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AMTA 2021 Election: Candidate Responses to Question 3

September 14, 2021 10:03 AM
AMTA Officer Election 2021

American Music Therapy Association Election
Candidates for 2022-2023 Term

Important Announcement from Amber Weldon-Stephens, Nominating Committee Chair, Immediate Past President

AMTA Members!
I’m excited to bring to you the final questions and answers from our 4 officer candidates. Also included is a narrative biography from each candidate. Thank you for taking the time to further understand the heart of service and compassion for our clients and music therapy within each of our officer candidates. If you have any questions regarding the election process, you can reach out to me at
It has been an honor to serve AMTA over the past 10 years. I am excited for our future and the leadership of our organization!
- Amber Weldon-Stephens,
Nominating Committee Chair,
Immediate Past President

Vice President Elect Officer Candidates

  • Leslie Henry, MM, MT-BC
  • Jennifer Sokira, MMT, LCAT, MT-BC

President Elect Candidates

  • Angie Snell, MSEd, MT-BC
  • Wendy Woolsey, MA, MT-BC


Candidate Responses to Question 3

Vice President Elect Candidate, Leslie Henry, MM, MT-BC (she, her, hers):


Leslie Henry serves as Undergraduate Program Director and Assistant Professor of Music Therapy at Alverno College.  She studied music therapy at the now closed music therapy program at UW Milwaukee, completed her Bachelor of Music in music therapy from Alverno College and interned at the Milwaukee County Mental Health Complex.  Leslie earned a Master of Music, specializing in music therapy study from Colorado State University.  Additionally, she is a Neurologic Music Therapy Fellow and has great appreciation for other music therapy theories, receiving the Bonny Method of Guided Imagery herself for self-care during the Pandemic.

A self-proclaimed advocacy devotee, Leslie loves to promote music therapy and help mentor music therapists in a variety of situations.  Serving as a co-chair to the Professional Advocacy Committee for the American Music Therapy Association, a position she has held since 2015 and Leslie has been a member of the AMTA Professional Advocacy Committee since 2009.  She held the offices of Vice President (1996-2000) and President (2000-2004) of the Wisconsin Chapter of Music Therapy and Wisconsin Representative (2000-2004) and GLR Professional Advocacy Representative (2009-2015) to the Great Lakes Region.  A treasured honor, Leslie was the recipient of the 2016 Music Therapist of the Year Award from the Wisconsin Chapter for Music Therapy.

A seasoned music therapist with a variety of work experiences including health and rehabilitation, community music school, intergenerational day care, hospice, behavioral health, and academia, Leslie brings a wide variety of experiences to whatever situation she is involved in.  Believing deeply in giving back to the field she has trained more than thirty practicum students and eight interns. A frequent presenter, she has presented on a variety of clinical and leadership type topics at AMTA and GLR Conferences, has been a reviewer of conference proposals for the Great Lakes Region Conferences and journal articles for Dialogues in Music Therapy Education.

Leslie has been actively involved in her community and has served as president to the local music boosters (2010-2019) and marching band boosters (2009-2015), canvassed for a school referendum that brought a full-time music teacher back to the school budget, has been an invited member to the school district visioning committee (2010-2011, 2013, 2017), a little league manager (2002-2007) and coach (2016-2019), Girl Scout Leader (2002-2009), and a church cantor (2000-2017).

She is married, has four children, and three dogs and lives in the Milwaukee area.  Singing, playing, guitar, and piano are her favorite ways to be musical and she also enjoys spending time with her family, crocheting, taking her dogs for walks, canning, and cooking. 

Why do you want to be AMTA Vice President?

I think I have a lot to offer to the Association and I feel compelled to give back to the profession of music therapy. 

I do not shy away from challenges. I have valuable experiences to draw from and I love music therapy deeply.  I am ready to roll up my sleeves and help guide the Association into the future because of my passion, experience, and tenacity.

I have been a Great Lakes Region conference co-chair twice.  I would love the opportunity to plan a conference for you.  It would be important to me to make sure we work together to make the conference inviting, accessible, and affordable. 

I also see the conference as a great occasion to connect our message with the local community.  The confluence of location with a large number of music therapists working in a variety of settings would lend itself to interprofessional understanding.

