Artistic Staff

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Virginia Pond

Arizona Girlchoir Artistic Director

Conductor, Aria and Anima Ensembles 

Virginia Pond received her degree in Choral Education under the directorship of Dr. Craig Jessup at Utah State, which included the choir releasing "Show Me Thy Ways," an album of choral music that was eligible for a 2010 Grammy nomination in three categories: Best Classical Album, Best Choral Performance, and Best Engineered Album. 

 

Virginia has taught K-12 choir and music for eight years all over Arizona, with choir directing experience in Holbrook, Peoria, and Mesa. Past and current positions include Director of Choirs and Piano Program at Peoria High School, Director of Choirs at Cactus High School, and Director of Choirs, Piano, and Guitar Programs at Kino Junior High. She also has many years of coaching private choral students and groups, including Miss Teen Arizona 2013 and several students who went on to earn university music scholarships. She prides herself on being student-centered and a developmental director.

Being part of the Arizona Girlchoir gives Virginia a chance to spend time with her daughter, who is a singer in AZGC, and her mother, her collaborative pianist. She also has a husband and two sons who support her.

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Karli Anderson

Conductor, Allegria Ensemble 

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 degree 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 formerly conducted AZGC's intermediate ensemble, Anima, before moving to the adult Allegria ensemble.

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Jeanne Holt

Pianist, Aria and Anima Ensembles

Jeanne Holt grew up in a household of pianists whose mother told her and her siblings that they only had to practice on the days that end in the letter Y! She began teaching piano in 8th grade and has never stopped. She received a Bachelor of Music in Piano Pedagogy from the University of Utah and fell in love with ensemble playing while performing around the state in a piano duo. After graduation, she was accepted into the Potomac Organ Institute of Washington DC to study organ, where she discovered that while the organ is truly magnificent, her true love is still the piano. Jeanne maintained a large private piano studio in Oregon for many years, and many of her students received collegiate music scholarships and went on to become lifelong musicians. She was an accompanist for Mallory Music Vocal Studios as well as a highly sought-after accompanist and pit orchestra keyboardist for local high school choral programs and spring musicals. When her daughter and family moved to Phoenix, Jeanne and her husband followed.

Currently Jeanne has a growing private piano studio, plays organ for her church services, and performs in the piano duo

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Janet Norman, Ph.D.

Pianist, Allegria Ensemble

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 formerly accompanied AZGC's intermediate ensemble, Anima, before moving to the adult Allegria ensemble.

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To Be Announced!

Conductor, Amabile Ensemble

Pianist, Amabile Ensemble

Conductor, Angeli Ensemble

Pianist, Angeli Ensemble

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Kristie Cowles

Instructor, Tot Choir

Kristie Cowles is native to Arizona and was actively involved in the Phoenix local theatre community for over ten years while studying theatre arts at Scottsdale Community College. She also studied at the ImprovOlympic and Second City Chicago, where she was accepted into their professional program. Motherhood brought Kristie back to Arizona, and after her children were born, she taught homeschool groups with MoezArt Productions as an early childhood instructor for two seasons. She has recently become a teacher at a newly opened private school in Queen Creek, teaching kindergarten to second grade. Her passion is to show children the love of learning and enjoyment of life. She is so excited to continue this journey with Arizona Girlchoir both as the mother of one of the singers and as the preschool music teacher!

Administrative Staff

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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 in Silicon Valley tech companies, 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 has also served on leadership teams for both her church in California and here in Arizona.  In her spare time, she facilitates a monthly support group for mothers at Maggie’s Place. 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. 

Carma Paden | Arizona Girlchoir

Carma Paden

Director of Communications & Marketing

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 homeschool 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 contributed essays to a published homeschooling manual. Her two daughters have sung with the Girlchoir since 2012, and Carma began serving on the board of directors at the same time . While on the board, she volunteered her services as Director of Communications for several years; in 2021 she stepped off the board to become an official staff member. She also sings with Allegria, our adult ensemble.

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Conay Huizar

Development Advisor

Conay Huizar is a native Californian who attended York College in Nebraska. She completed her studies at Cedarville University in Ohio and World Harvest Bible University in Ohio. She has 20 years of experience as a realtor and in investment strategy in the Phoenix area. She also has considerable fundraising experience, including a multi-year stint as director of development with the Phoenix Boys Choir. 

Conay currently serves on the Board of Trustees for York College, her former alma mater, a private Christian College. She is a current volunteer and member of the Mother’s Guild for The Phoenix Ballet. She served as a Human Relations Commissioner for the city of Scottsdale in Arizona. She is a past volunteer for Great State 48 Alliance, Patriot Pack Arizona, National Charity League, and Shepherd of The Desert Church and School, where she served as Youth Director. She served on the Executive Committee as a parent board member for BASIS Charter Schools, Anasazi Elementary, and Chaparral High School. Conay was a stay-at-home mother for 15 years. She and her husband have three children.

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Gary Ward

Photographer

Many thanks to Gary Ward of G Man Studios for creating nearly all of the beautiful photographs on our site! 

Gary is a homeschool dad and has a daughter who sings in our choir. He volunteers to photograph many of our concerts and events so we have these amazing pictures of our choir and our singers!

Board of Directors

Diane Crunk, President

Darren Herring, Vice President

Rebecca Velazquez, Secretary

 

Kimberly Couch, Board Treasurer

Lucas Gutierrez, Board Member 

Jack Rose, Board Member