Beth Ann Edwards, Chair,

serves as Director of Arts, Handbells, and Youth Choirs at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Des Moines, Iowa, where she directs four handbell choirs and children’s and youth vocal choirs, oversees all arts programming, and assists with worship planning. She holds a Master of Church Music degree with Handbell Emphasis, a degree in secondary English education, a Bachelor of Fine Arts in visual art, and a Master of Business Administration. 

Her ringing career began 30 years ago in a church handbell choir. For the past 15 years she has attended advanced ringing events including Bay View Week of Handbells and Distinctly Bronze, and currently rings in the community handbell ensemble, HeartBeat. She is a founding member and co-director of Des Moines Concert Handbells, an advanced community handbell ensemble. Beth Ann has directed all ages and levels of handbell ringers since 1999.

The education and networking opportunities provided by Handbell Musicians of America have been instrumental in her development as a ringer and director, and led her to attend graduate school to receive a Master of Church Music degree in 2012 at Concordia University Wisconsin, studying with Dr. John Behnke. She has made life-long friendships through handbell ringing, and has learned first-hand how membership in a handbell choir can change lives.

Beth Ann has been Area 8 Membership Chair, she chairs the Donald E. Allured Original Composition Award committee, and has served as secretary on the Iowa (AGEHR) board. She has held several appointed and elected positions in community and civic organizations including Des Moines Choral Society, Arts in the City, and Junior League.

Beth Ann is married and has three grown children and three grandchildren. She balances her music activities with painting in her studio, travel, knitting, and reading.

Sharon Schmidt, Chair-Elect, has been active in Handbell Musicians of America since 1994 when she joined the Illinois State Committee. She’s still on the committee, helping to organize events.

At the national level, Sharon was faculty coordinator for the 2003 National Seminar, chair for ten Distinctly Bronze events from 2004-2013, co-chair for the 2007 Distinctly Bronze European Tour, served on the 2008 International Handbell Symposium Committee, and served as the national Certification Program Coordinator. In 2013, she received the President’s Award in appreciation of her service to the Guild.

After learning to ring in the 1970s, Sharon began directing at Gary UMC in Wheaton, Illinois, in 1985, where she continues to direct Altar Bells and Sanctuary Ringers. A current and charter member of The Agape Ringers, a Chicago-area community handbell ensemble formed in 1992, Sharon was its first president. She has taught many aspects of the art of handbell ringing at the state, area, and national levels since 1995.

Educated as a chemical engineer with BS & MS degrees, Sharon worked at the Amoco Research Center as research engineer, economics analyst, supervisor, and project manager. Since leaving in 1999, she’s studied music theory and accounting, and exercised her project management skills on Guild events and church projects in addition to operating a small business serving the handbell community.

Pat Latshaw, Secretary, has been involved with music since an early age and studied flute at the University of Kansas while earning a B.A. in German. She has been ringing for 30+ years and is currently the director of handbells at Lutheran Church of the Resurrection in Prairie Village, Kansas. Pat enjoys solo and ensemble ringing and is a member of Rezound!, Kansas City’s auditioned community handbell ensemble. She has been the ensemble’s Publicity Director for 8 years.

She is active as a clinician and instructor at regional workshops and Area 8 Festivals and has been involved on the organizing committees for the Fall Show-Me Ring in Missouri and for Resonate, an advanced ringing workshop in Kansas.

She currently serves as secretary on the board of directors for the Midwest Chamber Ensemble in Prairie Village, Kansas.

Kristin Kalitowski-Kowal, Past Chair,

is completing her final term on the Executive Committee, having also completed two terms as Treasurer, and terms as Chair-Elect and Chair. She previously served as Illinois Chair, starting mid-term in ‘07 after being Illinois Registrar. That year she also was equipment loan coordinator for the Peoria Area 8 Festival, organizing all those handbell sets! She has maintained her commitment to the Illinois Committee as the current Registrar. This year she also has a new role – organizing volunteers for National Seminar in St. Louis!

 At a young age, Kristin caught the handbell bug, and began ringing at Santa Maria in Mundelein, Illinois. At college she became manager and treble sectional leader for Purdue Bells. When not ringing, she pursued a civil engineering degree. She now works as a project manager at Civiltech, managing roadway projects from concept to construction.

A current musician with The Agape Ringers, Kristin served four years as President of the group, motivated in both planning and budgeting. Her fiscal responsibility aided the group in planning for their future. She currently organizes the group’s educational events and was co-chair for eight years for the group’s annual holiday production. A recent highlight of her ringing career was being part of the All Star Ensemble at National Seminar in Grand Rapids.

Always apt to share her love of handbells, Kristin has taught at private and Guild workshops in the Midwest, and Areas 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 10. Sunday mornings you can find her directing a junior/senior high bell choir at Gary UMC in Wheaton.

The rest of her time is spent with husband Joe and twin daughters who can’t wait to ring handbells too.

Lori Fenton, Treasurer, started ringing handbells  over 35 years ago at her church.  She currently rings with the Des Moines Concert Handbells as well as her church bell choir.  In true bell-addict fashion, 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 a vocalist and sings with numerous groups in Des Moines including the Des Moines Vocal Arts Ensemble, Des Moines Community Orchestra and her church choirs.

Lori is currently serving as the Vice President for the Des Moines Concert Handbells and previously served as Treasurer and President for the the Des Moines Vocal Arts Ensemble.  She co-chaired her company’s United Way Campaign for two years.

Her day job is as a Finance AVP with Global Atlantic Life & Annuity in Des Moines.  In addition to handbells, she is addicted to all things Disney, wine, and cats, currently sharing her home with five of them, all named after composers.