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Encore: Our Story

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The dream began to take shape  in September 2001, when the late internationally renowned gerontologist Dr. Gene Cohen, Director of the Center on Aging, Health and Humanities at George Washington University, asked Jeanne Kelly to be part of a study on The Impact of Professionally Conducted Cultural Programs on the Physical Health, Mental Health and Social Functioning  of Older Adults.  The study would necessitate forming two chorales for older adults over 65 years of age to join forces with the Senior Singers' Chorale Jeanne already had up and running at Goodwin House, Alexandria under her older adult program at Levine School of Music Arlington Campus where she was the director. She quickly added Goodwin House Bailey's Crossroads in Falls Church, VA.

Arlington County Lee Center became the third component of the chorale program and the first rehearsal was scheduled to take place on Sept. 11, 2001.  It was canceled because of the horrible terrorist attacks that day.  The next week brought in over 60 older adult singers! The rehearsals at all three locations were full of energy, excitement and a great choral sound. Combined, over 120 older adults actively participated in a choral program directed by a professional conductor.

 

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GWU-NEA Study Inspired Encore

In 2001, the National Endowment for The Arts , along with the National Institutes of Health and four other federal and nonfederal programs, sponsored landmark research known as The Creativity and Aging Study. The goal of this multisite national study taking place in three major cities across the United States (Washington, New York, and San Francisco) was to examine the impact of participatory art programs conducted by professional artists on the physical health, mental health, and social functioning of older persons. The primary investigator was the late Gene D. Cohen, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the Center on Aging, Health & Humanities at the George Washington University. This was the first study of its kind, using an experimental design with a control group over an extended period of time, examining the influence of active engagement in the arts on the overall health of older adults.

The study began in Washington, DC under the artistic direction of Conductor Jeanne Kelly, formerly of the Levine School of Music . The Washington, DC site focused on singing groups that joined together in a large chorale, while the other sites were engaged in a diversity of other art forms. The first results reported from the study were those from evaluating the chorale compared to a control matched in terms of activity level and health status at the start of the study.

Interestingly the average age of the chorale and the control group was 80-greater than life expectancy. Many had not sung or read music before, and were taught to do so by Jeanne Kelly, bringing them to a level of accomplishment that led to their being invited to sing at the Millennium Stage of the Kennedy Center.

 

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Jeanne Kelly, Founder and Artistic Director

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Jeanne Kelly's career of over forty years has produced a unique blend of experience as a vocal performer, teacher, conductor and music administrator that has prepared her well to serve as the Founder and Artistic Director of Encore Creativity for Older Adults.

As a performer, Ms. Kelly made her professional operatic debut with the Washington Opera at the Kennedy Center.  She has also performed major roles with the Baltimore Opera, Opera Delaware, Central City Opera, Tulsa Opera, Annapolis Opera, and the New York City Opera Education Department.  She appeared in the world premiere of Rappaccini's Daughter with the Pennsylvania Opera Theater.

In addition to having maintained a private voice studio in Maryland and Virginia, Ms. Kelly served on the faculties of the Levine School of Music, Washington, DC; Hood College, Frederick, Maryland; and the Baltimore School for the Arts.

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Mary Spencer, Executive Director

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In January 2016, Mary Spencer joined the Encore leadership team as Executive Director, serving alongside Founder and Artistic Director Jeanne Kelly.

Mary holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Recreation Programming and Administration from the University of Maryland and brings over 30 years of professional experience working to further the mission of various non-profits whose missions encourage the pursuit of personal growth and life-long learning.

Most recently, Mary has served as the Director of Advancement and member of the Senior Administrative Team for The Key School in Annapolis, Maryland, implementing the strategic plan for Key’s fundraising initiatives and garnering support for the school’s vision and mission. Since 2005, Mary has helped to raise over $12.5 million for the school’s Annual Fund, Endowment, and Capital Projects.

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Debra Brown-DeLone, President

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As a human resource and management professional for more than 30 years, Debra Brown-DeLone came to Encore with extensive experience in training, public relations, contract management, public administration and non-profit management. She is President and CEO of AdeLITA, LLC, a privately owned training and development company focused on meeting facilitation and diversity training for conferences, corporate and non-profit groups, and goverment.  She currently works as a contractor for the Anti-Defamation League providing diversity and anti-bullying training for students in Washington, DC, Montgomery and Fairfax County public schools. 

