Shawn Cullen, Artistic Director/Conductor
Shawn Cullen, conductor, educator and artistic director, has earned a reputation for his dedication to musical excellence and collaborative artistry within the communities he belongs. As a creative producer of over 50 successful concert and theatrical productions, Cullen’s boundary pushing programming has cemented his place as a dynamic artist in an ever changing performing arts landscape. Past creative leadership includes eight years as Artistic Director/Conductor for the Reveille Men’s Chorus, Desert Voices Mixed Chorus (Tucson, AZ) and Interim Artistic Director of the Heartland Men’s Chorus in 2019. Upon completion of a national search, Mr. Cullen was appointed permanent Artistic Director/Conductor of HMCKC in May 2020 and lead this choral performing arts organization through COVID-19 global pandemic and back to the stages of Kansas City, stronger than ever. He has lead these organizations to three GALA Choruses quadrennial festivals and served as an artistic director of two collaborative festival blockbuster productions including the largest LGBTQ+ singing flashmob with over 1000 singers.
Recognized as an award-winning music educator, Mr. Cullen has held positions in K-12 instrumental/vocal music, adjunct faculty at the University of Arizona Fred Fox School of Music and most recently as Graduate Teaching Fellow at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory while completing coursework earning a Ph.D. (ABD). Cullen’s research in music education, undergraduate academic achievement, and conducting pedagogy has been presented at regional, national, and international conferences and symposiums. Ensembles under Cullen’s baton have achieved the highest ratings at contest and festival, traveled throughout the U.S. and abroad, and most recently performed on live, virtual platforms for thousands of global viewers. Cullen’s dynamic skill set has led to a multifaceted career in choral music, instrumental music, and regional musical theater serving as principal conductor for the Arizona Repertory Theater from 2011-2017. Favorite credits include “Into the Woods”, “The Secret Garden”, “Oklahoma!“, “EVITA”, “Avenue Q”, and “The Full Monty”. Mr. Cullen has worked in collaboration with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra as vocal director for “Broadway Rocks” & “Broadway Rocks II”, and most recently “Leading Men of Broadway” with the Kansas City Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Cullen has begun a collaborative producing partnership with David Maddux, Grammy-nominated composer/arranger/orchestrator to create fresh, new exciting pop-choral works for “choral theater” around the globe.
Shawn holds a Bachelors of Music Education and Masters of Music in Conducting from the University of Arizona and is completing his Ph.D dissertation contrasting the best practices of choral and instrumental conducting pedagogies. Cullen continues to stay committed to facilitating spaces for others to self express authentically, to grow both musically and personally, to perform music that speaks to narratives not always heard, and to build productions to celebrate diversity while shaping hearts and minds. He is a proud member of the national board of directors for GALA Choruses (2017- Present) and is a national community advocate for suicide awareness (Survivors of Suicide).
Dudley Hogue, Executive Director
Dudley Hogue is both honored and excited to begin a new chapter with the Heartland Men’s Chorus Kansas City as newly appointed Executive Director (July 2022). Dudley’s rich history with HMCKC includes serving in a variety of roles, both on and off stage: performer, choreographer, production manager, event chair, and Board Chair all prior to becoming the Development Director in 2019. In former lives, Dudley was the Executive Director of the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus, Executive Director of the Kansas City Women’s Chorus, and national board member for GALA Choruses. He continued his national leadership as both Advancement Director and Interim Executive Director for GALA Choruses, during which he helped develop and execute GALA Choruses’ first series of quadrennial international festivals. Dudley is currently the Parish Administrator at First Lutheran Church (ELCA), where he has served in a variety of roles for over 30 years. Dudley has been seen on the stages of many community theater productions throughout the Kansas City region and has served on several not-for-profit boards locally and nationally. Dudley is passionate about LGBTQIA causes, and what the performing arts can do to move us all closer to equality.
Robert Lamar Sims, Accompanist
Born in Louisville, Kentucky, 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 the 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, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Kansas City Chorale, 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. A student and lover of life, he is on a continual quest to discover, innovate, and apply ways to assist people in experiencing well-being, satisfaction through authentic self-expression, and recognition that their very presence makes our world better.
Mitch Weber, Communications Manager
Mitch first attended a Heartland Men’s Chorus concert in 2014 thanks to a season ticket holder who couldn’t attend the holiday concert. The energy, the creativity, and of course the sound made him a fan instantly. Mitch performed in show choirs in high school and college and can appreciate the dedication and hard work that goes into each production.
He spent 16 years as a TV Journalist covering breaking news stories in several states and appeared on CNN’s AC360, MSNBC, & The Weather Channel before moving to Kansas City and working at KSHB 41 & FOX 4. After leaving TV News Mitch created his own video marketing company and began storytelling to promote businesses, communities, and organizations. His work both in TV News and with his company has earned him two Emmy Awards. Mitch’s goal is to add an HMCKC project into an Emmy win. Stay tuned.
