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AMTA Board of Directors

Meet the AMTA Board of Directors

Lori Fogus Gooding

Lori Fogus Gooding, PhD, MT-BC, President

Lori is Associate Professor of Music Therapy at Florida State University. In addition to her role as President Elect, she serves on the editorial board for the Journal of Music Therapy and is a past president of the SER-AMTA. She has published and presented nationally and internationally and is the recipient of multiple grants, including a Fulbright award to Malaysia. Dr. Gooding’s clinical work has primarily been hospital-based, and she also worked in public school systems. Her research interests include music therapy-based psychosocial care, music therapy education policy and practices, and work-life factors for music therapy practitioners and students. 

President Elect - currently open

Amber Weldon-Stephens

Amber Weldon-Stephens, EdS, MEd, LPMT, MT-BC, Immediate Past President

Amber is the Music Therapy Department Chair and Internship Director for the Fulton County School System in Atlanta, GA which has become one of the largest school system music therapy programs in the nation with 16 therapists on staff serving over 70 schools in the school district and has trained over 100 interns from all over the United States. Amber has served as Vice President, President Elect and President for AMTA as well as President of the Southeastern Region of AMTA and the Music Therapy Association of Georgia. Amber’s degrees are in music therapy, multiple and sensory disabilities and special education administration.

Wendy Woolsey

Wendy S. Woolsey, MA, MT-BC, Vice President

Wendy is an Instructor of Music Therapy and the Clinical Coordinator at Seattle Pacific University. She is an able bodied, neurotypical, Japanese American raised predominantly in a white culture. A music therapist for over 26 years, she has served locally on the Washington State recognition task force, and the board of directors for both the Washington state and Western Region Associations for music therapy.  A past chair of The Certification Board for Music Therapists, she currently serves at AMTA Vice President.


Andrea Dalton

Andrea Dalton, MA, MT-BC, Vice President-elect

Andrea has spent the last 5 years with the Center for Trauma Informed Innovation at Truman Medical Centers in Kansas City, MO. Drawing on 12 years of experience in trauma-sensitive clinical services and program development as a music therapist in inpatient mental health and residential nursing facilities, Andrea provides consultation to healthcare, education, and social service organizations to develop resilience-focused strategies to support their staff and the people they serve. Andrea has served the profession of music therapy as president of the Kansas City Metro Music Therapists and the Midwestern Region of AMTA, as the Regional Presidents’ Representative to the Board, as an Assembly delegate and committee representative.  She is a Certified Leadership Coach.

Edward Kahler

Edward P. Kahler, II, PhD, MT-BC, Treasurer

Ed has been a music therapy clinician for more than 30 years working in psychiatric and rehabilitation hospitals.  His research interests include music therapy with the visually impaired, music therapy with geriatric patients, and the training and skill development of music therapy students.  He co-authored a recent study of the use of music in the State Schools for the Blind and is a co-author of a chapter in the AMTA publication Music Therapy:  An Introduction to the Profession.  Dr. Kahler received his degrees from the University of Georgia, Texas Woman's University, and The University of Kansas. 

Jean Nemeth

Jean M. Nemeth, PhD, MT-BC, Secretary

Jean’s 39-year clinical career has focused on children with special needs. She has held numerous AMTA positions including CEC & Standards Co-Chair, ETAB, and Assembly Delegate Service on the AMTA Board of Directors includes Council Coordinator, Vice President Elect, Vice President, and presently Secretary. A frequent regional, national, and international presenter and podcast contributor, Jean has received New England Region and national Service Awards. She is a contributor to the AMTA publication Effective Clinical Practice in Music Therapy: Early Childhood & School Age Educational Settings. Her dissertation, Essential Music Therapist Attributes for Relationship-Building with Children: Does our Profession Train Personal Abilities? examined music therapy training.

Natalie Generally Kirk

Natalie R. Generally Kirk, MMEd, LPMT, MT-BC, Council Coordinator for Association Services

Natalie is a licensed, board certified music therapist and a certified music teacher with over 15 years’ experience working in the school setting and private practice. She is the owner of Small Steps Music LLC and provides music therapy services in Fulton County Public Schools.  She has served in a variety of state, regional, and national roles within the field of music therapy, including President of the Music Therapy Association of Georgia and Chair of the Continuing Education Committee for the South-Eastern Region of AMTA. Natalie currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors for the American Music Therapy Association and President Elect for the South-Eastern Region of the American Music Therapy Association.

Amy Smith

Amy R Smith, PhD, CCLS, MT-BC, Council Coordinator for Professional Practice

Amy is currently a Post Doc Research Scholar at the Children’s Mercy Research Institute in Kansas City Missouri. She earned her PhD at the University of Kansas in 2019. Dr. Smith has significant clinical experience in pediatric medicine. She has worked in the Houston Medical center and Melbourne Australia. Dr. Smith has publications in music therapy and nursing journals. Her current research involves music interventions with preterm infants. Dr. Smith is also a vocalist interested in vocal health and the clinical use of voice in music therapy. Dr. Smith is a member of AMTA and has been awarded the Arthur Flagler Fultz Award (AMTA) and the New Faculty Research Award (Sam Houston State University).

