Meet your 2022 candidates for the Area 9 Board of Directors!

Please visit for instructions on how to cast your ballot. Voting will be open from August 22 – September 20


Chair Elect

Patty Nelson

Dr. Patricia Nelson is a life-long music educator working with students from Preschool through Adults. She has taught public school music, private piano and organ lessons, worked as a choir director, coordinator, organist and academy director in churches in Texas and taught at the university level in Texas, Georgia, and Oklahoma. Patty holds a valid all-level music teaching certificate in Texas and is Orff certified.  She currently serves as Associate Professor of Music Education at Oklahoma Baptist University, where she teaches Worship Studies, Music Education, and Fine Arts, and directs the University Ringers handbell choir.  Patty is a current member of the Area 9 board, where she serves as the Oklahoma representative.


Stephanie Rhoades

Stephanie Rhoades is Worship and Music Coordinator and Handbell Director at Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church in Dallas, Texas. Over the past twenty-five years she has served as Minister of Music in several churches in the Dallas area, directing vocal and handbell choirs of all ages and starting several handbell choirs for children and adults.

She is the Conductor and Artistic Director of Concert Bells of Fort Worth, an auditioned community handbell ensemble known for its accurate and expressive performances. They have performed during several national events sponsored by Handbell Musicians of America, most recently in 2015, when they performed one of the featured concerts during Pinnacle.

With a reputation as an effective and engaging teacher, she has been a clinician and guest director for numerous workshops and festivals across the US. In the past few years, she conducted two events for Handbell Musicians of America: the All-Star choir at National Seminar in July 2018, and Distinctly Bronze East in February 2020. She recently conducted the intermediate and advanced divisions at the Area 1 Handbell Festival in Hartford, CT, and was one of two conductors to represent the US at the International Handbell Symposium in Nashville, TN, during the first week of August 2022.

In addition to her work as a conductor and clinician, she has served on numerous local and national boards, including the Greater Dallas Handbell Association, Area 9 of Handbell Musicians of America, Dallas Chapter of Choristers Guild, and Handbell Musicians of America. Before focusing on conducting, she spent many years behind the handbell tables, including ringing in the Dallas Handbell Ensemble under the direction of David R. Davidson.



Sandy Milner

Sandy Milner is the Director of Administration for Restore Hope Ministries, a non-profit organization in Tulsa where she has worked for twenty-nine years. Sandy holds a bachelor degree in business administration. In her spare time, she knits, crochets, attempts to quilt, takes harp lessons, and plays handbells – a lot! Sandy has been a member of Tulsa Festival Ringers since September 2008 and is currently serving as president of the organization. She has played handbells in her church, First United Methodist Church in Broken Arrow, since 1991 and has directed the children’s handchime choir. Sandy is also a ringer for First United Methodist Church (Tulsa) and has substituted for University United Methodist, Arrow Heights Baptist Church, and Memorial Baptist Church. She currently resides in Broken Arrow with her husband, Matt, and their cat, Orson. Since their two children live on opposite coasts, they remain in Oklahoma to be halfway in between the two! Sandy is always looking for opportunities to share the music of handbells with others.


Stephen Wurst

Stephen Wurst serves as the Associate Director of Music Ministries at McFarlin Memorial United Methodist Church in Norman, Oklahoma. His duties include overseeing the handbell program which currently has six ensembles. He directs three of those ensembles. He began ringing handbells at Concordia University Wisconsin and enjoys directing and ringing with groups of all ages. He is currently a Doctor of Musical Arts candidate at the University of Oklahoma, pursuing a degree in Organ Performance. He enjoys arranging music in his spare time.



Diana Montgomery

Diana Montgomery has been an active handbell musician for more than 20 years. She has served as the director for a children’s handbell ensemble since 2001 and now also directs the Chancel Bells at Chapelwood United Methodist Church in Houston, Texas. In addition to handbells, she has served as the assistant organist since 1987. In 2019, Diana also became the director of the Brookwood Handbell Ensemble, a 15-member handbell ensemble founded by Linda McKechnie at the Brookwood Community, a residential community for disabled adults in Brookshire, Texas. Diana is the secretary on the board of directors for the Greater Houston Handbell Association. She has a degree in music education from Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio, with emphasis in flute and organ.

Diana is a licensed CPA and retired from her full-time accounting work in 2017. She now devotes her time to music, family and volunteer activities.


Linda Smith

Linda was introduced to handbells in the 1970’s and began directing in 1980. She has directed children, youth and adult handbell and handchime choirs during 38 of those 42 years! She has Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Music Education and has devoted most of her career to church music. She currently directs two handbell choirs and tends the larger Handbell Ministry at University United Methodist Church in San Antonio, TX. Linda is an ordained Deacon (retired) in the United Methodist Church and has served the Church in a variety of ways, both musical and non-musical, since she was a teen. She has served on the Area 9 Board in the past and enjoys working with the wider handbell community. She has a husband and two grown children, all of whom are musicians as well, and two granddaughters.




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