ABOUT

Our Team

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Documentary Songwriters wouldn't be able to offer the service it does without the creativity and contributions of its staff and supporters.

DOCUMENTARY SONGWRITERS

Leadership

Nora Willauer

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Nora serves as Executive Director of DocSong and is a passionate musician, devoted not only to her instrument, but also to the relationship between music and community.

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Nora Willauer serves as Executive Director of DocSong and is a passionate musician, devoted not only to her instrument, but also to the relationship between music and community. Last spring, Nora graduated from the Cleveland Institute of Music with her Masters of Music Performance. She is currently pursuing a performance certificate with Dr. Melissa Kraut. In the past few years, Nora has performed as a soloist with the Eugene Symphony Orchestra, the Liceu Cello Ensemble in Barcelona, and the University of Oregon Symphony Orchestra. She has won numerous prizes including the Labberte-Hoedemaker Award from the Peter de Grote festival in the Netherlands, the University of Oregon Undergraduate Performance Award and the Eugene Symphony’s Young Artist Competition. She is the founder of “Songs of #MeToo,” a multimedia presentation that paired documentary songs written with women who had experienced sexual misconduct or domestic violence with the preludes from J.S. Bach’s cello suite. This performance raised over $8,000, benefitted the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center, and included more than 20 different female artists from across the globe. Nora is excited to continue exploring the intersection between documentary songwriting and social justice: in the next few years she hopes to raise awareness around climate change through workshops and performances.

Amara Sperber

Marketing Coordinator

A violinist and educator, Amara works to empower people in their creative process. She is passionate about helping students master optimal skills and achieve their goals.

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Amara Sperber serves as Marketing Coordinator for DocSong. As a violinist and educator, Amara works to empower people in their creative process. She is passionate about helping students master optimal skills and achieve their goals. A native of Portland, Oregon, Amara holds a Bachelor of Music Performance from the University of Oregon and a Master of Music Performance from the University of Nevada in Reno. Amara currently lives in Cleveland, Ohio, where she received her Suzuki Method Teacher Training at the Cleveland Institute of Music. She has spent her summers working and performing with music festivals around the U.S., Europe and Asia. In addition to teaching privately, she assists administration of various music organizations including The Cleveland Orchestra. 

Zach Arfa

ADVANCEMENT COORDINATOR

A documentary songwriter and dancer, Zach has pioneered documentary songwriting in summer musicals and in camps addressing addiction and mental or health challenges.

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Zach Arfa is a documentary songwriter and dancer. Through his work at Hilltown Youth Performing Arts Programs, he has pioneered documentary songwriting in summer musicals and with teenagers addressing addiction and mental or behavioral health challenges. Zach studied psychology and therapy at school, and plans to continue that study in graduate school someday soon. This background has helped him to see how extraordinary this method and this organization are, by not just making music but fostering connection and healing. He is eager to introduce it into more traditional therapeutic settings, and to bring therapeutic values and sensibilities into more artistic settings.

Malcolm Brooks

FOUNDER

Dr. Malcolm Brooks first published the Documentary Songwriting Method as part of his Doctoral dissertation. He founded Documentary Songwriters, as a nonprofit in 2018 and currently serves the organization as an advisor. 

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Malcolm Brooks, PhD, is a composer and documentary songwriter. His work is heard on PBS, NOVA and the History Channel. He has written music for films that have won honors, including two Emmy nominations and a Peabody award. He serves on the faculty at Bay Chamber Concerts and Music School and holds degrees from Columbia, Berkeley, and Prescott. Malcolm is interested in writing documentary songs with people who are trying to understand their self-identity and who seek to become fully themselves in their own culture. 

DOCUMENTARY SONGWRITERS

Board of Directors

Josie Davis

BOARD PRESIDENT

Josie has performed in a wide range of venues, from Carnegie Hall to the Monte Music Festival in India. She is interested in how music can be used as a form of cultural empowerment to build bridges and strengthen communities.

