Area 3 Board Members & Appointees

Board of Directors:

Chair-Paul Brill (2019)
Chair-Elect-Al Reese (2021)
Treasurer-Leslie Lewis (2019)
Marilyn B. Converse (2019)
Neesa Hart (2021)
Steven Holton (2019)
Sarah Sheffield (2019)
Barb Scheffter (2021)

Area III State Chairs

DelMarVa Chair-Vacant
Maryland Chair-Beau Lochte
Virginia Chair-Debra LeBrun
North Carolina Chair-Kerry Johnston
Metro Washington Chair-Jerry Hill

Appointed Staff

Secretary to the Board-Theresa Carpenter
Bell-O-Gram Editor-Carl Ashley
CHIME Loan Program-Kath Wissinger
CHIME Grant Program-Jerry Hill
Community Choir Liaison-Joe Kennedy
Co-Coordinator of Events-Mark Gourley
Co-Coordinator of Events-Lauren Cataldi-May
Education Liaison-Alice Real
Historian-Karen Eggert
Layout Coordinator-Gregg Bogovich
Membership-Laura Blauch & Laura Shelton
Mentor Chair-Ken Bissell
Scholarship Committee Chair-Linda Lamb
Webmaster-Lawrence Stewart

paul brill
Paul Brill, Chair

Paul has been involved in ringing and leading handbells for almost forty years. He grew up in Silver Spring, Maryland and attended the University of Maryland where he received a Bachelor of Science in Music Education in 1982. In 1985, he graduated from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky with a Master of Church Music. Following seminary, Paul served the First Baptist Church of Montezuma, Georgia until 1990 when he came to Northern Virginia to serve on the staff of Ox Hill Baptist Church. He is still serving at Ox Hill and currently holds the position of Associate Pastor for Music and Worship, a role in which he oversees thirteen ensembles, including five handbell choirs that involve a wide range of ringers from children to senior adults. When not at church, Paul enjoys sports, traveling and walking the family’s chocolate lab, Hank. EMAIL

Al Reese, Chair-Elect

Al is the Musical Director of Virginia Handbell Consort and is active as a conductor, clinician and composer. He holds degrees from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Concordia University Wisconsin and Norfolk State University. He is an Adjunct Instructor in the Music Division of Norfolk State University and the Music Director/Organist at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Suffolk, VA. He and his wife Lois reside in Carrollton with their two rescue dogs, Prancer and Vixen. EMAIL

Leslie Lewis, Treasurer

Leslie has been ringing handbells since 1979 when she was introduced to them at the Montreat Worship and Music Conference. In 1988 she branched out into solo and ensemble ringing and began directing the children’s and beginning adult bell choirs at First Presbyterian Church of Gastonia, NC in the early 1990’s.  Due to changes in the music program Leslie is no longer directing, but she is ringing whenever possible. Leslie has been ringing in the bass section for Distinctly Bronze East since the event began in 1999 and participated in the Distinctly Bronze European Tour in 2007. She has been treasurer for the Mid-Carolinas Handbell Festival committee since 1998 and has been responsible for table layout since the festival began. Leslie is currently ringing with Queen City Ringers and participated in the All Star Choir at the National Seminar in 2014 and Pinnacle in 2015. After graduating from NC State with a degree in computer science, Leslie worked for IBM and First Union National Bank for a combined 15 years before turning a part-time role preparing income taxes into a career.  Leslie is currently President of Unified Income Taxes and Accounting, Inc in Gastonia , NC where she prepares all types of tax returns and represents clients during IRS tax audits and appeals. In 2009, Leslie added the role of Director of Commission Accounting for a growing Charlotte, NC based Brokerage Firm with branches in seventeen states. EMAIL

