Allen Henderson, Executive Director
Mailing Address: 9957 Moorings Drive
Allen Henderson holds degrees from Carson Newman College (BM), The University of Tennessee (MM) and the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati (DMA), where his minor was in Arts Administration and he was winner of the prestigious Corbett-Treigle Opera Competition.
Prior to his appointment as executive director in 2008, he served NATS as district and regional governor and was elected national secretary/treasurer from 2006-2008. He also served as interim executive director from 2007-2008. Henderson was a participant in the 1993 NATS Intern Program and later hosted the program in 1998. He was chair of the coordinating committee for the 2008 NATS 50th National Conference in Nashville, Tenn.
Henderson has held teaching positions at Oklahoma Baptist University, Austin Peay State University and Georgia Southern University. In these positions he has taught voice, foreign language diction, opera, choral techniques, choral literature, song literature and directed choirs. He also served as music department chair at Austin Peay and Georgia Southern.
As baritone soloist, Henderson has appeared in concert, opera, and oratorio across the country. A district winner and regional finalist in the Metropolitan Opera auditions, Henderson was winner of the 1995 National Federation of Music Clubs Artist Awards. He also was a regional finalist in the NATSAA competition.
Deborah Guess is director of operations in the NATS Executive Office, joining NATS in 1997. Before being appointed director of operations in 2006, she served as office manager for the Association and assisted the executive director. As director of operations, Guess is responsible for operations of the executive office, marketing and promotions for Association events, planning/coordinating national conferences and is managing editor of the Inter Nos newsletter.
Guess has more than 30 years experience in event and business management, as well as accounting. Before joining NATS, she held the position of public relations director at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Jacksonville, Fla. and before that served as assistant to the director of the Technology Resource Center at Santa Fe Community College in Gainesville, Fla., assisting with grant writing, promotions of events and computer training for other staff members. She also served as a teaching assistant at the University of North Florida and did several research internships at the Cummer Art Museum (in Jacksonville) and the St. Augustine Historical Society in St. Augustine, Florida.
Guess is a Magna Cum Laude graduate and holds a bachelor of arts degree from the University of North Florida in Jacksonville. She is also a lifetime member of The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi and Phi Theta Kappa. Guess holds an Associate of Arts degree in accounting and certification in Volunteer Management, Internal Revenue Income Tax Law, Business Management and Graphic Design. She has served on the Board of Trustees of the United Methodist Church and several local charitable organizations.
Paul Witkowski joined the NATS staff in September 2016. He brings a extensive background in the performing arts, social services and public administration.
Prior to joining NATS, Witkowski served as director of communications for the Jacksonville Symphony. In his role, Witkowski oversaw marketing, publications, media relations, communications, social media, web content and video. He increased sponsorship and advertising revenue as program magazine editor and executed innovative media and promotional campaigns throughout 20 concert seasons.
Witkowski served as outcomes data administrator for Operation New Hope, where he told the transformative stories of ex-offenders re-entering society and earning sustainable employment. While earning his MPA from New York University, her served in the NYC Mayor’s Office of Operations as an analyst for Medicaid-funded home health care.
A native Detroiter, Witkowski earned a BFA in Music Management from Wayne State University, with performance specializations in jazz piano and choral singing.
He also serves as a music minister for St. Pius V Catholic Church and has sung with the Jacksonville Symphony Chorus.
Amandia Carnahan comes to NATS with more than 14 years’ experience in the nonprofit world, and has held positions from public relations to program management. Organizations she has worked for have ranged from those serving children and veterans, to those serving nuclear medicine specialists.
Most recently, Carnahan worked as the community outreach and volunteer coordinator for a national veterans’ service organization where she worked to strengthen the chapters and increase awareness of the organization. Amandia began working for NATS in November 2018. As membership services coordinator, her role is to listen to the membership and ensure that NATS is meeting the needs of its members.