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Josie Davis serves as President of the board of DocSong. She has performed in a wide range of venues from Carnegie Hall in New York to the Monte Music Festival in India. She is interested in how music can be used as a form of cultural empowerment to build bridges and strengthen communities. Her teaching has brought her to Panama, India, and Community MusicWorks in Rhode Island. Josie is the founder and director of summer programs in Maine and Connecticut. She is thrilled to have recently moved back to Maine, where she splits her time between playing in Palaver Strings and Halcyon String Quartet and working at Bay Chamber Concerts & Music School. Josie holds degrees from Oberlin and Harvard.

Halley Elwell

SECRETARY

Halley is an accomplished bi-coastal singer-songwriter and teacher, at home on stage and in the studio. In addition to performing internationally, has been named by Nashville Songwriter’s Association as “One to Watch.”

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Halley Elwell is an accomplished bi-coastal singer-songwriter and teacher, at home on stage and in the studio. In addition to performing internationally, she has been awarded the ASCAP Young Jazz Composers award and has been named by Nashville Songwriter’s Association as “One to Watch.” Originally from Hallowell, Maine, Halley earned her music degree in Jazz and African American Music Studies from the University of Massachusetts Amherst where she studied with Catherine Jensen-Hole (Norah Jones), gospel singer Horace Boyer, NEA Jazz Master Sheila Jordan, and jazz pianist David Berkman. Upon graduating, she moved to San Francisco and performed in the club circuit, while studying with jazz vocalist and educator Kitty Margolis, and songwriter Bonnie Hayes. During her time there she recorded her first album, “Last Spring” and helped build the education program for the SFJAZZ Center. In 2016 Halley returned to her East Coast roots and began pursuing her love of teaching and songwriting full-time in Massachusetts.She continues to perform and write original music while teaching privately. Halley’s newest recording project, “Last of What I Know,” is due for release in 2021.

Mimi Bornstein

TREASURER

Mimi is a choral director, educator, and composer, Mimi is the founder of Voices United LLC, an organization dedicated to creating musical connections as pathways for promoting equality, opportunity and inclusion for all. 

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Mimi Bornstein is a choral director, song leader, pianist, workshop and worship leader, singer, and composer with a belief that when we sing we change who we are, and when we change who we are we change the world. Choruses under Ms. Bornstein’s direction have performed with noted musicians including the Grammy Award-winning Paul Winter Consort, Paul Sullivan, Theresa Thomason, and Jonathan Edwards. Ms. Bornstein served as founder and artistic director of Midcoast Community Chorus (MCC), a non-profit community arts organization hosting a 140-voice non-auditioned multigenerational chorus. With a mission to sing as a community for the community, MCC provides a place for people to find voice and give voice to the issues of our time. Performing at least two concerts per year, MCC’s spring concert benefits local non-profit organization doing important work in the community. MCC has donated over $90,000 since its founding in 2008. Currently, Mimi serves as founder and director of Voices United LLC, an organization dedicated to creating musical connections as pathways for promoting equality, opportunity and inclusion for all. 

Stanford Thompson

MEMBER

Stanford is a musician and educator who serves as the Founder and Executive Director of Play On Philly and Founding Board Chairman of El Sistema USA – bringing music education to students in underserved areas.

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Stanford Thompson is a musician and educator who serves as the Founder and Executive Director of Play On Philly and Founding Board Chairman of El Sistema USA, bringing music education to students in underserved areas throughout Philadelphia and beyond. Recognized as a TED Fellow, Stanford believes that music education is a powerful tool for positive personal and community change. Mr. Thompson serves on the faculty of the Global Leaders Program and regularly presents at major universities and music conservatories about leadership, entrepreneurship and social justice. As a consultant, he has guided the development of dozens of music programs across the United States and collaborated with major orchestras, higher education institutions, and arts organizations to develop new strategies and initiatives that help provide equitable access to the arts. As a professional trumpeter, Stanford has performed as a soloist and member with major orchestras around the world and continues to perform chamber music and jazz. Stanford is a native of Atlanta, GA, a graduate of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s Talent Development Program and holds degrees from The Curtis Institute of Music and the New England Conservatory’s Sistema Fellows Program.

Lisa Whitfield

MEMBER

Lisa is a classically trained violist, improviser, and vocalist who has been an active orchestral and chamber musician in the Cleveland area for over a decade after having spending nearly 20 years performing in New York.