I am a co-chair of the Professional Advocacy Committee of AMTA.  As part of my service, I have developed many valuable skills that would be helpful to the role of Vice President: active listening, speaking up for issues that are important, and developing alliances and strategies that work.

I have worked collaboratively with the Graduate Director at Alverno College to design CMTE’s, and courses driven by clinical music therapy practice and to help elevate music therapist’s place of prominence at their workplace.  The delivery, topics, and options are innovative and thoughtful.

What do you perceive as the crucial needs to be addressed by our profession: a) within your term of office, and b) in the next 10-15 years?

The most important needs to be addressed are...

Member Services:

  • If the pandemic has taught us anything, we can make our conference experience available on different platforms and accessible from home and from a hotel.  What do music therapists want from a conference, how can we deliver the conference in a way that is meaningful and fits within their budget?  What can we continue to do to make our conference meet the attendees' needs for accessibility and learning needs? 
  • What do music therapists want from their association?  The association has a strong mission toward accessibility to quality music therapy services and it would be helpful to consider the language of how we serve the members too.  Revisiting our mission and vision would be helpful to make sure we are meeting the need.
  • Growing the field to make sure we have enough music therapists and making sure the promotion and advocacy is present to ensure positions are sustaining and fulfilling for those already trained.

Business Development:

  • Develop an advisory board, not composed of music therapists, but of affiliate professions who can bring business, health, education, and fundraising experience to the Association.
  • Promotion and public relations of what music therapy is, crafting and delivering clear language to decision makers and stakeholders that identifies best practices so that music therapists are hired when our expertise is needed. 
  • Our front door is our website, developing a new website that can serve members and the public in a way that is modern and user friendly. 

Vice President Elect Candidate, Jennifer Sokira, MMT, LCAT, MT-BC (she, her, hers):

Jennifer_SokiraOriginally from Springfield, Pennsylvania, I became a board-certified music therapist in 2002 after completing a BS in Music Therapy with a minor in psychology from Duquesne University.  I earned a master’s in music therapy from Temple University in 2006. My career began in Connecticut where my clinical work focused on supporting developmental health in school settings.

I founded Connecticut Music Therapy Services, LLC (CTMTS) in 2005 to increase access to music therapy services, and this organization has grown to employ multiple full and part-time music therapists who provide services to many people each week.  Through my experience as a business owner, I have gained “on the job” training in general business practices, entrepreneurship, finance, human resources, and management, and leadership.

The Sandy Hook School tragedy on 12/14/2012 was significant for me as a person and professional living in close proximity to this event.  As a result, I became deeply involved with the development and daily operations of the Resiliency Center of Newtown, a community-based mental health organization that emerged to support the community’s collective needs.  I worked as a full-time clinician and Clinical Director, supporting our staff and many individuals and communities who sought RCN’s expertise as a resource after mass shooting events.  These experiences resulted in a major pivot in my focus as a clinician.  In my return to private practice, I now support survivors of individual and collective trauma, bolstered also by several advanced trainings in trauma therapy and trauma-informed practices, including Brainspotting Levels 1 and 2 and Bonny Method of GIM, of which I am currently completing requirements. 

Since 2020 I balance my time between clinical work, consulting, teaching and co-management of CTMTS along with my business partner Emily Bevelaqua. I am adjunct faculty for Alverno College’s MMT program and for Quinnipaic University’s minor in music.  I also develop curriculum for and teach with Enlighten CE’s Center for Trauma-Informed Music Therapy Practice.  My interests from a publication and presentation standpoint include MT ethics, trauma therapy, trauma-informed therapy and disaster response.

My involvement in AMTA includes regional and national service. As a member of the AMTA Ethics Board, we rewrote the Code of Ethics and coordinated with the AMTA Executive Board and Assembly to support its adoption. My work together with the Connecticut Task Force led to title protection in 2017 and we continue our efforts towards licensing.  As President of the New England Region, our board achieved extremely strong fiscal growth in an environment of collaboration and respect which allowed NER to greatly increase our membership support and services, including our innovative “Pay It Forward” membership support program. I am grateful for my opportunities as a music therapy leader and for the valuable perspective into the goals, needs, challenges and experience of music therapists they have provided.