marilyn converse
Marilyn B. Converse, Board Member

Marilyn Converse began ringing handbells in her church in Pittsburgh, Pa.  When she moved to Maryland and found there was no handbell choir at the church which her family decided to join, she took the steps necessary to get the church interested in buying handbells and getting a choir started.  She has been directing handbell choirs at this church, Trinity Lutheran in North Bethesda, Md. , since she founded the program in 1985.  Over the years she has had as many as three handbell choirs and has involved over 120 children, youth, and adults in the program.  Marilyn has served as Area 3 District Chair and as Repertoire Chair.  She also attends Area 3 events and the National Seminar annually.  She holds a Bachelors Degree in Psychology and Biology and a graduate degree in Physical Therapy, which she practiced for over 10 years.  In addition to her work in handbells, she is currently working part time as store manager at a private school.  She lives in Rockville, Md. with her husband, Bob.  They have three grown daughters.  Her husband and children have all played handbells in her choirs.  Marilyn also enjoys attending concerts, playing piano, needlework, traveling, and spending time with family and friends. EMAIL

Neesa Hart, Board Member

Neesa Hart began playing handbells in 4th grade at First Baptist Church in Richmond, VA. After six years of highly unsuccessful piano lessons, she persuaded her mother to let her make the switch. Thus began a life-long love of handbell musicianship and the relationships, experiences, and musical camaraderie that comes with ringing. She is the program manager for the Stafford Regional Handbell Society — a community ringing organization in the Fredericksburg, VA area. She is responsible for concert planning for the Society’s 9 ringing ensembles, inventory and maintenance of the equipment, and administration of the Society’s Bells After School program — a music instruction program for elementary – high school age students using handbell ringing to teach advanced musical concepts. Founded in 2005, the Society’s youth ringing program enjoys a national reputation for musical excellence and innovation. She is also the organizer for the National Honors Handbell Ensemble, a national youth ringing event the Society sponsors. She is the co-creator of The Great Christmas ring, a mass ringing event for handbells held world wide annually. She has also served AREA 3 in various volunteer capacities as equipment chair and workshop chair for several events. Neesa hopes to bring her commitment for innovations in youth ringing and growth for Handbell Musicians of America to the Area 3 Board. Handbell musicians need innovative solutions to sustaining and growing handbell ringing programs. Thinking beyond the walls of the church, new approaches to community ringing, and a commitment to viable and sustainable youth ringing programs is essential to the future of Handbell musicianship. She would like to serve the members of Area 3 by equipping existing handbell programs to grow and thrive, and by identifying underserved populations and establishing handbell ringing programs at the local level. EMAIL

Steven Holton, Board Member

Steven began ringing handbells with his chuch handbell choir in Doraville, GA when he was a middle school student.  After moving to Virginia he joined the church and handbell choir at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Alexandria where he lives. Steven has a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Georgia Tech, and currently works as a Patent Analyst searching for technical documents related to computer hardware and software.  He is also a member of the Virginia Bronze community handbell choir in Alexandria, VA and serves as the Vice President.  In his spare time, Steven enjoys watching soccer and tennis, traveling, and reading lots of books. EMAIL

sarah sheffield

Sarah Sheffield, Board Member

Sarah’s start into handbells began like so many folks out there.  In 1994 her church purchased a set of handbells.  Since she could read music, she was on the short list of recruits.  Thankfully she jumped at the chance as she has been playing bells ever since.  Sarah currently rings with Queen City Ringers (since 2002 and is currently President) and with The Raleigh Ringers (2017 was her first year!).  Even though she works for an Insurance Agency to pay for her handbell addiction, Sarah received a Music Education degree from Wingate University where her principal instrument was French Horn and secondary instrument was flute.  .  She lives near Charlotte with her husband, Milton, who is a fellow ringer.  Handbell highlights include: 3 performances at Disney World directing the Weddington UMC Youth Handbell Ensemble; participation in Distinctly Bronze East since 2002 and Distinctly Bronze West since 2014-2017; performing the National Anthem for the Washington Nationals and Texas Rangers; and performing onstage with the Raleigh Ringers as part of Virtuoso 2013 and 2015. EMAIL