Originally from Mississippi, Carnahan has lived in Louisiana, Georgia and Washington, D.C. She has lived in Florida for ten years with her husband. They have two children and are foster parents to many more. When not at the baseball field watching their kids play little league, the family enjoys going to Mickler’s Beach and watching SpaceX rockets launch. (Despite the unusual spelling, Amandia pronounces her name as “Amanda.”)
Dr. Mark McQuade has been incredibly active in NATS throughout the country having served as Texoma region governor, Oklahoma district governor, North Dakota district governor and auditions chair, and Georgia chapter webmaster. His research has also been published in Journal of Singing. McQuade began his role as NATS auditions and competitions coordinator in November 2018.
He serves as assistant professor of music at Valdosta State University, teaching private voice and vocal pedagogy. His voice students have been featured in principal and supporting roles with university, community, and professional opera and musical theater companies, and they are regular winners, finalists, and semi-finalists at state, regional, and national voice competitions. As a performer, McQuade has appeared in opera, musical theater, concert, and recitals throughout the United States and Canada. Prior to joining the VSU faculty McQuade served as associate professor of music at Minot State University (2015-2017) and assistant professor of music at Oklahoma Baptist University (2006-2015). Along with his deep-rooted passion for teaching and the art of singing, he brings nearly 20 years of experience as a performer and director of opera. McQuade served as the general director of the Western Plains Opera Company from 2015 to 2017. He holds degrees in vocal performance from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and the University of Oklahoma, and a doctorate in vocal pedagogy from the University of Mississippi.
Debbie Brittain jointed NATS Executive Office in February 2020.
Before joining NATS, Debbie worked as a Staff Accountant/Billing Coordinator with a CPA firm on Hilton Head Island, SC. Prior to working for a CPA firm on Hilton Head Island, Debbie worked for a CPA firm in Franklin, TN, where she is originally from.
Debbie has numerous years of experience in Corporate/Construction accounting, Human Resources and Client Relations. A licensed contractor, she is also a Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) and has been a member of National Association of Home Builders.
Debbie earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting and finance from Middle Tennessee State University and her hobby is home improvement.
Tina Hooks joined the NATS Executive Office in June 2015. Before being appointed office manager in 2019, she served as administrative assistant for the Association. Hooks brings to NATS more than 15 years of professional administrative, organization, accounting, event planning and customer service skills.
Before joining NATS, Hooks spent the last 12 years with the Clay County School Board, beginning as a full-time classroom and school volunteer when her twin daughters started kindergarten. She then became a full-time substitute teacher for grades K-6 until she was offered a position as a classroom assistant and later promoted to the school secretary position. As secretary, she was responsible for maintaining an office with 80 teachers and staff and 650 students. In addition to running a busy office, Hooks was head of hospitality for the school and was nominated by her peers twice as Employee of the Year, one year becoming a district finalist.
Before employment with the Clay County School Board, Hooks was an assistant to the CFO for Industrial Water Services where she was responsible for accounting, payroll, insurance and human resources. She then took a brief leave of work when her family moved to Gainesville, Florida, and she chose to be a stay-at-home mom for a few years.
When not working, Hooks enjoys spending time with her husband of 20 years, Tim, their three children - Erin, Lindsey and Hayden - and the family labs, Knox and Lew. As a family, they spend time camping, playing golf and watching college football.
Heather Carraway joined the NATS Executive Office in March of 2018 as a part-time Receptionist/Administrative Assistant. She has a background in customer service, retail management, office clerical work, and sales. Carraway is originally from Tennessee, and moved to Jacksonville in 2000. She is married with two children. Her elder is currently singing with The Jacksonville Children’s Chorus.
Mandy Ruddock joined the NATS office as a part-time clerical assistant in 2002, working wherever extra help was needed during the busy season. Ruddock currently serves as the special events assistant and helps with planning/coordinating national conferences and Board meetings. She is experienced in retail management and event planning. Ruddock, a native of Florida, is married and enjoys going to NASCAR races.