Our Staff

Our professional staff has many years of experience with music, both as performers and as teachers. 

Artistic Staff

Topher Keene

Artistic Director

A Vocal Music Education graduate of the University of Maine, Topher Keene also participated in graduate studies at New England Conservatory and has completed coursework for his Masters in Education in Curriculum and Instructional Design from Western Governor’s University. Topher is a level III certified Kodály educator and has served as president of the Arizona chapter and as a board member of the national Kodály organization, OAKE. He has presented workshops at schools and universities as well as state, regional, and national educator conferences and is a Quarterfinalist for the 2020 Grammy Award for Music Educator of the Year.

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Topher directs several other choruses and is active as a music theater director in shows across the Valley and is the former Director of Education and Town Choir Director for Phoenix Boys Choir. He founded and serves as CEO for ChoirUnlimited​, a sheet music publishing company. He has taught private voice lessons for over a decade in Phoenix and via Skype to students around the world. 

 

Topher's artistic vision guides our entire choir, and he is the principal conductor for Aria and Allegria, our high school and adult ensembles.

Emily Rehmer

Artistic Director, Associate

Emily Rehmer has her BSEd in elementary education from Northern Illinois University with a specialty in structured English immersion. Emily sang as a choir member and soloist in the #1-ranked US high school show choir, as well as serving as a section leader and choir assistant.

Emily has founded and directed competitive a cappella choirs with both female and mixed-gender singers, and was the inaugural director of the Minuets program for preschoolers at the Phoenix Boys Choir. She has directed various choirs since 2012.

Emily is currently a first-grade teacher at Laird School in Tempe, and the principal conductor for Angeli and Amabile, our elementary-age ensembles.

Karli Anderson

Artistic Director, Assistant

Karli Anderson first stepped into the world of professional musicianship in middle school when she began performing with the San Francisco Girls Chorus. She has been a part of well-known ensembles across the nation, including the Oberlin Women's Chorale, Interlochen Intermediate Honors Choir, and the San Antonio Mastersingers. Karli earned her Bachelor's in Musical Studies from Oberlin College, where she worked as Assistant Director to the Oberlin Treble Choir. She earned a Masters of Music in Choral Conducting from UTSA, where she also served as Assistant Director for the San Antonio Children's Chorus. She acted as the Assistant Director for the Texas Yellow Rose Singers on their tour through Greece and has worked with many churches as director of music, founded and directed multiple a cappella ensembles, and teaches private vocal and piano lessons.

Currently, Karli is the 8th-12th grade music teacher and choir director for Great Hearts Anthem Preparatory School. She serves as the principal conductor for Anima, our junior high ensemble, and also teaches in our music literacy education program.

Mary Purcell Wagner

Collaborative Pianist, Principal

Native Arizonan Mary Purcell Wagner has extensive education and experience as an accompanying and collaborative pianist. Mary began teaching private piano lessons at the young age of 13 and continues in her private home studio today. For over three decades she conducted some of the finest middle school/junior choirs in the state of Arizona, specializing in the changing male voice, and her choirs performed throughout the southwest. In addition, Mary has maintained a steady church music career as organist, pianist, and choral director. Mary has a Masters of Music from ASU and studied extensively at Columbia University in New York.

Mary is the pianist for our high school and adult ensembles, Aria and Allegria, and also serves as our principal concert pianist.

Janet Norman, Ph.D.

Collaborative Pianist, Assistant

Dr. Janet Norman, originally from Cleveland, Ohio, completed her Doctorate of Musical Arts in 2009 from Arizona State University; she has been teaching music and playing piano in Arizona since 1996. She also holds music degrees from Bowling Green State University and Baldwin-Wallace College in Ohio. She has performed in various states and countries, including Italy, New York , Ohio, and Chile. Honors for her performances include winner of Most Distinguished Music Award with IBLA foundation in Ragusa IBLA, Italy; third-place winner in the Klatzkin Competition; first-place winner in the inaugural ASU Contemporary Music Society Competition for performers in 1999; two-time winner of the Three Arts Club of Lakewood, Ohio, in both 1987 and 1988; and winner of the 1986 Baldwin-Wallace College/Conservatory Concerto Competition.

 

Currently Janet teaches music with the Mesa Public Schools, offers private piano lessons, and works as a freelance accompanist. She accompanies our elementary and junior high ensembles and also teaches in our music literacy education program.

Administration

Charlene Shenk

Executive Director

Prior to accepting the position of Executive Director, Charlene Shenk spent six years on the Board of Directors, with one year as secretary and three years as treasurer. She is a graduate of the University of the Pacific with a BA in English. After a ten-year career in technical writing, Charlene stayed at home and homeschooled her four children. She was the Children’s Ministry Director for her church in San Jose for nine years, managing all aspects of children’s programming, including planning and executing yearly Vacation Bible School. Her passion for supporting mothers and babies led to volunteer work with La Leche League International and Breastfeeding USA, where she led meetings, managed over 200 breastfeeding counselors nationally, and assisted with branding, marketing strategies, and organizational development. She now facilitates a monthly support group for mothers at Maggie’s Place, and is a member of her church leadership team. Charlene knows firsthand the important role that choir can play in development and growth of young women (and men) as her children have been in choir since they could talk. She looks forward to helping Arizona Girlchoir grow and transform lives.

Carma Paden

Director of Communications

Carma Paden's BSEd in elementary education has never been put to its intended professional use. From work in the English department and then assistant to the editor-in-chief of an international architectural journal as a college student, Carma moved into secretarial and then freelance proofreading and editing work. She has handled all aspects of writing, proofing, editing, layout, and graphic design of multiple international newsletters and publications. She eventually became production editor at an educational publishing firm, managing manuscripts from the first draft, to hiring and overseeing editors and artists, to personally designing the layouts, all the way to the final publishing. Later, as a stay-at-home mom, she found many outlets for her creative and technical sides, continuing to freelance edit as well as volunteering her time, graphic design, and management skills to many organizations in which her children were involved. She led a local homeschool group for more than a dozen years; assisted in the founding and administration of a dozen online homeschooling and parenting groups with up to 50,000 members; and is a contributing author to a published homeschooling manual. Her two daughters have sung with the Girlchoir since 2012. Carma has served on the board for the same amount of time, as secretary most of those years, and volunteers her time on staff.

Board of Directors

Kayla Oswald, Board President

COMMUNITY AFFILIATION:

Effective Schools Coach, Excelencia School

Gigi Berry, Board Vice President

COMMUNITY AFFILIATIONS:

Curriculum Coordinator, BASIS Phoenix Primary

Member, Soroptimist International of the Kachinas

Carma Paden, Board Secretary

COMMUNITY AFFILIATIONS:

Director of Communications, Arizona Girlchoir

Board Secretary, Arizona Homeschool Theatre Group

Caridad Legere, Board Treasurer

COMMUNITY AFFILIATIONS:

Spanish Instructor, West Valley Christian School

Compassion Ambassador, Home School Legal Defense Association

Team Advisor, Harvest Compassion Center

Kaylie Keefe, Board Member 

COMMUNITY AFFILIATIONS:

Music Teacher, BASIS Phoenix Primary

Ensemble & Board Member, Phoenix Singing

Ensemble & Board Member, Phoenix Ringing

Amberly Leach, Board Member

COMMUNITY AFFILIATION:

Fraud Operations Manager, Financial Industry

Becky Loar, Board Member

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Arizona Girlchoir is an SA choir (soprano-alto).

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