barb scheffter
Barb Scheffter, Board Member

Barbara Scheffter studied at Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania where she earned the Bachelor of Arts degree in English and the Masters in Education. After marriage and the arrival of children, she realized that singing with the Allegheny College Choir had left more of an impression on her than her college literature studies.  She began to dream of someday directing a choir and in 1986 she started a children’s choir program at New Covenant Presbyterian Church in Aiken, South Carolina.  After moving to Maryland, Barbara started an adult vocal choir at Mt. Airy Presbyterian Church followed by a children’s chime choir at 2001. In 2005 the original children from this group formed a teen handbell choir, and Barb added an adult handbell choir to the church’s musical offerings.  She has directed these groups for 20 years and has used the church’s bells and chimes to teach music to middle and high school students with learning differences at Cornerstone Academy, a private school that meets at Mt. Airy Presbyterian. This fall she begins her second year as an adjunct professor in Music Theory at Frederick Community College in Frederick, MD. In 2009, Barb accomplished another dream, completing a Bachelors degree in Music Education at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC). She has studied handbell ringing, directing and composition by attending several National Seminars, Area 3 events and Master Classes and has begun the Director Certification Process through Handbell Musicians of America . She enjoys composing for choir and handbells and some compositions have been published by Ball Church Music Publications, LLC. Barb(ie) has been married to her wonderful husband Ken (for real) for 34 years. They have two grown daughters and four grandchildren. EMAIL

Mark Gourley, Co-Coordinator of Events

Mark Gourley is Minister of Music/Organist at West Main Baptist Church in Danville, VA, having been a Church Musician for over 30 years serving churches in NC. He is a graduate of Atlantic Christian College (now Barton College) in Wilson, NC where he earned a BS in Music Education and did extensive graduate study in Sacred Music at East Carolina University. He holds a Level II Orff-Schulwerk Certification. He has directed Children, Youth and Adult Handbell Choirs throughout his Church Music Career. Handbell Choirs under his direction have performed in the White House, the NC State Capitol and the NC Governor’s Mansion. He served on the Area 3 Board from 1989-1999 during which he served two terms as NC State Chair, then Chair-Elect, Chair, and Past Chair. While Chair-Elect, Mark Chaired the Area Festival and the Area Young Ringer’s Festival at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg. While Past Chair, he chaired the Area Adult Festivals in VA Beach, VA, Towson, MD, and Winston-Salem, NC. Besides his work on Festivals, he has taught numerous classes in a wide variety of topics for Area 3. In the Spring of 2016, he was the Genesis Conductor for the Chesapeake Festival. He has conducted a number of local festivals in NC and VA. Mark was Coordinator of the NC United Methodist Handbell Festival for a number of years. EMAIL

Lauren Cataldi-May, Co-Coordinator of Events

Lauren Cataldi received her B.M. from the University of Delaware with a Major in Vocal Performance and minors in Church Music and Organ Performance and her M.S.E. from Wilmington University. She is the general music teacher at North Smyrna Elementary School in Smyrna, DE, where she teaches K-4 music, 3 classes of special education music, and directs the school chorus. Lauren holds certificates from the State of Delaware as a Music Teacher of Grades K-12 and Teacher of Students with Autism or Students with Severe Intellectual Disabilities Grades K-12. She is also the Principal Organist for St. Joseph Parish in Middletown, Delaware. Lauren started ringing handbells with First State Ringers from Newark UMC at the age of 14 and has been hooked since. She subs for them seasonally and is an Individual Member of the Handbell Musicians of America. Lauren lives in Smyrna, Delaware, with her husband, Jeff, and two sons (ages 9 and 4). Lauren is an active accompanist in Kent and New Castle counties and volunteers to play for local high school choruses. She loves to travel to Disney World frequently and enjoys helping others plan their Disney vacations.

