Our Leadership



"My experiences as a conductor, teacher, and leader have afforded me the opportunity to mentor numerous young conductors through the years.  These relationships have given me a keen interest in helping young women develop intentional leadership skills, so that they are able to reach their potential and their goals within the choral profession.  FACETS was founded to facilitate leadership skills, professional growth, and mentoring relationships among women conductors."


Alicia W. Walker is Associate Director of Choral Studies at the University of South Carolina, where she directs the University Chorus and the USC Men’s Chorus, and teaches courses in Conducting, Music Education, and Sacred Music at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. She holds degrees from Florida State University (B.M.E.), the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (M.C.M.), and the University of Georgia (D.M.A.). Dr. Walker taught at the elementary, middle, and high school levels in Florida and Georgia, prior to joining the music education faculty at the University of Georgia. In 2011, she began her tenure at USC, with an emphasis on mentoring and leadership.  In 2012 she founded the USC Men's Chorus, which has twice been selected to perform for the SCMEA State Conference.  Under her baton, the University Chorus has performed major works, including the North American premiere of Herbert Howells's Sir Patrick Spens, Brahms's Ein Deutsches Requiem in South Africa, and the world premier of Daniel Elder's World Without End in Carnegie Hall.  Her international performances and conducting master classes have taken place in South Africa and Taiwan.

Dr. Walker's research activity in service-learning has resulted in grants for her students to teach in underserved settings in St. Lucia and South Africa.  In 2016-17, she developed and piloted ChorTransform, the service-learning initiative for ACDA student chapters.  Each year, she collaborates with colleagues from the US, the UK, and Wits University in Johannesburg in an ongoing partnership to offer affordable musical training to choral conductors in Johannesburg and Pretoria, South Africa.


In addition to her teaching responsibilities, Dr. Walker is a leader in professional music organizations. She is currently Past President of Southern Division ACDA (American Choral Directors Association), having previously served as President of Georgia ACDA, and on several ACDA conference committees. Other professional memberships include NAfME, SCMEA, and NCCO.  Polyphony, an organization for pastoral musicians, chose Dr. Walker as their first national leadership team coordinator, a position she held through 2011. A long-time church musician, Dr. Walker served as a committee chair for the 2010 hymnal, Celebrating Grace.  She has served churches in Florida, Kentucky, Georgia, and South Carolina.  In 2016, she founded FACETS, a leadership retreat for women conductors.



Carol Joy Sparkman is in her fourth year as Director of Choral Music at Clinton High School in Clinton, Mississippi, where she directs four choirs and a two contemporary a cappella ensembles. She began her career as a member of the Mississippi College music faculty, where she taught language diction, was vocal coach/accompanist, directed Mixed Company, a vocal jazz ensemble, and was Musical Director for The Mississippi College Opera/Musical Theater. Sparkman received the Bachelor of Music in Education and a Master of Music in Vocal Coaching/Accompanying degrees from Mississippi College.

She is a member of the MS ACDA Board where she has served as Repertoire and Resource Chair for Vocal Jazz, Membership, and currently Contemporary and Commercial.  As R&R Chair for Contemporary and Commercial, she began a contemporary a cappella workshop that is in its fourth year. She is an active member of the A Cappella Education Association, NAfME, and NATS.  Sparkman is a member of team who has established Service-Learning partnerships for continuing education in choral music. Each summer the team travels to South Africa to work with music educators and choirs.




Kristin Claiborne, a  Valparaiso, Indiana native, is in her sixth year as choral director & varsity assistant basketball coach at Blythewood High School. She is a graduate of the University of South Carolina, where she earned a Bachelor of Music in Music Education degree & a Masters Degree in Educational Administration.  At Blythewood, her choirs consistently earn superior with distinction ratings in state/regional festivals. Recently, the Blythewood Choral Program has performed on the esteemed stages of Carnegie Hall & even travelled overseas this past summer on tour throughout Italy. On the solo scene, Ms. Claiborne was recently the featured soprano soloist for the USC University Chorus, performing Will Todd’s renowned jazz mass, “Mass in Blue.” In April 2019, under the direction of Dr. Alicia Walker, Ms. Claiborne will perform the jazz mass solo at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Ms. Claiborne also serves as a judge & guest clinician at choral events throughout South Carolina. Coming in July 2018, Ms. Claiborne will travel to Johannesburg, South Africa for the second year as an apprentice faculty member for the International Partnership for Choral Music Education (IPCME). She will assist in the creation & facilitation of workshops in music literacy, conducting, & vocal pedagogy, as a part of the non-profit organization’s mission to cultivate continuing education for choral directors worldwide. Ms. Claiborne wears many hats in the American Choral Directors Association. She serves as the Southern Division Conference Registration Chair, as well as the Southern Division Membership Chair. She is also a supervising teacher for ChorTransform, a new choral initiative for the development of pre-service teachers. Ms. Claiborne is a proud & active member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated.




Ashlee Poole is Director of Choral Activities at Sumter High School where she has been a faculty member since 2015. In that time the SHS choral program has grown significantly from approximately 67 students to well over 100. Under her direction, several students have participated in Sumter’s district honor choir, USC’s Honor Choir, SC ACDA (2017), and 18 of her students have been accepted into the SC All-State chorus. Ms. Poole also directs choral groups including the Concert Choir, Women’s Choir, Show Choir and most recently the SHS Chamber Ensemble.


As a native of Sumter, SC Ms. Poole chose to return to her roots so she could give back to the community that initially fostered her love of music. Now Ms. Poole enriches the lives of her students through immersing them in music and inspiring them in all aspects of their lives.


Ms. Poole is a graduate of the University of South Carolina where she received a Bachelor of Music in Music Education and a Masters of Music in Conducting, both with a special emphasis in Choral Arts.  During her education at USC she studied under the direction of Dr. Larry Wyatt, Dr. Joe Modica, Dr. Tina Stallard, Ms. Ellen Schlaefer, and Dr. Alicia Walker.  Throughout the years Ms. Poole has expanded her knowledge of music by traveling both nationally and internationally to areas such as New York, Memphis, Minneapolis, Ireland, and Scotland among others.



Rachel Fish is the current Director of Choral Activities at New Kent Middle School in New Kent, Virginia. Mrs. Fish began at New Kent Middle School in 2016,  after one year of teaching elementary music in Florence, Texas, and has grown the program from 86 students her first year to approximately 185 students in the two years following. Mrs. Fish currently directs all four choirs a NKMS, including the varsity group, Vox Anima, the non-varsity choir, Lion Choir, the beginning choir, Crescendo Choir, and the show choir, A Prideful Roar. Her students have participated in several local and state-wide events including All-Virginia Choir, Northern Neck All-Area Chorus, District Choral Assessments, Festivals of Music Competition, and Music in the Parks Competition. Mrs. Fish began her choral experience at Murchison Middle School in Austin, Texas and has been an active member of the choral community ever since.


In 2015, Mrs. Fish received her Bachelors of Music in Education and Performance Certificate in Voice from the University of South Carolina, where she was a member of the Concert Choir, under the direction of Dr. Larry Wyatt and the International Choral Collaboration under the direction of Dr. Alicia Walker, and toured internationally with USC Choirs in South Africa, Spain, and throughout the Southern United States, as well as studying voice under Peter Barton, and Dr. Donald Gray.


After getting married to her husband, Collin, in July of 2016, she moved to Richmond and joined the Richmond Symphony Chorus, with whom she continues to perform. She is also a member of NAfME, VMEA, and ACDA, and was the director for the February 2018 performance of Into the Woods Jr. at NKMS.