Also a dedicated volunteer, Debra has held leadership positions with the League of Women Voters of the Virgin Islands and the Rockville Lions Club, and has served as Mistress of Ceremonies for 10 years for the Miss Senior America Pageant. She has traveled throughout the world and lived in the Caribbean for more than 20 years. Now a Maryland resident and avid Encore singer, Debra is using her vast experience to the benefit of Encore.

 

Sue Baum, Board Member

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Sue Baum joins the Encore Board with experience as a professional and volunteer fundraiser for various political campaigns and non-profit organizations, such as the National Museum of the American Indian, the American Institute for Cancer Research, and Baltimore Clayworks. She is a proven business leader, consultant and public speaker having spent many years in public office in Missouri where she served as a City Council Member and Planning and Zoning Commissioner, followed by her election as the Mayor of Creve Coeur, Missouri. As Mayor, Sue managed a $10 million dollar budget, wrote and passed policy and legislation, and initiated innovative programming policies and public/private partnerships.  In addition, Sue served as treasurer and then chair of the St. Louis County Extension Council, part of the Land-grant University of Missouri System. Sue was appointed by the Governor to serve on several statewide committees and was awarded a two-year leadership grant as a National Extension Leadership Fellow.

 

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David Bernstein, Board Member

David BernsteinDavid Bernstein brings a wealth of experience to the Encore Board of Directors in the area strategic planning, business, and information technology. Having retired as Captain from the United States Coast Guard after 35 years of distinguished reserve and active duty service, including serving as the Coast Guard CIO, David continued his career as an Enterprise & IT Governance Consultant-Strategist and Senior Consultant for the world's largest information systems outsourcing organization, EDS. David has demonstrated dynamic leadership in the government and private sector as an Executive Consultant to both US and foreign governments working with CEOs, CIOs, and senior business and IT management to define and employ effective methods and processes to develop strategic business plans. He has expertise in strategic IT plans, enterprise governance, IT governance, enterprise architecture, capital planning & investment control, portfolio management, IT investment management, and value measurement. In addition, David worked as a Managing Consultant/Architect and Senior Consultant working with the Government of Singapore, the US Navy, the US Army, the Government of the United Kingdom, the Government of the United Arab Emirates, the Government of Australia, and the Government of Hong Kong. David also served as the Director of the Office of Administrative & Management Systems for the Social Security Administration.

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Larry Kelly, Secretary/Treasurer

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Larry Kelly has over forty years of management experience with large and small businesses in the private sector, federal government and the U.S. Navy, where he was the program director for a $200M/year revenue generating business.

Larry is a Consultant for Whitney, Bradley and Brown, Inc. He provides information technology capital planning and portfolio management consulting support to a component of the Department of Homeland Security. Previously, he worked as a Program Manager and Principal Consultant for SAIC and Total Systems Technologies, Corp.

Larry led consulting teams at the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection, Internal Revenue Service, and the Department of the Treasury, and also consulted with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Coast Guard, FEMA, Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, Department of Health and Human Services, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

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David Lloyd, Board Member

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David Lloyd spent his career building grass roots organizations: first in New Jersey for the New Jersey Business and Industry Association; then nationally in DC for the American Coatings Association (ACA). During his tenure at both organizations, he advocated on behalf of his membership with state legislators and members of Congress, as well as state and federal regulators. He developed a reputation as an honest, straightforward, and well-liked professional. In his years representing the paint industry, he successfully passed legislation to expand the capabilities of the industry, with the participation of the state grassroots organizations he initiated and led. He managed a staff of lawyers at ACA as well as federal, state and local consultants/lobbyists throughout the country. He retired on December 31, 2010.

David grew up in a very musical family — his father, Norman, was Dean at the Juilliard School of Music and served as the first Director of the Rockefeller Foundation for the Arts during the 1960's. His mother, Ruth, taught dance and rhythmic training at Sarah Lawrence College. Both were instrumental in founding the American Dance Movement at Bennington College in the mid 1930s. As a young adult, David played trombone in high school and college marching bands — and two dance band groups during the mid-1950s (including a solo performance on American Bandstand).

 

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About Encore

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Encore is dedicated to providing an excellent and accessible artistic environment for older adults, 55 and over, regardless of experience or ability, who seek arts education and performance opportunities under a professional artist. Encore is an IRS 501(c)(3) nonprofit tax exempt organization.

All Encore programs are conducted by professional artists who will know how to get the most from their members. So come join the excitement, either as a beginner or at an advanced level. This is an excellent way to learn how to develop or improve your musical abilities, meet new friends, and look forward to an exciting performance schedule.

You’re never too old to try something new—and have the time of your life!