Area 8 Elections

Voting begins June 1

It’s time to elect our next Area 8 Executive Committee members! Every 2 years we elect our Chair Elect, Treasurer, and Secretary. Voting will be open from June 1 through June 15. Click here to vote. 

CHAIR ELECT

Lori Fenton
Byron W Jensen, Ph.D.

Lori Fenton has been ringing handbells for almost 40 years and currently rings with the Des Moines Concert Handbells. She has participated in several national ringing events including the Bay View Week of Handbells, Distinctly Bronze East and West and Virtuoso.  She toured Italy with Desert Bells in 2008 and attended the International Symposium in Vancouver in 2016.

Lori is also a vocalist and sings with the Des Moines Vocal Arts Ensemble and serves as an Alto section leader with her church choir.

Lori is completing her second term as the Area 8 Treasurer.  She also serves as the Vice President for the Des Moines Concert Handbells and Treasurer of the Des Moines Vocal Arts Ensemble. Lori is actively engaged with United Way of Central Iowa’s Women United, currently serving as the Campaign Chair.  

Her day job is as a Finance AVP with Global Atlantic Financial Group in Des Moines.  In addition to handbells, her interests include traveling, reading and listening to podcasts. 

Byron W. Jensen, Ph. D.‘s introduction to handbells began when he was appointed assistant professor of music at Ottawa University (OU Kansas) in 1990. Having no prior experience, his department chair contacted Judy Anderson in Topeka who attended a couple of handbell rehearsals, introduced him to Cynthia Dobrinski’s Rondo Passacaglia, and the rest is history. During Dr. Jensen’s thirteen years at Ottawa, the OU Ringers toured annually with the Choir and performed across the United States.  The OU Ringers were twice invited to the Kansas Music Educators Conference in Wichita. In the latter few years, he directed handbells at Westminster Presbyterian Church where his spouse (Deb) and their children (Hannah and Nathan) were introduced to handbells.

In 2003, Dr. Jensen accepted an appointment at Hastings College (Nebraska) where he founded the HC Handbell Choir (HCHC) at the request of another department chair. He immediately began conducting handbells at First Presbyterian Church where he was met with Petit-Fritzen (PF) handbells. (Let us just say, that was an interesting experience!) A year later Hastings College purchased five octaves of bells, chimes and requisite equipment, and has since added several bass bells and chimes. In 2005, the same purchase of handbells and chimes was made at First Presbyterian Church; the PF bells are still in use. As conductor and artistic director of the Hastings Symphony Orchestra (HSO) since 2004, a semi-professional orchestra, Dr. Jensen connected with Kevin McChesney to lead a Nebraska Committee handbell workshop in Hastings, and have the Pikes Peak Ringers perform “Ring of Fire” with the HSO. A few years later, KC Congdon led a workshop in the community.

 HCHC has toured extensively in Nebraska and Colorado; invited twice to perform at the Nebraska Music Educators conference where they also presented a session on handbells in the music classroom; performed for the Nebraska Handbell Committee workshop (Kevin McChesney, guest conductor); the Area 11 Spring Ring in Loveland, CO (Michael Joy, guest conductor); and have appeared four times with the HSO for Christmas concerts. Dr. Jensen has commissioned four handbell pieces on behalf of HCHC, of which three are currently in print…and of course, he wonders why he did not think of this idea earlier. Dr. Jensen has attended a few AREA 8 Festivals, including driving the U-Haul that collected several sets of handbells and delivered them to Omaha. He has served on the Nebraska Committee for many years, and is presently the recording secretary.

In his 43-year career as an educator and conductor, Dr. Jensen has served innumerable times in administrative positions, committee appointments, and involved with academic development. He is retiring from Hastings College this May with plans to remain involved in handbells, including the revisiting of several selections he has composed/arranged, but never quite had time to complete.

What started as a, “I’ll be conducting what!?!” thought in his 1990 interview at Ottawa University, became a journey to include his family, friends, church ringers, hundreds of middle/high school through college students, and enthused handbell colleagues and composers.

