Giving Voice Founders
In 2014, Co-founders Mary Lenard and Marge Ostroushko were struck by recent discoveries about the powerful effects of music on the lives of people with dementia. Both had cared for parents with dementia and felt called to contribute their experiences and their energy to building a new program that enables people with dementia and their care partners to live better—with joy, with purpose, with friends, and with each other.
Mary and Marge partnered with MacPhail Center for Music and MacPhail teaching artist Jeanie Brindley-Barnett to launch the first Giving Voice chorus. Since that first chorus, Giving Voice has expanded to four choruses in the Twin Cities and launched a collaborative of more than 50 choruses internationally to promote the social, creative, emotional, and health benefits of choral singing for adults with Alzheimer’s and other forms of memory loss.
Today, Giving Voice supports choruses in diverse communities worldwide. It is our goal to start a movement that celebrates the potential of people with Alzheimer’s.
Giving Voice Staff
Jeanie Brindley-Barnett, MacPhail Teaching Artist
Jeanie is the Artistic Director of Giving Voice Chorus and a leading teaching artist in the field of arts and aging. She is co-founder and senior teaching artist of MacPhail Music for Life™, a pioneering music program for adults 55+. As a presenter, teaching artist, mentor, consultant, and curriculum design specialist, Jeanie has worked with the National Center for Creative Aging, Chorus America, American Choral Directors Association, National Guild for Community Arts Organizations, and the Minnesota State Arts Board-funded Arts and Aging Professional Development Initiative.
Eyleen Braaten, Executive Director
Eyleen joined Giving Voice in 2017 and has been instrumental in the growth of the organization. Since becoming Executive Director in 2021, Eyleen’s focus has been on creating unique and innovative opportunities to expand the Giving Voice mission across the world while keeping our local choruses strong. Eyleen believes that music is an expression of our humanity and connects us all. Eyleen’s vision is for all communities across the globe to have access to a Giving Voice Chorus. She has demonstrated expertise in strategy, networking, and collaboration. Before becoming Executive Director, she headed marketing and communications, launched programming for our local choruses, and created a global Learning Community of more than 40 Alzheimer’s choruses. Eyleen has a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute and a previous career in mediation. Eyleen’s favorite thing about Giving Voice is that “we are a family.”
Cat Beringer, Director of Marketing & Communications
Cat comes to Giving Voice with a background in nonprofit management and a deep appreciation for small but mighty nonprofit teams. Cat is ready to jump in and create opportunities for new approaches to goals and objectives, Cat has experience in events, communications, and volunteer management. With a MSW from Boston College, Cat is a connector and community builder. An avid volunteer, she serves on the board of the nonprofit MAVA and was past chair of the Edina Human Rights and Relations Commission. Cat has been enjoying getting to know everyone in the Giving Voice community, including singers and choral directors from all over the world. Some of Cat’s fondest memories are of singing old standards around the kitchen table with her father. Cat’s favorite thing about Giving Voice Chorus? “Everyone is a singer!”
Ron Lattin, Director of Development
Ron has worked for nonprofits and public affairs campaigns for over 20 years spending the bulk of his career creating and implementing development efforts to improve community organizations. Ron is a committed volunteer and currently serves as board president of Youth Performance Company, and as a board member of local nonprofits Beyond Walls and EquaSpace. In the past, he has served as co-chair of the Nobel Peace Prize Festival and on the boards of the FairVote Minnesota, Global Minnesota (FKA Minnesota International Center), Minnesota Film & TV, Minnesota Museum of American Art, and World Citizen. Ron’s favortie thing about Giving Voice is “the joy participation brings to the singers and the love that the Giving Voice community has for one another”.
Anne Sterner, Volunteer Coordinator
Anne has been with Giving Voice Chorus since the beginning, her first experience singing in a choir since 8th grade! She and her mother, Doris, were part of the founding chorus in the fall of 2014. Anne knows first-hand the impact singing in the chorus has on those with dementia and the joy the choral community brings. Anne became our volunteer coordinator in 2021, after serving a volunteer for several years. Anne is a community builder and the go to person for singers and staff alike. Anne’s previous career as a systems analyst and project manager means that she keeps everything running smoothly. Anne’s favorite thing about Giving Voice? It is her great pleasure and privilege to know and love all the great members of our choruses.
Board of Directors
Sally Scoggin, Chair
James Jensen, Vice Chair
Keath Young, Treasurer
Frank Bennett, Secretary
Carol Lee Randall
Ex-Officio – Managing Director of Production and Co-Founder