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Meet our Staff!

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Colleen Bennett

Executive Director/Founder

Colleen is the Founder and Executive Director of the KEYS Program. She attended Marywood College for music education, specializing in early childhood music and music for children with special needs. Before creating the KEYS Program, she owned and operated Colleen’s School of Music and Colleen’s Musical Nursery School, a music-infused preschool program that is a model for many early childhood programs across the country.  Colleen traveled across the country with her husband David, working parttime for various tracks and motorsports sanctioning bodies, working with registration, scoring and driver autograph sessions. In 2000, she was  Assistant Media Coordinator for the NASCAR Busch North Series and even sang the National Anthem for over 10,000 fans one night at Oxford Plains Speedway. 


In 1993, her father passed away from cancer. Music helped her father so much during his battle, that she and her husband David created the KEYS Program, in order to assist other families going through the same diffictul time. Today, KEYS is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that provides  music therapy outreach and family respite days to families who have a child impacted by cancer or serious illnesses, at no cost to the families they serve. Under her leadership, the KEYS Program has grown to deliver smiles to thousands of pediatric patients throughout New York and across the US.


Mike Bennett

Assistant Executive Director

Michael has been involved in creating smiles at the KEYS Program since KEYS was founded in memory of his grandfather in 1993. He started as a volunteer at KEYS, helping on the stage crew, sound, recording and video production. He has extensive experience in the Financial Industry and in Business Management roles. He grew up in motorsports, starting off racing Quarter Midgets at the age of 5. It is his greatest pastime outside of work. He spent his younger years traveling to tracks across the country with his parents while they worked for various sanctioning bodies, including NASCAR. Michael also worked as a tech inspector for the  NASCAR Busch North Series and on the Fire Safety Crew at Watkins Glen International. Michael works directly with families and assists the Executive Director with coordinating and overseeing the KEYS Program's music therapy, respite day programs, administration and day to day operations.

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Cheri Schmalz

Program Coordinator for Outreach & Events

Cheri has been involved in creating smiles at the KEYS Program since 2011.  She started as a volunteer at KEYS, helping with the Hearts of Hope concerts and became a board member in 2015.  Cheri has a background in tourism, working in the airline industry for many years.  When her children were growing up, Cheri became a licensed day care provider, and cared for many children in the VVS community.  When her children started school, she joined the Madison Oneida BOCES staff and is currently the Administrative Assistant to the Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction.  In 2020, Cheri joined our administrative staff as the part time Program Coordinator for Outreach and Events. Cheri welcomes new families and creates smiles overseeing our outreach programs and events including our Wear Your Heart on Your Sleeve program, Holiday Smiles, Smile Experience and Monday Night Smile Concerts.


Adrienne Bornemann, LCAT, MS, MT-BC

Licensed Creative Arts Therapist & Board Certified Music Therapist and

Program Director for Music Therapy & Music Education Programs


Adrienne has been making music and creating smiles at the KEYS Program since the Fall of 2018! She graduated from Roberts Wesleyan College in May of 2008 with a degree in music education concentrating in flute; and graduated from Nazareth College with a Master of Science in Creative Arts Therapy, with a focus on music therapy in 2012.  She is a board certified music therapist and licensed creative arts therapist. She has been instrumental in developing and expanding the music program at KEYS, growing its outreach to include introducing new and creative music therapy programming for our KEYS kids, and expanding our outreach in the community to include serving special needs individuals, day programs and nursing homes. Adrienne is a veteran of the US Army---thank you for your service Adrienne! Our students, sites and KEYS kids just LOVE making music, creating songs and sharing smiles with Adrienne!

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Christina Stewart, MT-BC

Board Certified Music Therapist & Social Media Coordinator


Christina is a board certified music therapist and the media coordinator at the KEYS Program! She grew up in Victor, NY where she sang in her church choir, played piano and violin, and gave music lessons to the neighborhood kids. She received her degree in Music Therapy from Nazareth College in 2019 and completed her internship at the Hochstein School of Music in Rochester, NY. Christina has been with the KEYS Program since 2020 and during that time has facilitated music therapy with individuals and groups from toddlers to older adults. She loves being a music therapist because she gets to work with people of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds and empower them through her favorite medium, music. 

Amanda Maestro-Scherer, MA, MT-BC

Board Certified Music Therapist

Amanda was born and raised in Ithaca, New York and graduated in 2007 with from the music therapy program at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. She completed her Master’s Degree in Music Therapy from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College in 2014. Amanda has worked in a variety of settings during her career, including pediatric hospitals, hospice care and in schools with children with special needs. Amanda loves working with children, teens and their families, and knows that music is a special way into the heart. She loves playing the guitar, singing and writing songs, and is so excited to make music with the KEYS kids and their families! 

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Amber Ellis, MS, MT-BC

Board Certified Music Therapist

Amber is a board certified music therapist with a Master’s Degree from SUNY New Paltz. She has experience working with various populations and their awesomely unique musical tastes! Music has been an integral part of her life from a very early age. While considering options for her future career at the end of high school she found that Music Therapy was the perfect union of her love of music and making a difference in the lives of others. She also shares her love of music through teaching piano, guitar and voice lessons as well as being a part of the Praise and Worship band at her church. Amber’s favorite part about being a Music Therapist is that every day she gets to create joy through music and there is nothing better than that! 