Brandon Shelton, Brand Manager & Graphic Design
Originally from Oklahoma, Brandon has found a creative outlet as both a seasoned performer and brand consultant for The Heartland Men’s Chorus sine 2004. Brandon’s vision was the driving force in allowing HMCKC to reimagine, redesign, and reenter a post-COVID performing arts arena expressing an exciting new mission and vision. Brandon brings his expertise and artistic eye to HMCKC with a rich background as an award-winning graphic artist, brand manager, and creative director for companies both locally and around the world.
Steve Dodge, Chair
After a 30 year career in the field of developmental disabilities, Steve retired from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education as a Director of Instruction in Special Education. Looking for a completely new experience, he joined a good friend who had just opened a restaurant, and worked in the kitchen for ten years, honing his cooking skills. Steve joined HMC in 1995 and has been an active member since then. Throughout the years, Steve has found that the thing that keeps singers involved is the sense of family. Most join because of a love of music, but they stay for a sense of connection. Steve is proud to serve on the Board of Directors of an organization that is so important to the Kansas City community. Steve and his husband, Paul, have been married since 2009 (thank you Iowa) and live in Leawood, Kansas.
Richard Barrett, Vice-Chair
Richard is a Sr. Director of Client Accounts at Cerner and has worked there for 18 years. He has responsibilities for some of Cerner’s largest clients through sales and account management. Richard lives in the heart of Kansas City with his husband Derek McDonald and their daughter Avery. Outside of work, Richard serves on the Board of Directors of the Heartland Men’s Chorus and is the President of the council at First Lutheran Church. He is an avid K-State Football fan and has had the same season tickets since he was born. Richard holds a B.S. in Accounting from the University of Missouri Kansas City. Richard sang for almost 7 years with HMCKC and is dedicated to its mission and vision.
Michael Schnetzer, Treasurer
Michael is a KC native who earned his MBA from KU in 1999. Since then he has acquired over 20 years of program management experience, 14 years of which were spent with Accenture before striking out on his own. Currently, he is managing the real estate portfolio transition activities for Waddell & Reed. After coming out in 2007, HMC became Michael’s first big gay adventure and he was immediately smitten with the unconditional camaraderie but more importantly the constant advocacy of love and acceptance that servers as the undercurrent to everything this organization does. No longer satisfied with just singing, Michael started to get more active in the various committees which lead to a 3-year term as President of the Chorus from 2016 to 2019. After a little hiatus, he rejoined the Board in 2021 where he was Treasurer and a member of the Executive & Production Committees.
Tom Dillon, President of the Chorus
Tom joined Heartland Men’s Chorus in 2015 after seeing the June concert and HMC’s Big Gay Sing. As someone who came out in his early 40’s, the sense of community and belonging, as well as a chance to sing and have some fun, was why he joined. He quickly started volunteering for HMC sponsored events and hasn’t looked back. Tom has been involved in planning/implementing several Dinner of Notes, overseeing the HMCKC Pride booth/dunk tank, planning membership social events as well as coordinating a virtual team for AIDS Walk Kansas City. He is passionate about making the best experience for members and building an HMCKC “family” that celebrates each person’s authentic gifts. Tom has three adult children and will soon be Grandpa Tom. A proud member of Southwood UCC for over 20 years, he is grateful for all their support of his authenticity journey over the past 10 years. Currently, he is a Client Experience Account Manager for South Western Communications supporting life safety systems for clients across Missouri and Kansas.
Michelle joined the Board of Directors in early 2021, shortly after returning to Kansas City. A long-time resident of KC, Michelle has been an equally long-time fan, volunteer, and supporter of HMCKC. It was the concerts that initially drew Michelle to HMCKC, but it was the mission and all the people connected with the Chorus that captivated her heart and soul. She is proud and very excited to be part of the Chorus and to continue the efforts to sustain the mission and joy of HMCKC.
She is currently an attorney with the law firm of Stinson LLP, practicing in the areas of consumer financial services and banking. As an avid reader, Michelle is an ardent supporter of public libraries and local literacy efforts. She loves to hike and experience the outdoors whenever and wherever she can, including in Shenandoah, Blue Ridge, and the Smoky Mountains, the western coast of Chile, and central Italy. Not surprisingly, Michelle also loves to travel and enjoys new places and experiences.
Michelle is married to Barb Wilson, a previous Board member and also an active supporter of the Chorus. Over the past few years, Barb and Michelle have lived in Washington D.C., Chicago, and Atlanta, following Michelle’s legal career. In late 2020, they made the decision to return home to Kansas City, and are thrilled to be back. Michelle and Barb currently have a one-year-old Cardigan Corgi named Hazel that keeps them very busy.
Jenny began her relationship with Heartland Men’s Chorus in 2015 when she stated “I am here to help and I will do whatever.” She assisted with two Dinner of Notes, and then was asked to chair the event. Jenny has loved every minute of planning, organizing, and community involvement that HMC offers her and can often be counted on for treats or baked goods (her other passion). Jenny is thrilled to be partnered with such wonderful members of the board. Jenny works for Saint Luke’s Hospital as the Director of the Child Care Center, has her BS in Elementary Education and her Masters in Organizational Development. Jenny is a supporter, friend, and lover of not only the members of the chorus but also the wonderful music that is created.
