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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.

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Mike Bennett

Program Coordinator for the Smile Experience and Family Concerts

Mike has been involved in creating smiles at the KEYS Program since KEYS was founded in memory of his grandfather in 1993. Mike started as a volunteer at KEYS, helping on the stage crew, sound, recording and video production. He has extensive managerial experience in the national retail market. He grew up in motorsports, traveling to tracks across the country while his parents worked for various sanctioning bodies, including NASCAR. Mike worked as a tech inspector for the  NASCAR Busch North Series and on the Fire Safety Crew at Watkins Glen International. Mike assists with coordinating the respite day and Smile Experience programs.

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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 2008.  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 assistant to the superintendent of instruction.  In 2020, Cheri joined our administrative staff as the newly formed, parttime Program Coordinator for Outreach and Events. Cheri welcomes new families and creates smiles overseeing our Wear Your Heart on Your Sleeve program and Monday Night Smile Concerts.

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Adrienne Bornemann, LCAT, MS, MT-BC

Music Therapy and Communications Director 

 

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 music teacher, 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.  Our students, sites and KEYS kids just LOVE making music, creating songs and sharing smiles with Adrienne!

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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Christina Stewart, MT-BC

Board Certified Music Therapist

 

Christina is a newly board-certified music therapist, proudly receiving her certification in January 2020! She grew up in Victor, NY where she sang in her church choir, played piano and violin, and gave piano lessons to the neighborhood kids. After graduating high school she was accepted into Nazareth College's Music Therapy Program, focusing on fulfilling her true life's purpose. She completed her internship at the Hochstein School of Music in Rochester, NY and loved every minute of it. While at Hochstein she 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 empowers them through her favorite medium, music. Music has always been an integral part of Christina's life, and being able to find ways to use the creativity and the process of music to help others reach their goals is an incredible blessing in her life. Christina is eager to get creative in this new way of connecting with others and find creative approaches to engage, enhance, and empower! 

Hannah Pietra, MS, MT-BC

Board Certified Music Therapist

 

Hannah is a newly board-certified music therapist, receiving her certification in February 2021! In high school, Hannah sang in several school choirs, was a member of various orchestras including the Syracuse Symphony Youth Orchestra, and performed as a soloist on both piano and cello throughout the CNY area. She graduated from Syracuse University in 2018 with a Bachelor’s of Music in cello performance and a minor in music industry. Hannah first pursued a career in music publishing, interning at several music publishing companies in NYC. It was during a subway ride that she realized her true calling was music therapy because it encompassed her desire to be creative, develop therapeutic relationships with others, and help individuals optimize their unique potentials and health using music. Hannah graduated from Nazareth College with a Master’s of Science in Creative Arts Therapy, with a focus on music therapy and has her limited Licensed Creative Arts Therapist permit. She completed her music therapy internship at the Golisano Children’s Hospital at UR Medicine in Rochester, NY. While at Golisano, she led individual and group music therapy sessions with patients with varying diagnoses on several units, and worked extensively with patients on the Eating Disorder Protocol. 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 now living in Syracuse and is excited to create individualized music experiences for all ages and abilities as a music therapist at KEYS!

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Katie Quick, MA, LPC

Life Coach & Licensed Professional Counselor & Musician

Katie is a teacher, licensed therapist, life coach, speaker, and award-winning singer songwriter with over 17+ years in education, mental health and music.

 

She has a Masters in Counseling from Northwestern University and specializes in Social-Emotional Learning and teacher advocacy.

 

She has been working with the KEYS Program since 2011 and is thrilled to expand her outreach this year with virtual coaching for kids, parents, and families.

 

You can read more at www.katiequick.com.

Jessie Davis, MT-BC

Board Certified Music Therapist

 

Jessie 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 new music therapy graduate who earned her Bachelor’s of Music from 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

Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist

Blake Propst is Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist and is currently completing his Music Therapy internship in the Central Square School District. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Double Bass Performance and a Master of Science Degree in Recreation Resource Management. 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.

Gina Marchese, 

Music Therapist & Sound Intuitive

Gina Marchese recently received her undergraduate Music Therapy degree from Molloy College in May 2022 and currently lives on Long Island, NY. She is excited to continue working with the KEYS program as a Music Therapist and Sound Healing Practitioner. She started working with the KEYS program in 2021 as an intern and completed her internship virtually. Gina enjoys creating music with the KEYS community, and is passionate about working with children. She loves incorporating mindfulness meditation techniques, songwriting and improvisation in her practice. She completed a master certification in Sonic Wellness Tibetan Tones Sound Meditation on Long Island, NY in 2018, and a certification of Sound Healing at Sage Academy of Sound Energy in Woodstock, NY (2018).  Read more here at gimariemusic.squarespace.com

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