In my personal time, I enjoy working in all aspects of musical theater, reading, travel and spending time with my husband Mike and children Ryan and Zachary.

Why do you want to be AMTA Vice President?

First of all, I accepted the nomination for VP Elect of AMTA because I love my work as a music therapist, and I believe in our power and potential as a collective group.  I also believe I have a strong skillset that can assist with expanding and innovating our conference experience, as well as a willingness to serve on the board as a leader, ally and advocate during a time of great change.

Secondly, over the last few years my awareness has shifted to better understand that board leadership positions require significant time, intellectual and emotional effort. The privilege of serving on a board often parallels privilege of other kinds, like socioeconomic, educational, etc. While I am wholeheartedly willing to serve with humility in this capacity, it is abundantly clear to me that equity issues abound in how leaders are recruited and “brought up the ranks” in volunteer organizations like ours. I would endeavor to keep this awareness present in my activities as a board member and I want to actively seek to engage with changing this pattern.

Finally, I accepted the nomination with humility and hope of offering my efforts towards our being able co-create and hold space for ongoing conversations about much needed organizational reflection and evolution so that AMTA may become a better, more supportive, brighter, and truer reflection of who we are as a field. 

What do you perceive as the crucial needs to be addressed by our profession: a) within your term of office, and b) in the next 10-15 years?

a) During my potential term of office, I perceive that our current crucial needs include addressing systemic inequalities, removing barriers to MT training, association membership and conference, and creating opportunities for participation in the association at all levels.  Further, I believe that urgently continuing the work that has been initiated to update and improve all of our association’s policies and procedures is a crucial need in the immediate term, particularly those relating to safety of members and boundaries of the organization. All of these actions can lead to a more supported MT workforce who can better serve clients.

b) In the next 10-15 years I perceive that our work to hone maintain an accessible and equitable organization will be crucial, as we endeavor to meet the needs of many potential clients who are currently not being served by music therapists. To achieve this, the association must provide support to broaden the sustainability, scope and clinical skill set of the music therapy community through encouraging, engaging and supporting music therapists, with an openness to innovation, and through continued efforts in government relations and advocacy and public visibility.

President Elect Candidate, Angie Snell, MSEd, MT-BC (she, her, hers):


Angela M. Snell is a Board-Certified Music Therapist (MT-BC) from Monroe, Michigan. She is known for her work as a school music therapist and educational consultant supporting students ages 0-26 years, their families, caregivers, educators, and communities. To compliment her music therapy degree, she also has concentrated studies in organizational leadership with a Master of Science in Educational Leadership from Capella University and a Specialist of Arts in Special Education Administration from Eastern Michigan University. Angie specializes in school music therapy assessment and program design, least restrictive environment services, community collaboration, and Special Education law. Angie is an experienced change agent recognized for her leadership, knowledge-based expertise, and team building in local, state, and national arenas. She is currently the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) Speaker of the Assembly, the Great Lakes Region of the AMTA Mentor Program Co-Chair, Michigan Music Therapists Task Force member, Michigan Music Education Association’s Inclusive Instruction Committee member, Clinical Coordinator for Roman Music Therapy Services and a part-time Clinical Supervisor for Eastern Michigan University.

Angie received a Bachelor of Music Therapy from Michigan State University in 1984. And began her full-time professional career as the first to be hired under the title of Music Therapist in the Detroit Public Schools, Detroit, Michigan in 1985. She then went on to develop a full-time music therapy program for Monroe County Intermediate School District (MCISD), Monroe, Michigan, and enjoyed a long successful career there retiring in 2020. While at MCISD, Angie developed several long-lasting programs, including a direct service and consultation music therapy service delivery model, district wide early childhood music therapy services and parent-child workshops, community outreach programs, the Music Therapy Music-Related Behavior (MT-MRB) assessment tool, an Annual County-Wide Music Show, a MCISD music therapy internship program, and grant funding for the design and implementation of the Music Adventure Playground Project (MAPP). Angie also expanded the music therapy component of the Monroe County Holiday Camp to include community outreach and involvement.  

