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AMTA Election: Candidate Responses to Question 2

October 2, 2017 11:52 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 learn more about the candidates who are running for President Elect and Vice President Elect for the 2018-2019 term. The AMTA candidates have taken a moment to answer the question below. Remember to attend the Meet the Candidates session on Saturday, November 18, 2017 from 1:45-3 PM at the AMTA conference to ask your questions.  As this election will be totally electronic please check your AMTA member record to ensure your primary email is accurate. You may do this by clicking “my account” on the home page, and then “my information.”

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 Responses to Question 2

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

How would you describe your leadership style and how do you envision this style enhancing the work of the Board of Directors and the mission of AMTA?

AMTA is first and foremost a member organization. Our mission is to enhance and promote the well-being of the profession, members, clientele, and public we serve. I believe that employing a leadership style that combines wisdom drawn from lengthy experience with a consensus-building attitude is well-suited to that end. This is the skill set that I would seek to employ in guiding the AMTA Board of Directors.

As a leader, I would describe my style as inclusive. Keeping an open mind and listening to diverse viewpoints can only serve to strengthen any decision-making process. While possessing ample ability to articulate my ideas and positions, as a leader I feel it even more important to weigh the thoughts and outlooks of others, both dissonant and in harmony with my own.  In my opinion, seeking diverse counsel is the most prudent means of gaining a balanced approach.

Leadership involves being able to articulate a vision for organizational progress which incorporates the needs of those it serves while remaining cognizant of the history, climate, and realities in which it operates.  An organization is best able to move forward when its members feel their ideas, desires and fears are heard, supported, and considered in the decision-making process. To that end, I would draw upon my long tenure within AMTA for historical perspective while also seeking the grassroots perceptions of various stake holders about the issues we face. It would be my intent to foster a most inclusive, forward thinking leadership process.

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

How would you describe your leadership style and how do you envision this style enhancing the work of the Board of Directors and the mission of AMTA?

A combination of the participative and transformational styles of leadership work best for me. When an issue presents itself, I tend to gather many viewpoints and look for common themes, issues and solutions. I seek discussion with a wide variety of people, including those whose points of view differ from my own, before drawing conclusions. Once my ideas are in place, I communicate with other team members to gain their support and inspire their participation in accomplishing shared goals, while attending to what motivates and excites these colleagues to achieve our common vision.

This respectful style of leadership serves the AMTA and the Board of Directors well. An open-minded, welcoming President encourages board members to speak more honestly and freely, thus leading to Board decisions that are more representative of our organization and its members, and creating a friendly, productive work environment.

Leadership does not necessarily come naturally, and constant attention is required to develop skills that support leadership. For example, small, simple gestures such as remembering people’s names and important events in their lives, being in touch when there is good, bad, or difficult news and offering support, asking questions to ensure understanding, giving praise when it is due, and tactfully handling constructive criticism when it is needed, are all skills I try to develop each day. As a therapist, Board member, supervisor, internship director and regional president, I have sought out leadership skills. If elected, I will use those skills to the best of my ability. 

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

How would you describe your leadership style and how do you envision this style enhancing the work of the Board of Directors and the mission of AMTA?

I am a patient, calm, and deliberate individual and leader.  I listen intently to all points of view and think before I speak.  When “in-charge” of a task or committee, I deliberately collect necessary information, ask for input, and make a knowledge-based decision.  If time is an issue, I am ready and able to make an immediate decision.  I accept that decisions will not please everyone, but am ready to explain them.  I can enhance the work of the Board and AMTA’s mission by making the “best” informed decisions about conferences as possible and using resources such as seeking out the AMTA office staff, past vice presidents, and pertinent members when necessary.  We need to listen and be proactive concerning issues.  “Mistake” is a difficult word, but missteps will occur, and the person responsible needs to own, apologize, and learn from it – something I strive to do.  In addition to conference topics, I am able to contribute and provide informed comments on the Board for many discussions.  I am able to see “big pictures.”  As a leader at a university, I am able to step back from my own silo (School of Music) and see what is best for the whole (college/university).  At times that has been in contrast to the needs and wants of the School of Music.  I am able to carry that over to the overall needs of the profession.  I have the experience both in and out of AMTA to be an effective contributor to our Association.

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

How would you describe your leadership style and how do you envision this style enhancing the work of the Board of Directors and the mission of AMTA?

I strive to lead with integrity and transparency while taking responsibility for furthering the mission and getting things accomplished. I work to be prepared, informed, accessible, and responsive so I can be a resource to those I work with and those we serve. I believe meetings should be informative, efficient, productive, and fun, and members should feel heard, valued, and appreciated. I listen to the facts, details, and wisdom of others and allow time for thoughtful reflection to inform decision making. Utilizing current technology helps make information and the board accessible in a timely manner. I believe having a strategic plan holds people accountable and keeps the business of the association on track with the mission and moving forward.

The AMTA Board of Directors has many projects on the table. I believe every member has unique strengths and I strive to utilize the strengths and passions of each individual for the best productivity and benefit of the association. Leaders in the field, new professionals and students each bring knowledge, insight, and perspective vital to growth and development of the association and support of strategic projects. Each project also requires different leadership depending on breadth and depth of the plan and I am able to adapt my leadership style to best support the action plan. I believe my efficiency, involving the input and expertise of others, and forward thinking will help inform the best decisions and help make AMTA valuable to all members and those we serve.



(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.