2016 Special Elections!

2016 Special Elections

Slate of Nominees (Approved 3/18/2016)


Vice President for Membership

Deyermond, BethBeth Deyermond, MA, MT-BC has been a practicing music therapist for the past fourteen years.  She currently serves as the Music Therapy Department Chairperson and Internship Director at The Center for Discovery in Harris, NY.  She received her Bachelors of Science in Music Therapy from Slippery Rock University in September of 2001 and graduated with her Masters of Arts in Music Therapy from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College in 2015. Beth’s responsibilities at The Center include providing oversight to both the pediatric and adult Music Therapy programs, facilitating individual and group Music Therapy sessions within the Intensive Music Therapy Clinic, planning and documenting Music Therapy services, and training and administrative aspects of the internship program. She is a frequent presenter at both national and regional Music Therapy conferences.  In her free time, Beth is very involved in her community, serving as the Treasurer of the Yulan Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary and President of the George Ross Mackenzie PTA.  She enjoys spending time with her husband and two children, cooking, baking, and skiing.

I am very excited to be running for the position of Vice President for Membership for the Mid-Atlantic Region of Music Therapists.  As it is the mission of the MAR to advance public awareness of music therapy, increase access to quality Music Therapy services and provide support to its members within the Mid-Atlantic Region, it is increasingly important for members of the Board to be personable, approachable, organized, thoughtful, confident, and open to feedback and alternative ideas.  In addition to these traits, I believe that the key to moving our profession forward is solution focused, out-of-the-box thinking.  I pride myself in holding the above named traits and also in my ability to think in creative ways in both professional and personal settings.  You can have confidence in knowing that I will approach this position with that same level of passion and creativity. I am committed to listening to people’s concerns with an open mind, and then to respond thoughtfully and purposefully in order to best serve the membership.  It would be a great honor to serve the MAR as a member of the Executive Board, and I hope to be able to use my dedication and skills, coupled with the knowledge I have gained over the years, to help move the Region, AMTA, and the profession as a whole to an even higher level of excellence. Thank you for your consideration.  I am passionate about our field and am excited at the chance of serving the MAR in this capacity.


Norris, MarisolMarisol Norris, MA, MT-BC currently serves as adjunct faculty at Drexel University where she teaches core courses in multicultural competency in counseling and music therapy.  She provides music therapy services to diverse populations with the Philadelphia Family Court system and clinically supervises music therapy Master’s students.  In addition to her work as a therapist and educator, she serves on multiple boards and committees.  This includes the RATTLE Project, an interdisciplinary initiative that seeks to explore the impact of power and legitimacy within the creative art therapy disciplines, and Drexel University’s College of Nursing and Healthcare Professions Dean’s Advisory Board of Diversity and Inclusion, created with the sole intent of increasing organizational diversity and inclusion efforts.  

I believe my level of involvement within these various systems, coupled with my commitment, as a therapist, educator, and cultural worker will prove an asset to MAR. My experience provides insights into the socio political landscape in which music therapy exists and the concerns that students, educators, and therapist have as they collectively strive towards effective stewardship within the communities they serve.  I would be honored to have an opportunity to collaborate with others as MAR’s Vice President of Membership, sustaining a cultural climate in which all its members feel valued, respected, and included in the organizational mission and offering resources for their continued growth.


Vice President-Elect for Conference Planning

Swanson, JenniferJennifer Swanson, MMT, MT-BC works for a hospice company in the Philadelphia area where she created and maintains its first music therapy program, and supervises practicum students.  She also has a private practice, working with groups and individuals of varying backgrounds.  She is a frequent presenter at regional and national music therapy conferences on topics related to hospice music therapy and advocacy. Jennifer is the Mid-Atlantic Regional Representative to the AMTA Professional Advocacy Committee and serves on the Pennsylvania State Music Therapy Task Force.  She is currently in clinical supervision working towards LPC licensure.

I, Jennifer Swanson, MMT, MT-BC, would be honored to continue to serve as Vice President Elect of Conference Planning.  Seven months ago I was appointed for the position by the MAR Executive Board and have been in training ever since.  I have a strong passion towards helping create an educational, innovative, and diverse conference that appeals to professionals and students alike.  Further, as an integrated member of the field and experienced clinician, I am an excellent candidate to represent the MAR membership while serving on the MAR Executive Board.

Vernisie, Shawna (1) copyShawna Vernisie, MA, MT-BC, LCAT is a Board-Certified Music Therapist as well as a Licensed Creative Arts Therapist in the state of New York.  She received her Bachelor of Music degree in Music Therapy from Marywood University (Scranton, PA) and her Master of Arts degree in Music Therapy from New York University (New York, NY).  Shawna has worked with many populations, including pediatric medical, pediatric medically fragile, the neonatal intensive care unit, adult critical care, oncology, and palliative care, children with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Williams Syndrome, and children with visual impairments/blindness.  Currently, Shawna is a Music Therapist at Cohen Children’s Medical Center, where she provides music therapy services within adolescent medicine, medical/surgical units, hematology/oncology/bone marrow transplantation, and the pediatric intensive care unit.  Shawna also provides music therapy to children with visual impairments and developmental disabilities through Art Beyond Sight, an organization which raises awareness of creative arts in children’s education.  Shawna has presented at MAR-AMTA conferences in the past on the topic of normalizing the pediatric hospital environment using Music Therapy.  Similarly, Shawna has professionally published on the topic, as her manuscript, “Bridging Familiarity with Unfamiliarity: The Use of Music Therapy to Normalize the Pediatric Hospital Environment”, was recently published in the interdisciplinary peer-reviewed journal, Music and Medicine.  Shawna is a member of the American Music Therapy Association as well as the International Association of Music and Medicine.

