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College(s)/Degree(s): Middle Tennessee State University, Bachelor of Music, Music Industry

Current City of Residence: Longmont, Colorado

Job Title: Manager, Digital Marketing

Company: MakeMusic (Finale, SmartMusic, and Garritan)

Brief description of job responsibilities: I lead the digital team responsible for marketing all three MakeMusic brands. We manage the websites, marketing automation, email, social media, and digital advertising for each.

Describe your favorite AYWS memory: That’s a tough one! There are so many good memories. Since I started in AYWS at such a young age, the experience of playing in such big, beautiful venues with other incredibly talented musicians was definitely eye-opening. In my first year, we played an arrangement of Eric Whitacre’s October that brought me to tears during the concert. Being able to share that experience with 80 of my favorite people made it even more special.

What was the most memorable concert you participated in with AYWS? Why?

Probably when we played in Carnegie Hall--how many kids get to do that at such a young age?! It showed me that the right planning and practice can take you to lots of places you’d never have expected to reach. I still keep my backstage pass from 2005 in my wallet!

Why do you think AYWS is important?

AYWS challenged me musically a lot more than many of other groups I participated in. I think AYWS provides talented and driven kids that next-level challenge they’re probably not getting many other places. Beyond that, it gives them the opportunity to meet other musicians who love what they do together. That energy is absolutely contagious and I’m certain it’s the reason I enjoyed music as much as I did in high school.

Do you give to AYWS? If so, why?

We typically do around the holidays. For my husband, Andrew, and I, it’s a nice way to pay homage to where we came from and help other students share the experience we found so valuable.

Why would you encourage someone else to support/make a donation to AYWS?

On a high level, we all know arts programs are often grossly underfunded and can use all the help they can get. More specifically, AYWS is the perfect combination of shared passion, big artistic challenges, and warm, wonderful people. It’s the type of organization few people will ever get to participate in during their lifetimes and I think we have to do everything we can to help that along.

How did AYWS prepare you for college and/or your job?

It shined a spotlight on kind, motivated, inspired people around me. It definitely helped me learn how to look for bright friends and colleagues. Beyond that, it taught me a lot about deliberate practice, setting goals, and working for them. Those tenants are the core of what our team does at MakeMusic, so it’s exciting that I can now consider my experience in AYWS when I’m thinking about how to better serve Finale and SmartMusic’s customers.

What do you love most about Dr. Stewart?

His passion for helping his students find their passion for music. So many instructors want excellence, and a few achieve it. But I think Dr. Stewart is so effective because he truly loves the music and he wants to share that with students. When that kind of passion and desire is there, excellence follows inherently. And the kids leave having shared a truly joyful experience.

Why do you think music is so important?

It’s communal, it’s art, it’s personal and vulnerable. It teaches students to pursue something with passion, openly, surrounded by dozens of other people who are working to achieve the same goal. You don’t find that many other places.

Please list any notable awards, achievements and affiliations:

I’m on the board of the Data & Marketing Association’s Email Experience Council, Vice Chair of the Events + Education subcommittee. I’ve also been chosen as a speaker for Ignite Boulder’s (TED-style event) 10 Year Anniversary event this coming Thursday. I’ll be speaking on the impact of habits and hobbies on personal identity.

Anything else you’d like to share?

On a personal level, AYWS is where I met my now husband. We never dated until many years later, but I’m so grateful that we shared that experience and I’m with someone who understands what a seriously amazing group it is. We still play together and we often reminisce about our trips to New York, Dallas, and Chicago AYWS 10+ years ago. Beyond the many important life lessons I learned, the lifelong friends I made, and the experience of making music in such an enriching environment, I’m most grateful to have met my favorite person there.

We spent the majority of 2014 traveling around New Zealand’s South Island, working on organic farms, playing with the occasional ukulele ensemble, and backpacking through the Southern Alps. Though we live in Colorado now, we travel often, backpacking with our dogs on weekends, and visiting new cities for conferences and business speaking opportunities during the week.