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AMTA Election: ​Candidates Bios & Question 1

September 18, 2017 11:00 AM

Attention All 2017 Eligible AMTA Voting Members

Important Announcement From the Nominating Committee Chair, Amy Furman, MM, MT-BC

American Music Therapy Association Election
Candidates for 2018-2019 Term

Please take a moment to meet the candidates who are running for President Elect and Vice President Elect for the 2018-2019 term. Over the next several weeks additional information and the candidates’ responses to questions about the profession of music therapy will be posted. Remember to include the “Meet the Candidates” session, Saturday, November 18, 2017 from 1:45 PM – 3 PM in your conference plans.

President Elect Candidates

  • Jean M. Nemeth, PhD, MT-BC
  • Deborah Benkovitz Williams, MSW, LSW, MT-BC

Vice President Elect Candidates

  • Edward P. Kahler, II, PhD, MT-BC
  • Wendy S. Woolsey, MA, MT-BC

Candidate Short Bios and Question 1

President Elect Candidate, Jean M. Nemeth, PhD, MT-BC:

Short Bio

A board certified music therapy clinician, Jean has served public school children with a special needs for nearly 35 years. AMTA regional & national positions include: NER Assembly Delegate/Regional board, Co-Chair-Standards of Clinical Practice, Continuing Education and Silent Auction Committees, Council Coordinator, Development Committee, Education & Training Advisory Board, Vice President Elect, and currently AMTA Vice President. Jean has received two NER and one national service awards. A frequent regional and national presenter, Jean is a contributing author to AMTA’s publication: Effective Clinical Practice in Music Therapy: Early Childhood & School Age Educational Settings.

What grass roots experience(s) have you had that might contribute to your leadership ability?

Throughout my long music therapy career, I have continually sought professional involvement, both in my clinical work and by remaining active within AMTA. It is my firm belief that it is incumbent upon me to give back to a profession that has given so much to me. I began my service at the regional level by assuming a 20 year tenure as NER representative to the Assembly of Delegates. This role afforded me a strong grasp of the integral workings of our organization, keen insight into the important issues facing our profession, and the ability to engender working relationships with leaders all across the country. My role as co-chair of two national committees (Standard & Continuing Education) gave me deep awareness of the importance of maintaining the high standards on which our professional practice is based along with an understanding of cutting edge research and techniques so integral in keeping MT clinicians current in their practice. As I moved further through the leadership ranks and ultimately to my current position as AMTA Vice President, the experiences, knowledge, personal & professional relationships, and capabilities I have been lucky enough to assimilate have all shaped my understanding of and sensitivity to the history, current concerns, and future visions of our wonderful profession. It is this wealth of information and reflection that have no doubt shaped me as a leader and provided me with the depth of understanding and knowledge I will need to draw on if chosen as AMTA’s next President Elect.

President Elect Candidate, Deborah Benkovitz Williams, MSW, LSW, MT-BC:

Short Bio

Deborah Benkovitz Williams graduated from the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music with a Bachelor of Music Education.   She received her Music Therapy Certification from Duquesne University and her Master of Social Work from the University of Pittsburgh.   She has started several music therapy programs, including one in Creative Arts at Pittsburgh Children’s Hospital, and also a national roster internship.   She initiated a collaborative relationship with the Pittsburgh Symphony to bring environmental music to the hospital, and served on several PSO advisory boards.  Debbie has also served as President of the MAR, and is currently Regional Presidents Representative on the AMTA Board. 

What grass roots experience(s) have you had that might contribute to your leadership ability?

In 2003, while working at Pittsburgh Children’s Hospital, I was involved in a grass roots operation with a violist from the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO), Penny Anderson Brill.  While I was seeking ways to bring more environmental music to the hospital, the PSO was looking for ways to engage the community.  Penny and I collaborated to build a symbiotic relationship between Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and the PSO.   Early on, the PSO provided a string quartet to play at the hospital’s biannual Memorial Service.   Further collaboration led to numerous hospital concerts, including the PSO brass playing Mardi Gras, holiday concerts, and bedside visits.  In return, I provided educational in-services to PSO members several times a year.  The program, now in its fourteenth year, continues, and was the inspiration for a well-organized group of professional rock and jazz musicians in Pittsburgh to provide their music to patients and families. 