Beau Lochte, Maryland Chair

Musician, teacher, composer, and conductor with a degree in Music composition from Towson University, Beau Lochte currently directs three handbell programs and teaches over 20 piano students. He arranges original, popular and symphonic music for handbells including Rimsky Korsakov’s Scheherazade and Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A minor. He also performs regularly as a solo ringer and in chamber ensembles. In 2013 Mr. Lochte founded Charm City Bronze Handbell Ensemble (CCB) in Baltimore, MD. This exciting group ranges in age from youth to adult and performed alongside Arsis Youth Handbell Ensemble from Estonia in 2014. CCB has twice participated in the annual Festival of Trees to benefit the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Maryland and has also live-streamed concerts from unique venues in Baltimore such as the historic Bromo Seltzer Tower, the Pagoda in Patterson Park and the Palm House at the HP Rawlings Conservatory. EMAIL

Debra LeBrun
Debra LeBrun, Virginia Chair

Debra LeBrun received her B. Mus. from Syracuse University and her M.M. in Organ Performance from the University of Illinois at  Urbana/Champaign. In October 2010 she became the full-time Director of Music for Raleigh Court United Methodist Church in Roanoke, VA after serving for 24 years as the Minister of Music for the Congregational Church of Littleton, MA. She has been a professional musician for over 30 years, working as a church music director and organist, conductor, accompanist, director for musical theater and opera productions, teacher of piano and organ, and as a handbell clinician. Debra’s love affair with handbells began in college and handbells have played an important role in her life ever since. She is a past member of the New England Ringers and now performs regularly as a handbell soloist. Debra has served on the Handbell Musicians of America Area I Board as Secretary and Chair, as well as being involved in organizing and teaching at many handbell events throughout New England and in Virginia. She has attended five International Handbell Symposiums and was selected to be in the All-Star Choir representing the United States at the 2012 International Symposium in Liverpool, England. EMAIL

photo coming soon
Kerry Johnston, North Carolina Chair

Bio coming soon.



carl ashley
Carl Ashley, Bell-O-Gram Editor

Bio coming soon.



jerry hill
Jerry Hill, Metro Washington Chair & CHIME Grant Coordinator

Jerry Hill is the handbell director at First Baptist Church Alexandria, Virginia where he oversees the handbell ministry and directs the Adoration Ringers and children handbell choirs.  He is also the music director at Christ Episcopal School in Rockville, Maryland where he directs four hand chimes choirs.  Jerry earned his master’s degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.  He has taught in both private and public schools for over 25 years as well as served on several church staffs.  In 2009 Jerry represented the National Association for Music Education on a cultural exchange program to China.  His choirs have performed on national television, regional conferences and recently performed at the National Cathedral. He is a former Area 3 District Chair for Northern Virginia. EMAIL

Kath Wissinger
Kath Wissinger, CHIME Loan Program Coordinator

Director, clinician, teacher, composer, ringer – Kath Wissinger loves all aspects of handbell ringing. This is her third term on the Area 3 Board – the first 2 as Secretary. She directs the teen ensemble “Spectrum” at Massanutten Presbyterian Church in Penn Laird, Va., and teaches 2 music classes (using bells and chimes) for 4th-8th grades as well as K-3 music at Redeemer Classical School in Harrisonburg, Va. She has taught and directed at local, regional, area and national events – for all Levels and ages. Kath has over 50 pieces in print – including a wide variety of ensembles and full choir pieces, some for double choirs, some with instruments, and a few original hymns accompanied by bells. She enjoys writing commissions for special occasions and pedagogical pieces that teach specific skills while still being musical. A former National Park Service Ranger, commissioned handweaver and Elder Hostel teacher, Kath currently teaches piano in her home studio in the Shenandoah Valley. Her website is: EMAIL

