Executive Board


President ot the Western Region ACDA 2024-2026, Julie a Past-President of CA ACDA (CCDA), served as Coordinator of CASMEC for CCDA, and is a Past-Executive Board Member of SCVA. She has worked as Program Chair on multiple ACDA western region conferences. After teaching at Fresno City College for 23 years and 15 years in the California public high school system, she retired and spends time assisting local choral programs as a Program Specialist with the Fresno Superintendent of Schools and in Fresno Unified School District. She also works throughout the state as a choral clinician and adjudicator and spends time with husband, Mike, traveling the world.


My time with ACDA has opened my eyes to the wonderful possibilities of choral music. I owe much of my success, and the success of my students, to the learning I took advantage of through ACDA membership!


Aimee Stewart is the Founder and Artistic Director of Chandler Children’s Choir. Since its inception in 2008, CCC has grown from a young choir of 27 singers to a a highly respected choral organization in Arizona, with four performing ensembles and an introductory choir. This spring, Ad Astra was honored to perform at the Western Region ACDA conference under her direction as a selected, auditioned ensemble. She also conducts the Chamber Singers at Chandler-Gilbert Community College, the Tempe Community Messiah, has served as President of the Arizona chapter of ACDA and was recently elected as Western Region ACDA President for 2026-2028. In 2022, she was awarded AzACDA Choral Director of the Year. As a youth, Aimee sang with the Salt Lake Children’s Choir, studied voice and violin, and performed in a string quartet. Mrs. Stewart earned her bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University and has sung in established choirs such as the Roanoke (VA) Symphony Chorus, Connecticut Master Chorale, Utah Baroque Ensemble, and The Phoenix Symphony Chorus. Mrs. Stewart is in a Master’s program for Choral Conducting at Arizona State University. Her hobbies include skiing with her husband, Adam, and their four children, Lizzie, Eli, Ivy, and Oliver, all of whom have sung with CCC.

As a passionate choral conductor, I want every choral conductor from every state in our region to feel that WACDA can be a place to turn to for support, ideas, and community; for festival opportunities, repertoire inspiration, and guidance, inside and outside of our biannual conferences. As I have worked in my various jobs with community youth, high school, community college, university, and church choirs, I have learned that in our demanding field, we need each other to be our best. As the work is evolving and expanding, it is an exciting time to learn from each other in new ways. WACDA can be that hub of support, mentorship, and inspiration as we together navigate this field. Let’s work together to make that happen!


One of my new favorite songs is “Crowded Table” by the Highwomen, arranged by Andrea Ramsey: “I want a house with a crowded table, and place by the fire for everyone. Let us take on the world while we’re young and able, and bring us all together when the day is done.” I don’t know how young am I am anymore, and able is debatable, but I hope to bring us all together at a crowded table, where everyone is welcome.

Past President

Michael Short is the director and founder of the Orange Community Master Chorale, established in 1994. He has just retired as Director of Choral Activities at Orange High School after over 44 years in music education. He has received degrees from Chapman College (BM) in Orange, California in 1979 and his Masters degree from the California State University at Fullerton in 1988.  Mr. Short was the President of the Western Region, American Choral Directors Association 2022-2024. 

Mr. Short is heavily involved in the arts in the Orange Community.  In 1995, he created, and still conducts, the City of Orange Tree Lighting and Candlelight Procession in downtown Orange every December and in the summer of 1996 he created and still conducts the Third of July patriotic program for the City of Orange.  He is also President of the “Greater Orange Community Arts Theater”, (GOCAT) a non-profit organization dedicated to creating a performance venue for the Community of Orange. (www.gocat4all.org)

Mr. Short’s artistic endeavors have been varied and exciting. His choral groups—school and church—have appeared in two feature films, Ed Wood and Sister Act 2, and performed musical voice-over for a movie about Stan Lee “With Great Power”.  Not only has he received the Bravo Award from the Los Angeles Music Center and was named Teacher of the Year for Orange Unified School District. He was Chapman University’s Alumnus of the Year for 2004 and named City of Orange’s Citizen of the Year for 2005. Mr. Short also received the Chapman University Alumni in the Arts Award in 2015. He has toured with his choirs to venues all over Europe, Greece and Canada.  He conducted Morten Lauridsen’s “Lux Aeterna” in Carnegie Hall in May of 2009 and in May of 2017 the chorale and orchestra returned to Carnegie Hall to perform “Carmina Burana” organized and conducted by Mr. Short.