Angie is a passionate and engaged advocate for music therapy and those that can benefit from specific music therapy interventions. She has an active leadership track record with community, state, and national organizations that impact music therapy clients, potential clients, and other stakeholders. She has served in several elected and appointed organizational positions for the Michigan Music Therapists and Great Lakes Region (GLR) of AMTA, in addition to her current national position as AMTA Speaker of the Assembly and member of the Board of Directors. She was instrumental in establishing non-profit status for the Michigan Music Therapists, as well as leading successful advocacy efforts to include music therapy in the Michigan Mental Health Code. Angie has received several awards and honors, including the Monroe County Chapter of the Council for Exceptional Children Honorary Life Whole Apple Award, AMTA National Award of Merit, and the GLR-AMTA and Michigan Music Therapists Honorary Life Awards, among others. She is a local, regional, and national presenter and author on related topics.

Why do you want to be AMTA President?

So many of you, both members and potential members, have urged me to run for AMTA President during this time of uncertainty and needed change. I am humbled by this vote of confidence, knowing it is not about me running for this office, it is about “we.” The changes we need require us to think together. We can think together most effectively in a culture that values challenging questions and one that embraces an openness to different perspectives. This takes work, listening, collaboration, trust, and the willingness to make mistakes together. I absolutely know we can do this given strong communication, an equity-based structure, and the ability to hold each other accountable in a way that supports growth and learning.

I have served in leadership roles as a clinician at local, state, regional and national levels inside and outside of our field. My role as Speaker of the Assembly has given me unique insight into the overlapping and opposing viewpoints that currently exists in AMTA. And it has given me experience in facilitating national public meetings during unrest and calls for change, while maintaining meaningful connections with a wide variety of constituencies. The needs of our organization couples well with my experience in communicating complex content, understanding laws, regulations, and finances, and facilitating consensus building between unlikely groups. I believe I have the personal skills, background, and stamina to bring us together at this juncture in history. 

What do you perceive as the crucial needs to be addressed by our profession: a) within your term of office, and b) in the next 10-15 years?

I have spoken with countless music therapists and music therapy students from around the country. Each can easily state a list of critical needs within our field, including recruitment, educational program requirements, advocacy, wages, retention, interprofessional collaboration, technology, research, professional development, safety, and among others, the funding and governance structure of AMTA. However, diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility are central to the quality and future of our profession and have implications for all other areas of need.

Within my term of office, focusing on DEI and accessibility will be essential to the foundation of current and future needs. We will learn how to have and value difficult conversations. Examining our organizational structure, educational programs, and research base with an equity lens will provide clarity regarding changes that benefit all students, professionals, future professionals, and most importantly, the clients. It will inspire innovative approaches to our organization’s financial structure. And it will solidify an organization- and field-wide commitment to a change in culture.

In the next 10-15 years, we will spring-board from a stronger equity foundation to further develop the quality of our training, wages, and professional recognition. We will be less reactionary and more focused on leading with creative solutions. Students from our degree programs will have grown in number and diversity. Our research practices and initiatives will reflect our heightened awareness, advancing innovation, and leadership in ethical practices. All will be thriving in music therapy’s role in health care, equitable education, and wellness throughout the human lifespan.

President Elect Candidate, Wendy Woolsey, MA, MT-BC (she, her, hers):


I knew I wanted to be a music therapist when I was 17 years old, after experiencing the powerful ways music helped my grandmother who had Parkinson’s disease. I saw the positive effects music had on her pain and anxiety, and our family’s interactions at the end of her life. It was those moving experiences around my grandmother’s bedside that led me to the University of the Pacific for my Bachelor of Music in Music Therapy and minor in Communicative Disorders. 

After completing an internship at the Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute in San Francisco with their adult and children’s inpatient units and partial hospitalization program, and working in long term care, I returned to Pacific for my Master of Arts degree in music therapy. While finishing my thesis, I was asked to develop and direct the activity and rehabilitation program for the retired Jesuit Priests and Brothers in California. I coordinated that program, and a private music therapy practice working with adults and children with neurologic disabilities until my husband and I moved to Redmond, Washington, where we live with our two children and my mother. 