Kathleen L. Wissinger: 1050 Cemetery Rd., McGaheysville, VA 22840, 540-289-6973

Joe Kennedy, Community Choir Liaison

Joseph Kennedy has served as a Minister of Music and Organist at several Roanoke churches since 1979. Mr. Kennedy has a degree in Organ Performance, and extensive training in choral and instrumental conducting, from the University of Cincinnati. In addition to performing in recitals, Mr. Kennedy has taught private organ students, and is a church music and sales consultant for the Allen Organ Company. He is also active in various professional musical organizations, including The American Guild of Organists and The Handbell Musicians of America. In 2007 he formed the Mill Mountain Ringers, an advanced community handbell group. His wife is also an organist and they have 2 children – all handbell ringers! EMAIL

alice real
Alice Real, Education Liaison

Alice Real is a general music specialist at Crestwood Elementary in Springfield, Virginia, where she directs an upper elementary handchime ensemble, co-directs a fifth and sixth grade chorus, and teaches preschool through 6th grade music classes.  In addition, Alice directs handbells at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Springfield and performs with Virginia Bronze, an auditioned community handbell ensemble based in Alexandria. EMAIL

photo coming soon
Karen Eggert, Historian

Recently retired from a 25+ year career as a librarian for the International Monetary Fund, Karen serves as the Area 3 historian/archivist helping to organize, preserve and make accessible the Area 3 historical materials for future handbell ringers. She also has a 20+ year stint ringing handbells with various choirs and currently rings with the Anacrusis Handbell Ensemble and duets with Chesapeake Bronze. These efforts have culminated in participating in numerous Distinctly Bronze events, Area 3 festival choirs and International Handbell Festivals. EMAIL

gregg bogovich
Gregg Bogovich, Layout Coordinator

Gregg designs all of the floor plans for Area 3 festivals. He has been listening to handbells since 1996, and has been the unofficial roadie and videographer for his sister Lynn’s various handbell groups, including Anacrusis and the Community United Methodist Church in Crofton, MD. EMAIL

laura blauch
Laura Blauch, Membership

Laura Blauch started playing handbells in 1978, in her hometown of Emmaus, PA. Laura continued to ring after moving to Maryland, and in 2002, she was asked to form and direct a new handbell choir, as her church had received a memorial gift to purchase a new set of handbells. Laura began attending workshops and festivals, and quickly discovered that she loves directing as much as ringing! Laura moved to NC in 2006, and currently directs the Chancel Bells and sings in various choirs at Davidson United Methodist Church in Davidson, NC. Laura has a B.A. in Sacred Music (voice) from Lebanon Valley College and a Masters of General Administration from University of Maryland University College. She is a Senior Financial Analyst with HP. Laura is married to Dave, a Professor of Chemistry at Davidson College and bass ringer in Laura’s bell choir, has 2 wonderful children, Tim and Katie, 4 cats, and in her spare time, loves to play tennis. EMAIL

laura shelton
Laura Shelton, Membership

Laura H. Shelton is the Handbell Ministry Coordinator at Floris United Methodist Church. Laura is a native of Northern Virginia and grew up in various United Methodist Churches in NOVA as a minister’s daughter. She has a BA in Social Science with a concentration in Elementary Education from Virginia Wesleyan College. Laura is married, has one son, and enjoys living in Sterling, Va. with her family.  Laura loves helping people of all ages learn the universal language of music. EMAIL

linda lamb
Linda Lamb, Scholarship Committee Chair

Linda Lamb has been involved with handbells since 1992, as director, composer, and sometime ringer. She is the handbell director at Lexington Park Baptist Church, Lexington Park, Maryland, where she directs two multi-generational choirs. She is list owner of the Frustrated Friends of Finale (FFFinale), an internet mailing list for handbell composers and arrangers who use the Finale music program. As a composer and arranger, she has numerous handbell titles in print. She graduated from Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City, Tennessee, with a B. A. in sociology, and from Concordia University in Wisconsin with a Master of Church Music (emphasis in handbells). She and her husband Ken are the proud parents of two grown children and two grandchildren. EMAIL

lawrence stewart
Lawrence Stewart, Webmaster

Lawrence maintains the Area 3 Web site and is always looking for suggestions to improve or enhance the site’s role in helping Area 3 achieve its mission. He not only enjoys visual design, he also enjoys the musical arts, singing and playing handbells, preferably below C5. 😉 EMAIL