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Lisa Whitfield has been an active orchestral and chamber musician in the Cleveland area for over a decade, after having spent nearly 20 years performing in the NYC metropolitan area. She is a classically trained violist who has also performed as a vocalist and improvising violist. In 2017, Ms. Whitfield was appointed as the inaugural Talent Development Program Officer at the Cleveland Institute of Music. During her tenure, she oversaw the Musical Pathway Fellowship, a program developed to find and cultivate classical musicians from the African American and Latinx community in the Cleveland area. Ms. Whitfield was on the solfege faculty of the Juilliard Pre-College, Juilliard’s MAP Program, and was a teaching fellow in the college division at Juilliard for 3 years. She is on the faculty of the Chamber Music Conference Chamber Music Conference (at Colgate University, formerly at Bennington College), where she has served as a faculty representative to the board of directors, and she is currently serving as the co-chair of the board’s DEI working group. She was privileged to sit on the music panel of the NY State Council on the Arts and she taught at the Third Street Music School Settlement for fourteen years.

Jody Kerchner

MEMBER

Jody is a professor at Oberlin College. She specializes in secondary school music and choral music education She has presented keynotes, papers, and led workshops nationally and internationally.

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Jody Kerchner is a professor at Oberlin College. She specializes in secondary school music and choral music education She was awarded the Oberlin College Excellence in Teaching Award in 2011. She is founder and conductor of Oberlin Music at Grafton, a prison choir at the Grafton Correctional Institution. Prior to teaching at the collegiate level, Kerchner taught K-8 general and choral music in Swarthmore, Pa., and Winnetka, Il., and was conductor of the Oberlin Youth Chorale. An active clinician, she has presented keynote addresses, research papers, and pedagogy workshops nationally and internationally at conferences in North and South America, Asia, Africa, and Europe. Kerchner also frequently serves as guest choral conductor for elementary, middle, and high school honors choral festivals.

Monica Kelly

EMERITUS MEMBER

Monica serves as Executive Director of Bay Chamber Concerts and Music School. She is also the founder of the Odeon Orchestra, the first youth orchestra for young instrumentalists in the midcoast of Maine.

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Monica Kelly serves as Executive Director of Bay Chamber Concerts and Music School. She is also the founder of the Odeon Orchestra, the first youth orchestra for young instrumentalists in the midcoast of Maine. She is graduate of Bowdoin College, with a major in Visual Arts and Art History.

Chris Finn

EMERITUS MEMBER

Chris Finn has sung and played in churches since childhood, spending 13 years leading a Los Angeles based contemporary music church band. He led the Songs of Oswald Chambers project for DocSong.

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Chris Finn has sung and played in churches since childhood, spending 13 years leading a Los Angeles based contemporary music church band. He led the Songs of Oswald Chambers project for DocSong.

Read more about that project and others here.

Anastasia Fischer

EMERITUS MEMBER

Anastasia serves as president of U.S. Harbors in Rockland, Maine. She also lads her own design firm, the Fischer Design Group. She is a graduate of Bowdoin College with a major in history.

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Anastasia Fischer serves as president of U.S. Harbors in Rockland, Maine. She also lads her own design firm, the Fischer Design Group. Anastasia graduated Magna Cum Laud from Bowdoin College with a major in history.

DOCUMENTARY SONGWRITERS

Teaching Artists

Melodi Var Öngel 

Melodi is a humanitarian and musician. In 2019, she debuted her documentary songwriting project Songs Across Boundaries, and followed it with an acclaimed TEDx talk on her work on that project in Cyprus.

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Melodi Var Öngel is a humanitarian and musician. In 2019, she gave an acclaimed TEDx talk on her documentary songwriting project in Cyprus: Songs Across Boundaries. She holds a B.A. from Bennington College and a Masters from the London School of Economics. Her goal is to use documentary songwriting as a way to increase communication and to construct alternative futures. She current resides in Geneva, Switzerland, and serves as in intern at the United Nations.

Joaquin Contreras 

Joaquin is a multi-instrumentalist and documentary songwriter. He focuses on writing documentary songs with families and communities in order to help them preserve their histories and cultures.

