Our professional staff has many years of experience with music, both as performers and as teachers.
Arizona Girlchoir Artistic Staff
A Vocal Music Education graduate of the University of Maine, Topher Keene also did 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.
Topher is the current Town Choir Director and former Director of Education at Phoenix Boys Choir, and he also directs several other choruses and is active as a music theatre director in shows across the Valley. 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. While he enjoys working with all students who wish to sing better, he specializes in musical theatre singers and struggling beginners – even those some would call “tone deaf.”
Emily Rehmer is a kindergarten teacher and chorus instructor at Sunset Elementary and has directed various choirs since 2012. She is also the Early Childhood Music Literacy Educator for Minuets, a preschool music and movement program utilizing the Kodály method. She has a 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. She has founded and directed competitive a cappella choirs with both female and mixed-gender singers.
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.
Arizona Girlchoir Administration
Prior to accepting the position of Executive Director, Charlene 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.
Director of Communications
Carma'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 its first full year. Carma has served on the board for the same amount of time, as secretary most of those years, and volunteers her time on staff.
Arizona Girlchoir Board of Directors
Kayla Oswald, Board President
Effective Schools Coach, Excelencia School
Gigi Berry, Board Vice President
Curriculum Coordinator, BASIS Phoenix Primary
Member, Soroptimist International of the Kachinas
Carma Paden, Board Secretary
Director of Communications, Arizona Girlchoir
Board Secretary, Arizona Homeschool Theatre Group
Caridad Legere, Board Treasurer
Spanish Instructor, West Valley Christian School
Compassion Ambassador, Home School Legal Defense Association
Team Advisor, Harvest Compassion Center
Kaylie Keefe, Board Member
Music Teacher, BASIS Phoenix Primary
Ensemble & Board Member, Phoenix Singing
Ensemble & Board Member, Phoenix Ringing
Amberly Leach, Board Member
Fraud Operations Manager, Financial Industry
Becky Loar, Board Member