Being a member who thoroughly enjoys and often attends conferences, I find that being elected to run for Vice President of Conference Planning-Elect gives me excitement, joy, and new opportunities!  I find myself to be an outgoing, personable member of the Mid-Atlantic Region and am always striving to find more effective ways to bring people together and unite our Music Therapy community.  I’m quite interested in the position of VPCP-E as I find the little things build a much greater picture – securing conference information in a timely manner, having many different populations of MT represented, and bringing a sense of togetherness into the conferences all help to build a sense of community and belonging.  As a Music Therapist in the field for just over 5 years now, I hope you will find that I am eager to learn and progress in my development as not only a Music Therapist, but as a positive leader as well.


Government Relations Chair-Elect

Rodgers Smith, Amy (1) copyAmy Rodgers Smith, MT-BC is the Founder and Executive Director of On A Better Note Music Therapy, LLC, based in Morgantown, WV. She initiated and chairs the West Virginia Music Therapy Task Force for State Recognition. Her clinical expertise is providing music therapy services for children and adults with autism, however, she has worked with persons across the lifespan who have a variety of intellectual, developmental, and neurological disorders as well. Prior to returning to her home state of West Virginia, Amy served as the Director of Music Therapy in Alvin Independent School District, TX, and as the Secretary of the Southwest Region of the American Music Therapy Association. Amy was an integral part of developing the undergraduate music therapy degree program and is now an adjunct professor at West Virginia University. She is expected to receive her Master’s in Music Therapy in May 2016.

I am excited to accept a nomination for the election of AMTA-MAR Government Relations Chair-Elect. In my 9 years of professional practice, I have always been passionate about improving access to music therapy services, no matter where I have been located across the country. I have been a leader in networking, educating, advocating, and creating jobs. As Chair of the West Virginia Music Therapy Task Force for State Recognition, it has been a pleasure to work with and learn from the other state task forces, which helped position West Virginia to put legislation forward this year. I have also enjoyed my time consulting and lecturing at West Virginia University, which launched the creation of our newly established undergraduate degree program. I am excited for the opportunity to share my skills and passion with the Mid-Atlantic Region in this position. Thank you for your consideration.

Santiago, MelissaMelissa Santiago, MS, MT-BC, CCLS, works full time as a music therapist with pediatric patients at Saint Barnabas Medical Center.  She attended Nazareth College of Rochester and SUNY New Paltz, where she received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music therapy, respectively.  Melissa first gained experience with the medical population during her internships at Children’s Hospital of New Orleans and at Golisano Children’s Hospital at University of Rochester.  She has been involved in government relations by serving on the New Jersey State Task Force since 2012.  Additionally, Melissa was President of NJAMT from 2013-2015.  She first began her involvement with AMTA when she was a student, serving as MARAMTS President, AMTAS President, and then as a co-coordinator of MAR Passages as a new professional.  She has learned a lot, enjoyed seeing the process of pursuing licensure in New Jersey, and is hopeful about the future of music therapy.

I am writing to express my interest in the AMTA-MAR Government Relations Elect position.  I would like to accept the nomination to run for this position for the 2016-2017 term, which would be followed by the AMTA-MAR Government Relations Chair position.



Burchfiel Ferris, Amanda copyAmanda Burchfiel Ferris, MS, MT-BC has been a board certified music therapist since 2005.  She has clinical experience with a variety of populations but since 2010, she has been employed by the State Operated Programs, a division of the Virginia Department of Education.  During her time there, she has focused on curriculum development and implementing an emotional intelligence & character education component for the treatment of incarcerated youth.  Additionally, Amanda has created an online continuing education course entitled “Tunes for Teens in the 2000s,” which is available at MusicTherapyEd.com.  Amanda has been an active participant on the newly re-assembled Virginia State Task Force and serves as the Adolescent Team Leader for Full Circle Music Therapy Community, which is a CMBT Pre-Approved provider offering Peer Supervision for music therapists.  

Amanda has accepted the nomination for the Treasurer Elect Position in order to provide service the Mid-Atlantic Region.


Sutton, BrigetteBrigette K. Sutton, MA, MT-BC, Neurologic Music Therapist is the Director of Music Therapy at Villa St. Joseph in Baden, PA, a skilled nursing facility, where she established the music therapy program in 2007.  She has served the MAR as Assembly Delegate Alternate, Regional Registration Chair, Finance Committee Member, Vice President for Conference Planning, and is the current Exhibits Coordinator for the 2017 MAR-AMTA Conference to be held in Rochester, NY.

Serving the members of the Mid-Atlantic Region as Vice President for Conference Planning and in various other roles since 2009 has been an incredible opportunity to gain insight into the responsibilities and efforts of our region, especially the efforts and collaboration of our MAR Executive Board.  The Board has pursued significant changes in many of its positions and processes, striving for consistency in transitions, effective use of technology, and general best practices.  I greatly respect these efforts and intentions, including the creation of this new position, and am privileged to have been part of the process of positive change and collaboration.

I would like to express my interest in continuing this service as the MAR Treasurer-Elect. I look forward to sharing my communication and organizational skills for responsible fiscal stewardship and continued process improvement.