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Hannah Pietra, LCAT,MS, MT-BC

Licensed Creative Arts Therapist & Board Certified Music Therapist


Hannah is a licensed creative arts therapist, board-certified music therapist and certified life coach based in Syracuse, NY. Hannah holds a Bachelor of Music in string performance and a minor in music industry from Syracuse University, and a Master of Science in Creative Arts Therapy with a Music Therapy focus from Nazareth College. She has experience working with children, teens, and adults in hospital, clinic, school, and community based settings. Hannah is the owner and founder of Iris Life and Creativity Coaching where she offers individual life and creativity coaching sessions. Hannah is also an active freelance cellist throughout New York State and performs with various ensembles. Hannah is a Sherrill, NY native and has shared her music with KEYS kids and families as a volunteer for the KEYS Program for several years. She is passionate about creating individualized music experiences for those she works with and is excited to continue working with KEYS as a music therapist! 


Jessie Davis, MS, MT-BC

Board Certified Music Therapist


Jessie is a board certified music therapist who grew up in small town Franklin, NY before moving to Long Island to complete her masters degree in Music Therapy at Molloy University. Her undergraduate degree is in applied psychology which she received from SUNY Morrisville in 2020. Her primary instrument is the clarinet, which sparked her love for music. Jessie has always enjoyed helping those around her and creating music, leading her to her decision to pursue a career in music therapy. She has experience working in person and though zoom. Her internship was completed at Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn, NY, working on an inpatient psychiatric unit with adults. She completed a semester of fieldwork with the KEYS program last summer and she is excited to be part of the team again!


Kaylee Gray, MT-BC

Board Certified Music Therapist


Kaylee is a board certified music therapist who earned her Bachelor’s of Music Degreefrom Nazareth College in 2021. Kaylee recently completed her  music therapy internship at Golisano Children’s Hospital at UR Medicine in Rochester. There, she served wide variety of patients with cancer diagnoses, blood disorders, developmental disabilities, eating disorders, etc. Here, Kaylee developed her passion for working with children affected by cancer. Growing up, Kaylee was heavily involved in various orchestras and started her music career on the violin. In her spare time she enjoys reading, teaching ukulele lessons, and painting on old vinyl records! Kaylee is looking forward to creating countless smiles with the KEYS families! 


Blake Propst, MS, CTRS, MT-BC

Board Certified Music Therapist & Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist

Blake Propst is Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist and is a board certified Music Therapist. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Double Bass Performance and a Master of Science Degree in Recreation Resource Management, with board certification in music therapy. For the last 20 years, he has performed with a variety of local and national touring bands and in pit orchestras for local theater companies. As a CTRS, Blake has worked in a variety of settings including schools, nursing homes, long-term care facilities, residential detention facilities, and community based developmental disability support. A passion for helping others through sharing joy, fun, and music led Blake to the world of Music Therapy and ultimately the KEYS Program. Born and raised in Michigan, and currently residing in Syracuse, NY, Blake is excited to bring a diverse background and set of experiences to the KEYS kids and their families.

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Sarah Hasegawa, LMHC

Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Play Therapist, Child Life Specialist & Early Childhood Music Specialist

Sarah is a licensed mental health counselor and certified child-centered play therapist specializing in helping children express their amazing, authentic selves through child-centered play. She earned her master’s degree in mental health counseling from SUNY Oswego. Sarah is also a certified child life specialist, with a bachelor’s degree in child life from Utica University. As part of her child life training, she completed an internship at Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital. There, she witnessed the healing powers of music and play firsthand. As a musician, Sarah has had the pleasure of leading music and movement programs for children of all ages and their caregivers. Sarah frequently performs with local theater companies and musical ensembles, including the Syracuse Opera Chorus. Sarah’s earliest memories include her mother sitting cross-legged on the floor, strumming her guitar, and singing children’s songs. Sarah’s mother called this making a “joyful noise.” Through the KEYS program, Sarah looks forward to making a joyful noise with a new generation of families.

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Emalee Herrington

Music Teacher & Award-Winning Singer, Songwriter & Recording Artist

Emalee has been involved in the KEYS Program since she was in middle school, volunteering her time to perform at events and record music for the KEYS kids. In 2023, Emalee officially joined KEYS staff as a music teacher, providing lessons and songwriting classes for KEYS, serving KEYS kids who live in the Oswego County area. When she is not teaching, she is performing a Smile Concert or recording for the KEYS Kids Network.


Mary West, MS, MT-BC

Music Therapy Intern from Marywood University

Mary is fulfilling her bachelor's degree in music therapy from Marywood University. She is excited to be completing her internship with the KEYS Program this fall. Mary has worked with several different populations throughout her time in school including medically fragile toddlers, individuals with intellectual disabilities ranging in age from school age children to adults and also school age children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. While in school Mary was involved in Marywood's string ensemble, orchestra and choir as well as helping in the theater department in her spare time. Mary also worked with the National string project to teach Violin and Viola to children from the age of 5 through high school aged students. In her spare time Mary enjoys reading, drawing and spending time with her friends and family. Mary is looking forward to creating music and smiles with the KEYS families.

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