored events, for the Solo and Ensemble Dream Team, rang at Bay View Week of Handbells, and has rung in and directed choirs across 8 states.
Sara helped start several community choirs: The Rhapsody Ringers of Manhattan, KS (1978), Tulsa Festival Ringers (1991) Kansas City Handbells (1997) and Rezound! Handbell Ensemble of Kansas City (2001), has served two terms as Secretary for Area 8 Handbell Musicians of America, and over the years has directed and taught at festivals, workshops and camps.
Wanting a challenge while living in Atlanta, GA she rang with three advanced choirs: Geneva Ringers at Central Presbyterian Church, The Atlanta Concert Ringers and Golden Bells of Atlanta, and subbed at many churches throughout the city.
Sara and her husband Syl recently moved back to Kansas City to be closer to her huge family (9 sibs + 4 steps and their families). She enjoys family gatherings, biking, walking, baking, sewing, reading and training her new pound puppy, Sisko.
Lori Fenton, Tresurer, began ringing bells 35 years ago in Sioux City, Iowa. For the last 26 years she has lived in Des Moines, Iowa, where she currently rings with the Des Moines Concert Handbells, of which she is a founding member. She has served Area VIII previously as Iowa Chair and currently serves as Area Treasurer. She has participated in several national ringing events over the past 15+ years including the Bay View Week of Handbells, Distinctly Bronze East and West and Virtuoso, an advanced ringing event sponsored by the Raleigh Ringers. She toured Italy with Desert Bells and attended the International Symposium in Vancouver in 2016.
Lori is also an accomplished vocalist and sings with numerous groups in Des Moines including the Des Moines Vocal Arts Ensemble, Des Moines Community Orchestra and her church choir, where she serves as the Alto section leader.
Lori’s board experience includes currently serving as the Vice President for the Des Moines Concert Handbells, Treasurer (and Past President) for Des Moines Vocal Arts Ensemble and Vice Chair for the Board of Music and Fine Arts at her church.
Lori earned a BA in Accounting from Buena Vista College and has spent 26 years working in the life insurance industry. Outside of work and music, Lori enjoys traveling, all things Disney, listening to podcasts and being a cat mom.