Dustin S. Cates, Artistic Director

Dustin S. CatesArtistic Director
Dustin Cates is a conductor, singer, teacher and proud native of Kansas City, Missouri.  He is passionate about music making and it’s ability to have a positive impact on the human condition.  As a result of his experience as a leader and educator he is in demand as an adjudicator, clinician and conductor throughout the United States.

Dustin was named Artistic Director of Heartland Men’s Chorus in 2014.  Prior to his work with HMC he taught high school choral music in the Kansas City area and served as Associate Director of Worship Arts at The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection.

Dustin is a member of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) and American Choral Directors Association (ACDA).  He serves on the Alumni Board for the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance and the University of Missouri-Kansas City Chancellor’s LGBT Council.  Dustin is President of the Kansas Choral Directors Association and member of GALA Choruses.  He holds a Bachelor of Music Education from the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance and a Master of Science in School Leadership from Baker University.

Dustin considers his most important roles to be husband to Dr. Raymond Cattaneo, and father to their son Emmaus.

Rick Fisher

Rick FisherExecutive Director
Rick Fisher has served as Executive Director of Heartland Men’s Chorus since 1997. One of his notable accomplishments is surviving 4 years at the Philadelphia College of Bible. Upon finding that their degree was useless in obtaining employment, he decided to become a church musician.

He put himself through bachelor’s and master’s programs in Church Music at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, N.J., by founding, building and running a window-cleaning service. After graduating in 1990, Rick began a new career in church music and eventually sold the cleaning service.

In 1995, his church position was abruptly terminated when Rick came out, revealing that he was gay to his minister. Relocating (for love) to Kansas City, Missouri, Rick discovered HMC and GALA choruses, and with them a job that brought together everything about which he is passionate.

Cliff Schiappa

Cliff SchiappaDevelopment Director
A native of Long Island, N.Y., Cliff graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism with every intention of getting back on the plane to return east to “civilization.” Instead, he moved to Kansas City and has lived here since 1980, becoming a huge fan of the city and its people.

Cliff worked for 23 years as a photojournalist, editor and assistant bureau chief at The Associated Press where he covered top stories around the world while seeing his photographs published in thousands of newspapers. In 2007 he made a hard left turn in his career and became the interim executive director of Literacy Kansas City, a non-profit that teaches adults how to read. He then joined the staff of the Heartland Men’s Chorus as development director in October 2008.

His name and face may be familiar to HMC audience members since he started singing in 2002 and has served as chairman of the board of directors. Cliff considers it a wonderful opportunity to combine his passion for the Chorus with his career and is proud of the influence HMC has had on the community, region and nation through its musical programming.

Lamar Sims

Lamar SimsAccompanist
Born in Louisville, Ky., and raised in Selma, Alabama, Lamar Sims holds B.M. and M.M. degrees in piano performance with an emphasis on vocal accompanying and chamber music from University of Maryland College Park. He has extensive and varied experience as a performer, teacher, coach, and director in church, academic, concert, and theatrical settings.

His teachers and coaches include Claudia Faulk, Roy McAllister, Santiago Rodriguez, Bela Nagy, Jorg Demus, Robert McCoy, members of the Guarneri String Quartet, Leon Major, Alcine Wiltz, Richard Crittenden, Timothy Seelig, and Thilde Beuing. Organizations with whom he has collaborated include Friday Morning Music Club, Paul Hill Chorale, Cathedral Choral Society, Washington Opera, National Symphony Youth Fellowship Program, Master Chorale Chamber Singers, and Washington Bach Consort (in the Washington, D.C. area); Turtle Creek Chorale and the Women’s Chorus of Dallas (in Dallas, Texas); and Northland Community Choir, International Center for Music at Park University, and Kansas City Women’s Chorus.

Lamar continues to be active as a teacher and coach of voice and piano, accompanist for Heartland Men’s Chorus, and a collaborative artist with a variety of performers and organizations throughout the KC-metro area.

Keith Hohly (Chair) is an Evangelical Lutheran Church in America clergyperson who for the past four and a half years has served as a Bishop’s Associate in the Central States Synod, resourcing ELCA congregations in the states of Missouri and Kansas.  Prior to this, he was the pastor of First Lutheran Church of Greater Kansas City for 25 years.  In addition to being on the Bishop’s staff, Rev. Hohly also serves on the national board of Mosaic, a faith-based organization serving people with intellectual disabilities, and on the board of Bethany College, Lindsborg, KS.  Keith has been a huge fan of HMC for many years, first by going to concerts with his wife Debra to hear their good friends sing, then by becoming involved in helping plan the HMC 25th anniversary year celebrations, then by singing in the chorus himself, and now by serving on the Board of Directors.  In his mind, HMC is one of the finest organizations around and he is deeply committed to its mission, one which is so desperately needed in today’s world.

Tom Sullivan (Vice Chair) is

Carolyn Rouchka (Treasurer) is

Matt Schulte (Secretary) has worked in the Kansas City Royals front office for seven years.  He serves as the Senior Manager of Special Events and Promotions, responsible for the giveaway items, theme tickets, and special events.  He was involved in executing MLB Jewel events that the Royals hosted, including the 2012 All-Star Game Festivities, 2014 Postseason, and the 2015 World Championship.  Mr. Schulte also serves on the Board of Directors of the Kansas City Youth Symphony and the Greater Kansas City Attractions Association and is also is a member of the Centurions Leadership Program through the Kansas City Chamber of Commerce.  Mr. Schulte holds a Sports Management degree from NYU and grew up in Prairie Village, KS.  While Matthew doesn’t sing, he enjoys supporting the Chorus’s role, mission, artistic integrity, and sense of community.    