Alejandra Ferrer

Alejandra J. Ferrer, PhD, MT-BC, Council Coordinator for Education and Clinical Training

Alejandra has coordinated the music therapy program at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee since 2015. Prior to Belmont, she taught at Ohio University and The Ohio State University. As a clinician, Dr. Ferrer provided music therapy services in a variety of settings including Nationwide Children’s Hospital, The James Cancer Center and Solove Research Institute, and Twin Valley Behavioral Healthcare. Previously, Alejandra served on the American Music Therapy Association’s Academic and Program Approval Committee and the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee.

Heather WagnerHeather J. Wagner, PhD, MT-BC, Regional President Representative

Heather is a music therapy educator, clinician, and supervisor with 25 years of experience. She is an assistant professor at SUNY New Paltz. She has extensive clinical experience with children and adults in medical, rehabilitation, and mental health settings, focusing on integrative approach to health and recovery. Heather is a fellow of the Association for Music and Imagery and a GIM trainer-in-training. She serves AMTA as the Regional Presidents’ Representative, Disaster Relief Task Force Coordinator, and a COVID-19 Task Force member. Regionally, she serves on the Academic Program Approval Committee and on the Assembly of Delegates.

Angela Snell

  • Angela M. Snell, Speaker of the Assembly

Angie is a school music therapist and educational consultant from Monroe, Michigan. She specializes in music therapy services in least restrictive environments, assessment, and special education law. She is an experienced change agent with graduate degrees in Educational Leadership and Special Education Administration. She has served in leadership roles at all levels inside and outside of our field. In addition to AMTA Speaker, she serves on the Michigan Music Therapy Task Force, Michigan Music Education Association’s Inclusive Instruction Committee, and Clinical Coordinator for Roman Music Therapy Services. She is a local, regional, and national presenter and author on related topics.

Gary Verhagen

Gary L. Verhagen, LCAT, MT-BC, Assembly of Delegates Representative

Gary has been a board-certified music therapist for 35 years. He earned his Bachelor's Degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and his Master's Degree from the University of Miami.  Currently, he is working with adolescents with emotional disabilities at Fairfax County Public Schools in Northern Virginia. He has served as Treasurer and then President of the South Florida Music Therapy Network, the Virginia Music Therapy Association, and finally the Mid-Atlantic Region of AMTA. He served as Parliamentarian for the Mid-Atlantic Region for 10 years.  He has been a delegate to the AMTA Assembly for over 20 years and currently is in his second term as an Assembly Representative to the AMTA Board of Directors.

Debbie Bates

Debbie Bates, PhD, MT-BC, Assembly of Delegates Representative

Debbie is Music Therapy Manager at the Cleveland Clinic where she has clinical, research, administrative, and supervisory responsibilities. She provides services to patients and families in the Taussig Cancer Institute, with a special interest in blood and marrow transplant. She received her Bachelor of Music in Music Therapy from the University of Dayton and her Masters and PhD in Music Therapy from Temple University. She is an adjunct educator for the Masters of Music Therapy programs at Augsburg University MN and in the Masters and Music Therapy Equivalency Distance Learning programs at St. Mary-of -the-Woods College IN.

Eric Waldon

Eric G. Waldon, PhD, MT-BC, Assembly of Delegates Representative

Eric is Associate Professor and Program Director of Music Therapy at University of the Pacific in Stockton and San Francisco, CA. In addition to board certification as a music therapist, Dr. Waldon is a licensed psychologist in California. He currently serves on the American Music Therapy Association Board of Directors as an Assembly Delegate Representative and is a member of the International Music Therapy Assessment Consortium. He serves on the AMTA Research Committee and publishes on topics such as clinical assessment and research practices among music therapists.

Lauren Daniels

Lauren Daniels, MLIS, MT-BC, Historian/Parliamentarian

Lauren is both the Music and the Library Specialist at Los Encinos School in Los Angeles, where she works with neurodiverse children.  A former Program Director for Able ARTS Work in Long Beach, California, Lauren also works with adult wellness and mental health in private music therapy practice, and is an Advanced GIM Trainee with the Therapeutic Arts Institute.


Adonia Calhoun Coates

Adonia Calhoun Coates, CAE, CMP, Chief Executive Officer

Adonia is the Chief Executive Officer of the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA). Previously, Ms. Coates served for thirteen years at the American Thyroid Association (ATA). She brings more than 20 years of experience in strategic governance, partner relations and organizational management. Prior to ATA, Ms. Coates developed educational programs for the Association for Community College Trustees, and led multi-million-dollar NIH contracts focused on research and program management at Palladian Partners. An American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) Diversity Executive Leadership Program scholar and seasoned association volunteer, she is dedicated to advancing the association’s mission, goals, and initiatives while engaging the diverse community of music therapists.