Vice President Elect Candidate, Edward P. Kahler, II, PhD, MT-BC:

Short Bio

Edward P. Kahler currently serves as Associate Dean of the College of Fine Arts and Humanities & the Director of Music Therapy at West Texas A&M University.  Dr. Kahler has been a music therapist for more than 30 years with experiences with developmental disabilities and physical rehabilitation.  He received a BMUS in both music education and music therapy from the University of Georgia, a MA in music therapy from Texas Woman's University, and a Ph.D. in music education with an emphasis in music therapy from The University of Kansas.  He is married with two adult children.

What grass roots experience(s) have you had that might contribute to your leadership ability?

A variety of professional experiences have led me to this point in my career.  I have had the opportunity to develop my leadership skills serving as the Department Head and currently as Associate Dean of the College of Fine Arts and Humanities at West Texas A&M University (WTAMU).  Through my career, I have served on and chaired many committees at different university levels. My involvement in the AMTA has been rewarding and diverse serving locally, regionally, and nationally.  I hosted and presented workshops for local music therapists and presented at regional and national conferences.  I have served the Southwestern Region (SWAMTA) as the Student Affairs Advisor Board (SAAB) representative, an Assembly of Delegate, and President.  I currently am the Parliamentarian for SWAMTA.

I had the opportunity and privilege to represent the state of Arkansas at the Senate Hearing on Aging.  I served as Editor of the short-lived HealthCare Windows, Assembly Delegate, regional representative to the SAAB, and Chair of the national SAAB.  I am currently serving as an Assembly Delegate and completing my second 2-year appointment as Council Coordinator.

I am prepared and ready to serve as Vice President Elect of the AMTA.  I was a member of the Program Review Committee for several national conferences.   I have chaired or co-chaired three regional conferences including this upcoming spring.  Throughout my involvement on the AMTA Board, I have seen the hard work that our national office does to put on a national conference and I am prepared and ready to assist.

Vice President Elect Candidate, Wendy S. Woolsey, MA, MT-BC:

Short Bio

Wendy S. Woolsey completed her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in music therapy with a minor in communicative disorders at the University of the Pacific and is an instructor of music therapy and the music therapy clinical coordinator at Seattle Pacific University.  Woolsey has served on the AMTA, WRAMTA and Music Therapy Association of Washington's board of directors, as an Assembly Delegate for the Western Region, and is a past Chair of the Certification Board for Music Therapists (CBMT).  Woolsey is a recipient of the UOP outstanding graduate award, WRAMTA Publication Award and is published in Music Therapy Perspectives.

What grass roots experience(s) have you had that might contribute to your leadership ability?

Listening to the views and needs of individuals has helped me to maintain focus and direction without losing sight of what members want and need. Including member ideas in decision making increases project excitement and buy in as members are heard from and engage in the process. Here are some examples of grass roots experiences where I listened to peers and colleagues and took those learnings to positively effect change.

During my sophomore year in college, I listened to female conservatory students who were dissatisfied that women did not have the same opportunities as male students to be part of music fraternities. After several meetings and information gathering, it became clear there was a strong need and desire for a women’s music fraternity. I worked with the university and conservatory administration and fellow student leaders and became the charter President of the Eta Omega chapter of Sigma Alpha Iota at UOP. Concurrently, we worked to form an inter-music fraternity council and formal conservatory rush policy to create an open and transparent process for all students.

A second example occurred at the music therapy program at Seattle Pacific University. When the program was getting started, there were minimal practicum opportunities which limited the number of students that SPU could train. Through the generosity of the Wilson Trust Grant, I helped expand the practicum opportunities to offer a wider range of environments and scenarios for clinical work which helped contribute to the growth of the music therapy department by more than doubling.



(Please refer to Article III.  Membership, Sections 2-9)
All current Professional, Retired and Honorary Life members are eligible to vote.


All current 2017 Professional, Retired & Honorary Life AMTA members should be prepared to vote electronically this year using a ballot invitation sent to their “Primary” email address listed in the AMTA record.  Your ballot will be emailed on November 21, 2017.  Check your spam folders; the email will come from   You must vote online by December 21, 2017.  No exceptions will be made.

Hard copies of the biographical summaries and question responses WILL NOT be mailed through the US Postal Service out for this election.  Ballots WILL NOT be mailed through the US Postal Service for this election.  All AMTA members will need to vote using the online ballot sent for this election which will be managed by  In order to receive an invitation to vote, members must have provided AMTA with an email address listed as their “Primary” email address in their AMTA member record.  If you do not have an email address, please be aware that there are many free, convenient options for obtaining an email address (Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, and AOL mail are just a few free email services and local libraries offer free computer access for those who do not own a computer).  You must have contacted the AMTA national office to have your email address added to your record by October 1, in order to be eligible to vote in this election.