Michael Schnetzer (President of the Chorus) is an IT Consultant specializing in the wireless telecom and financial services industries, was elected as President of the Chorus in 2017 after first joining as a first tenor in 2007.  Joining the other members on stage was Michael’s first public declaration of his sexuality ensuring that a very special place in his heart for this organization.  While the comradery supplies the energy and the brotherhood provides the support, it is the message that is life-saving.  And that is why he sings.

Kay Barnes is Senior Director for University Engagement at Park University.   She’s a former Mayor of Kansas City, Missouri, having served from 1999-2007.  Currently, she serves on the boards of Arvest Bank  (regional board),  Mid-America Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce,  Girl Scouts,  Freedom’s Frontier,  and the Heartland Men’s Chorus.   Serving on the HMC board is a highlight of Kay’s community activities as she has been a long admirer of the Chorus.

Curt Crespino currently serves as the Vice Chancellor for Advancement/External Relations and Chief of Staff to the Chancellor at UMKC.  A native of Pittsburg, KS, Curt has called Kansas City home for nearly 29 years.  He was first introduced to the Chorus through a longtime UMKC friend and former Board member and has been a fan and supporter ever since.  The university and the Chorus have a rich history together, and it has been important to Curt to see that legacy continue to grow and flourish.

Steve Dodge came to Heartland Men’s Chorus from the audience.  He made the move from season ticket holder to singer in 1995, and has never looked back.  Following a 30 year career as a Director of Special Education, Steve retired from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.  After a brief break, he took up a friend’s offer to work in her restaurant, and thus began his love of  cooking.  He retired for a second time in 2011.  This is not Steve’s first experience with the HMC Board.  He served on the board from 1996 – 2003.  He made the decision to return to the board, because he is passionate about the mission of the chorus.  He knows first hand how the music of HMC can change lives, because it changed his.  He and his husband, Paul Elo, continue to sing in the bass section, and are familiar faces at HMC events.  Steve is proud of the many accomplishments of the chorus, and looks forward to many more in the future.

Rodney Hill is motivated by his continued pursuit of personal and professional growth and deep connections to the Kansas City community. He is a lifelong resident of the KC metro area, and despite a few years living in Los Angeles, as well as world travels, Rodney has been drawn back to the KC area time and again. A lover of the arts and entertainment, Rodney has devoted his professional career to AMC Theatres where he serves in the role of Director on the Corporate Communications and Events team. Throughout his 22-year career, he has led teams within human resources, marketing, strategic development and theatre operations. In his free time, Rodney works freelance on sports broadcast productions for CBS, FOX and NBC. Rodney is a generous supporter of Perform OUTKC, KC Care Clinic and the Trevor Project as well as a former Board of Director for the Quality Hill Playhouse. Rodney is honored to serve as a board member of the Heartland Men’s Chorus, an organization that is near and dear to his heart. A take on George Bernard Shaw’s maxim “He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches”: He who cannot sing… supports those who can.

Brian Larios is a

Greg Maupins has been a singing member of Heartland Men’s Chorus for 18 years. Greg previously served two years on the Chorus board as president of the Chorus, elected in 2007 and again in 2008  He has been involved with the Membership Services Committee for more than a decade and has served as the committee’s chairman or its co-chairman for the last five years. Greg has been in retail with Verizon Wireless for 22 years,including 12 in store management. In addition, Greg is a charter member of Crossroads Church, where he plays drums in the band, frequently leads worship and serves on several committees. In every setting, Greg strives to ensure that all voices are heard, a stance that puts Heartland Men’s Chorus near and dear to his heart.

J.D. Perkins is a Hallmark retiree, after a lifelong career in fine jewelry. He is a past president of First Lutheran Church and currently a personal stylist and antique dealer. As a supporter of the arts in Kansas City, J. D.’s twenty-six years singing in HMC have shown him the importance of our message, especially HMC’s antibullying outreach performances in schools.

Denesha Snell is a visionary, an educator, and an HBCU graduate!  In a career spanning 20 plus years, Denesha has worked in the education, non-profit, public health, and health education sectors. Currently, Denesha is an independent consultant who specializes in building community facing programs and community engagement. She has worked to publicly address issues such as cultural diversity, health disparities, the economic impact of community health, fostering violence prevention efforts through communication, and improving relationships with community and civic partners.  In her spare time, she enjoys swimming, cycling, participating with various civic/social organizations, travel, and spending time with her two daughters.

Tim Van Zandt is Vice President, Government and Community Relations, for the Saint Luke’s Health System.  He has been a fan of the Chorus since the beginning, appreciating its talent and the importance of its mission.

Todd Wegener is a Managing Director in Grant Thornton’s Technology Solutions Practice.  He is an active member of the Kansas City community.  Todd joined HMC as a singing member in 2001 and credits the Chorus for giving him an artistic and social voice in the KC Gay Community.  Todd believes building community and providing a place for members to belong is an important part of HMC’s mission and vision.

Joy Wheeler is Chief Executive Officer of  Girl Scouts of NE Kansas and NW Missouri, where she provides strategic direction for the preeminent leadership development organization for girls. This role is perfectly suited for Joy’s passion to help women achieve their highest potential throughout all stages of life. Committed to Girl Scouts’ mission to build girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place, Joy’s diverse and extensive leadership background provides her the insight and skills to execute the Girl Scout Leadership Experience and programmatic focus on four critical areas: STEAM, Entrepreneurship, Outdoor Experiences, and Civic Engagement. Joy’s executive leadership in public, private, government, and nonprofit organizations makes her well suited to develop girls for the 21st century workforce and leadership positions.  Joy has a Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Missouri – Kansas City and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Kansas.