Encore: Our Story


 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.

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Jeanne Kelly, Executive Director

jeanne_pub_webJEANNE 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 Executive 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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Edward Johnson, Board President

BOD-JohnsonAfter almost two decades of experience in international trade, small business management and finance, as well as organizational development, Ed Johnson retired and set sights on his next, his “encore,” career. In his most recent work within the Booz Allen Hamilton team focusing on security, international trade, and economic development, Mr. Johnson exceled at gathering government agency requirements and transforming them into business actions as managed through various software tools. He provided research and analytic support as well as editing, writing, and market knowledge to the development of computer systems, policy and procedure documentation, system training materials, demand models and financial and economic impact analysis. His team-building and empowerment management methods helped him to rapidly develop skills in more junior members of the team.

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Terri Sorota, Board Vice President

BOD-SorotaTerri Sorota has 30 years experience in a variety of human resources, legal, lobbying, and management positions for insurance companies and trade associations. She has extensive experience in all aspects of public policy development and advocacy for life and health insurance trade associations and served as General Counsel to the Health Insurance Association of America. She is a member of the Connecticut, District of Columbia and U.S. Supreme Court Bars. Terri has served a number of school and community arts groups in a variety of creative and fundraising capacities.

Larry Kelly, Board Secretary

larry portrait 2Larry 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. Larry provides information technology capital planning and portfolio management consulting support to a component of the Department of Homeland Security. Previously, as a Senior Program Manager and Principal Consultant for SAIC and Total Systems Technologies, Corp.,

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Richard Burnes, Board Treasurer

BOD Burnes webRichard Burnes has turned his retirement into an opportunity to get more involved in his community --- as a volunteer for such diverse groups as Meals on Wheels, Habitat for Humanity and the Glenmont Exchange. After a long career as an Information Technology Manager and Consultant with BAE Systems, Inc. and BT North America, he has turned his skills in financial management, creative problem-solving, and communication technologies to the benefit of these organizations. Now, as an Encore Board Member, Richard wants to bring those skills to bear as Encore continues to expand the program both locally in the Washington, DC/Baltimore area, as well as nationally through the affiliate program.  Richard and his wife, Judith, are both Encore singers and strong supporters of the Encore mission.

Debra Brown-DeLone, Board Member

BOD-DDeLone-webAs a human resource and management professional for more than 30 years, Debra Brown-DeLone comes 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 Pagent. 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 looks forward to using her experience to the benefit of the Encore program.

Ellen Leddy, Board Member

BOD Leddy webExperienced in program planning, project implementation, financing and communications, Ellen Leddy comes to the Encore Board of Directors after a career of more than 25 years with the United State Agency for International Development (USAID). Her work coordinating projects carried out by for-profit corporations and non-governmental organizations through both grants and contracts meant she was both preparing requests for grant proposals and monitoring progress of the projects once underway. Her role included extensive budget management, public outreach and strategic planning.

As Chorale Master for the Alexandria Encore Chorale, Ellen has been instrumental in promoting concert events and raising the public visibility of the chorale locally. Her outstanding organizational skills has the Alexandria Encore Chorale running like a well-oiled machine and continuing on an upward trajectory. 

Ann McFarren, Board Member

BOD McFarren webAn entrepreneur, activist, and able fundraiser, Ann McFarren has been spent her career working to advance health education in the US and abroad. A BSN nurse by education, Ann worked as Executive Director for Planned Parenthood of NW Indiana for 25 years. She took the organization from serving 5 patients to more than 20,000 patients annually. After moving to the DC area, Ann worked first for the AIDS Action Foundation, and then started two different health information companies, one of which she continues to run as President today. 

A demanding professional life has not kept Ann from serving in volunteer leadership positions in a variety of non-profit organizations. From the NW Indiana Symphony to PTA to skating clubs, Ann has offered her time and expertise to numerous boards and fundraising efforts. Her grant writing skills have resulted in substantial awards and she hopes to bring those skills and knowledge to the benefit of Encore.

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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!