Michael and his wife Vicki have been married since 1982 and live in Old Town Orange. Their two children, Katherine, married to Jarod Hicks and Matthew Short, married to Jessica, went to Yorba Jr. High and Orange High School where he was their choir teacher. He is also a proud grandpa to Milo, Luna, and Beau.


David Sonnichsen grew up in the Twin Cities area in Minnesota and graduated from University of Minnesota, Duluth with a Bachelor of Music Education in June of 1999 with dual certification for teaching both choir and band.  After graduation he taught choir and band in Minnesota for four years.  He completed the Master of Music (Choral Conducting) program at The Ohio State University (OSU) in 2005 and moved to Las Vegas to fill the Director of Choirs position at Valley High School.  David teaches choir and music technology, which is a class that introduces students to sound systems, live audio mixing and digital audio recording.  He continues to love working with all the choir, music tech and theater students at Valley helping them to explore and find their voices.  During summers, David enjoys camping and visiting the National Parks with his wife, Deborah and their 2 dogs Oats & Molly.

DEI Initiatives Chair

A proud native of the Jersey Shore, Lynn now makes Los Angeles his home. Whether he wears a Dodgers cap or a Yankees cap, he is proud to serve the Western Region ACDA Board as DEI Initiatives Chair. With a bachelor’s in music education from Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ; he began his career teaching middle and high school choirs. Over time, he found himself constantly wanting to ensure that the music his choirs sang spoke to his students. You might say that he was delving into DEI before he knew what it was! 

Shortly after graduating with a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Choral Conducting from James Madison University in the Shenandoah Valley, Lynn became the second artistic director of One Voice Chorus Richmond, a community chorus who’s focus on racial reconciliation between African Americans and European Americans in Richmond, VA produced a choir of over 120 people. The focus of creating concerts where repertoire needed to speak to this focus sparked a love of creating meaningful programming for racially divergent audiences. Lynn was also instrumental in the creation of the 2020 LGBTQ/Disabilities Inclusive Curriculum for the State of NJ.  

Currently, Dr. Atkins is Director of Choral Activities and Voice Area Coordinator at California State University Dominguez Hills in Carson, CA, Artistic Director of South Coast Chorale the LGBTQ Chorus of Long Beach, and Artistic Director of LA Bronze Handbell Ensemble. 

Membership Chair

Laurie Hancock received her B. Music degree in Choral/Vocal Studies from California State University, Long Beach.  She taught middle school choir at Ladera Vista Junior High in Fullerton, CA where she was named Teacher of the Year in 2005.   During this time she served as Junior High Festival Coordinator for Southern California Vocal Association. After relocating to Washington State, she continued teaching middle school choir and elementary general music in Fall City, WA., in addition to directing the Snoqualmie Valley Girls Chorus for two seasons.   Before retiring in 2020, Mrs. Hancock taught private voice lessons, and worked in community youth musical theater productions.  She and her husband now live in Mission Viejo, California and enjoy travel, their church, the Dodgers and their two grandsons.  She is looking forward to serving as Membership Co-Chair and connecting with the choral community again. 

Recording Secretary

Naomi Gamez has been a music educator for the past 6 years. In that time she has taught elementary, middle school, and high school choir, guitar, band, jazz, and general music. Prior to receiving her credential she also taught afterschool programs, summer camps and private lessons since 2011. Naomi’s goal is to continue to evolve and learn from every opportunity to better serve her students and grow as an educator. She believes in not only sharing her love of music but being a safe place for students while helping them learn to express themselves and grow emotional intelligence through music.

Naomi holds a bachelors of music education emphasis in choral studies from CSU
Northridge and is currently working on her masters of arts in music in choral conducting at CSU Fresno under the direction of Dr. Cari Earnhart.