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Joaquin Contreras is a multi-instrumentalist and documentary songwriter. He focuses on writing documentary songs with families and communities in order to help them preserve their histories and cultures. He is a graduate of Bennington College, where he studied composition, theory, and musical performance. He also works with a student-led organization called Ganas, which provides support to Latinx migrant workers in southern Vermont. Joaquin is interested in collaborating with young musicians in disadvantaged areas.

Caroline Rex-Waller 

Caroline pioneered the first-ever documentary songwriting workshop in a high school. Under her leadership, 37 students generated 37 lyrical and melodic sketches across four days.

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Caroline Rex-Waller pioneered the first-ever documentary songwriting workshop in a high school. Under her leadership, 37 students generated 37 lyrical and melodic sketches in 4 days. She is committed to amplifying stories that honor the dignity and worth of all people. She is an experienced facilitator, educator, and curriculum writer with a strong background in the Humanities and literacy-based programming. Caroline is committed to just educational systems. She is skilled in curriculum development, program management, and facilitation. She received her M.A.T. for Social Justice from Marlboro College, and her M.A. in English Language and Literature from the Bread Loaf School of English.

Will Foote

Will is a vocalist and songwriter. He has been instrumental in bringing documentary songs to venues ranging from folk festivals to intimate settings. He has also demonstrated composing melodic themes live on radio.

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Will Foote is a vocalist and songwriter. He has been instrumental in bringing documentary songs to venues ranging from folk festivals to intimate settings. In the role of a participant, he has composed melodic themes live on radio. In rural upstate New York, Will worked to document the emotions and experiences of contemporary farmers through music. He traveled to a center in Antwerp, Belgium to listen and write songs with people seeking asylum. Along with writing and performing, Will also teaches the documentary songwriting method in various ways, from high schools to internships. He is a graduate of Brewster Academy and of St. Lawrence University. Will wants to write documentary songs with people who have learning differences, as well as people who feel alienated in their communities.

Caleb Edwards

Caleb is a composer, vocalist, multi-instrumentalist. He has created and recorded vocal, string, and percussion arrangements for numerous artists. He attends the Berklee College of Music in Boston. 

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Caleb Edwards is a composer, vocalist, multi-instrumentalist. He has created and recorded vocal, string, and percussion arrangements for numerous artists. His voice is featured in the duet “Where My Eyes Should Go,” a DocSong release that can be heard on Spotify and iTunes. This fall he will be attending the Berklee College of Music in Boston. 

Hazel Delehey

Hazel is a documentary songwriter and studio vocalist. She pioneered the first documentary song for a documentary film, a project for the High Mountain Institute in Colorado.

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Hazel Delehey is a documentary songwriter and studio vocalist. She pioneered the first documentary song for a documentary film for the High Mountain Institute in Colorado. She is also the first to offer her voice to represent women in the #Songs of MeToo project. Additionally, Hazel is interested in writing songs with people who look to nature to guide them through struggle.

Alex Wilder

Alex is a songwriter, producer, audio engineer, and multi-instrumentalist from Maine, currently based in Nashville. In addition to freelance performance work, he has produced numerous collaborations with DocSong.

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Alex Wilder is a songwriter, producer, audio engineer, and multi-instrumentalist from Maine, currently based in Nashville, TN. Alex writes and produces songs that use spoken stories as their basis with DocSong. He also performs freelance work. Alex’s work can be heard on recordings from Elsie Gawler, the Push Farther Project, Oshima Brothers, and others. He has recorded for Bay Chamber Concerts and Oberlin Conservatory. You can read more about Alex at alexwilder.com.

Whit Arau

Whit is an environmental chemist with experience in writing, music composition, and podcast production. Whit is interested in documentary songs with queer people and those dealing with chronic health problems.

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Whit Arau (they/them/their) handles whatever needs doing at DocSong. Whit has a Bachelor’s of Science in environmental chemistry from Gordon College, graduating with honors in August 2019. They have worked for various labs funded by the Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation, and various international sources. However Whit is not only a scientist, they are also experienced in science writing, music composition, and podcast production. Whit is interested in writing documentary songs with queer people and people who have chronic health problems.

Rushmore DeNooyer

Rushmore is a Peabody Award-winning writer, producer, director, and composer. His numerous film credits include over 25 documentaries for NOVA, the History Channel, the Smithsonian, and others.

