History of NATS

The 2010s

President Donald Simonson 2010-2012

  • Simonson_7084_BW-web.jpgSimonson attended the National ACDA Conference in Chicago, Illinois and presented sessions titled “Choral Directors are from Mars and Voice Teachers are From Venus: Sing from the Diaphragm and Other Vocal Mistructions” and “The Top 10 List: Complaints from Both Sides of the Aisle” with Sharon Hansen, Allen Henderson, Scott McCoy, and Brenda Smith.
  • NATS’ involvement with the Carnegie Hall/RCM-Toronto Achievement Program
  • NATS membership reached an all time high of 7,360
  • Seed money provided by a major gift from the estate of Alice Mae Riley, allowed NATS to establish a new national competition, modeled on the existing Artist Award program, which is focused on singers who specialize in music theater performance named the “NATS National Music Theater Competition”
  • President Simonson traveled to Manhattan to speak as NATS’ representative at the Memorial Service for Shirlee Emmons on August 14, 2010. With the support of her husband Rollin Baldwin, Shirlee bequeathed $100,000 to NATS to establish the Shirlee Emmons/Berton Coffin Endowment Fund.
  • Simonson also served as the American representative on the Jury of the 66th Concours de Geneve

 President Kathryn Proctor Duax 2012-2014

  • KPD_LifeTouch_pic_10-11_.jpgMay 28-June 1 Duax attended and presented a master class at the annual Voice Foundation meeting in Philadelphia.
  • Great efforts were made to share timely news on the NATS website, through Inter Nos and Intermezzo.
  • June 11-13, 2012 Duax attended and presented a panel discussion and a lecture/discussion for the NATS Intern Program at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.
  • The Federal Trade Commission challenged NATS regarding a statement in the ethics code. The Executive Committee settled the issue with the help of the NATS attorney and the Executive Director.


President Norman Spivey 2014-2016

  • Norman_Spivey-color-1-6-2014.jpgNATS witnessed the first-ever regional auditions in several regions.
  • President Spivey represented NATS at the Voice Pedagogy Summit in Columbus, OH
  • President Spivey authored Journal of Singing article with Mary Saunders-Barton and Christy Turnbow, “Training the Next Generation of Music Theater Voice Teachers: Penn State’s First MFA Pedagogy Grad Takes Stock”
  • Spivey hosted the Allegheny Mountain Chapter NATS Fall Meeting, on October 3, 2015
  • Spivey presented a master class at the Northwest Region Conference on “Cross Training in the Studio: Enhancing Vocalism by Working in Both Classical and Music Theater Styles,” on March 4-6 2016. He also served as a NATSAA adjudicator
  • The Board approved moving NATSAA and NMTC semifinals and finals to Winter Workshop in 2018 and holding the workshop biennially in New York City. 
  • The Board approved updates to the Board Manuals and Association By-Laws.
  • Joan Boytim Awards for Independent Teachers (established 2015) were first awarded in 2016 to assist independent teachers in attending national conferences.
  • The 2016 Board approved, in collaboration with the NATS Foundation, the addition of a track for collaborative piano interns in the NATS Intern Program to begin in summer 2017.

President Linda J. Snyder 2016-2018

  • Linda_Snyder_March_2018_IMG_4578.JPG2018 membership increased to nearly 7200, the highest in four years, and included an increase in collaborative pianist members.
  • Revisions and updates: The Code of Ethics, NATS History webpage, Membership Committee recruitment processes, National Student Audition Guidelines, Intern Program Guidelines.
  • New online registration process for student auditions confirmed that about 15,000 student auditions took place in 2017-18.
  • The Executive Committee initiated mid-year meetings via video conferencing, as did a growing number of national committees.
  • The President appointed an International Advisory Group that after Board approval, became the International Advisory Committee (2018). The 2018 Board also approved a new Advocacy Committee to promote diversity and inclusion in NATS, and advocacy for music/singing in education and for the arts in our communities.
  • Member input was solicited through two surveys: depth of involvement in community and school music teaching and advocacy, and international activities and interests.
  • The 2018 Board approved a joint Fundraising Initiative with the NATS Foundation in conjunction with the upcoming NATS 75th Anniversary on March 23, 2019.
  • The 2018 National Conference in Las Vegas included greater diversity, a record number of conference proposals and presenters, its first “community sing,” mentored teaching and research opportunities, and a kick-off for the 75th Anniversary 2-year celebration. NATS honored member Marvin Keenze with the Lifetime Achievement Award for his 30 years of service as the NATS International Coordinator. Keenze has mentored the development of over 25 singing teacher associations world-wide.
  • Art Song Composition Award Competition, formerly biennial, became an annual award, due to donor support from member-composer Lori Laitman.
  • President Snyder represented NATS at partner association conferences such as the ICVT, The Voice Foundation, MTNA, and NFMC, and represented NATS at the 2017 National Arts Advocacy Day in the nation’s capital and Opera America’s Singer Training Forum. Snyder presented, “Women Composers on Broadway: Leading the Way in the Last Ten Years,” at the 2017 ICVT in Stockholm, Sweden. 

President Karen Brunssen  2018-2020

  • Karen BrunssenNATS celebrated its 75th Anniversary on March 23, 2019. A commemorative issue of JOS and a fundraising initiative honored the anniversary.
  • NATS did their first extensive Climate Survey with impressive and helpful response from over 1,000 members.
  • In 2019, NATS hired Strategic Funding Solutions to guide development of the NATS Strategic Plan 2020-2025: Framing Our Future approved at the 2020 National Board meeting.
  • NATS established its first “gift acceptance policy.”
  • The NATS Advancement Committee, chaired by Kari Ragan, was established by the NATS National Board.
  • NATS added a new part-time staff position, Competitions Coordinator, and hired Mark McQuade.
  • In June 2019, President Karen Brunssen and Scott Swope hosted the first NATS Transatlantic Pedagogy Trip to Germany in collaboration with EVTA and BDG.
  • A comprehensive membership Retention and Recruitment Guide was developed by Nancy Bos, Dr. Alexis Davis-Hazell, Ellie Seligmann, and Christine Keene.
  • In response to social unrest, NATS gathered individuals to make a video for the first Diversity and Inclusion Statement.
  • NATS implemented gender-neutral NSA categories
  • Dues were raised as of 2020.
  • NATS responded to concerns about COVID-19 in many ways:
  • Due to COVID-19, the 2020 National Conference, scheduled for Knoxville, TN was converted to a virtual conference. Over 2,000 registered as NATS offered registration for $75 for all, and non-NATS members received one year of NATS membership.
  • NATS held their 2020 National Board meetings online due to COVID-19.
  • The NATS 2020 Intern Program was rescheduled to 2021 due to COVID-19 restrictions that precluded holding the event in-person at the planned site.
  • NATS was represented at The Voice Foundation, PEVOC in Copenhagen, ACDA, NCCO, Choral Canada, MTNA, EVTA’s Eurovox, CMS and more.