Secretary

Sara Washington
Nancy Youngman

Sara Washington has been involved with handbells for 47 years and has acquired many bell friends from all over the country while ringing and directing numerous choirs in Kansas, Indiana, Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, Iowa, Georgia and Missouri.

Sara is a past AGEHR Area VIII Board Member having served as Secretary from 2000-2004 and 2020 to present. She currently is ringing with Rezound! Handbell Ensemble and directing at Platte Woods Church in Kansas City.

Besides ringing, Sara enjoys spending time with her extended family and doting on her new grand baby.

Nancy Youngman, of Lincoln, Nebraska, has been a handbell choir director since 1984, and currently directs 4 handbell choirs in two churches with ringers’ ages ranging from 5 to 94!  She is the founder/director of Bell-issimo, Lincoln’s auditioned Community Handbell Choir. 

Nancy has degrees in Instrumental Music and German and is retired from Lincoln Public Schools where she taught both subjects.  Since 1990, she has been a member of the Nebraska State Handbell Committee and is currently State Chair (as well as in 1994 – 1996).  She served on the Area 8 Board of Handbell Musicians of America as Secretary from 1996 – 1998, and is currently the Area 8 Chimes Chair, with the purpose of getting chimes into the educational setting.  She has taught at workshops throughout Nebraska and neighboring states, as well as at Area 8 Festivals and has served as guest clinician for several handbell workshops.  

Nancy is an accomplished saxophone player, loves animals, and her husband and two adult children (as well as her daughter-in-law) all play handbells!

Treasurer

Amy Knudsen
Tami Kofron

My name is Amy Knudsen. I would be honored to serve you as the Area VIII Treasurer for the next two years. Here’s a little bit about me:

I came into handbells late. I was a counselor at a high school music camp, and one of the area church handbell directors brought in his four octave bells as a class. I volunteered to play and was hooked; even after tower swinging directly into a glass door of a stereo! (Nothing broke, but the director did cringe.)

After college, my husband and I moved to an area where the church I joined had a three octave choir needing ringers. I rang there for about six months before we moved to Kansas. 

Again, the church I joined had four octaves of handbells, but they had no director. I volunteered and started by jumping in with both feet.  I’m seriously not sure how we survived that first year, but after attending the Area VIII conference in St. Charles the next summer, I came back with lots of ‘fixes’ and ideas.  We made it, and slowly became ringers.  After eleven years, I had to step back from the handbells as I had two very active girls in junior high and high school. I was a competition dance mom, a marching band uniform chair for three years and helped plan the after-graduation parties for each year.

I subbed every now and then in the Southminster Presbyterian Church choir when they needed me, eventually becoming a full-time ringer.  In 2019, I auditioned and made the Lawrence Community Handbell Choir and had one cycle of concerts before COVID hit.  We continued to meet every now and then to keep up our skills, and started full time again this fall. 

I have had the opportunity to work for Wendi with Third Bell on the Right, so I’ve traveled to the past two national conferences and other area conferences.  

When not performing in handbells, I play the bassoon in The Kansas City Wind Symphony and the American Legion Band of Greater Kansas City.  I also have been the personnel manager for the KCWS since 2014.

On weekends, I can also be found playing with our two rescue dogs, reading or cleaning up the acreage we purchased in July of 2020.

 

Tamara Kofran: I am a life-long resident of Cedar Falls, Iowa, except for a brief few years when I lived in North Carolina.  I graduated from the University of Northern Iowa in 1984 with a BA in Administrative Management.  I am the Business Manager for Modern Builders, Inc. in Janesville, Iowa, and have been employed there for over thirty years.

I started ringing handbells around 1990 with my home church and have been hooked ever since.  I’ve been solo ringing since about 1995 and have had the privilege of duet ringing with Carolyn Jensen (also from Cedar Falls) since about 2008.  In addition to the solo and duet ringing, I’m a member of the handbell choir at St. John Lutheran Church here in Cedar Falls. I currently direct the handbell choir at my home church, First Christian Disciples of Christ.

In addition to attending various local bell events and our Area VIII handbell festivals, I’ve participated in several national events such as HMA National Seminar, Distinctly Bronze East and West, and SEE (Solo and Ensemble Extravaganza).