I currently am an instructor of music therapy and the music therapy clinical coordinator at Seattle Pacific University. I am privileged to work with, and learn from, our future leaders and dedicated music therapists in and around the Puget Sound. I am a resource for people interested in music therapy as a career, caregivers, professionals, and researchers wanting information about music therapy. 

I have served at the local, regional, and national levels with both the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) and the Certification Board for Music Therapists (CBMT). I currently serve as the Vice President of AMTA and am a past Chair of CBMT. I have also served on the AMTA Board of Directors as the Council Coordinator for the Council on Professional Practice and on national committees, including the Financial Advisory Committee, the Program Committee, and the task force on the Therapeutic Uses of Music.  I served the Western Region on the Board of Directors as the 2nd VP and Newsletter Editor, Parliamentarian, and as an Assembly Delegate.  I have also served as Co-President of the Music Therapy Association of Washington and on the Washington State Recognition Task Force. I am a recipient of the Western Region Publication Award, am published in Music Therapy Perspectives, and received the University of the Pacific Outstanding Graduate Award. 

I am biracial, Japanese, and white, and raised predominantly in a white culture. I continue to reflect on my positioning, inform myself to challenge the narrative, and be part of the solution. 

Why do you want to be AMTA President?

I want to be your AMTA President because together we can envision what the AMTA community and music therapy profession can be and work together to realize our vision. How we do things is as important as what we accomplish. There is a lot of needed change ahead for AMTA. Proactive, intentional change, guided by community support and many voices speaking into what AMTA can be.  There are also systems and processes that have been in place for a long time and continue to oppress and keep all from their full potential. Everyone’s needs and values are different and working to provide value propositions and options helps support the greater community, and those we serve. I am a visionary and find change exciting. Making things better, equitable, and maximizing potential excites me, but not at the expense of people. We need to make goals that speak to how we want to do our work, not just what we want to do. I believe that if we create a culture where we put people first, we can create a thriving profession, organization, and community.

It would be a privilege to work with the AMTA board of directors, CEO, staff, students, and music therapists of all experience levels to envision something different for AMTA, the field of music therapy, music therapy education, and those we work with.

What do you perceive as the crucial needs to be addressed by our profession:  a) within your term of office, and b) in the next 10-15 years?

As a community, I believe we need to start by earning and building trust. Build a foundation of confidence in leadership, the organization, and each other.  We can lean in, listen, self-educate, provide information and transparent communication, and show up in every moment. 

Then together, with time for inclusion and diversity of thought we:

  1. Understand the systems we are operating within. Recognize them, name them, and acknowledge the effects they have on the entire community.
  2. Dig deep and see the root causes of what needs to be changed. Effective change needs to start at the roots.
  3. Disrupt the systems and dismantle what needs to be changed. Empower others to effect change.

By building trust, and addressing systemic processes, we can support music therapy students, professionals, and those we serve with a strategic plan that could include:

  1. Providing value for all stakeholders and building membership
  2. Diversifying and building the music therapy workforce
  3. Creating an inclusive culture of diversity, support, and no tolerance for harassment of any kind
  4. Building funding sources outside of membership
  5. Improving access to information and transparency of communication 
  6. Diversifying leadership 
  7. Considering crucial needs identified by other leaders, staff, and stakeholders

Along the way we need to listen, sit in discomfort, acknowledge mistakes, reflect on lessons learned, and identify and improve practice. We can define what we want to be as AMTA and name the cultural norms and standards we will uphold.



All current Professional, Retired, and Honorary Life members are eligible to vote. Refer to the AMTA Bylaws, Article III.  Membership, Sections 2-9 at this link: bylaws/

Professional membership must have been paid in full by 9/30/21 to be eligible to vote.


All current 2021 Professional, Retired, and Honorary Life AMTA members should be prepared to vote electronically using a ballot invitation sent to their “Primary” email address listed in the member profile located at Ballots for this election will be provided only via primary e-mail address.  The online ballot sent for this election will be managed by Your ballot will arrive in a personalized, individual e-mail which will provide you the opportunity to cast a confidential ballotCheck your spam folders; the email will come from   You must vote online during the stated timeframe.  No exceptions will be made.

You must have contacted the AMTA national office to have your email address added to your record by September 30, in order to be eligible to vote in this election.