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Rushmore DeNooyer has served the fields of music and film in numerous roles, including writer, producer, director, and composer. His film credits include over 25 documentaries for NOVA, the History Channel, the Smithsonian, and others. His awards include three Emmy nominations and a Peabody.

Khalid Taylor

Khalid is a documentary songwriter and vocalist. He serves as a life and growth coach for people on a spiritual path. He holds a degree from Oberlin College in Musical Studies and currently lives in Pennsylvania.

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Khalid Taylor is a documentary songwriter and vocalist. He serves as a life and growth coach for people on a spiritual path. He holds a degree from Oberlin College in Musical Studies and currently lives in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Jonny Westhorp

Jonny is an English guitarist and songwriter currently living and working in Belgium. He is interested in using music as a way of uniting and integrating marginalized members of society into the community.

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Jonny Westhorp is a guitarist and documentary songwriter from Manchester, England, living and working in Belgium. He holds popular and jazz music degrees from the University of Salford, UK, and the Royal Conservatory of Antwerp, Belgium. He is currently studying for his masters in Jazz guitar. Having trained in community music with Musicians Without Borders, Jonny is interested in using music as a way of uniting and integrating marginalised members of society into the community.

Sophie Davis

Sophie is a performer and educator who holds degrees in violin performance and environmental studies from Oberlin College and Conservatory. She currently teaches strings at two music schools in Maine.

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Sophie Davis received degrees in violin performance and environmental studies from Oberlin College and Conservatory, and has since divided her time between musical performance and pedagogy. In 2017, Sophie was awarded a Fulbright U.S. Student Research Grant to spend nine months in the South Pacific island nation of Samoa where she explored the ways in which the arts can raise awareness of climate change. Sophie currently teaches strings at two music schools in Maine and is a member of the Halcyon String Quartet – an ensemble dedicated to using music and the arts to cultivate environmental stewardship.

Genevieve Roby

A vocalist and songwriter, Genevieve attends Bennington College, where she studies the performing arts and creative writing. She is interested in the ways that music can be used as an means of human connection and understanding.

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Genevieve Roby is a vocalist and documentary songwriter. From 2016 to 2018, she was a member of a band that covered songs to perform to the local community. In 2018 she and her bandmates, the group now titled RSB, produced a mini-album of original music called EPic. She attends Bennington College, where she studies the performing arts and creative writing. Genevieve is interested in the ways that music can be used as an inherent means of human connection and understanding.

Ken Goldman

A seasoned musician and performer, Ken studied classical music at Northwestern University’s School of Music, before setting off on a long and diverse career behind the drum set for a genre-spanning lineup of groups.

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Ken Goldman started formal percussion studies in Iowa City. After focusing on classical music at Northwestern University’s School of Music, he turned to drum set and studied with Hamid Drake (Don Cherry) and Mark Walker (Oregon). He recorded with several bands while living in Oakland and toured with new grass band Sugar Beat. Performance highlights include the Telluride Bluegrass Festival with Tony Furtado and Matt Flinner, CBGB with Peter Stuart and playing the annual Replacements Tribute at First Avenue. Currently, he drums in jazz trio Katz and Dogs, soul/jive band Dizzy Hat, power pop band Good Mitten and various recording endeavors in the back room of his house.

Chloë Isis

Chloë is a songwriter and vocalist who conducted the first-ever live documentary songwriting session on radio. She is interested in writing DocSongs with children, the deaf, and those processing grief.

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Chloë Isis is a songwriter and vocalist. In 2018, she composed and recorded with the Bay Chamber-Carnegie Hall Lullaby Project. Chloë conducted the first-ever live documentary songwriting session on radio. She is earning her undergraduate degree at Warren-Wilson College. Chloe is interested in writing documentary songs with people who are deaf, children, and people who are processing grief.

DOCUMENTARY SONGWRITERS

Strategic Partners

DocSong's mission is supported by the following partners – we are grateful for their expertise and generosity.

Rick Medrick  |  Boulder, Colorado

“We need 10 or 100 [teaching artists] traveling around inviting others to tell their stories. This would not only have a profound effect on the population in individual terms but also offer the community ways to connect to the commonalities among their stories."