Meet your Directors

Linda Ashley, registrar, has been involved in music since elementary school, playing oboe and english horn through her school years and in community bands and orchestras after high school.

She has been the Handbell Director at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Omaha, NE for over 30 years, currently directing two choirs. She began ringing at the church well over 35 years ago.

She has been a member of River City Ringers, Omaha’s community handbell choir (www.rivercityringers.com) since the fall of 2007. She has attended most Distinctly Bronze events since 2009 and Bay View Week of Handbells since 2010. She has attended most summers of Handbell Camp since learning about it in 2006. She has served on the Nebraska Board for the Handbell Musicians of America since 2005, currently as Registrar.

Linda has been a pharmacist for over 40 years and is currently at Nebraska Methodist Hospital. She is married with 3 grown children and 7 adorable grandchildren.

Janet Carter has a Music Education degree from Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, and High School/Middle School teaching credentials from Christchurch Teachers College, Christchurch New Zealand. Janet has taught music in high schools, elementary schools, and preschools, and has more than 45 years’ experience as a church musician.

Janet is the Director of Music, Youth, and Small Group Ministries at Saint Mark’s United Methodist Church in Overland Park, Kansas. She is also the worship and technology coordinator and manages the church office. Janet’s music responsibilities include directing the Handbell Ensembles, the Chancel Choir, and the Praise Team.

Janet has been a clinician and faculty member at various handbell events including Handbell Musicians of America National, Area 8 and Area 2 events for both adults and young ringers. She is known for her “Maori Stick Games” classes, which help to develop rhythm and coordination skills for handbell ringers.

Janet thoroughly enjoys being on the Board of Directors for the Intergenerational Handbell Camp in Parkville, MO.

Staci Cunningham has been involved in music her whole life.  She started piano lessons at five and flute lessons in fifth grade.  When at Bethany College, where she graduated with a degree in accounting, she added voice lessons to that list.  Her freshman year in college the choir was selected to sing as the back up choir for Kenny Roger’s Christmas concert in Salina, KS and she was also part of the Oratorio Society that got to sing at Carnegie Hall in New York her sophomore year.  

Staci fell in love with handbells when she became a sub for her church’s choir.  A year later, the director became ill and Staci stepped in.  Twelve years later, she is still directing! (She is directing at her second church though!)  She has attended Intergenerational  Handbell Camp for 10 years and was the Kansas State Chair for Area VIII of the Handbell Musicians of America for three years.  

Staci and her husband Scott keep busy running the family’s wire business.  They have two teen/tween daughters, Susanne and Sadie.  When Staci finds time to relax, you can find her reading, quilting, or sewing.

Kathy Ford taught vocal music for 28 years in Clinton and Blue Springs, MO public schools.  She earned a Music Education degree from Baker University and a Masters of Arts degree from UCM.  She coordinates the traditional worship service music at First United Methodist Church, Blue Springs where she is an organist.  She directs and sings in the Chancel Choir Ensemble and directs the adult handbell choir.

Kathy has been a director at Intergenerational Handbell Camp since the second year, 1991, and has been a member of Rezound! Handbell Ensemble since 2002.  She maintains a private piano studio, and assists her husband, Chuck, as the Brass with Class contest piano accompanist. 

They have two married sons (both handbell camp alums) and four grands—Chad and wife, Mandy (Adison and Ansley), and  Tanner, and wife Michelle (Lilly and Drake).

In her spare time, Kathy finds time for golf, travel and playing with their newest Corgi, Brody.

Gail Welk has been Director of Handbell Ministries at Wesley United Methodist Church in Bloomington, IL since 1988 and currently directs three ringing choirs ranging from 3rd grade through adult.

Gail is a solo ringer, clinician and former sales representative for Malmark Handbells. She has taught classes at Handbell Musicians of America Area 8 conferences as well as local festivals and workshops around Illinois.

 This will be Gail’s 28th year directing at Intergenerational Handbell Camp. She brings her enthusiasm for ringing and her commitment to teaching musicality to ringers of all levels of experience by understanding the proper use of basic ringing techniques. 

Gail is married to Bill Welk.  She has two daughters, Cheri (Patrick) Long and Katie (Travis) Doubet, a granddaughter, Jalyn and two grandsons, Blake and Spencer.  In June, Gail will be retiring from Bloomington Public Schools where she worked for 20 years in the Special Education Department.  In her retirement she hopes to assist churches who are looking to re-build their bell programs after the struggles of the last couple years.

Are You Ready to Ring?