Rodney is driven by his deep connection to the Kansas City community and passion for the performing arts. He has devoted his professional career to the area of human resources, with additional experience leading teams in marketing, strategic development, and operations. In his free time, Rodney likes to travel to warm-climate locations, while enjoying the outdoors. Rodney is an avid supporter of many local and national organizations such as the Victory Project, KC Care Health Center, the Trevor Project in addition to Heartland Men’s Chorus Kansas City. After being a season ticket holder for many years a sense of PRIDE compelled Rodney to commit further to the Vision of HMKC, singing to inspire a world of love and acceptance. He is now serving this second term on the Board of Directors and chairs the Human Resource Committee.
Michelle has professionally led non-profit organizations in their fundraising/community engagement for 30+ years. Most fondly, serving as the Director of Development for the Lyric Opera of Kansas City for 19 years, hence the performing arts hold a special place in her heart.
Kenton is a native son of the Kansas City area and has over thirty-five years of banking experience in a wide range of areas. Kenton’s expansive background in product development, lending, sales, operations, and technology allows him to bring a unique and holistic perspective to his client relationship building. He has a genuine desire and skill to create and maintain lasting customer relationships that are tailor-made to suit his clients’ needs and goals.
Kenton is viewed as a trusted advisor to his clients which has resulted in the development of strong lasting relationships over the years. Kenton also has made it one of his professional priorities to help mentor and develop younger bankers in client relationship cultivation and management.
Kenton has played a leadership role in a number of community, professional, and non-for-profit organizations, including Rock the Cure KC, Bankers Institute Kansas City, Leadership Lenexa, numerous chambers of commerce in the KC metro area, the Kansas City St. Patrick’s Day parade committee, and Heartland Men’s Chorus Advisor.
Kenton joined the board of Heartland Men’s Chorus in July of 2019 with the hope to help drive change and growth in the organization. Although not a singing member of “Lucky for everyone”, he thoroughly enjoys this wonderful organization and looks forward to being a part for many years to come.
Eric is a Partner/Operations Director with West Bottoms Whiskey Co. in KCMO. Eric’s professional background includes 25 years of leadership, project/account management, operations, and business development experience. Prior to following his dream of running a distillery, Eric was Sr. Vice President of Account Management for Maxor National Pharmacy Services. Previously, Eric has served on the Boards of Reach Out and Read (Kansas City) and Mama’s Kitchen (San Diego). He also volunteered for multiple political campaigns and participated in activities and events for Habit for Humanity, Rose Brooks, Big Brothers Big Sisters Kansas City, and ACT UP. Eric and his husband Dustin (who sings in the chorus) reside in KCMO with their two dogs. In his spare time, Eric enjoys bicycling, running, hiking, and traveling. He maintains a passion for the rights of all humans and animals.
Sandy is the principal of The Schermerhorn Law Firm where she emphasizes employment law. She is active in the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association, where she served as the first woman president. She is also active in the Missouri Bar, where she has chaired numerous committees and is currently president of the Missouri Board Of Law Examiners.
Sandy became active in the battle against AIDS in late 1989, serving on the board of the Good Samaritan Project and later on Kansas City Free Health Clinic. She was a founding member and first Vice President of the AIDS Service Foundation of Greater Kansas City.
She recently received the Mark Dreiling Award for Community Service from the AIDS Service Foundation.
Sandy is a longtime supporter of HMC, appreciating not only their incredible music but the values they espouse.
Michael has been a singing member of HMC since 2015, and he is honored to serve on the board of directors. He is proud to support the chorus’s mission and vision as the organization carries on its rich tradition of being a beacon for the LGBT community in Kansas City and beyond. Dr. Seely practices as a clinical and forensic psychologist. He and his husband are ardent supporters of local choral music, believing that music has the power to create community, heal spirits, and change hearts.
Tim Van Zandt
Tim is Vice President, Government and Community Relations, for the Saint Luke’s Health System. In his present position, he is responsible for the management of federal, state, and local governmental relations for the health system and its affiliates in Missouri and Kansas. A registered nurse, Tim received his nursing degree from Montgomery College (Takoma Park, MD), a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting/Political Science from the University of Central Missouri, and M.P.A. in Health Care Administration from the Bloch School at UMKC.
Tim served in the Missouri House of Representatives from 1995 – 2002 as the first openly elected member of the Missouri General Assembly. In addition to serving on the board of HMCKC, Tim has served on several public and private boards, including as a Trustee of the Missouri Consolidated Health Care Plan, the City Plan Commission of Kansas City, the board of the Lee’s Summit Chamber of Commerce, and was appointed by Gov. Jay Nixon to the Health Sciences and Services Sector Council. He currently serves as a member of the board of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce, the Leawood Chamber of Commerce, as well as the board of the Kansas Business Roundtable.
Exposed to the music of HMCKC from the beginning, he remains impressed by its talent and the importance of its mission.